YouTube’s success comes from how easy it is to find, share, and discover user-uploaded content from around the world, but not every clip is intended to be public. Unlisted videos serve as a bridge between public and private, allowing for embeds and sharable links without appearing in search results or subscription feeds. However, a new security update coming to YouTube could turn many of your unlisted videos private if you don’t take action.
Starting July 23rd, all unlisted videos uploaded before January 1st, 2017 will switch to private. While this won’t stop you from changing this setting back at any time, depending on how many videos are on your account, it could make for a long, arduous process. YouTube updated its unlisted video links in 2017 to make them harder for uninvited watchers to find, and it’s finally generating new links for older uploads. Unfortunately, that means existing links will be broken, which is why YouTube is turning all of that content to private.
Thankfully, you do have the choice to opt your account out of this update. You’ll need to fill out this form by July 23rd with your channel ID to keep using legacy unlisted URLs. If you’re curious which videos will be included in this change, just sign into YouTube Studio, select “Content” from the left-side menu, then apply the Unlisted filter under “Visibility.” If you sort by date, you can view all affected pre-2017 uploads in order.
Because this change will affect millions of YouTube accounts, the site has also published a five-minute explainer about the process. This guide also highlights a couple of other options users have for managing older uploads, including doing nothing (seriously), moving each video to public, and reuploading legacy content to generate a new URL.
Unlisted playlists are also affected, and Google is contacting those users directly via email. The same options for videos apply to these playlists, including recreating the mix to make it more secure or opting out altogether.
July 23rd is exactly a month away, so if you know your account has a ton of old unlisted clips to protect, don’t hesitate to fill out that form.