How Long Can A YouTube Video Be?

Some YouTube videos are incredibly long. The record for the longest video ever recorded on YouTube was 596 hours and 30 min (or almost 25 days) long. Yet many people experience problems when trying to upload a considerably shorter video. 

Why is this, and how long can a YouTube video be?

YouTube changed the maximum length limit of videos to 15 minutes for unverified accounts or 12 hours (or 256GB) for verified accounts. These limits were different in the past, allowing people to make videos almost 25 days (over 596 hours) long. This is no longer possible, though.

YouTube videos have a so-called “sweet spot” in terms of length. It’s recommended that content creators and YouTubers stay within this ideal range to get the most views for their videos. 

But sometimes, you may have to make a video that’s a bit longer.

Let’s look at the details of YouTube’s video length limits and how best to use them to your advantage.

The Maximum Length Of A YouTube Video

Like all Google services, YouTube regularly updates its terms and systems to offer its users the best service.

With this in mind, the maximum video length and size limits have changed repeatedly over the almost two decades of YouTube’s existence.

When YouTube launched in 2005, the video length limit was officially ten minutes.

Still, users found that it was closer to eleven minutes (according to all indications, it was exactly ten minutes and 59 seconds; in other words, just shy of the eleven-minute mark).

Around July 2010, the limit increased to fifteen minutes, followed by an announcement in December of the same year that YouTube would remove the time limit entirely, but only for users with a proven history of compliance with YouTube’s guidelines and copyright rules.

So, when a channel was deemed worthy, YouTube allowed videos of unlimited length.

However, this proved to be less than practical since many users started making pointless videos with questionable content to push the time limit and achieve “a record” video length.

This was so extreme that the longest YouTube video ever even has its own IMDb entry, despite just being nearly 25 days of a two-tone color pattern that switches places occasionally.

However, YouTube requires servers, and servers require storage space, which costs money. Of course, YouTube makes a ton of money through advertising revenue. Still, the unlimited video length raised a few potential problems.

So, as it currently stands, YouTube allows any channel to upload videos up to fifteen minutes long.

In contrast, verified channels may upload videos that are either twelve hours long or 256GB in size, whichever is the smallest.

If your channel is verified, anything less than twelve hours and 256GB will be acceptable. That does not mean it will be optimal, though.

laptop on bed

How To Upload Longer YouTube Videos

As mentioned, YouTube channels are limited to videos less than fifteen minutes by default. You must verify your YouTube account to get around this length limit.

Longer videos aren’t the only benefit of a verified account.

After verification, you can also live stream your content and add custom thumbnails to your videos to draw more attention to your channel.

To verify your YouTube account, follow these steps:

  1. Open the YouTube website (www.youtube.com) in any web browser.
  2. Click on Settings, then Additional Settings.
  3. The word “Verify” will appear just below your channel name. Click on that.
  4. YouTube will ask for your country of residence, where most of your content will be generated. Select your country from the list provided.
  5. Next, YouTube will send you a verification code. You can receive this either through a phone call or as a text message on your mobile phone.
  6. Enter this verification code into the space that YouTube provides, then click on Submit.
woman taking a call while working on a laptop

It could take up to 24 hours to verify, so go through the process when creating your channel.

That way, everything will be in place long before you need to post longer videos or do a live stream.

The process can now also be done on the mobile YouTube app, but it’s a bit different.

  1. In the app, tap the “New Video” button (the plus sign in a circle at the bottom of the screen).
  2. From the list of options, choose “Go Live.”
  3. The YouTube app will inform you that you need to verify your account before you can go live and that the process could take up to 24 hours.
  4. Click on the link and follow the above steps to verify your account.
  5. After 24 hours, your account should be verified, and you can upload longer YouTube videos.

Can I Lose My Verification?

Your channel can become unverified, causing YouTube to reinstate the 15-minute limit.

This doesn’t happen quickly, and you can often re-apply for verification.

Still, it’s an unnecessary inconvenience that you can easily avoid. YouTube will cancel your verification in these cases:

  1. Violating YouTube’s terms and conditions. If you create content that isn’t in line with YouTube’s guidelines and conditions, you risk YouTube revoking your account verification.
  2. Changing your channel details. Specifically, you will have to re-verify your account if you change the mobile phone number in YouTube’s database. This isn’t a massive problem as it’s easy to fix, but if you do this too often, YouTube may impose limits on how many times you can change your number or channel name.
  3. Using tricks to fake your statistics. For example, some accounts use bots to subscribe, like, and comment on their channels and videos. This boosts their reputation on YouTube, gets the algorithm to recommend their videos more often, and even helps them to earn more money.

Understandably, YouTube frowns on this practice, so if you are ever caught using less-than-honest means to boost your channel, you will be unverified.

Your channel may even be deleted, especially after repeated infractions.

Always remember that YouTube aims to deliver quality content, and any action that violates this mission will be frowned upon.

How Long Should A YouTube Video Be?

Instead of asking how long a video can be, a better question is perhaps how long it should be.

Science has repeatedly proven that the human attention span is reducing at a drastic rate, and YouTube videos that are too long run the risk of losing viewers.

But videos shouldn’t be so short that YouTube can’t correctly show ads, or you will lose income.

The ideal length of a YouTube video will depend on the type of content. For example, longer informative and entertaining videos can do quite well if they target a specific audience and have an established base of subscribers.

Generally speaking, though, the eight- to ten-minute mark is a sweet spot to aim for, especially for young channels.

That is just short enough for new viewers not to feel like they’re committing too much time to something they don’t know.

But it’s still long enough for YouTube to properly monetize your content, allowing you to earn an income from YouTube.

YouTube will also more easily recommend videos more than six minutes long. But this is no reason to create a lot of unnecessary filler content.

That will only make people close your video, losing potential viewers and reducing the quality of your content in the eyes of YouTube’s algorithm.

hourglass with setting sun and sea in the background

Final Thoughts On YouTube Video Length

YouTube permits you to upload very long videos if you try to get your channel and account verified.

Few people will ever need to upload more than twelve hours of content in a single video, so the limit is perfectly fair.

Just keep in mind that longer videos are not always better, and it’s always preferable to make shorter videos that have better-quality content.

David Woutersen

Article by

David Woutersen

David is the founder of Outofthe925.com and has been in the social media industry since 2017. Since then, his mission has been to help others take control of their online presence. For some, this has been earning an income online, while for others, it's teaching how to use social networks more effectively. And each year, he continues to help millions with strategy, troubleshooting, and inspiration.