Tech Tips: Video, the Web, and You

Terry Thompson, DO-IT staff

In a recent conversation on the doitchat email discussion list, subscribers offered ideas about how to share their personal video files. This article summarizes that discussion and provides a step-by-step guide to sharing video on YouTube.

Why YouTube? According to market research, YouTube is miles ahead of the competition and makes up nearly half of all visits to video sites, with hundreds of millions of videos viewed each day. YouTube's closest competitor in the past was Google Video, but in 2006 Google bought YouTube, and as of January 2009, Google Video no longer accepts uploads from users.

So, here's how to share videos using YouTube:

  1. To upload videos on YouTube, you must first have an account and be signed in. Go to, select "Sign In." If you don't have an account, select "Sign up for YouTube." Then, follow the prompts to create an account (it's free).
  2. If you haven't already done so, save the video to your computer's hard disk drive. YouTube supports a wide range of video file formats, including .avi, .mov, .flv, .mp4, .mpeg, .3gp, and others.
  3. After signing in to YouTube, select the "Upload" button. This will take you to the Video File Upload page. Read the instructions on the page, or simply select the "Upload Video" button, then find and select the video file on your computer.
  4. Enter a title, description, and tags (keywords) for your video and select the most appropriate category from the choices provided.
  5. Under the "Privacy" heading, select "Private." This means you can select the people who you want to see your video, rather than sharing it with the entire world. Even if you want to share your video publicly, it's a good idea to select "Private" initially so you can screen the video to make sure it was uploaded correctly. If all is well, you can change this setting later to make your video available to the world; and if there are problems with the video, you can delete it and try again without anyone having seen it but you.
  6. Videos can be up to ten minutes in length or one gigabyte in size. Occasionally you may run across videos on YouTube that exceed these limits. That's because they were uploaded by users who have special accounts. For example, DO-IT has a "YouTube Educational Partner" account, featuring all of the videos we've produced over the years, most of which are longer than ten minutes.
  7. After you have finished uploading your video, go to "My Videos," and locate the title of the video you just uploaded. Once there, you will find information about the video, including its current status. Initially, the status will probably be "Uploaded (processing, please wait)." This process may take a very long time, depending on the length and quality of the video.
  8. While you're waiting for YouTube to process your video, you can add the finishing touches, such as inviting specific people to view it and adding closed captions so you can share your video with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. To add these and other finishing touches, select the "Edit" button that is associated with your video. This will take you to a Video Details page.
  9. To share your video with specific people, locate the "Broadcasting and Sharing Options" section of the Video Details page. You can only share your video with people who have YouTube accounts and who are listed among your YouTube "friends." In the box provided, you can select which of your YouTube friends you would like to share your video with, and they will receive an email that includes a link to your video. To add new YouTube friends, or to invite people who do not yet have YouTube accounts, select the "Edit Contacts" link at the top of the friends box.
  10. To add closed captions to your video, click on "Captions and Subtitles" on the Video Details page. You will be prompted to upload a caption file from your computer. Caption files come in various formats, but YouTube supports caption file formats known as SubRip (*.SRT) or SubViewer (*.SUB). These files are plain text files, with captions separated by a blank line. Each caption includes a time code on one line, followed by the caption text on the next one or two lines. Captions can be written by hand, although it's usually quicker to use any of the free websites or software tools that are available. (There are more detailed instructions and a list of available tools linked from the YouTube Captions and Subtitles page.) After you have uploaded your caption file, the caption text will automatically appear at the bottom of the video screen, and can be toggled on and off with the CC menu (in the lower right corner of the YouTube media player).

YouTube is capable of much more. However, for those of you who are new to YouTube, hopefully this article will help you get started. While on YouTube, be sure to check out the DO-IT Channel at