With 2.1 billion monthly active users around the world, YouTube remains the best place to upload your video content. But before you do, it’s necessary to be aware of YouTube video sizes to upload your content correctly.
A common question we hear is about how you can create social video once and use it across different platforms. With YouTube, the good news is, if you load a vertical TikTok style video that’s under a 60 seconds (1 minute), it automatically becomes a YouTube Short.
YouTube video sizes can be confusing if you don’t understand the different aspect ratios, quality types, and video formats available. Get it wrong, and it can have a negative impact on your viewers’ experiences. Nail it, and your videos will be optimized for success.
To help you film, edit, and upload better content for the platform, here is everything you need to know to get started.
Understanding YouTube Video Sizes
When you upload a video to YouTube, you’ll want to understand a few different sizes and formatting options. The first number is the width in pixels across. The second number is the height in pixels top to bottom. Keep in mind when you first upload to YouTube, the playback quality will look bad because it processes and shows the lower quality versions first.
Here are the sizes YouTube creates for you from smallest on up to your maximum uploaded size:
- 240p: 426px x 240px
- 360p: 640px x 360px
- 480p: 854px x 480px
- 720p: 1280px x 720px
- 1080p: 1920px x 1080px
- 1440p: 2560px x 1440px
- 2160p: 3840px x 2160px
These YouTube video sizes refer to the dimensions of the video, plus there are other factors you also need to consider, like the aspect ratio and file size.
The ideal aspect ratio for YouTube is 16:9, which is your typical TV dimensions. You can’t upload a video longer than 12 hours or greater than 128GB in size.
Why Is YouTube Video Size Important?
YouTube video sizes play a significant role in content viewership. When you upload on YouTube, it will create these various video sizes so viewers can choose between the right size and quality format for their viewing needs.
When uploading your video in the right size and aspect ratio, you can optimize it for the standard sizes YouTube uses. This results in a better, more natural viewing experience.
And by filming and uploading video content in a higher size option, viewers are able to watch it in a higher quality format, which is vital for an optimal user experience.
Today, fast internet speed and high-quality screens are seeing more everyday use. More users expect to stream video content in a high-quality format, like 4K, which is basically four 1080p screens put together.
While others, may just want to listen to audio and might be in a poor cell phone reception area. They may choose to stream the lowest 240p option.
If you only allow viewers to watch your videos in standard definition (240p, 360p, 480p), they might quickly lose interest in your videos and eventually stop watching. This is why utilizing the right video size can increase engagement and views on your YouTube channel.
YouTube will also automatically update the video’s size based on the viewer’s screen and internet speed. This is done to ensure the fast, most responsive viewing experience.
The awareness of these different size options is relevant when filming, editing, and publishing your content on YouTube. If you upload a video in the wrong size format, it can get distorted once YouTube resizes it.
Publishing videos in an optimal size will also help you upload the video faster to the site.
Keep in mind, that every app or software platform that touches your video between the device you filmed on and YouTube, will impact the quality and potentially the size. So pay attention to what each platform does to your video upon exporting.
Best Practices For YouTube Video Sizes
Below are some of the best practices to follow with YouTube video sizes.
Tip #1: Stick with the traditional horizontal 16:9 size
As mentioned above, 16:9 is the standard aspect ratio for videos on YouTube. If shooting on your phone, shoot vertical or horizontal in 1080p or 4K.
If your videos are in a different aspect ratio or you try to get fancy before you upload them, the YouTube player will try to adjust for viewers screens.
And there is nothing more frustrating than shooting locked in vertical mode when holding your phone horizontal, loading it to YouTube, and giving viewers the taco tilt as they keep trying to watch your video properly.
If your video is longer than a minute for Shorts, it will be treated more like a horizontal video with black space on the left and right in the horizontal format.
Also, avoid adding any kind of padding or rotation to your videos yourself, unless you are a filmmaker and know what you are doing. YouTube will try to “help” you, which can mean driving down Frustration Street.
Tip #2: Get Your Video Format Right
When thinking about YouTube video sizes, it’s also important to understand the types of video formats you can upload. YouTube only accepts the following:
- MPEG PS
Although according to YouTube, the best format to use is MP4 with H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec. Uploading your content in this format creates a high-quality video file in a small size, making it ideal for any kind of video upload.
Tip #3: You Don’t Need To Use 4K
Uploading videos in a 4K format might seem appealing, but it’s not really necessary. First, the extra processing time to upload a 60-minute 4K video to YouTube can be up to four hours or even more.
Second, most of the viewers are on their phone, so the extra pixels are not going to impress anyone there. Third, viewers have to be viewing on a 4K enabled device to even see the extra resolution.
Lastly, ask yourself how evergreen this content actually is. If the answer is that it will still be relevant and enjoyed in 5-10 years, 4K will help its longevity.
If you want to avoid long uploads and the costs of shooting and editing in 4K, consider sticking to a slightly lower (but still HD) video size and format, like 1080p.
Tip #4: Use the Right Thumbnail Size for YouTube Videos
Your YouTube video thumbnail plays a critical role in how many clicks and views your video attracts. If you want to maximize the thumbnail’s success, then you’ll need to use the ideal thumbnail dimensions.
YouTube recommends 1280 x 720 pixels. This is the same 16:9 aspect ratio as a standard horizontal 1080p or 4K video. Following this size format ensures your thumbnail displays correctly, which will help it generate more engagement.
When filming and uploading your YouTube videos, there are a few key size elements to consider.
These include the size and quality of the video file, the aspect ratio you filmed in, and the format in which you upload the video. Paying attention to the details around your YouTube thumbnail is also important.
With the new YouTube Podcasts rolling out worldwide, be sure to stay up to speed on the changing recommendations from Google’s YouTube Support.
Your goal here is to guarantee that you provide the best possible experience for viewers. If they can access the right video quality and the video loads properly on their device’s screen, then you have one less barrier to growing your audience.
I’m the CEO of Wavve. I love encouraging creators and entrepreneurs to share their stories and lead with purpose.