Have you ever been here? You have the perfect moment from a YouTube clip you want someone else to see. You dig up the exact quote, send the clip, and wait for the response. And then you get…

Crickets.

A few minutes later, you receive a text: I’m not watching all eight minutes of this video! Oops. “Just watch at about two minutes in,” you reply. Then, another response: “I have to get to work.” Foiled again.

YouTube timestamps can solve this problem by linking directly to a specific spot in the video you send. But they only work if you know how to add them consistently. Let’s explore how to add timestamps to YouTube videos so you can cut straight to the good parts.

What Are YouTube Timestamps?

youtube screenshot of movie quote: "frankly my dear i dont give a damn"
Source: youtube
What if you only want the famous movie line, but not the rest of the scene? Use YouTube timestamps.

A timestamp is a tiny bit of code you can add to your video URL. When someone else clicks this URL, the video will fast-forward to the exact spot you’ve marked on the YouTube video.

When you share videos, think of yourself as a DJ. A good DJ will cue up a song to start at a precise moment for maximum impact. By setting a trigger for a specific starting point, they keep the music moving and skip the boring intros.

Why bother placing YouTube timestamps? Because you’re the DJ of every link you send. Here’s what you can do:

  • Skip the introductions. This is especially useful if you’re sharing non-fiction videos. On the internet, there is something known as the Wadsworth Constant. This idea says you can safely skip past the first 30% of any online video to cut straight to the important stuff. It’s not always true, but it shows how common it is for YouTube videos to start with unnecessary context or introductions. (Tip: Keep this in mind when you start your own YouTube channel.)
  • Share with social media. Want to be worth a follow? Then remember the small courtesies, like timestamping, before you share a link on YouTube or Twitter.
  • Cue a specific quote or meme. Just want the iconic meme of Darth Vader saying “I am your father”? There’s no reason you have to send the entire four-minute video of the lightsaber duel.
  • Clip overly long videos. Sometimes, a tiny clip might not even be available. What if you want a famous line from Casablanca, but all you can find is a video playing the final 20 minutes of the movie? You may have to skip through it, cue up the scene, and then send it to someone else.

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How to Add YouTube Timestamps

youtube screenshot
Source: youtube
Follow our exact timestamp link to see the moment Bill Murray realizes he’s living the same day over and over.

Want to know how to add timestamps to YouTube videos? It’s easy to do if you know the basic URL formula. At the end of your YouTube link, add:

[question mark] + [ t ]+ [equal sign] + [number of seconds]

In the Groundhog Day example, https://youtu.be/hQCG2AwzTxA becomes https://youtu.be/hQCG2AwzTxA?t=11

Both links will direct people to the same video. The one with the extra timestamp tag (?t=11) will just take them to a more specific point.

Okay, so maybe learning some HTML code isn’t so easy to remember. Fortunately, there are ways you can automatically add this code to your link!

youtube screenshot of yoda
Source: youtube
What you’ll see when you right-click on a YouTube video if you want to share a link of Yoda falling. Sorry, Yoda.

First, a word of warning: YouTube only lets you timestamp based on seconds, not frames. So make sure you choose one second before your clip begins, just to make sure you don’t cut off the content you’re trying to share. With that in mind, here are the specific steps to link to a YouTube timestamp:

  • If you’re on desktop, pause the video at the precise second you want to mark and right-click. Choose “copy video URL at current time.” Now, the link you copied will be your timestamped URL. Voilá! You’re already done.
  • If you’re on mobile, unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t have a quick timestamp method. In the YouTube app, find your video, and then tap “Share” to copy the link. When you drop the link into a message, you can manually enter in the formula we mentioned above to add your timestamp.

How to Remove YouTube Timestamps

youtube screenshot of spiderman
Source: youtube
What if you have a timestamp of the “Careful, he’s a hero” scene, but want it in its full context?

To remove timestamps, copy the URL and remove the tag—including the question mark—at the end. This is easy enough to do on desktop, but if you’re on mobile, you may have to do some manipulation here. On most phones, you’ll notice a little pen or pencil icon when you paste an URL into a browser. Click the pen or pencil to edit the link and delete the last few characters of the URL until you have a clean YouTube link, no question marks included.

Share Your Videos Like a Pro

Before you go and become a successful YouTuber, it helps to know the basics. And this is one of the YouTube basics. Think of YouTube timestamps as a courtesy, a favor you’re doing for someone else. People are busy. They receive ten video links and a hundred texts a day. If you cut to the chase when you share your videos, you’ve done the internet equivalent of opening the door for them.

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Written by:

Dan Kenitz