How to share a video privately on YouTube or Vimeo

You can control who has access to your video (but you can't control who's sitting next to them while they watch it).

Dan Keinan wants “to share a private video with a few individuals,” but doesn’t want those individuals to share it with others.

Video services offer various ways to control who can and cannot watch a particular video. But for the most part they’re not all that secure. For instance, if you password-protect a video, your intended recipient might share that password with someone else.

You need a system where only the people you select can watch the video, and those people can’t share it with others. Here’s how to do that in Vimeo and YouTube.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

First, two caveats:

  1. Your chosen recipients will have to have an account with Vimeo or Google for this to work. A free account will do.
  2. You can’t control who’s sitting next to them as they watch it.

Vimeo

Not only must your recipients have Vimeo accounts, but you have to be following them. Go to their Vimeo homepages and click the Follow button.

Once that’s done, go to your My Videos page, find the video you want to keep private, and click the tool icon in the upper-left corner of the video. Click the Privacy tab.

This brings you to the Privacy Settings page. In the “Who can watch this video?” section, select Only people I choose.

A small field called Add or remove users will appear below that option. Click it. In the resulting dialog box, select people from those you follow and click I’m Done.

0722 vimeo people i choose

You have a few more settings to change. In the “Where can this video be embedded?” section, select Nowhere. And uncheck everything in the “What can people do with this video?” section.

After you click Save Changes, only those people can access the video—once you’ve sent them the URL, of course.

YouTube

I find this works smoothest if your recipients have Gmail accounts, and they're in your Googles/Gmail contact list.

0722 youtube edit

Click your avatar in the upper-right corner of the YouTube page and select Creator Studio. Then click the Edit button next to the video you want to make private.

On the default “Basic info” tab, pull-down the Public menu at the top of the right column and select Private. A field labeled “Add names, circles, or email addresses” will appear. Enter the appropriate names or addresses there. Youtube will help you fill them in.

0722 youtube people

When you’re done, click Share in the lower-right corner. Youtube will mail your recipients a link to the video. They can only access it from that link, and only if they’re logged onto Google with their own account.

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