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Home / Tips and Tricks / The trick to link to specific start times in YouTube videos right from your phone «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

The trick to link to specific start times in YouTube videos right from your phone «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

With the desktop version of YouTube, so the one you open on your computer, you can add a timestamp to any video you watch in a few clicks. When you share the link or later need to reference it yourself, the timestamp ensures that the video starts at the specified point, not the beginning. Unfortunately, it is impossible to use timestamps from the YouTube mobile app, but there are solutions.

Whenever you click the “Share” button for a video in the official YouTube app on Android or iOS, you can only copy or share the main link of the video with no start time set. There is no option to add a timestamp. And long pressing timestamps in a video̵

7;s description doesn’t do anything. We hope Google adds a “start at” option to its mobile app, but we have other ways to do this from a smartphone until then.

Go to a section

  1. Manually add a timestamp
  2. Add a timestamp from the desktop site
  3. Add a timestamp with a shortcut (iOS only)

Option 1: Manually add a timestamp

The easiest way to add a timestamp to a YouTube video on Android and iOS is to do it manually. All you need to do is search for a video, copy the URL as you normally would and then paste it somewhere where you can edit it. However, depending on the structure of the URL, you can add one of the two options below to the end of a URL.

If the original YouTube video URL has a question mark somewhere, use the option that starts with an ampersand (&). These YouTube URLs are the ones you would see in a web browser tab.

  • Example: youtube.com/watch?v=aVXSQPoEQr4& t = 1m28s

If the URL does not have a question mark, use the option that starts with the question mark. These YouTube URLs are the URLs you will get after using the “Share” button below the YouTube video.

  • Example: youtu.be/UunzPAjKeKs? t = 14s

Now you need to know how to add the specific time. After the tag “t =” you can add the time in minutes (m) and seconds (s). So if you want to add a timestamp of 2 minutes and 34 seconds (or 2:34), your timestamp will look like this:

If the timestamp is less than a minute, you can also just use seconds. For example, delete the minute you want to have for 42 seconds (0:42) t = 46s for a timestamp in the video.

If you’re dealing with a video that’s longer than an hour, just add one h for hours, with the hour just before it. As an example, let’s start a video that lasts 25 minutes and 8 seconds in the first hour (01:25:08). Without the hours tag added, it should look like this:

  • Example: youtube.com/watch?v=RDfjXj5EGqI& t = 1h25m8s
  • Example: youtu.be/RDfjXj5EGqI? t = 1h25m8s

Finally, you can only use seconds, period. So for the video above which is over an hour, it could be written as & t = 5108s or ? t = 5108s– and this is basically how YouTube formats it on the desktop site when you click “Start at” after “Share”. As another example, for that video starting at 2:34, it would be & t = 154s or ? t = 154s

Option 2: Add a timestamp using the desktop site

If you don’t want to manually type the timestamp at the end of the video URL, you can let YouTube do it for you. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as sharing a video from the mobile app or website. The key is to get the desktop version of the YouTube web app in your web browser of choice.

In your web browser, navigate to the YouTube video you want to share at a specific time. You can copy the URL of a shared link or the YouTube app. If you search for the video in your browser’s search engine, tapping a YouTube video result will likely open the video in your YouTube app. To avoid that, long press the link, open it in another tab and go to that tab.

Once you’ve loaded a video into your browser, request YouTube’s desktop site. This depends on your web browser, but it shouldn’t take more than a few taps. From Chrome or Safari, do the following:

  • Chrome: Click the vertical or horizontal ellipsis, then tap “Desktop Site” or “Request Desktop Site”.
  • Safari: Click on the “AA” icon and then tap “Request Desktop Site”.

Once on the desktop version of YouTube, play the video, go to the specific moment in the video that you want to timestamp, pause it, and tap the “Share” button next to the thumb icons up down.

In the popup that appears, tap the box next to “Start at [##:##], “which should show the time when you paused the video. If the box is checked, the URL in the popup should change, indicating that the timestamp has been added.

Now click “Copy” or manually copy the URL to save it to your clipboard so you can paste it where needed afterwards. You can also share the timestamped video through social media site, email, SMS, etc., and the timestamp will be recorded.

Option 3: Add a timestamp with a shortcut (iOS only)

Getting the timestamp of a YouTube video with JavaScript is not an easy task in Shortcuts, but there are more primitive methods for building a shortcut. By that I mean a shortcut that asks you to enter the time manually. It’s not super convenient, but it can be faster than the methods above.

One of those options is the shortcut “YouTube Start at Time” created by RoutineHub dev SpencerTambo. With it, you can quickly add a timestamp to a YouTube video with a few taps. You can download the shortcut from the iCloud link below or from the Shortcut’s RoutineHub page (where updates can be found).

The Shortcuts app should open automatically, but if it doesn’t, tap “Get Shortcut”. You will then see an example for ‘YouTube Start at Time’ where you can view the shortcut’s actions. To add the shortcut to your library, scroll all the way to the bottom and tap “Add untrusted shortcut”. (You may need to enable untrusted shortcuts in Settings if this is your first time using a third-party shortcut.)

Now look up the video in the YouTube mobile app or mobile site – it doesn’t matter. Pause it where you want the timestamp and write down in your mind the minutes and seconds you want to enter later. Then tap “Share” and a popup will appear. Swipe through the options and tap “More”. This will open the Share sheet. Then scroll down and tap your new “YouTube Start at Time” shortcut.

When the shortcut runs, you will be prompted to enter the timestamp in minutes and seconds. First enter the minutes as prompted. If it only takes seconds, type 0 and click “Done”. Second, enter the seconds and tap “Done” again. (If you need hours, you can convert them to minutes or seconds or edit the shortcut to include an hour prompt.)

The Share sheet will reappear. You now have several options to share your new YouTube video with timestamp, such as copy to your clipboard or share directly to any number of native and third party apps. Below is the link with timestamp (Turn right) is shared in Messages.

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Cover photo and screenshots by Nelson Aguilar / Gadget Hacks

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