In a nutshell

  • A YouTube playlist is a collection of videos hosted on YouTube that a channel create and curate. 
  • Playlists make it easier for viewers to watch their favorite video series or categories without interruption. 
  • Playlists can be shared, made public or kept private and viewers can save playlists, adding them to their library.

While playlists aren’t always necessary, they can be extremely helpful for you viewers in certain instances. Whether your a let’s player that chops up their play sessions across separate videos or working on a weekly series, playlists can help organize your content and enhance your viewer engagement. Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding what a YouTube playlist is, why it’s beneficial and how to effectively create and manage one.

What is a YouTube playlist?

A YouTube playlist is essentially a collection of selected videos grouped together based on some type of commonality. Typically, creators use playlists to organize their content based on video series they make, such as YLYL videos or reaction content, or content that follows a similar emotional format, like funny videos. While creators normally only include their own videos in their playlists, playlists can also include videos from other channels. Often times, this is a playlist of music creators like to use. For example, streamer Ludwig has a music playlist on his channel called “Mogul Grovers Official Playlist.” He uses this playlist as background music for his streams and makes that music accessible to his audience if they want to listen to it outside of his streams.

Why are YouTube playlists helpful?

CoryxKenshin playlists
CoryxKenshin playlists

For creators, YouTube playlists are helpful for the following reasons:

  • Increased visibility: Playlists can boost views across your videos. When one video ends, the next one begins, which helps increase the time viewers spend on your channel.
  • Better organization: Playlists allow you to organize your content in a way that’s digestible and logical, making it easier for your audience to find and consume related videos.
  • Enhanced channel SEO: By using relevant keywords in your titles and descriptions, you can improve your playlists’ searchability and visibility on YouTube.

At the end of the day, it’s about the viewer. A creator’s main focus should be to get (and keep) the most amount of eyeballs on their channel as possible, and playlists help do exactly that. Viewers like playlists because they provide:

  • Ease of access: Playlists provide a seamless viewing experience without the interruption of searching for the next video. Viewers can binge-watch your content based on what interests them.
  • Personalized collections: Viewers can save playlists for later viewing, making it convenient to return to their favorite types of videos.
  • Discoverability: Playlists can help new viewers discover more of your content. This increases their connection with you and your content, and may be the deciding factor in them becoming long-term fans.

How to make a YouTube playlist

Creating a playlist on YouTube is straightforward. Here’s how to start:

  1. Sign into your YouTube account.
  2. Find a video you want to add to a new playlist and click on the Save icon below the video.
  3. In the pop-up menu, you’ll see an option to “Create new playlist.” Enter a name for your playlist and choose its privacy setting: Public, Unlisted or Private.
    • Public: Anyone can search for and view the playlist.
    • Unlisted: Only those with the link can view the playlist.
    • Private: Only you can view the playlist.
  4. After creating your playlist, continue adding videos by clicking the Save icon on other videos and then selecting your newly created playlist. Alternatively, you can go into your playlist and click on the three vertical dots under the title. Then click Add Videos. From there, you can search for the desired videos.

How to edit a YouTube playlist

Once your playlist is set up, you might want to make adjustments — like changing the order of videos, editing the title or description or deleting videos. Here’s how to manage it:

  1. Go to your channel.
  2. Click on Playlists.
  3. Click View full playlist on the one you want to edit.

From here, you can make various edits to your playlist. Here are a few options you can do and how to do them:

  • Rearrange the videos: To the left of each video, there should be two horizontal lines. Holding this icon and dragging up or down will move the video to the desired point in the playlist.
  • Add more videos: Click on Add Videos. You can add videos by searching YouTube, pasting a URL or selecting from your existing videos.
  • Change the title or description: There are two pencil icons in the YouTube playlist information box, one next to the title and the other next to the description. Click on either of those to edit their respective sections.
  • Adjust privacy settings: In the playlist settings, you can change the current privacy settings to one of the other options previously mentioned. Under your title and channel name, click on the currently active privacy setting (it’ll say Public, Unlisted or Private with a down arrow next to it). All of the other options will pop up, and from there you can choose which option you want.
  • Delete videos from a playlist or an entire playlist: If you need to remove a video, click on the three dots next to the video and select Remove from playlist. To delete the entire playlist, select the Delete Playlist option when you click the three dots under the title.
  • Change the thumbnail: By default, the thumbnail of your playlist will be the thumbnail of its first video. To change this, go into the playlist and click on the three dots next to the video with the desired thumbnail. Lastly, click Set as playlist thumbnail. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t allow custom thumbnails for playlists at this time.

Managing your YouTube playlist with collaborators

You can invite collaborators to a playlist. Inside the playlist, click the three dots under the title, then go to Collaborate. Once you enable the Collaborators can add videos to this playlist option, it’ll give you the option to add new collaborators via the shareable link.

To make it easier on your future self, YouTube also lets you select a playlist destination during upload (under the Playlists section). In your playlist’ settings, you can also select if you want newly added videos to appear at the top of the playlist; they are placed on the bottom by default. Using these options, you don’t have to edit your playlist every time you upload a new video.

Get more plays by making playlists

If they aren’t already, playlists should be a part of your core YouTube strategy. It’s also a good idea to keep the number of playlists on your channel low. This will help your viewers find playlists they want to watch easier. You also don’t have to put every video you make into a playlist. It’s best to put videos into a playlist only if they fit with the rest of the videos in it. By organizing your channel through playlists, you can create an engaging and viewer-friendly YouTube playlist that enhances the overall experience on your channel. So, if you have a few videos that would fit together in a playlist, go ahead and make that playlist. Your viewers will thank you for it.