Knowing the basic structure and parameters in a YouTube URL can come in handy on the occasion you need it. Here’s how to find the video ID, link to a specific timestamp, and more.

What is youtu.be? link icon

YouTube has its own domain for URL shortening: youtu.be. It’s roughly equivalent to youtube.com/watch.

Query parameter basics link icon

Query parameters can be added to a URL just by suffixing it with something like ?key=value&something=else. That example sets key to value and something to else. Note how the first parameter is prefixed with ?, and then the following parameters are separated with &.

[What is a URL?](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn/Common_questions/What_is_a_URL#parameters) by [Mozilla Contributors](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/MDN/About/contributors.txt) is licensed under [CC-BY-SA 2.5](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/)
What is a URL? by Mozilla Contributors is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.5

See the page on the Mozilla Developer Docs for more information on the anatomy of a URL.

Linking to a video link icon

Here’s the video I’ll be using as an example:

I embedded that video on my website with this code:1

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{{< youtube F6va6tg62qg >}}

The argument there (F6va6tg62qg) is the video ID, which is the unique identifier for the video. Here’s how the YouTube URLs for that video look:

Take note that on youtube.com, the video ID is provided as a query parameter, and on youtu.be, it’s just provided as the path of the URL.

Linking a specific timestamp link icon

You can add the t= parameter to the URL to have it automatically seek to a specific timestamp when opened. The value can be expressed in hours, minutes, and seconds (using h, m, and s respectively). Here’s how that looks:

Unfortunately my example video isn’t long enough to show hours or minutes, so here’s a different one:

Those link 3 minutes and 14 seconds into the video. Notice how the youtube.com link prefixes the t= parameter with an & since it’s the second parameter. The youtu.be link just uses a ? because it’s the first (and only) parameter.

Playlists link icon

The list= parameter contains the ID of the playlist you’re watching the video from, if any. Otherwise, the parameter is omitted. Here’s how that looks:

There, the playlist ID was PLwxnUUM01nt2nMh9DPq09e6fIDbumybgt. You can link to the playlist itself with a format like:

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https://youtube.com/playlist?list=[playlist_id]

For example, the direct link to the playlist in the two example links I used is:

As far as I know, it’s not possible to link to a playlist using youtu.be.

Further reading link icon

This Stack Exchange answer is a good reference for some other YouTube parameters.


  1. I use a static site generator called Hugo for my website. It has a built in “shortcode” which is a feature that allows me to embed certain code blocks into a page. One of its shortcodes, named youtube, allows me to embed a YouTube video into my post. You can read more info about shortcodes on the Hugo docs ↩︎