I often get asked by our customers how they can change the start time of the Internet Videos and Video Email Newsletters we produce for them once they are posted to YouTube. The good news is that it is possible to adjust the position at which YouTube videos start and finish by altering their URL and embed codes. 

With the explosion in the use of Internet Videos viewers are becoming more selective about what they watch and how long they will view it for. It is more important than ever with video to get straight into key messages and points if you are to hold your audience’s attention. If a key point that is relevant to the person you are sharing the video with comes in at around 3 minutes into the video, it is far from guaranteed they will watch the previous 2:59 to get there!

Altering the start time of a YouTube video can be useful for a wide range of reasons and the good news is that it is easily done by changing the odd link and a few lines of simple code. I know just the mention of the word “code” might be enough to make you quit this page, but please stay with me! I will do my best to make these tips really easy to follow and implement, and if you do have any trouble with them, just give me a call and I will happily talk you through them.


How to adjust the start position of a YouTube video via it’s URL:

The first part of this post explains how you can change the URL (Uniform Resource Locater) of a YouTube video to change the position in which the video starts. When you view any video on YouTube it has its own specific URL. This provides information on what the video is, where it is from and contains all the information that enables you to share it via email, twitter, Facebook etc. The URL looks like jumbled letters and number code. When you watch a video on YouTube and press the “share” button this is an example of the sort of URL link you will be presented with: http://youtu.be/BogitQpXh8A

The good news is that you can tweak these YouTube URL’s so that the video starts at a specific point in time. If you wanted your video to start playing at 3 minutes and 05 seconds then at the very end of the YouTube URL you need to add #t=3m05s to the end of it. The “#t” shows you are asking the URL to set a time to start the video and “m” and “s” stands for the desired time in minutes and seconds.

One of our clients asked me this morning how we play videos in our virtual studios. I have added a specific start time to one of our videos that shows Rachel talking about this and our customer can now click on a link and see the exact information they were looking for. I have used the same URL code as before but have just added the new time addition in red as you can see. Please feel free to click on the link to test that this works! http://youtu.be/BogitQpXh8A#t=3m05s 

That particular method only works when sending the YouTube link to someone or somewhere that accepts them and will not work on embedded videos (those you play out on a video box on a website page or blog). To alter the start times of these videos we need to play with the actual video code (not as scary as it sounds!)

How to adjust the start position of a YouTube video via it’s embed code:

Now this is a mild warning to you! This method is more complicated than the previous example so I will try to make it as clear as possible. As I said earlier, if you have any problems with this please do let me know and I will talk you through it.

To change the start time of embedded videos you need to tweak the actual embed code of the video, rather than just its URL link. To do this you need to click the “embed” button under a YouTube video to reveal an Iframes code.

In order to set a new start time for the video you first need to calculate the point in time that you would like the video to start. Unfortunately, unlike the URL example that allows you to set minutes and seconds this method uses seconds only. Therefore to make this embedded version of our example video start at 3 minutes 05 seconds we would need to set the time to 185 seconds. To add this start time to the code you need to delete anything that comes after the “?” of the video code, in this case “rel=0”.I have underlined the areas that you need to remove from the example part of the code below. To set the new start point of your video you need to replace this vacant space with “start=TIME” which in this case is 185. Therefore the code I have added to this example is “start=185” as shown in italic and bold in the code below:

Original Code:width= width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/BogitQpXh8A?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

New Finished Code: width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/BogitQpXh8A?start=185" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

I would recommend when possible that you edit this code within the box that appears on the YouTube website. Some websites do not respond well when you insert code from other sources such as Microsoft Word, that use a different font. Just another little point that you need to consider!

To show you how an embeded video looks and plays with a set start time on a web page page I have embedded this video in the space below:


Reading this post back it does look quite complicated, but I have tried to explain every stage in detail so it makes sense as you go through the process. The best thing to do is have a play with some videos and test different start times to see how it looks. I hope you have found this tip useful, and if you need any help or assistance at all, please do contact me.

You may also like these posts:

- 3 Useful YouTube Tips for Businesses and Individuals
- 3 Ways to Search For & View New Video Content on YouTube
- YouTube Online Editor Tools - A Video Test & Review

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Simon Malone