The YouTube ecosystem is home to millions of videos, and thousands more are uploaded every single day. However, on the same day thousands of videos are hidden away from view. Perhaps the channel that originally uploaded felt that it wasn’t up to standards anymore. It’s not uncommon for popular channels to hide their early work.
On the other hand, a channel may feel that a video is out of date. Whatever the reason is, hidden videos on YouTube aren’t entirely hidden. In fact, there’s several categories of YouTube videos; hidden is only one kind.
The Four Categories of YouTube Videos
Before you can dive into finding hidden videos, you have to first understand what it is you’re asking for. Believe it or not, there’s more than one kind of ‘hidden’ YouTube video. In fact, there’s four, and each category operates differently.
In order to watch each category, certain perimeters need to be met like a Gmail account or direct link. One category is completely unwatchable by the public.
Let’s take a look at what each category is, and how you can gain access to each.
Public YouTube Videos
YouTube is home to literally millions upon millions of videos. If you had immortality and were tasked with watching every single video, it would take you a few million years—maybe a billion. In other words, you can waste a lot of time on YouTube.
Whenever you search for something on YouTube, every single result you get is considered a ‘public’ YouTube video. Anyone who is anyone can click on a video from the search results and enjoy the content, including age restricted content. However, that isn’t the entire picture.
Unlisted YouTube Videos
Unlike public YouTube videos, there’s a fraction of videos that are deemed ‘unlisted,’ otherwise known as ‘hidden’ YouTube videos. This doesn’t mean YouTube hides them, but rather the channel that uploaded it has decided to hide it from the public.
When a channel uploads a video, they have the choice between three types of privacy settings: Public, Private, or Unlisted. If they choose to unlist a YouTube video, it is no longer searchable through the search bar, nor can people find it on that video’s channel.
So, is that it? Not quite. An unlisted YouTube video can still be watched. In fact, the only way you can find an unlisted video is if you have the video’s URL link. Once you have that, you are free to watch it.
Private YouTube Videos
While unlisted videos can still be viewed through the URL link, ‘private’ YouTube videos are an entirely different matter. If a channel chooses to set a video to ‘Private,’ it can’t be searched, it can’t be viewed on the channel, nor can it be viewed through its URL link.
In other words, it is effectively hidden for good. Until the video owner decides otherwise, you can’t watch it.
Age Restricted YouTube Videos
YouTube has a lot of content to watch and enjoy, but some of it may not be appropriate for all ages. Depending on the subject, you can gate off a YouTube video with an age restriction. However, this isn’t one that you can simply bypass by lying about your age.
In an effort to protect young minds, any age restricted content cannot be unlocked unless the viewer has a Gmail account. But it doesn’t end there. The Gmail account itself must also be within the age range. If your Gmail account says you’re 12, and the video has an age restriction of, say, 13, then you won’t be able to view the video.
So, how do you bypass this? Well, if you want to risk getting in trouble, you can always create a new Gmail account. Unless your Gmail account checks out, you won’t be able to watch it.
Alternatively, you can download YouTube videos too, but you need to first get permission from the channel—otherwise you’re likely breaking copyright laws. Unfortunately, websites that provide the service fall in and out of use due to YouTube changing frequently.
In conclusion, when someone asks to find ‘hidden’ YouTube videos, they’re typically referring to unlisted YouTube videos. They’re really the only type of hidden videos that have a workaround—the direct link—while the other categories, aside from public videos, don’t have some special way of viewing. Sure, age restricted videos might, but it’s hit or miss.