The Complete Guide to YouTube Playlists

Since launching in 2005, YouTube has become the internet‘s premier destination for video content. Over 2 billion logged-in users now visit YouTube each month searching for entertainment, information, tutorials, and more.

With such an expansive catalog of content, organizing and tracking your favorite videos on the platform used to be challenging. But with the introduction of playlists in 2006, YouTube provided a game-changing tool for users and creators to customize their video collections.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through everything you need to know about building effective YouTube playlists for your personal viewing or public channel using clear steps and up-to-date research.

A Brief History of YouTube Playlists

While YouTube originally started as a simple video hosting platform, the ability to organize content into playlists was one of the first major feature additions just a year after launch.

Early YouTube playlists were basic but allowed saving videos into ordered collections that made rediscovering favorite clips much easier.

Over the years, playlists on YouTube have rapidly advanced to include:

  • Enhanced organization features
  • Personalized recommendations
  • Privacy settings
  • Adding collaborators
  • Seamless integration across mobile apps
  • Appearing directly on channel homepages

Playlists have grown from a handy organization tool into one of the core features powering the world‘s largest video site.

The Rising Popularity of Playlists

YouTube has seen playlists surge in popularity among both individual viewers and major media brands managing influential channels.

According to internal data, over 200 million logged-in YouTube viewers now interact with playlists every single day. This equates to almost 10% of the 2 billion users visiting the site monthly creating or engaging with video collections.

The share of total YouTube watch time driven by playlists has also grown from 25% in 2017 to over 35% projected for 2023. Playlists clearly drive more engaged viewing sessions.

YouTube Playlist Usage Stats

And the demographic using playlists the most might surprise you. While younger audiences dominate platforms like TikTok, YouTube playlists overindex with users aged 35-54. These are typically highly-engaged power users extracting more value from the platform.

In summary, playlists continue gaining adoption across YouTube‘s global user base. Both casual viewers and professional YouTube channels rely on video collections now more than ever.

Understanding how playlists work and using them effectively is crucial to getting the most out of the website and app. So let‘s jump into the step-by-step process!

Building Playlists on Desktop

While YouTube works seamlessly on mobile devices, most extended viewing sessions still happen on laptop and desktop computers. We‘ll start by covering how to create and manage playlists using the YouTube website:

Step 1: Sign Into Your Account

Navigate to and make sure to log into the account you want playlists connected to by clicking your profile picture. Managing playlists works best when tied directly to your YouTube identity and viewing history.

YouTube Desktop Sign In

Step 2: Search for Videos to Add

The next step is finding videos to add into a new playlist. I recommend having specific topics or themes in mind before creating each playlist.

For example, click the search magnifying glass to find videos related to cooking, travel adventures, woodworking tutorials or other well-defined interests. Focusing on distinct niches for video collections keeps things organized as your channel evolves.

YouTube Desktop Search

YouTube search allows quickly finding videos on every topic to compile into playlists.

Step 3: Open Video Options Menu

Once you select a video to potentially add into a playlist, open the options menu by clicking the More (3 vertical dots) icon below the video player. This expands available actions including the crucial Save to playlist feature.

Opening YouTube Video Options

Opening this menu is the starting point for managing and organizing any video on YouTube.

Step 4: Select Save to playlist

In the expanded video options menu, choose *Save to playlist to add this video into one of your existing YouTube playlists or create an entirely new one.

Clicking this triggers a playlist management panel allowing you to organize and grow your custom video collections.

Choosing YouTube Save to Playlist

Using the Save to playlist option is the gateway to building ordered groups of favorite videos.

Step 5: Add to Existing Playlist or Create New

After selecting Save to Playlist, a popup will appear allowing you to manage playlists tied to your YouTube account.

Options here include:

  • Adding the video to current playlist(s)
  • Creating an entirely new playlist
  • Naming new playlists
  • Configuring privacy settings

For example, you can create niche playlists like "Quick Healthy Dinners" or "Woodworking for Beginners Tutorials."

YouTube Playlist Creation Popup

Think carefully about organizing principle when adding videos to existing library playlists or creating new ones.

Step 6: Configure Playlist Privacy Settings

While saving videos to build up useful playlists for yourself, YouTube also give options controlling privacy:

  • Public – Anyone can view your playlist and videos
  • Unlisted – Only accessible through direct URL link
  • Private – You are the only viewer for personal organizing

I recommend public visibility for playlists containing your best videos. This allows the collection to appear on your channel driving more viewers.

However, unlisted makes sense for works-in-progress where you are finding the best videos on a topic before promoting it publicly.

YouTube Playlist Privacy Settings

Private playlists function best as your own organizational tool if you want to keep videos accessible to only yourself.

Choosing the right privacy setting depends on your goals for each created playlist. Configure this in the initial popup when saving your first video into new collections.

Step 7: Add More Videos

Once you title and configure a playlist, continue using the Save to playlist action to add more relevant videos whenever you come across them on YouTube.

Playlists often start with a few solid videos and can grow over time into huge collections with hundreds of clips. Building them up piece-by-piece is part of the value.

Adding More Videos to Playlists

Let your playlists evolve gradually by using Save to playlist to add each great video you want to revisit.

Now that you understand the basics of playlist creation on desktop, let‘s examine how this works in mobile apps.

Building Playlists on YouTube Mobile Apps

In the modern era, smartphones have also become a dominant way viewers discover and watch YouTube content. Thankfully the platform‘s iOS and Android apps make building and managing playlists equally accessible.

Here is an overview of creating playlists using YouTube mobile apps:

YouTube Mobile Icon

Step 1: Login to Your YouTube Account

If not already done automatically, select your account profile icon to login to the account where you want to create and control playlists.

Managing video collections works best when tied directly to your personal YouTube identity and viewing history.

YouTube Mobile Profile Login

Step 2: Go to Library Section

At the bottom of the YouTube mobile app are five main navigation icons. Tap on the Library icon to access your personal playlists and viewing history.

YouTube Mobile Library Navigation

This Library section should be your starting pointing for accessing existing playlists or creating new ones in the app.

Step 3: Tap "+" or "New Playlist"

Once in your Library, tap on either the + floating action button or New Playlist red button. Both activate options for creating a fresh playlist in the app.

YouTube Mobile Create New Playlist

This is the starting point for assembling a new collection of videos within the app.

Step 4. Name Your Playlist

After selecting to create a new playlist, the app will prompt choosing a name. Try to think of informative names describing the genre, topic or purpose of videos contained.

For example, name playlists based on activities ("Cooking Tutorials"), interests ("Book Review Videos") or levels ("Python Programming Beginner Tutorials).

YouTube Mobile Name Playlist

Use clear category-focused playlist names to stay organized as your channel subscriptions grow.

Step 5. Add Videos to Playlist

After naming your playlist, YouTube will bring up options for adding videos:

  • Recently watched – Videos from your history
  • Liked videos – Preview liked content
  • Choose from playlists – Existing playlist videos
  • Search – Manually lookup vides

Tap videos from any section to select them for adding into your new or existing playlist.

YouTube Mobile Add Videos

Repeat for multiple videos to quickly build up playlists with your favorite content.

Step 6. Arrange Order & Manage

As you add videos, you can arrange their order simply by drag-and-drop on the screen. This allows manually curating the most relevant or high-quality clips to the top.

You can also easily remove any unwanted videos. Continue returning to add more videos over time as you come across relevant videos from your subscriptions and recommendations.

YouTube Mobile Manage Playlist Order

Fine tune the ordering of videos within any playlist to showcase your favorite or most informative clips first to viewers.

While the mobile YouTube app historically had some playlist limitations compared to desktop, continuous updates continue bringing parity to both platforms. Playlists created or managed on mobile now almost identically mirror the capabilities from a laptop or computer.

Next let‘s explore how to work collaboratively on playlists by adding team members as contributors.

Adding Collaborators to Playlists

Maintaining playlists containing hundreds or thousands of videos can be demanding, especially for popular YouTube channels with extensive libraries.

Thankfully YouTube has robust collaborative tools allowing multiple contributors to manage and expand individual playlists.

Key Benefits of Playlist Collaborators

Adding collaborators brings significant benefits:

Shared Workload

Managing 1000+ video playlists involves continual effort. Collaborators prevent single person bandwidth limits.

Expanded Expertise

Finding best videos across all topics is virtually impossible solo. Collaborator niche knowledge is invaluable.

Enhanced Curation

Varying perspectives between collaborators improves overall collection curation.

Improved Responsiveness

Shared admin reduces delays approving/adding quality viewer submissions.

In summary, collaborators amplify the overall quality, breadth and responsiveness for sizable YouTube playlists.

How to Add Collaborators on YouTube Playlists

The process enabling collaborator permissions is simple:

  1. Visit Playlist Management Section
  2. Open Playlist Customization Menu
  3. Toggle "Collaborate" Setting to On
  4. Use "Invite" Link to Add Collaborators

New collaborators must have Google accounts to access shared playlist management and add capabilities.

Here is a visual walkthrough:

YouTube Playlist Collaborator Steps 1

Activate the collaborate switch for any playlists you want to allow contributors on within your channel‘s Playlists tab.

YouTube Playlist Collaborator Steps 2

Use the invite link to grant access to colleagues, permitting them to also add videos alongside you.

With collaborators enabled, make sure to establish clear guidelines and creative direction focused on serving the viewer.

Now that we‘ve covered the core foundations of building YouTube playlists, let‘s recap key takeaways as you being applying these best practices.

Recap & Next Steps

The ability to create ordered collections of videos on YouTube has progressed from a handy organization utility into a core feature driving increased engagement.

Playlists allow personalizing the platform around specific topics and sharing your favorite videos in an accessible format. This drives more repeat viewership of quality content.

In this guide you learned:

  • Importance of Playlists – Organization, discoverability, channel growth
  • Desktop Creation – Account login → Find videos → Save to playlist
  • Mobile Creation – App login → Library → New playlist
  • Collaborators – Delegate curation at scale

With these foundations, you now have a blueprint for building polished, optimized YouTube playlists.

As next steps elevating your approach even further, consider:

  • Personalize Playlists with unique titles/descriptions
  • Curate Smart Chapters with timestamps to highlight key moments
  • Feature Playlists prominently on your channel homepage
  • Collaborate Strategically to match niche experts with relevant collections

Implementing these playlist best practices will deepen viewer engagement and satisfaction with your YouTube channel or media brand.

We covered a lot of ground detailing the playlist creation process across platforms, use cases and recommendations. Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions!

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