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How can it be SO HARD to share a video on my phone with people right next to me?

Wedding photography
(Image credit: Claire Gillo)

So I was at a wedding, filming the speeches to share with other guests and people who couldn’t make it. Great, I thought, I’ll shoot it on my iPhone 13, which has good video quality, great stabilization and pretty good audio too.

Except that when I came to share it… I couldn’t.

WhatsApp seemed the only choice as that’s what most of the other guests were using, but WhatsApp has limits on both the video file size and the video length.

WhatsApp said no

I originally filmed the speeches in 4K, which produce big files and I assumed that was the problem for WhatsApp, so I fixed that by downsampling the footage to 1080. But even then WhatsApp wasn’t happy, limiting my video to a 6 minute window on the full clip. Which was a bit awkward given that the first speech was 13 minutes long.

I didn’t want to use Facebook for two reasons. Reason 1 is I don't like it (don't even get me started), and Reason 2 is that the bride and groom, quite rightly, didn't want all the guests sharing their day on social media before they did.

I also didn’t want to try to explain the complexities of WeTransfer, Google Drive and Dropbox to guests who only had their phones with them. It was meant to be a happy day, not a dreary lecture on cloud storage systems.

I finally worked it out the next day. The way to share videos simply and privately was to use YouTube. I had the YouTube app on my phone, I could select videos from my camera roll and the app would take care of the compression and the upload. My videos would be 1080 not 4K, but that’s fine for playback on a phone.

But then how did I avoid making a private family event publicly visible?

YouTube privacy settings

So YouTube has three privacy options when you upload. A Public video will be visible to anyone on your YouTube channel, and it will also turn up in search results. That wasn’t ideal here.

An Unlisted video does not show up on your channel, but anyone who has the link can view it – so you can just send the link to anyone who wants to watch the video. Unlisted videos will still turn up in searches, though. In practice, this is probably the best option for videos like mine because other guests can pass the link on to their friends.

But you can also upload a Private video. Here, the video does not appear on your public channel and it’s not searchable either. In fact the only way for other people to see a private video is if you share it with them individually – and their link will not work for anyone else.

How to share a Private YouTube video

Even this isn’t quite as simple as you would hope, however. You can set the status of a video to Private with the YouTube app, but you can’t then select the people you want to share it with. In fact, you can only do this by logging in to the YouTube Studio app in a browser.

Now, OK, so here we go. There is a YouTube Studio App for iOS but, bizarrely, this does not let you choose people to share a Private video with. You can set the video status to Private, but there’s no option for choosing who to share it with afterwards.

In fact, the only way to do this on an iPhone is to open YouTube Studio in Safari (you need to rotate the phone to a horizontal orientation to make the browser interface usable) then enter the email addresses of those you want to share the video with in Safari.

This is what my grandmother would have called 'cack-handed'. Don't look it up. It's not complimentary.

Now I know what to do, it will all be a lot simpler next time, but it does expose a bit of black hole in the whole idea of social content sharing. It should not be this difficult to share longer videos with other people sat right next to you.

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.