Handles, usually indicated by an @ sign in front of a name or nickname, are useful for people who want to create an identity, indicate their opinions, or make a joke — and many social networks, such as Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook, have adopted it. Now, finally, YouTube is as well — and not just for its established creators.
Until recently, the only people who had YouTube handles — individual URLs that allow people to find your videos — were those who had at least 100 subscribers. The rest of us were using URLs that went something like youtube.com/user/your.handle. Now, YouTube is rolling out handles to all its users — @ names that will be used to identify you in channel pages, Shorts, and other YouTube areas.
YouTube is sending out notifications via email or, if you’re already a creator, via YouTube Studio; at that point, you will then be able to choose your handle. If you’ve already created a personalized URL for your channel, YouTube will automatically assign that as your default handle; but if you’re tired of it, you will be given the option to change it.
I haven’t created many YouTube videos — last I looked, I had two, neither of which is worth mentioning — but I received my invitation yesterday. So here is how the relatively simple process for choosing a handle works.
- When you get the email or the notice in YouTube Studio, click on the blue Choose a Handle button.
- You will be sent to https://www.youtube.com/handle, where you’ll see your personal icon, name, and another message that says it’s time to choose your handle. If you want, you can watch a video further down on that page that further explains the concept. Otherwise, click on Choose handle.
- If you have created YouTube videos and so already have a personalized URL, according to YouTube, you should already have that as your handle. Otherwise, the system will automatically select a handle for you. If it selects something unmemorable or ridiculous — such as mine, which was BarbaraKrasnoff8966 — don’t panic.
- You can change your assigned handle in the lower field, labeled (of course) Handle. Just type in a different handle (you can use up to 30 characters); the system will then tell you if it’s already been taken. Be aware that you can add numbers, underscores, or periods to adjust it — in other words, if your original selection is taken, putting periods or underscores between the words might work.
- When you’re happy with your handle, click on Confirm Selection. And that’s it!
Apparently, the new handles are simply reserved right now — they will actually go into use later this year. At that point, you will be able to access your videos by going to, say, firstname.lastname@example.org. However, your old youtube.com/user URL will still work. And if you decide you’re not happy with your choice, you can go back to https://www.youtube.com/handle, where the formerly Choose handle button will now read Change handle.
For more info, you can go to YouTube’s support page.