Add Pop Ups to YouTube Videos

YouTube gives its users some easy, built-in options for adding “pop-up” elements to videos. Even though these options are somewhat limited in scope, they’re great because you don’t need to change your video content or use an external video editor to take advantage of them. 

With YouTube’s “end screen annotations” and “cards,” you can:

  • Drive subscriptions to your YouTube channel
  • Point viewers to additional videos, playlists, or YouTube channels
  • Link related videos together  
  • Create easy calls to action
  • Give your videos a more professional flair

The best part is that it isn’t all that hard to do! Once you figure out how to navigate through YouTube’s menus, it’s actually pretty intuitive.

It really doesn’t get any easier!

How to Easily Add End Screen Annotations to Your YouTube Videos

Ready to add some annotations to your YouTube videos? This step-by-step guide will walk you through the basics. By the end of this section, you should be able to add a “subscribe” button, a link to another video, and a link to a playlist at the end of any of your videos. After that, we’ll also explain how to add “cards” to your videos. 

But first things first! Let’s start annotating!

YouTube Studio


1. Log into your YouTube account. Open the account drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner, and choose YouTube Studio. 

Open drop-down menu and choose YouTube Studio

2. Click Content from the menu on the left, and find the video you want to add annotations to in the list on the right.  

Choose the YouTube video to add annotations

3. Hover over the video and click Details.

Hover over view and click details

4. From the Details page for the video, click Editor in the left-hand menu, then Add Element at the bottom of the page. 

Click editor then add element

5. You will see options to work from an annotation template, add a video, add a playlist, or add a “subscribe” button. You can also add link annotations, but ONLY after your Channel reaches 1000 subscribers and you join the YouTube Partner Program. Until then, that option will be greyed out. 

(Keep in mind that YouTube only allows you to add 4 of these elements to any one video—so, choose wisely!)

For this example, let’s get started by adding a “subscribe” annotation to the end of your video. 

Add a subscribe annotation to end of video

6. When you click “Subscribe” from the “Add element” menu, the video editor will open. Just fill in the time period that you want your annotation to show on screen. In this example, we started the annotation at 1:00:00, and it will end when the video ends at 1:05:08. Keep in mind that YouTube requires annotations to appear on screen for at least 5 seconds. 

Pro tip: It’s wise to create your videos with an outro of at least 5 seconds to get the most out of these kinds of annotations.

Now, you have a call-to-subscribe at the end of your video! Before you save the changes, though, YouTube requires you to make at least one of your end-screen annotations a video or playlist. So, let’s click “+ Element” from the editor screen and choose “video” this time. 

Click element and choose video 

7. From the “Video element” editor, you can choose to have YouTube show your most recently uploaded video or show its best choice for the user. If you scroll down a little more, you’ll see that you can also choose a specific video to display. 

For the purposes of this example, let’s let YouTube choose the best video. Don’t forget to set your timestamps, just like we did for the “subscribe” element!

Setting timestamps

8. Now, let’s go back to “+ Element” and add a playlist this time. Choose “Playlist” from the menu, and it will pop up a window that lets you select from any of your created playlists. I chose our World of Marketing playlist in this example. 

Note that you can manually drag and drop elements in the video preview on the right to change their position. Also, at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a visual representation of all the annotations you’ve added with their start and end times.  

Again, don’t forget to set the time period you want your playlist element to appear on screen!

9. You’re almost there! Now, quickly preview the video to make sure you like how it looks, then click Save. 

I also recommend that you navigate to the live video from your regular YouTube dashboard and watch it to make sure your annotations look the way you expected. 

If so, you’re all set! Way to annotate!

How to Add Cards to Your YouTube Videos

End-screen annotations aren’t your only option to add text and links to your videos. From the Video Details page, you can also add “cards” to your videos that pop up at the time you choose. 

The “cards” include text and a link to a video, playlist, or channel. Cards are much smaller and less invasive than end-screen annotations, which take up more screen real estate. 

It’s just another option for customizing your videos and driving more engagement!

Add cards to YouTube videos

The process for adding cards is very similar to the steps we laid out for adding end-screen annotations. Just click “Cards” in the bottom right-hand corner of the Details page for the video you want to add to. Then, choose the type of card, your text, and the time you want it to appear on screen. 

Click cards then choose the card type

Save your changes, and that’s it!

Wait—What About Other Kinds of On-Screen Popups, Graphics, and Text? 

Are you looking for ways to add more personalized graphics, animations, or on-screen text to your YouTube videos? Well, currently, YouTube doesn’t include much in the way of tools to do this. 

For now, you’re stuck adding those elements in an outside video editor or by working with video professionals that can do it for you before you upload your video to YouTube.

Don’t Forget the Most Important Step of All

I feel like a broken record saying this, but here it goes: 

Do not create annotations and cards and just walk away. 

If you don't go back to check the effectiveness of your video elements from time to time, you risk just wasting your time. And, as a busy professional, I'm guessing you don't have the time to waste!

Do you need a hand optimizing your YouTube videos, choosing the right annotations, or reviewing the effectiveness of your video strategy? Give us a call at 888.886.0939 or contact us with your questions. 

We love helping businesses make the most of their YouTube videos!


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Jim Folliard
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Founder, Director, Cinematographer, Photographer & Editor
Join The Conversation
one to one relationship marketing 10/13/2017 08:32 AM
It is very strong to use Add Pop-Ups (Annotations) to Your YouTube Videos. It will help to promote your business. one to one relationship marketing will help to promote your business. Overall blog is nice keep sharing :)
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Ghulam Mujtaba 09/08/2018 05:08 AM
Wow, That's great, Thanks for sharing the right things, i was wondering that how the pop-ups show in ending, but you are awesome! Nice blog, Keep sharing. :)
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sunny kings 02/21/2020 06:44 AM
Wow never knew there is something like this on the internet, I appreciate it. It is amazing and wonderful. Thanks Once More for this nice post.
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