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Keep your old YouTube channel icon after linking to Google+

Update: consumer Google+ is shutting down April 2, 2019. This will not affect your YouTube channel.

Update 2016: Your YouTube channel is now on a Brand Account or Google Account. Change your profile photo at If your channel is on a Brand Account, click the current profile photo at top right to switch to your Brand Account identity. 
Your YouTube channel icon is like a calling card. It not only appears on your channel, but when your subscribers are browsing your recent activity, next to your comments, when your channel is featured and so forth. Your channel icon represents you on YouTube.

<- My awesome YouTube channel icon

But now you've linked your channel to Google+ and suddenly your channel icon has been replaced by a generic blue image:

Those are the default images for a Google+ Page or Google+ Profile. You can change that default icon to your own custom image. And if you know which box to tick during the Google+ linking process, you won't lose your original YouTube icon at all.

Can you keep your YouTube channel icon when it's linked to Google+? Yes!

When your YouTube channel is linked to Google+, your channel uses your Google+ profile photo.  If you are linking your YouTube channel to a new Google+ Profile or Page, you should have the option of transferring your YouTube channel's icon to Google+ during the linking process:

However, if you do not select the "Keep YouTube photo" option, or that option is not offered to you during the linking process, your channel will end up with a generic Google+ icon or "bluehead".

How do you add a YouTube channel icon when the channel is linked to Google+?

To add a channel icon to your YouTube channel after linking to Google+, all you need to do is upload your custom image or avatar to your Google+ profile directly.

Sign into YouTube and click your channel's current icon in the upper righthand corner. The menu at the top of the page should link to either the "Profile" or "Page" that your YouTube channel is connected to.

If your channel is connected to a Google+ Page, it will look like this:

Click the Page or Profile link, and you will be taken to the connected Google+ Page or Profile. Once there, all you need to do is click the default profile icon to upload a new image of your choice.

Your profile photo will be shown in a circle on Google+ and in a square on YouTube, so you'll want an image that looks good as either shape.

But what if you've lost your copy of your original YouTube channel icon image? Can it be recovered? Yes again!

If you've been using the same YouTube channel icon for years, you may discover you no longer have a copy of the original image you uploaded. Fortunately there is an easy trick to find your old icon.

When your YouTube channel is not linked to Google+, and you upload a channel icon, it is stored by YouTube at a link like this:

The bold red random-looking string of characters in the URL is your YouTube channel's user ID. You can find the YouTube User ID on your channel's advanced settings page (

Replace the bold red portion of the URL above with your own channel's User ID, paste it into your browser's address bar. Hopefully that will show you your original YouTube avatar. You can then save the image to your computer and upload to your new Google+ Profile or Google+ Page.

(And as you may have guessed, this means that if your unlink your channel from Google+, your original channel icon should be restored as well.)

More information:

YouTube Help: Add a channel icon

Last update: March 2019


  1. How do you get the google+ link on a youtube channel???? Because it doesn't come automaticly on my channel.


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