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How to choose or change your YouTube handle

This week YouTube announced that every channel will be able to add a unique handle. The @handle will identify your channel as a custom URL, and will be used for mentions, comments, search results, Shorts player and more.

Unlike custom URLs, there is no minimum subscriber requirement and you will be able to choose a new channel identifier.

The option to add a handle will be gradually rolling out over the next few weeks. Any new YouTube channel will also be able to set a handle. 

Think about the identifier you want to use. This is an opportunity to rebrand! You just need to make sure that the handle you want complies with YouTube's handle policy and is available.

Fortunately, your current custom URL, channel URL and legacy username URL will continue to work after you add the handle to your channel. That means any links you have previously shared to promote your channel should continue to work.

Note that every channel will have the opportunity to add a handle by November 14. If you do not add a handle by then, YouTube will automatically assign a custom URL based on your channel name or the current custom URL. 

 You will be able to change the handle if it doesn’t suit your channel.

Watch the video to learn about YouTube handle policy and how to choose or change your handle, or read on for details. 

How do you add or change a handle for your YouTube channel?

Email from YouTube: You can now choose your YouTube handle

YouTube will send you an email and post a notice in YouTube Studio when you can set your channel handle. 

1. Open 

On a mobile device you will be prompted to open the YouTube app to complete the handle selection process.

2. To add a handle, click Choose handle

If you have a reserved or existing handle, click Change handle to change it.

3. Select your handle. You may have several options:
  • A pre-filled handle based on your channel name
  • Handle based on your channel’s custom URL
  • Handle based on your channel's legacy username

The handle @PeggyK is not available. 

For a different handle, type in the handle field to find one that is available. If your chosen handle is not available, or does not comply with handle policy, YouTube may suggest an alternative.

4. Once you have found the available handle that you want, select it, and click Confirm selection

Once the handle is set, your channel will be accessible at

A few things to note:
  • If you do not select the reserved handle, it may be made available to other channels.
  • You will be able to change your selected handle to a different available handle
  • Handles are NOT case sensitive
  • If your channel has a verification badge, adding or changing your handle will not cause the badge to be removed. (But changing your channel name does remove the ☑)
  • Parent-managed supervised YouTube accounts for children too young to use YouTube on their own will not have access to handles
  • You are not allowed to sell or transfer a handle
  • Your handle is connected to your channel, rather than the underlying Google Account or Brand Account

Can you really select any handle for your YouTube channel?

While you can select a new handle for your channel, there are (of course) some limitations.
What is not allowed: 
  • It cannot be phone-number like 
  • It cannot be URL-like
  • It cannot already be in use or reserved for another channel
  • YouTube may also reserve some URLs.

How many URLs can a YouTube channel have?

If you have an older YouTube channel the new @handle will be just one of the URLs that people can use to access your channel.

Originally, when you created a YouTube channel, you had to select a username. That resulted in a channel URL like:

The legacy /user/ URL is a permanent channel identifier and cannot be changed.

People could (and can) use a short version, without the /user/, to access your channel:

In the very early YouTube days, it was also possible to set a custom URL that did not match the channel username. My channel is not as old as that, so I don’t have a personal example.

In 2014, YouTube switched to a Google+ based custom URL system, with the custom URL linked to your your Google account (or Brand Account), and serving as a custom URL for both your YouTube channel and your Google+ Profile. 

If your channel was eligible, you could then add a custom URL. The most recent eligibility requirements included 100 subscribers, 30 days old with profile image and banner.

The short vanity URL without the /c/ also directs to the same channel.

If different channels have the /user/ and /c/ URLs, the short URL will direct to the channel with the newer /c/ custom URL.

These custom URLs can be removed, and a new offered custom URL can be added. But there was no option to select your channel’s URL. Instead it there was an offer of one (or a few) options and you could take it or leave it.

And every channel has a permanent /channel/ URL:

So, just to recap, YouTube channels can have multiple URLs that direct to them. My channel can currently be reached using any of these links:
And now I’ve added my handle URL -- -- to the list.

Note: I am getting confirmation whether the current short URLs will continue to work after all handles are set. 

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