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Tip of the Week: Including YouTube Videos in Interactive Documents

This InDesign tip on including YouTube videos in interactive documents was sent to Tip of the Week email subscribers on November 22, 2016.

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Ever wish you could include YouTube content in an interactive document exported from InDesign? You can do it if you export to EPUB 3 (fixed-layout or reflowable) or Publish Online.

First, go to YouTube and find the video you want. Then in the controls under the video, click Share, and then Embed.


Copy the full embed code. Switch to InDesign. Make sure nothing is selected, and then paste. At first, you’ll see a small square while InDesign is checking the embed code.


Then you’ll see a full-size frame where the video will be. Don’t worry if it shows an error message. That won’t show up in your exported file.


Position the video frame where you want it in your layout.


You can preview the video in the EPUB Interactivity Preview Panel.


Then export to EPUB 3 and/or Publish Online. Note that the EPUB will not pass a validation check because the YouTube video is a remote resource not listed in the content.opf file inside the EPUB package. But as long as you have an internet connection, the video will play inside the EPUB.


To see an example, check out this Publish Online document, featuring the silly but incredibly popular Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen song.

By the way, this same trick for Vimeo videos too. Just click on the Share button, then click on the embed code, copy it, and paste in InDesign.


Also, you can click on Show Options and decide whether to include things like the title, byline, text link, etc, before copying the code.


Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of courses on InDesign and Illustrator. Husband. Dad. Dog walker.
Mike Rankin

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19 Comments on “Tip of the Week: Including YouTube Videos in Interactive Documents

  1. This is great. However, when I do this (from Youtube or Vimeo) and then size down my video (using scale or dragging) it looks fine but when I publish online I’ve got a small corner of my video and no controls. Any ideas??


  2. Hi,

    I’ve embedded a youtube video in my file and then tried to create a button that hides the video when it’s clicked. However, the video still plays while hidden and the sound is still heard. Is there a way to control playback so that the video will pause once the button is clicked?


  3. Hi,
    I had the same problem. It just worked when I deployed the book somewhere online and jut with readium cloud reader.

  4. a snag. the copy & paste works just fine, but then when I export to Epub (Fixed) it shows the video for a second without playing then goes blank white. no controls, nothing. ????

    • Deirdre, try changing the width and height dimensions in the embed code to match the size of the frame in InDesign.

      <iframe width="624" height="356" …

      • THANK YOU! It took slight experimenting: measurements in mm x 3 gave what was needed. Many thanks.

  5. Hi Mike,
    Does this only work if you have CS6 or later?
    I have CS5 and it just seem to paste the code as text or what am I doing wrong?


  6. Mike – did you click anywhere first, even on the area outside the page? You need to click nothing at all before pasting, even though that does not feel natural.

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