How to Embed a YouTube Video in an Apple Mail message

When you need to tell someone about your YouTube creation, you can send a link – but it is cool to have the video ‘embedded’ in your email. The message will then display the ‘poster image’ of your video, and allow the recipient to just to click ‘play’.


Apple Mail does not normally allow you to compose an HTML mail message, but there is a workaround that allows you to embed a YouTube Video in an Apple Mail message.

Addendum December 2011.

Dave’s comment below describes a much easier method to embed a video than the work around ‘Method Two’.

I would recommend you try Method One first. Consider Method Two deprecated.

Method One (Dave’s Method)

In Safari, Open the page for the you tube video that you want to embed.

Place your cursor just above the left hand top corner of the video and click and drag it to just below the bottom right hand corner.

Select copy.

Open a new mail message, and paste into the body.

No problems.

Method Two (Original Workaround – Now deprecated)

Thanks to for providing a lead on this.

Addendum March 2011 – Recent changes to Apple Mail and YouTube have made this process far more difficult than it should be. It still works, and the extra steps are now noted in this updated version of the post. However, you may wonder if it is now worth all the effort.

Step One

Go to YouTube, locate the video you want to embed, and copy the text in the ‘Embed’ section on the top right of the page, as in this screenshot.

NB You now also have to select the checkbox ‘Use old embed code’, as below

Step Two

Open the application TextEdit, create a New Document (File>New), and paste in the text you have copied from YouTube.
It will look something like this

<object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="425" height="344" codebase=",0,40,0"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="src" value=";hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344" src=";hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

Step Three

Change the format of this document using Format>Make Plain Text


Step Four

Save this document as message.html

Step Five

Open the newly saved document in Safari, by navigating to message.html using File > Open File…. (or Command-O)


Step Six

In Safari, select File > Mail Contents of this Page, or Command-I.
This will magically create a new message in Mail containing the embedded video.


Step Six – Save the message as Stationary

Addendum – Since Mail 4.2 and you need these somewhat awkward extra steps

-  Select ‘Save as Stationary’ from the file menu.

- Quit that message and open a new message.

-  Hit the ‘Show Stationary’ button and select the stationary you have just saved from the Custom menu

Step Seven – Edit and Send

Edit the message in Mail as you normally would, and then send it on its way


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25 Responses to “How to Embed a YouTube Video in an Apple Mail message”

  1. Andrew
    May 9th, 2010 | 11:53 am

    This doesn’t work. After I hit send the video doesn’t show up in the recipients email, or in my sent box.

  2. May 12th, 2010 | 9:59 pm

    Thanks Andrew. You are right, this strategy no longer works in Mail 4.2

    I have found a work around.
    Create the message as described up to and including Stage 6, then select ‘Save as Stationary’ from the file menu.
    Quit that message and open a new message.
    Hit the ‘Show Stationary’ button and select the stationary you have just saved from the Custom menu.
    Then send the message.
    Please let me know if that works for you.
    Tony Lembke

  3. Riccardo
    July 29th, 2010 | 2:24 am

    Thanks for the link, but I simply want to show the message I receive, in the dock without being forced to open the application “Mail” , because to show the messages in the dock I’m forced to select “Open to login” and I don’t want to do that.
    How can I do solve this problem?

  4. Justine
    September 21st, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    Dear Admin,

    This is really cool but I’m a total n00b and don’t understand your instructions, i’m finding them pretty unclear. I can’t actually do step 6 as it just comes up with that error message. So what do I do? I’m beginning to think that Apple Mail is just crap and I should switch to something else, but don’t know what to switch to! Lol Anyway if you could provide more detailed instruction on how to do this in Apple Mail version 4.3 that would be much appreciated. Thanks dude!!

    Justine :D

  5. K
    November 14th, 2010 | 1:03 am

    Thanks so much! I’ve been trying to email a cute video to a not-so-tech-savvy lady I work with, who didn’t know how to work a link. This makes me love my Mac even more!

  6. February 3rd, 2011 | 6:10 pm

    just tried this with the stationery. all I get is a black box when I open up the stationery in Mail. Using Mail 3.6. Do you have any updates? I got all the way through your directions–no problem, could see the video on the safari screen, but the transfer to Mail didn’t work. Any new suggestions?

    Can you respond by email?

  7. gretchen dean
    March 9th, 2011 | 9:31 am

    i’m running OS 10.5.8, apple mail 3.6.
    i tried both the original toot way and the stationery way, but i end up with simply a black rectangle in the incoming mail (sent to myself to test) although. the video’s first frame, along with a centered, ‘play’, arrow was showing when it went out.
    thanks for suggesting anything i may have done wrong.

  8. March 9th, 2011 | 4:19 pm

    Thanks Gretchen,

    Youtube have changed the standard way that they embed videos, so that now when you select the Embed button in YouTube, you also need to specify that you want the Old Embed Code.

    I have updated the screenshots in the article above to reflect this.

    This has all become a far more complicated process than it should be, but it still works. Perhaps someone will let us know about a more straightforward approach.



  9. Gerald Meazell
    March 25th, 2011 | 9:15 pm

    For me, Step Six does not work. When I try it, Safari pops up this message:

    “An email message can’t be created because Safari can’t find an email application.

    You can use the Mail application included with Mac OSX to send webpages. To do so, you need to install Mail using the Mac OSX install CDs.”

    The problem is that iMail is installed. I’m using Safari 5.04 on OS X 10.6.6 with iMail 4.4. What’s really infuriating is that there seems to be no place in Safari to specify a mail app.

  10. March 25th, 2011 | 11:22 pm

    Hi Gerald,
    You actually specify the mail app in Mail, not Safari (which I agree is not obvious)
    In Apple Mail, Open Preferences (Mail->Preferences)
    Then, in the General Tab, make sure that Mail 4.4 is selected as the ‘Default email reader’.
    That should do it.

  11. Violet
    April 26th, 2011 | 10:47 pm

    I’m saving to upgrade, but right now I’m running Mail app 2.1.3 on Tiger (OSX 4). There is no ‘Save as stationery’ option in the File Menu, any of the Mail Menus or in Mail Help.

    I can do up through Step 5. The next step, File > Mail Contents of this Page, or Command-I produces a blank email with the .message.html location as the subject

    Workaround? Besides finding work, paying off bills, and then upgrading/buying a newer Mac?

  12. M
    September 9th, 2011 | 12:32 am

    This doesn’t work in Mail 5.0 in Lion. Any way to make it work?

  13. john
    September 13th, 2011 | 2:24 pm

    Whenever I open the message.html file it simply opens a safari page with the embeded link and no video. Thanks for the help.

  14. September 13th, 2011 | 3:11 pm

    It works OK in Lion when I test it here, as they say at Microsoft tech support.

    Violet – You will not need the ‘Save as Stationary’ step (only required for Mail 4.2 and newer)

    M – What step doesn’t work. I did find that when I tried the second part of Step Six, I had to any one of the custom stationary before trying the Custom one I had saved.

    John – Make sure that you click the checkbox – ‘Use old embed code’ in step one. The text should start with ‘object’, not ‘iframe’.

    Hope this is helps. Again, there should be a much easier way and perhaps someone will find a better solution.

  15. M
    September 17th, 2011 | 6:53 am

    I tried again and it worked without utilizing Step 6 at all. Thanks.

  16. Dond
    October 4th, 2011 | 1:01 am

    Here’s a problem I’ve not seen described here — Mac OS X 10.5.8, Mail 3.6 (936) — Everything works fine up until sending the mail with the embedded video. I see the video in the draft email and can even play it, as long it’s a draft. However. as soon as it’s sent, the video disappears completely. This is both the sent and received message. It’s just gone. Looking at the raw source, there is absolutely nothing below the subject line. I’ve tried different servers, but again, I should still see the video in the sent message, after it’s sent. No good. Any ideas?

  17. Dond
    October 4th, 2011 | 1:45 am

    Follow up on disappearing video on SEND…. If I save the unsent message and then FORWARD it instead of doing a straight send, the video appears in both the sent and received message. So I got it work, but I don’t know why. Further if I strip out any the following from the forwarded message before I send it, the video disappears again upon sending: Begin forwarded message: From: …. Date: …. To:…. Subject: ….. Reply-To: ….

    It look like it’ then turning the whole message into a plain text message instead of multipart, unless I just leave the forwarding info alone.. Weird.

  18. Tsaki
    November 10th, 2011 | 2:45 am

    I’ve got Mail 3.6 and I’ve got exactly the same problem as John : Whenever I open the message.html file, it simply opens a safari page with the embeded link and no video.
    I tried it with both the new and the old embed code, there is absolutely no video appearing. How come? I tried it several times, thinking I missed a step, but no, this doesn’t seem to be the problem…
    thanks for the help!

  19. matthieu imberty
    November 14th, 2011 | 9:28 pm

    Do you know if people who are not using os X and Mail will be able to display the message correctly (in outlook or in gmail for example).

  20. Donbone
    November 15th, 2011 | 1:32 am

    Great instructions….Works for me using 10.6 and mail 4.2.

    The only thing I would add is that once you select the custom stationary (name of your file) in step 6….Before you can edit or write anything above or below the video, you need to send it to yourself, and then forward it to whoever you want to send it to. In the forward mode, you can write whatever message you want either above or below the video.

    In step 6, however, when you try to click around the video to write a message, everything becomes blue and won’t let you put your cursor anywhere. You could however, just send the video without any type of message, but with one more easy step of sending to yourself, you can add a nice message to your embedded video.

    Thanks for the instructions. Neat little trick!!

  21. Dave
    December 19th, 2011 | 2:38 am

    Open Safari, place the cursor just above the top left cursor of the video, then drag down to the bottom right corner.

    Copy this selection, then paste in Mail.

  22. December 19th, 2011 | 9:15 am

    Thanks Dave,
    You’re a genius. That is a much easier method and I’ll modify the post to include this.

  23. December 9th, 2012 | 7:44 pm

    Just tried this, but now there is no ‘old embed code’ in YouTube.

    So in step 4, Safari just shows a blank screen with the textedit document.

  24. Brent
    January 13th, 2013 | 5:03 am

    I’ve tried both technigues in Mail 5.3 and I get “Plug-in blocked”.

  25. Br.Bill
    April 16th, 2013 | 5:09 am

    Top left cursor of the video? The video has a cursor? I don’t understand this. Also, there’s no such thing – maybe it’s changed over the last year and a half.

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