Use Video Embeds in Hugo Theme

Table of Contents

In this article, I will show how to handle video embedding when creating content for a Hugo-based website or enhancing a Hugo theme; it continues the series “Hugo Theme Recipes”.

With the proliferation of various video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo , Bilibili, etc., the ability to post videos or include them in articles has become a necessity for any blog or website. This can be easily achieved if you plan to use videos from YouTube and Vimeo only, as Hugo includes built-in youtube and vimeo shortcodes by default.

Built-in Shortcodes

For example, to embed a responsive video player to display a YouTube video with the URL, you simply need to place {{< youtube qtIqKaDlqXo >}} within the article’s markdown, where the qtIqKaDlqXo value is the video’s ID. To test the youtube shortcode, I created a test article on the Bilberry Sandbox website where you can see what the embedded video looks like.

Raw HTML iframe

So far, so good, but what would you do if you need to embed videos from video-sharing providers other than YouTube and Vimeo. For example, let’s say you want to use a video hosted on Bilibili, one of the major China’s video-on-demand platforms. Simply trying to place the following iframe embed will not work:

<iframe src="//"
        scrolling="no" border="0" frameborder="no" framespacing="0" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe>

Since v0.60.0, Hugo switched to the Goldmark markdown renderer, which by default omits all raw HTML content embedded in the markdown. To make it work, you should add the following setting to your config.toml configuration file:

      unsafe = true

The unsafe = true option may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t necessarily make your website insecure. Perhaps the creators of Hugo meant that the practice of using raw HTML in markdown should be considered unsafe. The Bilberry Sandbox, which helps me develop, test, and maintain the Bilberry theme, has the raw HTML rendering enabled. To try out the Bilibili iframe embed, I’ve created another test post, where I also added the iframe from the above YouTube video for comparison.

As you can see from the first screenshot below, both video embeds are not displayed responsively, i.e., they do not fully fit into the width of the article. In contrast, a YouTube video in the second screenshot, which is embedded via the youtube shortcode, does fit the article’s width since its iframe element and its surrounding div have the required inline CSS styling.

Raw HTML iframe Embed

Hugo youtube Shortcode

Custom Shortcodes

Additionally, before addressing the issue with responsiveness, we can encapsulate the iframe embed in a custom shortcode instead of using it as a raw HTML, i.e., create a parametrizable shortcode similar to the youtube shortcode provided by Hugo. Here is the layouts/shortcodes/bilibili.html shortcode file I added to the Bilberry Sandbox:

{{ $id := .Get 0 }}

      src="{{ $id }}&page=1&as_wide=1&high_quality=1&danmaku=0"
      scrolling="no" framespacing="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>

To display the above-mentioned Bilibili video in an article, you need to put {{< bilibili BV1jz4y1f7yo >}} within the article’s markdown, where the BV1jz4y1f7yo value is the video’s ID. As you can see, the video embed in the test article is displayed the same way as the raw HTML iframe embed. But when using the bilibili shortcode, you no longer need to apply the unsafe = true setting in the configuration file.


To fix the issue with responsiveness when using custom shortcodes, you should define an external CSS styling for the div element containing the iframe. For example, in the Bilberry theme, this styling is implemented using the SCSS syntax as follows:

&.article {
    .responsive-video {
        position: relative;
        /* 16:9 ratio*/
        padding-bottom: 56.25%;
        padding-top: 0px;
        height: 0;
        overflow: hidden;

        iframe {
            position: absolute;
            top: 0;
            left: 0;
            width: 100%;
            height: 100%;
            border: 0;

Then to apply the above styling, you should set the div’s class attribute with the responsive-video value: <div class="responsive-video">.

Enhanced YouTube Shortcode

When using Hugo’s built-in youtube shortcode, it will render as follows:

<div style="position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden;">
  <iframe src=""
          style="position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; border:0;"
          allowfullscreen="" title="YouTube Video"></iframe>

As you can see, the src attribute of the iframe element is set to With this source URL, YouTube will automatically use its tracking cookie. Unfortunately, that can pose a problem since the people visiting your site usually do not consent to this YouTube tracker. In 2020, YouTube introduced a new privacy-enhanced video embed that you can use to create your improved no-cookie YouTube shortcode. Here is the youtube-enhanced shortcode, which I implemented in the Bilberry Sandbox:

{{ $id := .Get "id" | default (.Get 0) }}
{{ $start := .Get "start" | default 0 }}
{{ $title := .Get "title" | default "YouTube Video" }}

<div style="position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden;">
  <iframe src="{{ $id }}?rel=0&start={{ $start }}"
          style="position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; border:0;"
          allowfullscreen="" title="{{ $title }}"></iframe>

I created the following content to test this custom shortcode. It can be used the same way as the original shortcode from Hugo:

# Providing only the video ID as an unnamed parameter
{{< youtube-enhanced qtIqKaDlqXo >}}

# Providing only the video ID as the named id parameter
{{< youtube-enhanced id="qtIqKaDlqXo" >}}

# Providing values for named id, title, and start parameters
{{< youtube-enhanced id="qtIqKaDlqXo" title="Hugo Introduction" start="120" >}}

If the title parameter is omitted, it will default to the YouTube Video value. If you want to start playing a video from a specific point, provide the start parameter, whose value should be in seconds. In addition, the source URL for the video in question contains the rel parameter, which is set to 0. This parameter determines whether the player should show related videos when the playback of the initial video ends. If set to 0, no related videos will be shown. Here you can read more on other supported YouTube player parameters. Also, you can externalize the inline CSS styling by moving it into a separate either CSS, SCSS, or SASS file.


Because Hugo provides shortcodes for two of the most popular video-sharing providers, YouTube and Vimeo, posting videos from them doesn’t require any extra effort. However, the provided youtube shortcode lacks privacy, which can be easily addressed by implementing your custom YouTube shortcode. If you want to publish a video from any other provider, then this can be achieved by either using a raw HTML iframe embed or encapsulating it in a custom shortcode. I also want to point out that the presented solution for creating video embed shortcodes can be applied to audio embedding.

Continue reading the series “Hugo Theme Recipes”:

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