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How to fix it when YouTube videos don't play

Check what's wrong when videos don't play
How to fix it when YouTube videos don't play

There are many different problems that stop YouTube videos from playing: the YouTube site itself, the playback settings for that video, your browser, your operating system, your Google account, or even your device. It can be frustrating when you just want to kick back after school or work and watch some YouTube, but the videos don't play. And it's worse when you need a quick tutorial to get something done. To troubleshoot YouTube videos not playing, follow these steps.

  1. Check that your internet is working.
  2. Reload the YouTube page.
  3. Check that YouTube isn't down.
  4. Lower the quality of the YouTube video in your browser on your computer or your mobile device.
  5. Fix browser problems that may stop YouTube videos from playing.
  6. Reboot your computer or device.

Ready? Let's step you through finding a solution in detail.

YouTube videos are not playing
YouTube videos are not playing

Youtube videos can't play when your internet is down

If you can't load any other websites, try turning your router and modem off, then on again. If that doesn't fix the problem, check with your internet provider to see if they have a problem. Tip: If your internet is just slower than normal, lowering the quality of the YouTube video may help. If you are on a mobile device, check that you have mobile data enabled or are connected to the internet via a working WiFi connection.

Reload the YouTube page

Once your internet connection is back up, you may need to refresh the page to reload the video. Press Control+R if you are on Windows, or Command+R if you are on a Mac. if you are on mobile, tap the refresh icon in the address bar on your mobile browser.

Refresh YouTube on mobile when videos stop working
Refresh YouTube on mobile when videos stop working

Is YouTube down?

If you can't get a YouTube video to play, or if it is really slow to load the YouTube website, it might not be a problem at your end. Before you dive deeper and spend time trying to fix slow internet or  browser problems, check that the YouTube site isn't down or unreachable from your location. Go to https://downdetector.com/status/youtube and see if there are any problems.

  • Click on the Live Outage Map to check your area.
  • Register your problem by clicking on the red I have a problem with YouTube button underneath the graph.
Videos not playing - is YouTube down? Check this on downdetector.com
Videos not playing - is YouTube down? Check this on downdetector.com

Lower the YouTube playback quality on a poor connection

If the YouTube video is not loading quickly, if the loading icon is endlessly circling,, or the video is stop and starting, your internet connection may not be fast enough to stream it at that level of quality.

YouTube videos not playing - lower the playback quality on poor internet connections
YouTube videos not playing - lower the playback quality on poor internet connections
  1. If you are in a browser, click on the Settings gear icon at the bottom of the video.
  2. Click on Quality (it will likely be set to Auto).
  3. Select a lower quality setting, like 240p

Lower the YouTube video playback quality on a mobile browser

  1. Tap on the three vertical dots above the video.
  2. Tap on Playback Settings.
  3. Tap on the Quality drop down.
  4. Scroll to a lower speed, like 240p.
  5. Tap on Done.
Open the YouTube playback settings on mobile
Open the YouTube playback settings on mobile
Set a lower YouTube playback speed on mobile
Set a lower YouTube playback speed on mobile

Lower the video playback quality in the YouTube mobile app

  1. Tap on the three vertical dots above the video.
  2. Tap on Quality.
  3. Tap on a lower quality setting, like 240p.
Open the playback quality settings in the YouTube app
Open the playback quality settings in the YouTube app
Set a lower playback quality in the YouTube app for poor mobile connections
Set a lower playback quality in the YouTube app for poor mobile connections

Fix browser problems that stop YouTube from playing videos

Sometimes your browser gets confused, and needs a restart. Sometimes it may need an update. And sometimes extensions block YouTube video playback. Note: YouTube requires both JavaScript to be enabled and HTML 5 to be supported by your browser and device. First, close your browser completely, and open it again. Restarting the browser can often fix YouTube playback problems caused by the browser.

Update your browser to fix YouTube playback problems

YouTube videos not playing - update your browser
YouTube videos not playing - update your browser

Check for browser update and allow it to complete. You may need to relaunch your browser again after this.

Clear the browser cache to make YouTube videos play again

If that didn't work, try clearing the browser cache and any saved cookies. You can do this both on your desktop browser and mobile browser.

    1. In Chrome for example,  enter chrome://settings/clearBrowserData into the address bar in Chrome.
    2. Make sure the checkboxes next to Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files are enabled – click on them if there is no tick.
    3. Then click Clear data.
      YouTube videos not playing - clear your browser's cache
      YouTube videos not playing - clear your browser's cache
YouTube videos not playing - clear the cache on iOS
YouTube videos not playing - clear the cache on iOS

Or on a mobile device that uses iOS, go to Settings > Safari. Scroll down then tap on Clear History and Website Data.

Enable JavaScript to allow YouTube videos to play

Check that JavaScript is enabled within your browser or on your mobile device.

    1. For example in Chrome, enter chrome://settings/content/javascript into the address bar.
    2. Make sure the Blocked/Allowed toggle button is enabled (set to Allowed).
    3. If youtube.com is listed in the Block list, click on the three vertical dots next to this entry in the list, then click on Remove to unblock the YouTube website.
      YouTube videos not playing - enable JavaScript
      YouTube videos not playing - enable JavaScript

Play the YouTube video in a private or incognito window

Try loading the video in an incognito or private browsing tab. In Chrome, click on File or the three vertical dots, then click on New Incognito Window.

YouTube videos not playing - try watching a video in a private or incognito browser window
YouTube videos not playing - try watching a video in a private or incognito browser window

If this fixes the problem, then either your browser extensions may be blocking video playback on YouTube, or you may have a problem with your Google account.

Disable browser extensions to fix YouTube problems

Try disabling any browser extensions that you may have installed, particularly any ad-blockers.

YouTube videos not playing - disable or remove browser extensions to fix conflicts
YouTube videos not playing - disable or remove browser extensions to fix conflicts

On Chrome, enter chrome://extensions into the address bar. Disable or remove any extensions you think may interfere with videos by clicking on their toggle buttons (make sure they are grey). There are a few more settings and things to check in specific browsers: See what other problems stop YouTube videos working in Chrome and how to fix them.

Reboot your computer or device

After you have tried all of these steps, and YouTube videos still aren't playing, we need to check that it isn't a problem with your device.

  1. Try to watch a video on another device, or use a mobile connection if you are trying to load a video on WiFi.
  2. If this works, restart the computer or device where YouTube isn't playing.
  3. Once it reboots, check for any system updates before trying to reload the YouTube video.
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