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How to fix YouTube videos not playing in Chrome

When YouTube videos won't play in your browser there can be a number of reasons. Here's how to fix it when YouTube videos won't play in Chrome.
How to fix YouTube videos not playing in Chrome

Software is getting more complex, which means it's easier for bugs to interrupt your browsing. When videos won't play in Chrome there can be a number of reasons. [toc content=".headers"] Sometimes you'll need to do a bit of detective work to find why YouTube videos have stopped working. We'll step you through everything you need to look at below. But before we dive into finding and fixing the problem, check that your internet connection is working by trying to go to a different website. If nothing loads, you'll need to reset your modem or router.

YouTube videos are not playing in Chrome
YouTube videos are not playing in Chrome

Restart Chrome

The next step after you know your web connection is working is to close your Chrome browser fully. Wait a few seconds before starting Chrome again. If you are having trouble closing Chrome, you may need to force quit it. Under Windows, open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete), select the Chrome application, then click End Task.

Task Manager in Windows 10 with Google Chrome selected
The Task Manager for ending Google Chrome

Under MacOS,  open the Force Quit Applications dialog (Option+Cmd+Escape), select Chrome, then click Force Quit.

How to force quit Chrome on MacOS
How to force quit Chrome on MacOS

Try playing a video on YouTube again. Continue below if the YouTube video still won't play.

Clear the Chrome browser cache

Sometimes browsers get confused and their cache gets corrupted. Clearing the browser cache and deleting stored cookies may get rid of the problems causing YouTube videos to not play in Chrome.

  1. 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.
Fixing YouTube videos not playing in Chrome - clear your browser cache
Fixing YouTube videos not playing in Chrome - clear your browser cache

Reload the Youtube video page and see if it will play now. If not, let's continue.

Check for a software update

Occasionally when Google releases updated features in Youtube, it can cause videos to stop working. Check to see if there is a software update available for Chrome.

  1. Enter chrome://settings/help into the address bar in Chrome.
    Fixing YouTube videos not playing in Chrome - update your browser
    Fixing YouTube videos not playing in Chrome - update your browser
  2. Often, when there is an update available, when you go to this page, Chrome will update itself automatically to the latest version. Click Relaunch once the update has finished to restart Chrome.
Relaunch Chrome after update

Try playing a YouTube video now. If that has fixed your problem, great! If not, let's keep going.

Check JavaScript is allowed in Chrome

Now it's time to get a bit more complicated. YouTube uses JavaScript to let the videos play in your browser, so we need to make sure it is enabled and that the YouTube website is not blocked. If you don't have JavaScript enabled in Chrome, you will likely not see anything on the website at all!

Chrome browser problems - YouTube doesn't work when Javascript is disabled
Chrome browser problems - YouTube doesn't work when Javascript is disabled
  1. Enter chrome://settings/content/javascript into the address bar in Chrome.
  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.
Fixing YouTube videos not playing in Chrome - enable JavaScript
Fixing YouTube videos not playing in Chrome - enable JavaScript

If you had to enable JavaScript or unblock YouTube, try watching a video now. Does it play? If yes, great! If not, keep reading.

Disable hardware acceleration

Sometimes graphics cards can upset YouTube, and we may need to disable hardware acceleration

  1. Enter chrome://settings into the address bar in Chrome.
  2. Scroll down and click on Advanced to see the hidden settings.
    Fix YouTube not working in Chrome - open advanced browser settings
    Fix YouTube not working in Chrome - open advanced browser settings
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom, and disable the Use hardware acceleration when available toggle (make sure it is grey).
  4. Click Relaunch to restart Chrome with your new settings.
Fix YouTube not playing - relaunch Chrome after disabling hardware acceleration
Fix YouTube not playing - relaunch Chrome after disabling hardware acceleration

Did that fix YouTube videos in Chrome? If they still won't play, it may be caused by a browser extension.

Disable browser extensions in Chrome

Chrome extensions are available from the Chrome web store and provide handy extra functionality in your browser. Some of the more popular extensions are ad blockers, and may block YouTube video playback.

  1. Enter chrome://extensions into the address bar in Chrome.
  2. Disable any extensions you think may interfere with videos by clicking on their toggle buttons (make sure they are grey).
  3. Alternatively, you can remove troublesome extensions.
Fix YouTube not playing in Chrome - disable or remove extensions
Fix YouTube not playing in Chrome - disable or remove extensions

Flash is a plugin that is built into Chrome. Although YouTube no longer uses Flash, you may want to try enabling or disabling this plugin if you are still having a problem.

  1. Enter chrome://settings/content/flash into the address bar in Chrome.
  2. Enable or disable the plugin by clicking on the toggle button. Block sites from running Flash means the plugin is disabled (grey). Ask first (recommended) enables Flash (blue).
Fix YouTube videos not playing - disable or enable Flash in Chrome
Fix YouTube videos not playing - disable or enable Flash in Chrome

Is the YouTube video still not playing in Chrome?

Of course, there may be other reasons that YouTube videos won't play that aren't caused by Chrome:

  • Your computer needs to be rebooted.
  • The video is set to private and you don't have permission to see it.
  • You are trying to watch an embedded video and the YouTube website is down.
  • Your internet connection is having problems with the size of the video file and can't keep up.
  • ...

We'll cover all these problems and more in another post that isn't so browser specific.

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