What to Do When iPad Won't Play Videos

Never miss out on videos again!

Woman watching videos on an iPad on a couch

Tim Robberts/Getty Images 

Sometimes, you settle down with your iPad to watch your favorite streaming show, movie, or YouTube videos and discover videos won't play on the device. Here are several solutions that will get your iPad playing videos again in no time.

Check Your Internet Connection

The first thing you can do is make sure your internet service isn't either out or slow. Run a speed check using an app or online service. If the results aren't good, you may need to restart or reset your router.

Check for Service Interruptions

Apple system status

Before you start troubleshooting your iPad, a good first step is to see if other people are having the same problem. If an entire service is down, it will save you some trouble.

If you're trying to watch a video through iTunes, you can check Apple's system status page to make sure Apple's services are all available and running at peak level. If you're trying to watch a video through a non-Apple app, you'll need to check the app developer's website to ensure their product is running the way it should.

These vary from app to app, but popular apps like YouTube or Netflix make blog posts or statements on social media when they're having issues with their service. You can also check a site like Is The Service Down for outages for a variety of services.

Close Offending Apps and Restart iPad

Another app could be interfering with your video, or your iPad may need a restart. Here's what to do.

  1. Open the App Switcher by double-pressing the Home button, pinching four or five fingers together on the screen, or swiping up from the bottom edge of the display.

    Multitasking in iOS 12
  2. Swipe up on each app's window to close them. Start by restarting the app you were using to watch the video. If that doesn't work, try closing everything you've had open recently in case one is interfering with your video.

  3. If the video still isn't working, restart your iPad. Press and hold the sleep/wake button until the Slide to power off prompt appears.

    You can also do a hard reset by holding down the sleep/wake and Home buttons until your iPad turns off and back on again.

    Powering off an iPad
  4. Try to watch the video again. If it doesn't work, move on to the next section.

Make Sure Your Apps and iOS Are Updated to the Latest Versions

It's possible some of your apps are not working with one another because your iPad or its apps are out of date. Here's how to make sure you have the latest versions of both your apps and firmware.

  1. Open the iPad's Settings.

    How to delete movies from iPad
  2. Tap General.

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  3. Tap Software Update.

    Software update on iPad
  4. Your iPad will check to see if it's running the most current version of iOS and prompt you to install if a new one is available.

    Turn on Automatic Updates to ensure you always have the most current version of iOS.

    iOS update
  5. You should also check that your apps are up to date. Open the App Store.

    App Store on iPad
  6. Tap Updates.

    App Store updates
  7. If your apps have updates available, there will be an Update button next to the app. Tap the Update All button in the top-left corner of the screen to update every app to the latest version.

Download the Video Instead of Streaming

Download movies to iPad

Many videos in iTunes, Netflix, Starz, and other streaming services are available to download and play directly from your iPad rather than streaming the video from the app. Downloading can be useful if you want to save a video to watch when you don't have access to Wi-Fi, or if you're having connection issues at certain times.

Go to the show or movie's page in the app and look for a download button.

Individual apps may have different options and availability for downloads.

Try a Factory Reset

If all else fails and there's no solution in sight, you may need to reset your iPad to its factory default settings. Keep in mind this will erase everything on your device. You'll also have to redownload any apps you want, although any paid apps will still be available to you, as they link to your Apple ID, not your specific device. If this is the option you want to take, back up anything you want to keep, then read how to reset your iPad and erase all content to reset your iPad correctly.

Once you've jumped through the hoops, it will take a few minutes before your iPad brings you back to the "Welcome" screen. From there, you can redownload your apps and see if your problem is taken care of.