What to Do When iPad Won't Play Videos

Get back to watching movies and TV shows

It can be frustrating when you sit down with your iPad to watch your favorite streaming show or YouTube and discover that videos won't play on the iPad. Here are several solutions that will get your iPad playing videos again in no time.

These instructions apply to iPads running iOS 12 and higher.

Check for Service Interruptions

If you're trying to watch a video through iTunes, you can check Apple's system status page to make sure services are all available and running at peak level. If you're trying to watch 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 sites vary from app to app, but more popular apps like YouTube or Netflix generally make it easy to find if they're having issues with their service. They will often post it on their company page or Twitter, and there are also several sites, such as Is The Service Down, that report outages for a variety of services.

Apple system status

Close Apps and Restart iPad

If your iPad is connected to the internet, it may just need a quick restart. Close all apps by accessing the multitask display and swiping up on every app. You can open the multitask display by either double-tapping the Home button or by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and holding your finger in the middle of the screen until multitasking appears.

Multitasking in iOS 12

After that, restart the iPad by holding down the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons for several seconds until the Apple logo appears. Once your iPad restarts, try reloading the video. If it still won't play, try the next step.

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It's possible some of your apps are not working with one another because your iPad or its apps are out of date. To download the latest version of your iPad's operating system:

  1. Open the iPad's Settings.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Tap General.

    General heading in Settings on iPad
  3. Select System Update. If an update is available, you'll see a red number to indicate this.

    Software update on iPad
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to update your iPad.

You can also see if there are updates available for various apps that may be causing issues with your video playback. Here's how.

  1. Open the App Store.

    The App Store app on an iPad
  2. Tap Updates in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

    App Store updates
  3. Check if the apps you're trying to use to watch a video are in need of updating, whether it's YouTube, Hulu, HBO Go, etc. If they do, tap Update to download the new version.

Download the Video Rather Than Stream It

Many iTunes videos are available to download and play directly from your iPad rather than streaming the video from the app. Storing a movie natively can be useful if you want to save one to watch when you won't have access to Wi-Fi, or if you're having connection issues at certain times.

When the video is open, look for an icon that looks like a cloud with a down arrow. If there's sufficient space on your device, tap this icon to download the video and watch it offline.

Try a Factory Reset

If all else fails, 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 are linked 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 learn how to reset your iPad and Eerase all content to properly reset your iPad.