What to Do When YouTube Videos Are Not Playing

Fixes for when YouTube is working but your device isn't

A woman uses her laptop to watch YouTube, but videos won't play.

Natdanai Pankong/EyeEm/Getty Images

When you find that YouTube videos aren't playing on your computer or mobile device, there can be a handful of different factors at play. Videos that won't play, even though the YouTube site loads just fine, may be too large for your internet connection to stream. In other situations, a page may not load correctly, in which case refreshing will fix the problem.

Other causes of YouTube videos that won't play include issues with your browser, computer, internet connection, and problems with YouTube itself.

Some issues like problems with YouTube and Chrome, and when YouTube displays a black screen, have other specific fixes.

Reasons That YouTube Videos Won't Play

Most of the issues that can prevent YouTube videos from playing can be broken down into these basic categories:

  • Browser problems: When YouTube videos won't play, it's usually a browser problem. Refreshing the page fixes the problem a lot of the time, but you may need to update your browser or clear the cache.
  • Computer problems: Most computer problems that prevent YouTube from working require a simple restart. You may need to update your computer at the same time.
  • Internet problems: Local networking problems can usually be fixed by unplugging your modem and router and then plugging them back in. If your internet connection is especially slow, lowering the YouTube video quality will also help.
  • YouTube mobile problems: Most problems that prevent YouTube videos from playing on mobile devices can be solved by closing and restarting the YouTube app, but you may need to clear the app cache or reinstall the app.

Before you try anything else, make sure your web browser or device supports HTML 5. If your browser or device does not support HTML 5, YouTube videos will not play.

What to Do When YouTube Videos Are Not Playing

When videos suddenly stop playing after you've been watching YouTube for a while, it's usually due to some kind of glitch. This can sometimes be corrected by simply refreshing the page or closing your browser, but you may have to try more advanced fixes.

In some cases, the problem may be with your internet connection, or even with YouTube itself.

Here's how to get YouTube working again when it stops playing videos:

  1. Refresh the YouTube page, and see if the video plays.

    A screenshot of a video not playing on YouTube.
  2. Try adjusting the video quality by clicking on the gear icon at the bottom of the video. Select the smallest available number, and check to see if the video plays.

    A screenshot of lowering YouTube video quality.

    If YouTube starts working again, try raising the quality a little bit at a time to find the highest quality your connection is capable of streaming.

  3. Close your browser, and reopen it. If an update is available, allow it to install and try YouTube again.

  4. Clear your browser cache and cookies, and reload the YouTube page. If you are unsure how to do this, check out our guide to clearing the cache and cookies in all major browsers.

    A screenshot of clearing the cache in a web browser.
  5. Open a private browsing session, and navigate to the YouTube video you are trying to watch. If YouTube works, you probably have an issue with an extension, plugin, or your Google account.

    A screenshot of YouTube in a private browsing window.

    If YouTube works in a private browsing session, try disabling your plugins.

  6. Attempt to load a different web page to make sure that your internet connection is working.

    • If you have another computer or device, check to see if YouTube works on it.
    • If you're connected to Wi-Fi, move closer to the router, or try a different network.
  7. If your internet connection seems to be malfunctioning, unplug your modem and router from power for at least 10 seconds. Then plug them back in and check YouTube.

    YouTube and other pages may appear to load even if your internet is disconnected or in a limited state. This happens when your browser has a cached version of the page available.

  8. If YouTube videos still won't play, try restarting your computer. At that time, allow your operating system to install updates if it has any ready to go.

What if YouTube Videos Still Won't Play?

When YouTube loads, but you can't play any videos, the problem may not be on your end. If you've tried everything, and YouTube still won't play videos, then you may actually be looking at a problem with YouTube itself.

The easiest way to see if YouTube is working at all is to try to use a different device that's connected to the internet with a different method. So if you were trying to watch YouTube on your computer, with your home internet, check to see if you can watch videos on your phone with its mobile connection.

A screenshot of YouTube problems displays on a down detector service.

If that isn't an option, you can try an online down detector service. These services use various methods, including input from users, to determine when platforms like YouTube aren't working properly.

Here are some down detector services you can try:

Some of these sites check to see if a site loads at all, some are capable of actually testing the functionality of a site, and some of them rely primarily on reports from users.

In many cases, you'll actually be able to see maps that shows which areas of the country, or the world, are having connectivity issues. If one of these sites shows that YouTube is experiencing issues, all you can do is wait for them to fix the problem.

What to Do When YouTube Won't Play on Android and iPhone

When YouTube videos won't play on your mobile device, there is usually a problem with corrupted data on your device or a connectivity problem with your internet connection.

Here's how to fix it:

  1. Connect your device to a different wireless network and check YouTube.

    The Wi-Fi selection menu displayed on an Android phone.
  2. Clear the YouTube app cache.

    The YouTube app cache clearing menu displayed on an Android phone.

    You can clear the cache for apps like YouTube on Android devices, but iOS devices don't have this option. Use a cache clearing app if you have an iOS device, or just delete and reinstall the YouTube app.

  3. Try to view the video using a mobile web browser instead of the YouTube app.

    A YouTube video playing on an Android device in a mobile web browser.
  4. Restart your device.

  5. Remove the YouTube app from your device and reinstall it.