How to Watch YouTube on TV

Settle in on the couch for some fun video viewing

YouTube is a great way to enjoy user-uploaded videos on just about any subject. It is not only watched by almost everyone on smartphones, but you have lots of ways to access and watch it on your TV. 

Where You Can Find YouTube

Finding YouTube is easy. It can be found on almost every streaming device available, so however you stream, you'll be able to watch YouTube on your TV.

Smart TVs

If you have a smart TV, with very few exceptions, the YouTube App is either pre-installed or available to add to your viewing list via the TV's built-in app selection or store.

Screenshot of YouTube app on smart tv

If you don't have a smart TV, as long as it has an HDMI input, you can connect other devices to your TV get access to YouTube, including the following:

Media Streamers

Plug-in media streaming devices, such as Apple TV, Nvidia Shield, and Roku have the YouTube app pre-installed. If it isn't pre-installed, you can download and install it using the device's "app store." Another type of media streamer that plugs into your TV, Google Chromecast, requires you to "cast" YouTube to your TV with the app installed on your smartphone. 

After a long dispute, YouTubeTV finally became available on several Fire TV devices in late 2019, including the Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen), Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, and Fire TV Stick Basic Edition, as well as Fire TV Edition smart TVs. However, it is not available on all Fire TV devices.

Screenshot of Website Access On Amazon Fire TV Stick

Game Consoles

You can watch YouTube on your TV from a Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3/4, or Xbox game console. The YouTube app may be pre-installed or accessible via an associated app list or store.

Connect Your Laptop or PC to Your TV

Although YouTube is accessible on every computer that is connected to the internet, with an HDMI cable, you can connect your PC/Laptop to your TV and watch YouTube on a bigger screen.

Select DVRs

Although their primary emphasis is the reception and recording of TV programs, select DVRs, such as the TIVO Bolt/Bolt OTA and Channel Master Stream+ include built-in access to select streaming apps, such as YouTube.

Although select DVRs provide access to YouTube for live viewing, they don't allow recording of YouTube (or other streaming apps) onto their built-in hard drives.

Blu-Ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray Players

Almost all Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray players include access to a host of streaming apps, which, in most cases, includes YouTube. This is a great option if you don't have a smart TV or an add-on media streaming box or stick. The app is usually pre-installed, but just like the other options discussed, you can add it via the player's app store.

Screenshot of YouTube app on a Blu-Ray player

How to Get YouTube if It Is Not Pre-Installed

Although there are variations in the appearance of app selection menus on Smart TVs, Media Streamers, select DVRs, Blu-ray Disc players, and Game Consoles, depending on the brand/model, here are the type of steps you will encounter if you need to add it:

  1. Press the Home or Start Menu for your TV or another device.

  2. Select the TV or device's App Store (may also be labeled More Apps, Channel Store (Roku), or via brand name, such as Samsung Apps).

  3. Find the YouTube App. If your TV or device has an app search feature, just type in YouTube and the app icon should be displayed.

  4. Select the YouTube App icon, and press Add or Install. After installation, the YouTube app should be placed in your app viewing menu.

Getting YouTube on Your TV From a Smartphone

Screenshot of YouTube app on Samsung smart TV

Screen Mirroring and Casting

If you have the YouTube app installed on your smartphone or tablet (you can add it through the iTunes for iOS, or Google Play Store, for Android), you can use Screen Mirroring (Miracast) or Screen Casting to send YouTube wirelessly to a compatible smart TV directly (No physical HDMI or other type of connection required), or through a media streamer (such as Chromecast), Blu-ray Disc player, or game console that supports either of those features via HDMI connection.

Screenshot of the Cast button in YouTube mobile app

Use Link with TV Code

In addition to the screen mirroring and screencasting methods, you can pair a smartphone with your smart TV or compatible device connected to your TV using the YouTube Link with TV Code feature. This provides an alternate way of sharing the YouTube video from your smartphone with the YouTube App on your TV or device. Here's how:

  1. Go to Settings on the YouTube Home Screen on your TV or the compatible device connected to your TV that is providing YouTube.

    Screenshot of the Settings gear icon in lower left corner of screen
  2. Select Link with TV Code and note the Code provided on the right side of the screen (fuzzed out in the example for security).

    Screenshot of the Link with TV code option
  3. Open the YouTube App on your compatible smartphone and tap the Account icon on the top right corner. On the account page, tap Settings.

    Screenshot of the Account (person) icon and Settings button
  4. In Settings, tap Watch on TV.

    Screenshot of the Watch on TV option
  5. Tap the TV or device connected to your TV that you want to use, and enter the TV Code provided by your TV in Step 2.

    Screen of the Enter TV Code in the YouTube App
  6. Your Smartphone may also provide an automatic link option that does not require entering a TV Code as shown below.

    Screenshot of the Link and Unlink options for Watch on TV
  7. When you start playing YouTube on our smartphone, it will also play on your TV.

You may also see an alternate Link TV and Phone option in YouTube Settings on your TV or device connected to your TV. If not grayed out you can click on it, scroll down to Link with TV Code, and enter that code in the YouTube app on your smartphone.

YouTube Video Quality
Display Resolution Pixels
4320p (8K) 7680 x 4320
2160p (4K, Ultra HD) 3840 x 2160
1440p 2560 x 1440
1080p 1920 x 1080
720p 1280 x 720
480p 854 x 480
360p 640 x 360
240p 426 x 240

Access to playback for the above video resolutions depends on which one was used by the content producer as well as your own internet streaming speed. YouTube will default to the closest resolution your TV or the device connected to it is compatible with in relation to your internet speed.

Other YouTube Service Options

In addition to the standard free version of YouTube, which contains ads on selected content, you can also opt to take ad advantage of the following variations: 

  • YouTube Premium – The Ad-Free Version of YouTube (requires paid subscription).
  • YouTube Online Movie Rental Service. Pay-per-view movie viewing via YouTube.
  • YouTube for Kids – A variation of YouTube featuring entertainment and educational content targeted for children. The YouTube for Kids app is available on LG, Samsung, Sony, and Android Smart TVs. The app supports both free and premium (Ad-Free) versions. 
  • YouTube TV – This service that provides online access to a selection of 40+ broadcast/cable/satellite-like channels that includes a mixture of live and premium channels for a flat monthly fee.