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 most any subject. It isn't only watched on smartphones. You have lots of ways to access and watch it on your TV.

Where You Can Find YouTube

YouTube can be found on almost every streaming device, so however you stream, you can 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 using the TV's built-in app selection or store.

The YouTube app on a smart TV

If you don't have a smart TV, but your TV has an HDMI input, you can connect other devices to your TV to get access to YouTube. These other devices include media streamers, game consoles, DVRs, Blu-ray players, and computers.

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 a TV, Google Chromecast, requires you to cast YouTube to your TV with the app installed on your smartphone.

After a long dispute, YouTube TV 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.

The 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 using an associated app list or store.

Connect Your Laptop or PC to Your TV

YouTube is accessible on every computer that is connected to the internet. However, with an HDMI cable, you can connect your PC or 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, some DVRs, such as the TiVo Edge 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, these DVRs 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, and, similar to the other options discussed, you can add it from the player's app store.

The YouTube app on a Blu-ray player

How to Get YouTube if It Isn't Pre-Installed

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 and 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 a brand name, such as Samsung Apps).

  3. Find the YouTube app. If your TV or device has an app search feature, type YouTube and the app icon displays.

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

Get YouTube on Your TV From a Smartphone

There are two ways to use your smartphone to add YouTube to your TV.

The YouTube app on a Samsung smart TV

Screen Mirroring and Casting

If the YouTube app is installed on your smartphone or tablet (you can add it through iTunes for iOS, or the Google Play Store, for Android), use screen mirroring (Miracast) or screencasting to send YouTube wirelessly to a compatible smart TV directly (a physical HDMI or another type of connection isn't required), or through a media streamer (such as Chromecast), Blu-ray Disc player, or game console that supports either of those features using an HDMI connection.

The Cast button in the 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 provides YouTube.

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

    The Link with TV code option
  3. Open the YouTube app on your compatible smartphone and tap the Account icon in the upper-right corner. On the account page, tap Settings.

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

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

    The Enter TV Code in the YouTube App
  6. Your smartphone may also provide an automatic link option that doesn't require entering a TV code, as shown below.

    The Link and Unlink options for Watch on TV
  7. When you play YouTube on your smartphone, it also plays on your TV.

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

Access to playback for the following video resolutions depends on which one was used by the content producer and your internet streaming speed. YouTube defaults to the closest resolution the TV or the device connected to it is compatible with in relation to the internet speed.

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

Other YouTube Service Options

In addition to the standard free version of YouTube, which contains ads on selected content, you'll find these variations:

  • YouTube Premium: The ad-free version of YouTube (requires a paid subscription).
  • YouTube Online Movie Rental Service: Pay-per-view movie viewing from YouTube.
  • YouTube for Kids: A variation of YouTube featuring entertainment and educational content for children. The YouTube for Kids app is available on LG, Samsung, Sony, and Android smart TVs. The app supports the free and premium (ad-free) versions.
  • YouTube TV: This service provides online access to more than 40 broadcast, cable, and satellite channels that include a mixture of live and premium channels for a flat monthly fee.
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