How to Fix a YouTube Black Screen

The solution may be easier than you think

A laptop displaying a black screen on YouTube.

sutthinon sanyakup / Moment / Getty

YouTube black screen errors can strike at any time, and this problem can be caused by a number of unrelated issues. Some of the most common causes of YouTube displaying black boxes instead of videos include malfunctioning ad blockers, problems with the web browser or computer, and connectivity issues with either the local network or the internet.

You can fix most of these problems yourself, but it may take a while to track down the exact reason that you're seeing black screens on YouTube.

What Can Cause a YouTube Black Screen?

When you see a black screen on YouTube, it's because the video failed to load for some reason. The problem could be on your end, or it could be caused by issues with either YouTube or your internet service provider (ISP).

If the problem is on your end, you can usually fix it by updating your web browser, disabling your ad blocker, restarting your computer, restarting your network hardware, and other relatively simple solutions. When the problem is caused by your internet service provider, or an issue with YouTube itself, there isn't anything you can do.

If you see a message that a video can't be displayed, and not a black box, the video may be blocked in your region, or it may have been removed from YouTube for some reason. If the video is blocked, you may be able to unblock it.

Here are the most common causes of black screens on YouTube:

  • Ad blocking plugins: You can use an ad blocker to avoid watching advertisements on YouTube videos, but sometimes things go wrong. If your ad blocker has gone rogue, it may block the video instead of just the ads.
  • Browser problems: Your browser may be out of date, or there may be some type of corrupted data. These problems are fixed by updating your browser, clearing the cache, or just restarting the browser.
  • Computer problems: When issues with your computer cause YouTube to display a black screen instead of videos, you can usually fix it with a simple restart.
  • Network problems: Slow internet speeds, or issues with your local network, can prevent YouTube videos from loading correctly.
  • YouTube mobile problems: If you're experiencing a black screen and no audio from YouTube on your phone, you may need to clear the app data or cache, or simply restart your phone.

How Can An Ad Blocker Cause YouTube Black Screens?

Ad blockers are browser plug-ins that work by selectively preventing certain web page elements from loading. Most ad blockers are capable of blocking both standalone ads that appear on web pages and ads that play during videos on sites like YouTube.

When an ad blocker works properly, it prevents advertisements from loading, and the rest of the page is able to load normally. When an ad blocker malfunctions, it may allow ads to load or block page elements, like text and video, that you actually want to see.

Here's how to check if your ad blocker is causing black screens on YouTube:

  1. Navigate to YouTube, and open a video.

    A screenshot of a YouTube black screen.
  2. Temporarily disable your ad blocker.

    A screenshot of disabling an ad blocker on YouTube.

    For more information:

  3. Reload the page, and try to play the video.

    A screenshot of YouTube.
  4. If the video plays, consult the documentation for your ad blocker to see if there is an option to prevent it from blocking YouTube videos.

    Custom filter lists that you use with ad blocker plugins and extensions can sometimes cause problems with YouTube. If you're using a custom filter list, disabling or removing it may allow you to watch YouTube without disabling your ad blocker.

  5. If you find that your ad blocker is responsible for YouTube videos not playing, you don't need to give up on blocking ads altogether. Check out our list of ad block plug-ins and extensions, and see if one of them works better.

How Can Browser and Computer Problems Cause YouTube Black Screens?

There are a lot of different browser and computer problems that can cause trouble with websites like YouTube. Issues with your browser, like corrupted cache data or cookies, can prevent videos from loading, and memory issues with your computer can also cause issues with playing videos on the internet.

To rule out a problem with your browser or your computer, you can try things like reloading the page, clearing your cache, and switching to a different browser. As a last resort, restarting your computer sometimes does the trick.

Here's how to fix YouTube black screens if the problem has to do with your browser or computer:

You may not need to complete ever one of the following steps. After each step, check to see if you are able to view YouTube videos. If YouTube starts working again, you're done.

  1. Try reloading the YouTube video that doesn't work.

  2. Log out of your YouTube account.

    A screenshot of signing out of YouTube.
  3. Close your browser, and restart it.

  4. Check for browser updates, and update your browser if you don't have the latest version.

    A screenshot of the chrome update screen.
  5. A screenshot of the clear browsing data in Chrome.
  6. The hardware acceleration setting in Chrome.
  7. Try a different web browser.

    A screenshot of YouTube in Firefox.
  8. Restart your computer.

How Can Network and Internet Problems Cause YouTube Black Screens?

If your internet connection is completely down, YouTube won't load at all. But there are a lot of network and internet problems that can allow sites like YouTube to load partially, while leaving elements like videos as useless black boxes.

To fix a network problem that's causing black screens on YouTube, power cycling your modem and router will usually do the trick. This process will temporarily shut your internet off, but it should come back on automatically.

Internet problems that prevent YouTube videos from loading are more difficult to deal with, because they have to be fixed by your ISP. If you suspect that your internet connection is having problems, you need to contact your ISP directly for assistance.

Here are some things you can try to fix YouTube black screens if your problem has to do with your network or internet connection:

  1. Power cycle your router and modem.

    Unplug both your modem and router from power for at least 10 seconds before plugging them back in. Some devices need to be unplugged longer.

  2. If you're connected to the internet via Wi-Fi, switch to a wired connection or move your computer closer to your router.

  3. Use a speed testing service to check the status of your internet connection.

    A screenshot of an internet speed test.
  4. If you have connection problems, YouTube may not work correctly until your ISP fixes the issue.

What Causes the YouTube Mobile App to Play Audio and No Video?

When the YouTube app on your phone or tablet displays a black screen instead of playing a video, or you only hear audio with no video component, that usually means there's some type of problem with the app.

An Android phone displaying a blank video, with audio but no video, on YouTube.

You can usually fix this type of problem by clearing the app data or cache, but restarting the device works sometimes as well.

Here are some things you can try when you see a black screen, or only hear audio, in the YouTube mobile app:

  1. Clear the app cache.

    An Android phone displaying the data and cache management screen for YouTube.

    If you have an Android device, you can clear the cache for individual apps, or all apps at once. If you have an iOS device, you can download a cache management app or simply delete and reinstall the YouTube app.

  2. Restart your device.

  3. Delete the app, and reinstall it.

  4. Try to view the video using the mobile web player by navigating to youtube.com with a web browser on your phone.