How to Fix a YouTube Black Screen

The solution may be easier than you think

If you spend any time on YouTube, you may encounter a black screen error at some point during your viewing experience. These errors can strike at any time and are usually caused by unrelated issues. Some common causes 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 playback problems, but it may take a while to track down the exact reason you get a black screen. We walk you through it below.

Person in bed on a tablet seeing a black screen on YouTube
Lifewire / Emilie Dunphy

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

If you see a message that a video can't display, and not a black box, the video may be blocked in your region, or it may have been removed from YouTube. 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 plug-ins: You can use an ad blocker to avoid watching advertisements on YouTube videos, but sometimes things go wrong. If your ad blocker goes rogue, it may block the video instead of only the ads.
  • Browser problems: The browser may be out of date, or there may be corrupted data. These problems are fixed by updating the browser, clearing the cache, or restarting the browser.
  • Computer problems: When issues with the 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 experience a black screen and no audio from YouTube on your phone, clear the app data or cache, or restart your phone.

How to Tell If Your Ad Blocker Is Causing YouTube Black Screens

Ad blockers are browser plug-ins that selectively prevent certain web page elements from loading. Most are capable of blocking 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 loads normally. When an ad blocker malfunctions, it may allow ads to load or block page elements, like text and video, that you want to see.

Here's how to check if an ad blocker causes black screens on YouTube:

  1. Navigate to YouTube, then open a video.

  2. Temporarily disable the ad blocker. How you do this depends on which web browser you use. For more information:

  3. Reload the page, then play the video.

  4. If the video plays, consult the documentation for the ad blocker to see if there's an option to prevent it from blocking YouTube videos.

    Custom filter lists that you use with ad blocker plug-ins and extensions can sometimes cause problems with YouTube. If you use a custom filter list, disabling or removing it may allow you to watch YouTube without disabling the ad blocker.

If the 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 those works better.

How to Tell If Your Browser Is Causing YouTube Black Screens

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

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

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

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

  1. Reload the YouTube video that doesn't work.

  2. Log out of your YouTube account.

  3. Close the browser and restart it.

  4. Check for browser updates. Download and install the latest one if you don't have it.

  5. Clear the browser cache.

  6. Delete all YouTube cookies from the browser.

  7. Disable hardware acceleration in the web browser.

  8. Try a different web browser.

  9. Restart the computer.

How to Tell If Your Network or ISP Is Causing YouTube Black Screens

If your internet connection is completely down, YouTube won't load at all. Many network and internet problems allow sites like YouTube to load partially while leaving elements like videos as black boxes.

To fix a network problem that causes black screens on YouTube, power cycling the modem and router usually does the trick. Internet problems that prevent YouTube videos from loading are more difficult to deal with because these must be fixed by your ISP. If you suspect your internet connection has problems, contact your ISP for assistance.

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

  1. Power cycle the router and modem.

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

  2. If you connect to the internet using Wi-Fi, switch to a wired connection or move the computer closer to the router.

  3. Change the Dynamic Name Server (DNS) settings to use a free DNS.

  4. Flush the DNS cache.

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

  6. If you experience connection problems, YouTube may not work correctly until your ISP fixes the issue.

How to Troubleshoot YouTube Black Screens on Mobile

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, there may be a problem with the app.

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

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

  2. Restart the device.

  3. Delete the app, then reinstall it from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

  4. View the video using the mobile web player by navigating to youtube.com in the phone's browser.