YouTube Codes: How to Fix Common Video Problems

Make sure your videos display correctly

Uploading videos to YouTube is an easy process, but sometimes videos don't display correctly. The aspect ratio may look off, the video might look stretched or squished, or there may be a black box surrounding it. Many users edit their videos again and re-upload the video to solve the problem. However, taking advantage of YouTube's hidden codes can force the video to display correctly.

Here's a look at what might cause your videos to look wrong, and how to use YouTube codes to fix the issue.

YouTube stopped supporting these formatting tags in 2016. This article is for archival purposes.

Causes for YouTube Videos Not Displaying Correctly

Usually, the culprit for a video displaying with black bars, a stretched or squished appearance, or poor video quality is using an incorrect aspect ratio. When the aspect ratio doesn't align with the YouTube video player, black bars or other problems occur.

YouTube used to abide by a 4:3 aspect ratio, which was the same as standard-definition TVs in the U.S. YouTube now uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is also the aspect ratio for modern HDTVs. This is also commonly known as widescreen. Any video uploaded to YouTube that doesn't fit into a 16:9 ratio displays either cropped or with bars.

YouTube Logo
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How to Fix Aspect Ratio Problems With YouTube Videos

While uploading videos with the appropriate aspect ratio is ultimately the goal, fix issues with your current videos using embed tags in the video's metadata. Here are the codes to use to fix common problems.

  1. Add the tag yt:stretch=4:3. If your video looks stretched out, you likely uploaded a 4:4 video and it's stretching out to try to fill the 16:9 area. When you add the yt:stretch=4:3 tag, you're adjusting the aspect ratio to what it should be.

  2. Add the tag yt:stretch=16:9. If your video is supposed to be a 16:9 widescreen video and is instead pillar-boxed and squished into a 4:3 space, adding the tag yt:stretch=16:9 fixes the distortion and improves the video's quality.

  3. Add the tag yt:crop=16:9. This tag zooms in to shrink widescreen content. For example, if you upload a letterboxed 4:3 video, cropping it zooms in and creates a normal-looking video.

  4. Add the tag yt:quality=high. If the video quality looks poor, add this tag to use a high-quality version.

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