How to Watch Movies on YouTube

Stream free movies and shows on YouTube

YouTube is well known as a video-sharing site with music videos and live broadcasting, but it also offers free online movies in their original full length, some even with closed captions. There are some TV shows, too.

Many of the movies on YouTube are listed on various channels because users can upload their own content, which means new movies are added frequently. Some films have advertisements before or during the video, but this is a small price to pay for free movies.

Illustration of a woman watching a scary movie on her laptop.
Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

YouTube’s Free Streaming Movies

The movies are in various genres, including comedy, action and adventure, animated, crime, documentaries, horror, and classics. Despite the many videos in those genres, there aren't any genre menus to sift through to find them easily. Instead, they are part of the rest of YouTube's massive video collection.

One exception is the "Free With Ads" section. All the movies in this list are ad-supported and provided officially from YouTube. Through this link are some genres to look through, but they don't appear to list every movie that could be in those genres, but instead seem to be select picks.

Free movies on YouTube

Another way to find films is through specific channels like Cinedigm (formerly Viewster), Maverick Movies, Timeless Classic Movies, Korean Classic Film, and Popcornflix. Go to the VIDEOS tab and sort the movies by popularity or date to find a free film to stream.

Searching is yet another method. Find full-length movies on YouTube through the FILTERS option when searching. You can filter the results to show movies only or change the duration to show only long videos, which should help you find free movies.

Filtered YouTube search

Other sites like Zero Dollar Movies are helpful, too. They've cataloged thousands of free movies from the site, so you can browse the genres they've built or search for a title. They have movies from the early 1900s up to 2015. You can also find Bollywood, Tamil, and Telugu movies.

Zero Dollar Movies website

Free Streaming TV Shows at YouTube

There are also free TV shows on YouTube, but they're not easily searchable. The best way to find shows on YouTube that you don't have to rent or buy is to do a manual search, just like you would for any other video.

Another way is to browse YouTube's curated list of free Movies & Shows.

YouTube’s Video Quality

YouTube movie's video quality options

Videos on YouTube are available from 144p up to high resolutions like 1080p and 4K.

Selecting the small settings icon on the bottom of a video lets you switch between the available quality settings. You can find movies on YouTube in 4K or another resolution through the Features filter when searching.

Benefits of Registering With YouTube

Registering is completely free, and anyone can join. If you have a Google account, like a Gmail email address, you can sign in that way. However, registering isn’t required, so you can watch many free movies without creating an account.

Some videos are rated at a particular maturity level that requires YouTube to verify your age. If this is the case, registering will let you watch even more movies.

Where YouTube Gets Its Movies

Businesses can show free movies on their registered YouTube accounts. Then, those free movies are gathered in one place for easy viewing.

Some movies are from Crackle, Starz, and Cinedigm, to name just a few sources.

However, you may often find a movie one day and then find that it's been removed shortly after. This is because anyone can upload videos, which means even copyrighted material may be uploaded from time to time. However, these types of movies and TV shows are regularly removed to clean up the video collection.

System Requirements for YouTube

It’s necessary to have a web browser like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera to watch videos. And while it's ideal to have an updated operating system like Windows 11 or Windows 10, older versions of Windows and other operating systems are suitable too.

You can also watch movies from your phone or tablet through the YouTube app. It's not as movie-focused as other movie streaming apps, but it works if you don't mind doing some digging.

It’s also important to have at least a 1 Mbps internet connection to ensure a steady stream of good viewing quality (but more is better). Some YouTube content can cause buffering when viewing the videos, but that's usually only a problem on slower connections.

Was this page helpful?