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.

The free movies on YouTube come from many places because tons of different users can upload content, so new movies are often added. Some films have advertisements before or during the video, but this is a small price to pay for free movies.

YouTube’s Free Streaming Movies

The movies are offered in various genres, including comedy, action & adventure, animated, crime, documentaries, horror, and classics. However, even though there are many videos in those genres, you can't actually browse through the movies inside any particular genre. They're instead just part of the rest of YouTube's massive video collection.

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

However, there is a section of "Free to watch" movies that you can access here; all are ad-supported and provided officially from YouTube.

Another way to find movies is through specific channels like Viewster, The Paramount Vault, Maverick Movies, FUNimation, Timeless Classic Movies, Timeless Western Movies, and Popcornflix. Go to the VIDEOS tab and sort the movies by popularity or date to find a free film to stream.

Maverick Movies free movies on YouTube

Searching is yet another method. Find full-length movies on YouTube through the FILTER option when searching. You can filter the results to show movies only and/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

Full Movies On YouTube, via Reddit, is similar to Zero Dollar Movies where users can post links to full films they've uncovered on YouTube. Results are sortable by decade so you can find even current movies, as well as genre and resolution, including 1080p.

Free Streaming TV Shows at YouTube

There are also free TV shows on YouTube, but they're not easily searchable. There is a Shows page, but none of them are free to watch.

You could try Reddit's Full TV Shows on YouTube, but beyond that, 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.

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 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 ever creating an account.

Some videos are rated at a particular maturity level that requires YouTube to verify your age. If this is the case, then 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 Viewster, 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, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Opera to watch videos. And while it's ideal to have an updated operating system like Windows 10 or Windows 8, older versions of Windows and other operating systems are just fine, 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.

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