What to do when the YouTube app won’t play videos

YouTube is the second most visited website on the internet with more than one billion users per month. With the recent pandemic, we spend our lives falling down the magical rabbit hole of cat videos, gaming streams, live streams and podcasts as a form of escapism. Some people even make a living from the website itself. However, have you ever gone to open a link with YouTube to be met with a blank screen, or an infinitely buffering video? Us too.

There are some ways in which you can fix problems with YouTube that don’t require you to be a tech genius. So, in this article, we will look at some fixes for different problems commonly experienced when using YouTube on iOS, Android smartphones and in a browser.

YouTube app won’t play videos – The most simple fix

This sounds like an old wives tale but it really isn’t, one of the quickest actions to take when experiencing any problem with YouTube, is a device restart. Make sure your phone or tablet is up to date before undertaking a restart, you would be surprised how many people will put off updates that are necessary for apps to work. By updating with the new software you are likely to overcome the problem of YouTube or any other app that has issues.

How to restart iOS and Android devices:

  1. Hold down the power button on your phone or tablet.
  2. Once you see the option for restart, swipe or tap the button on your screen.
  3. Allow your device to reboot fully.
  4. Open your YouTube app.
  5. Test a video to see if this has fixed the problem.

Internet problems

After the restart and updates, if you are still having issues with playing videos on YouTube, you should check your internet connection. Unless the video is downloaded for offline use, you require a connection to play any video. You can check whether or not your device or phone is connected to the internet by going into the ‘Settings’ menu and checking your network connections.

If you are currently connected to WiFi, you could have an issue with your router, restart your router with the manual from your internet provider. If you are connected via your network provider 4G or 5G connection, there may be a delay due to network congestion. In this case, simply, move around your location until you develop a stronger signal.

How to clear YouTube Cache

After you have tried your restart, updated your phone and checked your WiFi connection, the next logical step you can take to fix the issue of the never loading video is to clear your YouTube Cache. Cache files usually work to load a site you have visited before faster, however, the files on your device can become corrupted so require clearing. Which sounds a lot harder than it actually is to perform;

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ on your device or tablet
  2. Tap the ‘Apps’ option and scroll down to find YouTube in the list of installed apps on your device. (The list is usually in alphabetical order for easy navigation)
  3. Choose the ‘Storage’ Option
  4. Click on ‘Clear Cache’

How can time and date settings affect your videos?

Someone telling you time and date settings on your device or phone can affect a video playing sounds ludicrous, but it can and although strange, there is an easy fix to see if this is the issue. This can cause problems because the servers have trouble syncing with your device if the date and time are incorrect. 

So it is important especially with things like daylight savings, to make sure they are set to the correct date and time. This can be done on your tablet or phone by;

  1. Tap the ‘Settings’ option.
  2. Tap on ‘Date & Time’
  3. Locate the option ‘Automatic Date & Time’
  4. Turn this option on.
  5. The device or phone should now sync to pick up the correct information from your tower connection.

Issues with YouTube in a browser?

Again, similar to your phone or tablet, using YouTube in a browser can present problems. If you are watching YouTube using Chrome, Firefox or Safari and are hitting the same problems you can try a few things as a fix to these issues.

Firstly, make sure your browser is up to date, just like with a phone or tablet, browsers need to be up to date to run certain pages. See if there are new versions of your browser available and download them before you move on with your troubleshooting.

Secondly, check your internet settings, your PC and Mac network connection to Wifi or your ethernet connection can be the issue. So check by loading other pages in your browser, if YouTube is down but other pages are loading, you can rule out the connection issue.

Finally, if using a browser, JavaScript needs to be enabled to watch videos on YouTube. Ad Blockers and extensions turn off JavaScript as a default setting but this can be rectified by turning it back on in your browser settings. You can also see if it is an extension conflict by opening YouTube in ‘Incognito mode’. If the player runs with no problem, there is likely an extension conflict breaking the player.

Conclusion

So next time, you open YouTube to the whirling buffer wheel of boredom, you should be able to deal with this using our quick fixes. Make sure to update your apps and test your internet connections to pre-empt these problems in the future, saving yourself time and stress from missing out on your favourite videos.

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