The basic issue is that YouTube videos show a black screen instead of video. There are variations. Sometimes the player window stays black for the entire length of the video; at other times, only for a few seconds. Sometimes the audio plays; at other times, it doesn't. Users with ad blockers report that pausing the ad blocker makes the video play normally.
This isn't a new issue. We found reports from as far back as 2011. This issue has been reported with and without an ad blocker installed. When an ad blocker is involved, we've seen the issue reported with AdBlock, Adblock Plus, and uBlock Origin.
After investigating, we believe this is caused by an intermittently faulty filter in EasyList that occasionally hides the video player instead of the ad. We suspect the fault may result from some of the experiments Google often runs on YouTube.com. Since we don't control either EasyList or Google, it's not likely we can come up with any permanent solutions. However, we found some workarounds in a variety of sources after a fairly exhaustive search. We'll add other suggestions as we find them!
Reload the page (or pause or disable your ad blocker, reload the page, and unpause or re-enable your ad blocker)
Reload the page
Reloading the page will almost always get the video to play normally in any browser.
If you're using Safari and watching in full-screen mode, reload the page, wait 5 to 10 seconds, and then open the video in full-screen.
In any browser, if reloading the page doesn't get the video to play, pause your ad blocker, reload the page, and when the video starts playing normally, unpause your ad blocker. To pause and unpause AdBlock, click the AdBlock button and select Pause on this site or (if it's paused) Resume blocking ads.
If pausing AdBlock, reloading the page, and unpausing AdBlock doesn't get the video to play, try this: Disable AdBlock, reload the page, and when the video starts playing normally, re-enable AdBlock. (Thanks for this tip, @Jinclops.) Here's how to disable and re-enable AdBlock in Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox.
Unsubscribe from the Ebates filter list
One user reported that the Ebates Cash Back Shopping filter list caused this issue to happen. Disabling the list fixed it. If this works for you, you might want to report it to Ebates.com.
Update your filter lists and restart your computer
Manually updating your filter lists is always a good first step in troubleshooting. So is restarting your computer, which solves 90% of all known computer problems.
Clear out any old stuck browser data and update your browser
Clear your browser cache and cookies, reset your browser settings, and make sure your browser is up-to-date. If you use Chrome, also try resetting it to its default settings.
Watch videos without logging in to your YouTube account or in an incognito window
This Reddit thread and other posts we found suggest Google may be trying a new way to deploy ads to get around YouTube ad blocking. This is a plausible suggestion for two reasons. The length of time the black screen appears often exactly equals the length of the ad that's being blocked, and pausing your ad blocker makes the video play normally.
The issue doesn't happen for everyone. If this theory is true, Google may be trying the technique on random users. Therefore, these workarounds may help:
- Don't log in to your Google account when you watch videos on YouTube. If you are logged in, log out and then watch.
- Watch videos in an incognito or private browsing window.
Remove the YouTube app
If you have the YouTube app installed, try removing it. You don't need it to watch videos on Youtube.com.
Watch HD videos in Microsoft Edge
Nearly every post we found claims that Edge plays HD videos much, much better than either Chrome or Firefox.
Use the video embed URL
We received this suggestion from AdBlock fan transcendient. Try copying the video's embed URL and pasting just the video URL in a new tab. Here's how:
Use a custom filter to fool the ad script
This solution comes to us from AdBlock fan hexicgrind. His instructions are fairly easy to follow, but do require a willingness to perform some advanced tweaking of AdBlock's settings. Rather than repeat them here, we invite you to read his post in our forum.
Check to see if an extension is causing a conflict with YouTube
Ad blockers aren't the only extensions that can cause this issue. It's a good idea to determine whether other extensions might be causing a conflict with the YouTube video player.
- Disable all your extensions, including AdBlock and any other ad blockers you have.
- Try to watch your video again.
- If it works, re-enable the first extension in the list and test again.
- Continue re-enabling each extension, one at a time, testing your video after each, until you find the extension that causes the problem to happen again.
- Uninstall it or, if you need it, notify the extension's developer about the problem.
Uninstall and reinstall Flash Player
If you're using Chrome you shouldn't need to do this.
1. Uninstall Flash Player:
2. Restart your computer.
Disable hardware acceleration
If the problem happens when viewing videos in full-screen, then this is likely a YouTube bug Google has been investigating for more than a year. (Here's a bug report we found.) It seems to be caused by a setting in YouTube's HTML5 player or Flash player related to hardware acceleration. Turning off hardware acceleration fixes the issue. Here's how:
Disable hardware acceleration (Flash Player)
- In normal viewing mode (that is, not full-screen), right-click the video to show the video context menu.
- If the menu says "About Adobe Flash Player" at the bottom, then you're using the Flash player and this method will work. Otherwise, skip to "Disable hardware acceleration (HTML5 Player)" below.
- Click Settings.
- Click to clear Enable hardware acceleration.
- Click Close.
- Restart your browser.
Disable hardware acceleration (HTML5 Player in Chrome)
- Enter chrome://flags in the address bar.
- Press Ctrl+F to open Chrome's search box, and then type hardware-accelerated to find the hardware-accelerated video decode setting.
- Click Enable to toggle it off.
- Click RELAUNCH NOW to restart Chrome.
Some users report that updating Java fixes the video issue. You can download the latest version of Java here.
If you're on a Mac, try using your browser in 32-bit mode
- Open a Finder window, then open the Applications folder.
- Find the Safari/Chrome/Opera icon, right-click it to open the context menu, and select Get Info.
- Select Open in 32-bit mode.
- Close the box and restart the browser.
Note: The browser will continue to open in 32-bit mode until you clear the check box.
Other things to try
We found some additional solutions.
Here's one from a post on Reddit. Note: We haven't tried this and can't confirm that it works.
Disable your ad blocker, watch a few random videos, answer YouTube's new survey (usually asking what your age is), and re-enable your ad blocker.
Here are other ideas from Windows users in a Microsoft Answers forum post.
- Try disabling ActiveX.
- If that doesn't help, open Internet Explorer and change this setting: Options > Advanced > Accelerated graphics and enable Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering. This should work for Edge, too.
- It could be that upgrading to Windows 10 deleted your old video driver and replaced it with a new one that isn't compatible with your video card. Delete the new video driver in your video card's settings. Go to the website for your video card manufacturer (NVidia or AMD) and download a video driver compatible with your video card.
Note: Some users report that the video driver suggested on the manufacturer's website is not actually compatible with Windows 10. Using the video driver for their previous version of Windows worked.
- If none of that helps, try uninstalling Shockwave Flash and reinstalling Chrome.
Bonus tip #1: Stuttering YouTube videos? YouTube videos eating CPU and battery and heating up your computer?
If YouTube videos stutter, take up too much CPU, eat battery life, or make your computer hot,you can force YouTube to use the H.264 codec withtheh264ify Chrome extension, a workaround suggested bya poster near the end of thebug reportmentioned earlier:
"About YouTube: It looks like YouTube uses two codecs - H.264 and the newer codec VP9. Based on my tests, YouTube seems to prefer VP9 codec (They detail their reasons in this blog -- http://youtube-eng.blogspot.com/2015/04/vp9-faster-better-buffer-free-youtube.html). So, if you're seeing more CPU usage, it could be that what you're watching is actually being served VP9....While I typically like the better visual quality of VP9 (sweet spot seems to be 720p@60), I can see that in some cases, you might be CPU constrained. In those cases, I have found h264ify to be a good solution to ensure I get the H.264 stream from YouTube.https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/h264ify/aleakchihdccplidncghkekgioiakgal?hl=en-US"