I like to watch educational videos (like Udacity) which are hosted on Youtube. However, when I watch these on my iPad 2 over Wifi, they always play back at the lowest quality! The quality is so bad that I can't even read the code on the screen!

These same videos on the same Wifi connection play in HD on a PC.

Searching for each individual video from the Youtube app is obviously not an option - that process would take almost as long as the video itself. Is there some way to get Youtube within Safari to play at a reasonable resolution?

2 Answers 2


I don't know what the actual answer is, but I am having the same issue. The page https://developer.apple.com/library/safari/documentation/AudioVideo/Conceptual/Using_HTML5_Audio_Video/AudioandVideoTagBasics/AudioandVideoTagBasics.html

has some good info. And the page https://developer.apple.com/library/safari/documentation/AudioVideo/Conceptual/Using_HTML5_Audio_Video/Device-SpecificConsiderations/Device-SpecificConsiderations.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40009523-CH5-SW1


"Optimization for Small Screens

Currently, Safari optimizes video presentation for the smaller screen on iPhone or iPod touch by playing video using the full screen—video controls appear when the screen is touched, and the video is scaled to fit the screen in portrait or landscape mode. Video is not presented within the webpage. The height and width attributes affect only the space allotted on the webpage, and the controls attribute is ignored. This is true only for Safari on devices with small screens. On Mac OS X, Windows, and iPad, Safari plays video inline, embedded in the webpage." - Which, I believe, means on the iPad, that the video plays at the resolution of the initial window (determined by the programmer), and does not naturally play on the YoutTube player, or at a higher res if you enlarge the video.

This seems to be the "problem" that we're encountering - that its a "feature" specific to Safari on the iPad. Why they do this, I dunno. In my case, the video plays at a higher res (and better) on my smaller iPhone than does on my iPad mini with Retna. Go figure.

I came upon this post, hoping to find the answer and a work around. If you get the Youtube app, and find the video through that, it will play at the highest resolution, but not through Safari. So far as I can tell.



You might want to check your YouTube account preferences for playback quality. See here:

YouTube Playback Preferences

Try checking the "Always play HD on fullscreen" option. If you use the YouTube app you may also want to check the apps setting for this as well.

If that doesn't work, it might be because the iPad screen is of retina quality and the YouTube video is not scaled well. Perhaps the video is only 480p or something of the sort. Of course if the video is low quality, you will never be able to make it better.

I'm going to bet that it is because the iPad has a retina screen and when you full-screen the video it stretches the video's picture.

  • Agreed, always check the playback quality. The issue is always there. Jan 27, 2014 at 0:29

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