I just got my first iPhone. There’s an issue with connecting to the App Store, so I’m watching videos on youtube.com in Safari. I’ve noticed that the videos are low-res. I don’t see the setting to turn on HD video sources. (I’m connected to my WLAN.)

Is it not possible to view HD videos on YouTube in Safari?


Mobile Safari (on iOS) will not play videos in HD on Youtube. You would have to view the videos from within the Youtube app to get higher resolution video.

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    How can this be? A modern mobile browser like Safari should be able to handle HD video streams. Do you have more on this? – Šime Vidas Nov 24 '14 at 14:54
  • I didn't say Safari can't handle HD video streams. For whatever reason, you cannot stream Youtube HD videos in Safari. My guess is they want you to use the app instead. – tubedogg Nov 24 '14 at 20:18
  • @tubedogg I can play HD, Full HD with Safari on macOS so why it can't be done on iOS? – user924 May 7 '19 at 18:32
  • Because Google decided that's the way it is. – tubedogg May 18 '19 at 4:25

Workaround: Use the desktop site, here is how:

  1. In mobile Safari, find the clip that you want to watch, it will initially start in low resolution.
  2. Tap the address bar.
  3. Swipe down in the page and you should see Request Desktop Site, tap it. Sometimes this may open the clip in the YouTube app on the first attempt, try again!
  4. On the second attempt it may ask you to open in YouTube app, don't allow!
  5. On the third attempt you should see the Desktop version of YouTube.
  6. Tap inside the video to start playing in HD, sometimes you need to tap a second time.

Note: on my iPhone 4s iOS 8.1.2 the Desktop version of YouTube is much slower, unresponsive and harder to use. But since YouTube app can't play any videos over AirPlay, I had to find alternatives.

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  • surprisingly this hack still seems to work with latest iOS. That helps me a lot because the audio lags with bluetooth headphones in my youtube app :( – nickel715 Nov 14 '17 at 13:34
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    You can hold the refresh button to get the prompt for requesting desktop site in ios safari. – anki Jul 17 '19 at 6:46

You can go to the 3 dots on the top right of the screen, then press Playback Settings, then press the quality button, and choose a higher video quality. This doesn’t save to every page.

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