I just updated my mid-2014 MacBook Pro to Big Sur and I thought one of the features was the ability to watch YouTube videos in 4k now. However I don't see that option for any videos that I know are 4k. How do I enable it?

  • Just a side comment : I can run 4k videos on Safari macOS Big Sur on MBA M1. So maybe some troubleshooting should look at hardware side of the problem. Does that MBP actually contain hardware to play those videos? – asymptoticallyboundedgluon Dec 26 '20 at 16:10

Try to go in Safari Settings > Advanced > Enable "Show developer menu". In the developer menu enable "VP9 SW decoder" and "VP9 SW decoder on battery".

Apparently, some older Mac doesn't support 4k on Youtube, you can still try to play them with Google Chrome.

  • So, does Youtube serve 4k only with VP9? – sfxedit Dec 26 '20 at 16:40
  • AFAIK Youtube serves all videos under 4k with H264, and all videos over with VP9 – Lulucmy Dec 26 '20 at 16:44
  • 1
    I don't think that's correct - they've been using VP9 since 2015. – sfxedit Dec 26 '20 at 16:58

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