How to fix choppy videos on YouTube

With today’s blazing fast internet speeds and cutting-edge desktop hardware, jerky YouTube videos are supposed to be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. We’ll show you what to do to fix YouTube when this happens.

Does YouTube freeze or stutter when playing videos? Various reasons such as spotty internet connectivity, misconfigured quality settings, and outdated video drivers are often the cause. Read on to learn how to fix choppy YouTube videos on PC and Mac.

Check your internet connection

First, check that there is nothing wrong with your internet connection. The best way to do this is to try using another online video streaming service such as Vimeo or Netflix, or the YouTube app on your Android or iPhone. If you continue to experience choppy or buffered video, try the following:

  • Restart the router.
  • Restart your PC or Mac.
  • Connect to another Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.

If the problem persists, find out what else you can do to fix a slow Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.

Check for server-side issues

Jerky video playback can also be the result of server-side issues with YouTube. Although Google does not offer a dedicated online portal to check this, you can always use a third-party tool such as DownDetector or IsItDownRightNow? to determine if YouTube is experiencing service outages.

Lower video quality

Although YouTube is smart enough to automatically adjust video quality based on your internet connection speed and hardware, this may not happen all the time. It may get stuck at a higher resolution that your internet connection or computer simply can’t handle.

Try manually reducing the video quality. Select tooth shape Settings in the lower left corner of the media player pane or screen in full screen mode. Then point to Qualityand select a sub-HD resolution (360p or 480p).

If it helps, progress gradually until you find a good balance between visual clarity and performance.

Update your web browser

The following fix involves updating your web browser to resolve all known issues with the VP9 codec that YouTube relies on for video playback.

Web browsers tend to update automatically, but it’s always good to do a manual check just in case. For example, you can force update Chrome by opening the Chrome menu and selecting To help > About Google Chrome.

Are you using Edge, Safari or Firefox? Learn how to update any web browser on PC and Mac.

To note: YouTube no longer uses Adobe Flash Player for video playback on modern HTML5 browsers. Contrary to what you may read online, you don’t need to install, update or use Flash plugins. Also, Flash is dead.

Clear browsing data

Outdated browsing data is a common reason for many problems, not just with YouTube stuttering, but also with other sites in general. Clear your browser cache and see if that makes a difference.

Again, taking Chrome as an example, type chrome://settings/clearBrowserData in a new tab and press Walk in. Then set the Time interval at All the timechoose it Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files categories and select Erase data.

For more information, see our guide to clearing cache in any browser for PC and Mac.

Double-check your add-ons

Browser extensions are another reason that causes YouTube videos to play choppy. Try disabling all active add-ons (especially content blockers or extensions that claim to improve YouTube) and check if that fixes the problem. You can then re-enable them one by one while reloading YouTube in a separate tab until you isolate the problematic item.

To enable and disable add-ons, you need to access your browser’s extension manager. In Chrome, for example, just open the Chrome menu (select three dots to the right of the address bar) and select More tools > Extensions.

Disable hardware acceleration

Hardware acceleration is a double-edged sword. It uses your computer’s hardware to improve rendering performance, but it may negatively affect some systems. Therefore, most browsers except Safari allow you to disable the feature.

In Chrome, open the Settings pane and go to Advanced > System. Then turn off the switch next to Use hardware acceleration when available. You can use the same approach on other Chromium-based browsers such as Microsoft Edge and Opera.

On Firefox, go to Settings > General > Performance and uncheck the boxes next to Use recommended performance settings and Use hardware acceleration when enabled to disable hardware acceleration.

If that helps, you can continue troubleshooting by updating the video drivers and system software on your PC or Mac.

Update video drivers

Up-to-date graphics card drivers can help avoid performance issues, especially on the PC. Check your video card manufacturer’s website (NVIDIA, AMD, Intel) for any updates and install them. Or, here’s an even better idea: use a driver update tool to automatically update all of your computer’s drivers.

If you’re using a Mac, updating the system software to its latest version will also update the graphics drivers (more on that later).

Update system software

Underlying issues with the operating system can also cause video playback issues. You can fix this issue by installing the latest Windows or macOS update.

In Windows 10 and 11, open the The start menu and select Settings > Windows Update > Check for updates > Download and install. Additionally, select Show optional updates and install any Microsoft-certified hardware drives, if applicable.

On the Mac, open the apple menu and select System Preferences. So choose Software update > Update now to update macOS to its latest version.

Change browser

If YouTube video stuttering or choppy playback issues persist, you can switch browsers as a last resort. YouTube works best on Chrome, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Google is behind both.

So, if you are using a browser like Safari or Firefox, try watching YouTube on Chrome. If the issue occurs on Chrome, try using another Chromium-based web browser, such as Edge or Opera. You can always try to factory reset your browser before doing so.

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