How to Play YouTube Videos in VLC

Vlc Play Youtube Video Featured

YouTube has the largest video library in the whole Internet, which is no surprise to you if you spend hours on it everyday. However, other than watching videos on the YouTube website, do you know that you can also play YouTube videos in VLC? Yes, the versatile VLC media player allows you to play video in any format. This way, you can adjust the video effects and interface to your liking and not be restricted to what YouTube offers.

Why Play YouTube Videos in VLC?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with watching video directly in YouTube, except that there are plenty of ads and videos autoplay by themselves, annoying “recommended” channels, and annoying comments.

With VLC, you can just watch the videos you want in peace. Not only that, you can also adjust the video size, video and audio effects, which YouTube doesn’t offer. Last but not least, you can even add a subtitle file to the video.

Playing YouTube Videos via Network Stream

Follow the steps below to play YouTube videos in VLC:

1. In your browser, visit the YouTube site. Click on the video you want to watch.

2. Copy the YouTube video URL. It should be something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFLpKYGr9zI

3. Open VLC.

4. Click “Media -> Open Network Stream”.

Vlc Open Network Stream 1

5. Paste the YouTube video URL to the “Network URL” field. Click Play and the video will start playing in VLC.

Vlc Network Url 1

6. For advanced options, select the box “Show more options.” From here, you can configure how long VLC should cache the video before playing. You can also configure the start time and end time of the video.

Vlc Network Stream Advanced Options 1

That’s it.

Drag and Drop

An easier way to quickly play a YouTube video in VLC is to highlight the YouTube video URL and drag it to VLC. The video will play automatically in VLC.

If you are currently playing a video, dragging and dropping a new URL will append itself to the playlist and overwrite the video you are watching.

Copy and Paste

If you want to add YouTube videos to your playlist instead of overwriting the existing playing video, you can copy the YouTube video URL, click on VLC and paste it using Ctrl + V (or Cmd + V in macOS).

Vlc Paste Url

It will show a popup with options for you to play it immediately or enqueue it to the playlist.

If the Above Fails

Google is always tweaking the YouTube algorithm to prevent third-party applications from accessing the YouTube library. If the “Play Network Stream” method doesn’t work to play the YouTube video, you should update your VLC to the latest version.

Alternatively, you can install the YouTube extension for VLC.

1. Go to https://raw.githubusercontent.com/videolan/vlc/master/share/lua/playlist/youtube.lua (or simply right-click this link and select “Save link as”).

2. Copy all the code in it and paste it to a text editor. Save the file as “youtube.luac” (note the extra “c” in the file extension) in the VLC lua directory:

For All Users

  • Windows: Program FilesVideoLANVLCluaplaylist
  • macOS: /Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/share/lua/playlist/
  • Linux: /usr/lib/vlc/lua/playlist/ or /usr/share/vlc/lua/playlist/

For Current User

  • Windows: %APPDATA%vlcluaplaylist
  • macOS: /Users/%your_name%/Library/Application Support/org.videolan.vlc/lua/playlist/
  • Linux: ~/.local/share/vlc/lua/playlist/

Restart VLC and you should be able to play YouTube videos. Remember to update VLC (or the script) whenever you can’t play YouTube videos.

Configuration Options

There are several options that you can configure for better video quality streaming.

1. In VLC, go to “Tools -> Preferences.”

2. At the bottom left under the “Show settings” section, click “All.” This will show more advanced configuration options.

3. In the left pane scroll down to “Input/Codecs” and select it.

Vlc Preferences Input Video Resolution 1

4. On the right pane, you can scroll down until you see the option “Preferred video resolution.” Here you can select the quality of the video for it to stream. The default is “Best available,” but you can force it to play at Full HD (1080p), HD (720p), SD (576 or 480 lines) or Low or Very Low Definition.

For VLC on Android

The VLC Android app does come with a “Stream” option that is supposed to allow you to play YouTube videos. However, at the time of this writing, the “Stream” feature is not working for me. Hopefully, a future update can fix this issue.

Wrapping Up

The above methods will allow you to watch YouTube videos in VLC. It also works for YouTube alternatives like Vimeo, Dailymotion and Twitch. Lastly, you can also get it to play a YouTube Playlist with the steps here.

Image credit: VLC media player logo on mobile phone by DepositPhotos

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One comment

  1. My initial VLC screen looks nothing like that displayed above. I’m using the most recent version of Safari on a 2018 MacBook PRO 15″.

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