How to Choose YouTube Video Quality or Resolution in VLC

When opening videos from YouTube and other video-sharing sites, VLC tries to get the best quality of the video possible. The best quality that it fetches depends on a number of factors like the speed and bandwidth of your internet connection. The player will try to load the best video resolution that is feasible with the current connection. But what if you wanted to choose the quality/resolution of the online video that VLC loads from YouTube? There is an advanced option that allows us to select Full HD (1080p), HD (720p), Standard Definition (560p or 480p), Low Definition (360p), and Very Low Definition (240p). This video quality will be applied to the online media opened from video sharing sites like YouTube.

Here are the detailed steps to change the video quality of videos loaded in VLC from online video sharing sites like YouTube:

  • Go to Tool > Preferences [CTRL + P].
  • Click on All under Show settings for advanced preferences.
  • Click on Input / Codecs.
  • Choose the maximum video quality in Preferred video resolution.

Selecting YouTube Video Quality

As mentioned before, the video qualities that are possible are–Best available, Full HD (1080p), HD (720p), Standard Definition (576 or 480 lines), Low Definition (360 lines), Very Low Definition (240 lines). Suppose you choose HD 720p, VLC will pick a resolution that is closest to 720p and it won’t go higher than 720p. So, 720p will be the maximum resolution and it won’t go for 1080p. But if you pick something like Very low definition (240 lines) and a video stream containing 240p is not available it will load up the closest one that is 360p. Hit CTRL + J or go to Tools > Media Information to view the video resolution that is currently playing.

Pick a video that fits your internet speed and device’s hardware capability. If you pick an HD video and your device cannot handle it, it will be a bit sketchy and lag while playing.

If you didn’t know that you could load up online videos from streaming sites, then just hit Media > Open Network Stream [CTRL + N]. Paste in the URL and hit Play. The video will be loaded with the quality that you selected in a few moments.

11 thoughts to “How to Choose YouTube Video Quality or Resolution in VLC”

  1. I think that the 1280×720 play back resulution is based in the max amount of pixels the youtube player can be stretched out to in “default view”, as the youtube player stays in 1280×720 on both my 1080p and 1440p monitors. so it might be a youtube thing.

  2. Hello,

    I’ve tried this option in the 3.0.12 (32 and 64 bit), no matter which resolution I set, always plays in 1280×720 30fps.

        1. Under the simple settings, on the Video tab, check if you have your output settings to Direct3D11 output and under Input/Codecs tab of simple settings, check if your hardware-accelerated decoding is set to Direct3D11, then for All Settings like this guide shows, go to the same section but scroll down to Advanced and where it has Network Caching try changing it to 3000 or 5000 ms. Otherwise, if you’re on a slow internet connection, it may be the system limiting your default video bitrate. This is more common on mobile though but if you’re on a desktop and on a hardwire connection to with greater than 100Mbps download rate, then I don’t know.

          1. I’m on a wired gigabit speed internet connection, and I followed the instructions here, as well as selecting the 1080p quality on the YouTube video in my browser beforehand (just in case), and followed your adjustments you list here. Still my VLC player will not stream YouTube higher than 720p.

  3. I have this set of video’s that have the following specs:

    Format : MPEG-4
    Format profile : Base Media
    Codec ID : isom (isom/iso2/avc1/mp41)
    File size : 21.1 MiB
    Duration : 10 min 56 s
    Overall bit rate : 269 kb/s
    Writing application : Lavf57.71.100
    ID : 1
    Format : AVC
    Format/Info : Advanced Video Codec
    Format profile : [email protected]
    Format settings, CABAC : Yes
    Format settings, ReFrames : 4 frames
    Codec ID : avc1
    Codec ID/Info : Advanced Video Coding
    Bit rate : 133 kb/s
    Width : 1 280 pixels
    Height : 720 pixels
    Display aspect ratio : 16:9
    Frame rate mode : Constant
    Frame rate : 30.000 FPS

    However the video’s look like this:
    Everything is blurry an no matter if I zoom change aspect ratio, etc, etc, it stays blury.
    Any ideas how come, and if, and if so, how I can fix this?

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