How to Play YouTube Videos in VLC Media Player

If you want to try something different and play videos from YouTube using VLC Media Player then there is a built-in support in the application itself that allows you to do so. You can use the Media > Open Network Stream feature and enter the video URL to play it. You just enter a YouTube address like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfndS5SKUs4 and it will stream and play the video for you. It also supports many other video sharing websites.

Pro Tip: The quickest way to open a YouTube video is to drag and drop a youtube link from your browser (or anywhere else) to VLC’s interface.

Here are the steps to play YouTube Videos in VLC Media Player:

  • Click on Media > Open Network Stream… [CTRL + N]
  • Enter the direct YouTube URL to the video.
  • Hit Play.

Play YouTube Videos in VLC Media Player

The video will begin to stream and play immediately. You can even choose the quality of the media and also use all the controls and features of VLC Media Player like speeding it up or slowing it down. It is a great way to watch YouTube videos in high speed like 1.2x so that you save some time. The YouTube website and app doesn’t have this feature.

To choose the quality of the video that is fetched:

  • Go to Tools > Preferences.
  • Switch to All settings.
  • Click on Input/Codecs.
  • Choose an option next to Preferred video resolution.
  • Press Save.

Selecting YouTube Video Quality

The available options are Best available, Full HD (1080p), HD (720p),  Standard Definition (576 or 480 lines), Low Definition (360 lines) and Very Low Definition (240 lines). You can find the video resolution and other media information by hitting CTRL + J or from Tools > Media information.

Additional Options

There are a few options that you can set before streaming and you can also choose what happens after the video streams. To access the streaming options check the show more options checkbox. You will find these options:

  • Caching: Change how much of the video is cached and loaded before playing begins. The default value is 1000 ms (1 second). You can change it to a higher number if the player stops at multiple intervals but you might have to wait in the beginning.
  • Start Time: Choose a point in the video from where it begins playing. It is useful to avoid the unnecessary parts.
  • Play another media synchronously (extra audio file, …)
    Extra Media:
    Activate the checkbox and you can add another audio or video file to play along with the YouTube video. It is an interesting feature useful for mashups.

Additional Configurations

Besides the Play button, you can also see a small down-facing arrow. It reveals additional things you can do with the media.

  • Enqueue: Add it to your playlist.
  • Stream: Stream it to a file. It contains advanced streaming features which are not for everyone.
  • Convert: Convert video formats using VLC.

VLC For Android

Streaming in VLC for Android

In the app version of this wonderful software, you will find the stream option in the hamburger menu (three lines on the top-left). Tap on it and hit Stream. Paste the address to your YouTube video in the Enter network address input box and give it a few moments to load up the video instantly in your app.

29 thoughts to “How to Play YouTube Videos in VLC Media Player”

  1. The steps are similar but using the above mentioned LUA file does work when placed in the proper folder.

    Download file and copy/paste it into:

    Applications > (right-click/control+click) VLC > Show Package Contents > MacOS > share > lua > playlist

  2. To anyone still having trouble getting YouTube videos to play!!!!!! Download this and follow the instructions for installing it: https://addons.videolan.org/p/1154080/ then if it doesn’t work after that, follow these instructions:

    Troubleshooting:
    /! Follow this steps if and only if you have already install the script and it doesn’t work..
    /! for the actual script see the “download” button (playlist_youtube.lua) below.
    If the videos list appears in the Vlc “playlist” view but the videos won’t start, follow this steps:
    1) delete the file “youtube.luac” in [vlc directory]/lua/playlist directory (ex: c:Program FilesVideoLANVLCluaplaylistyoutube.luac)
    2) get the latest version of thr “youtube” script from here:
    https://raw.githubusercontent.com/videolan/vlc/master/share/lua/playlist/youtube.lua
    3) place the file in the directory [vlc directory]/lua/playlist (where “youtube.luac” was)

    After I did this, it worked PERFECTLY! 🙂 Hope this helps!

    1. Thanks this works for me but the video quality is low
      Do you know how to fix it?
      * already did the quality steps that mentioned on the main post

      1. What I now do, I use an add-on for Firefox that downloads the utube clip, then save it. And then play it in VLC. This works for me.

  3. On 13 January 2020 YouTube said “We’ll stop supporting this browser soon. For the best experience please upgrade your browser” on Pale Moon 26.5 on Windows XP. However, just 1-2 days later that disappeared, so I guess they postponed it.
    The same day (13 Jan) I tried opening a YT videostream via VLC for the first time, and it worked! At 720p too. But only for 2-3 days, or possibly only those two videos I was watching (they were very long (sport events)). And that was on VLC version 2.2.6.

    On 3 February they put up a message on Firefox that their old website version, which I’m still using as I never upgraded and constantly switched to the old thing when they introduced the script hell, will be removed soon: “This YouTube version will be gone soon. Switch to new YouTube”. That same website version is the default and as far as I know only thing that works on Pale Moon 26.5.

    As of 5 February it is no longer possible to play videos on YouTube in Pale Moon 26.5 on Windows XP. I assume that they’ve removed the VP8 videos, which were the only ones working in that environment. YT also again gives me the message “We’ll stop supporting this browser soon. For the best experience please update your browser.”
    It seems YouTube are making some major changes.

    Regarding VLC I think the resolution option should be directly under the Network tab in the Open Media window, and not tucked away in the advanced settings. If this feature survives…

  4. none of this works for my VLC, – drag & drop or stream. Is there any other way to play utude in VLC other than the above?

      1. How fantastically fabulous. Is there anything else that’s not working? I mean, is this rocket science or something?

    1. When i had this problem i just downloaded the youtube.lua extension for vlc from the vlc webpage and had to set a default resolution in “input/codecs” in settings after that and then it stops disapearing and everything works fine again.

      Might be that they don’t support it out of the box anymore or something but with the extensions and the resolution max set it will work.

  5. How come there’s nothing on VLC for Mac? The interface is considerable different (there’s no play button on the stream box, only “open” which doesn’t play the video). So please, if you’re going to offer a Mac version then it would be great to include Mac instructions. Thanks

    1. It worked several months ago, now YouTube stops the stream in VLC. Maybe part of their new Anti download policy in their T&Cs

  6. Me too. Im using Win 7/ Latest VLC (I dont know which version). I can only play playlist. Is this just a glitch?

    1. Me either. I am actually trying to figure out a way to add start and end times to each individual video in a YouTube playlist, which doesn’t seem possible, but even for a single video I can’t get the start time parameter to work.

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