How to always play YouTube videos in HD – automatically!

Why settle with low quality 360p or 480p quality on YouTube if your broadband connection can easily stream in HD? And why settle with manually selecting “720p” (or better) each time you want to stream a YouTube video in HD? Well, you don’t have to. Here’s how…

First make sure you’re logged in to YouTube with your account. If you don’t have a YouTube account, just login with your Google account (Gmail etc.), that should work too. Then click on your username in the upper right corner of YouTube and select “Account”, like this:

Now you find “Playback Setup” in the menu and you tick both “Always choose the best option for me based on my player size” and “Always play HD when switching to fullscreen (when available)”. Remember to save changes.

The next time you full-screen a YouTube video which is available in HD, it will start playback in HD instead of that lousy 480p.


Also read: YouTube Tip: Link to Specific Timestamp in Video

21 thoughts on “How to always play YouTube videos in HD – automatically!”

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
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  4. I found that setting recently too. I wish HD played better though. Some videos load up fine but other HD videos keep buffering.. I know it’s YT’s problem too because i have Fios.

  5. Thanks for the tip, though it really didn’t bother me much switching to HD each time, because I mostly watch short videos on YouTube, I set my settings like that and hopefully it spares some time and boring job.

  6. I didn’t understeand properly…is it some kind of filtering or what? How it can be possible to improve quality of already uploaded video? 🙂 But thanx anyway…I’ll try.. 🙂

  7. Nice tip but you really need to be on a killer connection line to do this. I always view the lowest quality on my videos eventhough I have a cable connection with decent speed. YouTube is slow as it is and the videos look fine at 360p.

  8. Very nice tip – I usually jut manually change the settings, didn’t realize it could be done automatically. I tend to not be logged in when I’m on YouTube (I usually try to log out of sites when I leave out of general paranoia).

    If the HD connection is running slow, I usually pause the video (the DL continues) and just go back when it’s done.

  9. Hi, this is a nice tipp. However, I have had the experience that my hardware will not properly handle the hd, even if bandwidth is sufficient. I am using a mac with the flash plugin version that is not capable of using hardware acceleration, so everything has to be rendered by the cpu… I wish apple would open their api’s for adobe to let them create a better plugin.

  10. wow..i dont know it can be set like that

    but in my country, the coverage is not so internet is slow

    by the way thanks for sharing

  11. @cikgu – same here, internet is fast, but not fast enough to play youtube in high-def. Thanks for the article however! Once we get upgraded to a faster net, this would be the thing to do.

  12. That option is a disaster for people who have normal broadband connection. In that case you will have to change the pixels to 360 or 240 for each and every video for it to load smoothly..

  13. This doesn’t work for the videos I watch, they never play in HD unless I manually set it to HD, I don’t know why…

  14. That is funny. I usually just manually change mine, but I do notice a problem with some of them. Like noted by others, some of the videos loud fast, while others take forever to buffer. Not sure if it is my ISP or YouTube, but why not experience full HD?


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