Reddit users have recently discovered that YouTube refuses to stream newly uploaded 4K video in its native resolution if the website is accessed through Safari web browser.

The issue was first raised almost a month ago by Reddit user GezimS, who wondered why the option to view 4K videos in 2160p was no longer available.

YouTube 4K
Other users soon chimed in to confirm the anomaly, noting that it only seemed to occur in recently uploaded 4K video and that accessing the same content in Chrome or Firefox still offered up the preferred 2160p resolution as a viewing option.

After some digging, user themcfly recently discovered that the issue is being caused by a change to the way YouTube encodes video and serves it through its website.

Specifically, YouTube appears to be storing video on its servers using either the more efficient VP9 codec or the older H.264 codec. Safari only supports the latter, which explains why recently uploaded 4K videos are only able to be viewed in up to 1440p.

Funnily enough, the same videos can be streamed by Safari in native 4K as long as they're embedded in another website, suggesting that the VP9 codec support requirement only applies to videos viewed directly on YouTube's website.

Until Apple updates Safari to support the VP9 codec, Mac users who want to access newer 4K video on YouTube in native 2160p resolution are advised to use a different browser.

Tags: YouTube, Safari, 4K

Top Rated Comments

itsmilo Avatar
56 months ago
Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.
Did you copy paste this from the product website?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
critter13 Avatar
56 months ago
V9 is a horrible codec though, I hope Apple don't put it into Safari, and nor Firefox follow suit to prevent this adoption - they should be using the far better H.265, not only is it better quality but it's set to be the industry standard - the iPhone has already decoded it for two generations, many video cards enable efficient processing for it - V9 has none of this, there is no hardware decoding for what is (even if it had it) a worse codec.
New Kaby Lake processors have hardware decoding for VP9, calm down
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dumastudetto Avatar
56 months ago
Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iamMacPerson Avatar
56 months ago
*Article regarding macOS Safari*
*Posted on iOS Blog*

Anyway, it's getting hard to use Safari if Apple doesn't start supporting these newer formats. I understand the battery concerns, but it only needs to be enabled when a user wants to watch a video in 4K if done right. Although that might be a little bit more coding needed on YouTube's end instead of Apple's.

Still better then Chrome for battery efficiency.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jabingla2810 Avatar
56 months ago
What am I missing? I just played 2 videos in 4K on my 2016 MBP using Safari. I searched "4K video" and played the 2 top search results at 2160p.o_O
Read the article. Not just the headline.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleWarrior Avatar
56 months ago
Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.
Seriously? I love the look of Safari, no doubt. And it is a good browser, but this adoration is unfounded. Safari stops working a lot. If you go to a website it will get stuck on its way there, and you have to shut the browser down and restart for it to operate normally again. And, if you had other tabs open that you navigated to throughout various searches, you lose them and have to find them again. This is extremely frustrating. Other browsers do not do this to me. So, I wouldn't call Safari a delightful experience every time, and that nothing compares to it.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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