Fix: 360-degree YouTube videos not working

By: Matthew Adams
4 minute read

Google added 360-degree video support to YouTube in 2015. These videos have a new dimension that enables you to rotate the viewing angles with a navigation dial. Furthermore, you can play the clips with a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard for even greater immersion. The 360 videos work in some Windows browsers and the Android and iOS YouTube apps. If the 360-degree YouTube videos aren’t working for you, these are a few potential fixes.

Check Browser Compatibility

First, note that the 360-degree YouTube videos don’t work in all browsers. So it might be that you’re opening the videos in an incompatible browser. You can view 360-degree videos in Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera. So if the videos aren’t working for you in browsers such as Vivaldi, Torch or Maxthon, open them in Google Chrome instead.

Check Browser HTML 5 Support

Your browser must support HTML5 for the videos to play. If it doesn’t support the HTML5 video element, that’s why the 360-degree clip isn’t working. You can check HTML5 support by opening this page. That will tell you if your browser supports HTML5 and whether it’s the default player. If it isn’t your default player, and the browser supports it, press the Request the HTML5 player button.

Update Your Browser

If your Firefox, Chrome, IE or Opera browser doesn’t support HTML 5, it’s probably an outdated version. So now you should update your browser to the latest version. This is how you can update Google Chrome if required.

  • First, click the Customize Google Chrome button at the top right of the browser.
  • Then you should click Help on the menu.
  • Now you can click About Google Chrome to open the page in the shot below.

  • Chrome will check for and install updates. When it has updated, you can press a Relaunch button to restart the browser.

Update the YouTube Video app on Android

If you can’t play a 360-degree video in the Android YouTube app, it might need updating. You can check Android app updates by opening the Play Store. Then look out for a button either with three vertical lines or dots at the top left or right of the Play Store. Click that button and select My apps from the menu, which will open a list of your apps that need updating. If you can update YouTube, press the Update button for that app.

Switch on Full Hardware Acceleration in Windows

It might be the case that hardware acceleration is switched off in Windows. If you ever switched hardware acceleration off, now is the time to switch it back on so you can play 360-degree YouTube videos. This is how to configure hardware acceleration more specifically in Windows 7 and 8.

  • Enter ‘Control Panel’ into your Windows search box and select to open the Control Panel.
  • If the Control Panel is in Category view, you should press the View by button at the top right and select Large icons.
  • Now you should click Display and Change display settings to open further options.
  • Select Advanced Display Settings to open an advanced settings window. Then you can click a Troubleshoot tab on that window if your graphics card supports hardware acceleration.
  • Press the Change settings button there to open a Display Adapter Troubleshooter window.
  • The Display Adapter Troubleshooter window includes a Hardware acceleration slider bar. You should drag the slider to the far right of that bar to switch hardware acceleration on if it’s not already enabled.

Enable Accelerated 2D canvas and Prefer HTML over Flash in Chrome

  • If 360-degree YouTube videos still aren’t working for you in Chrome, configure a couple of the browser’s about:flags settings. Input ‘about:flags’ into the browser’s URL bar and press enter to open the page shown below.

  • Now press the Enable button under the Accelerated 2D canvas setting there to switch that on.
  • Scroll down to the Prefer HTML over Flash setting and select Enabled from the option’s drop-down menu.
  • Next, restart the Google Chrome browser and then try playing a 360-degree YouTube video.

Does Your Phone Have a Gyroscope Sensor?

Android users should note that their mobiles need to have a Gyroscope for VR. So if your phone doesn’t have a Gyroscope sensor, that’s why the 360-degree VR YouTube videos aren’t working. You can check your phone has that sensor with the CPU-Z app. That includes a Sensors tab that provides further device sensor details.

Calibrate the Gyroscope

If you do have an Android phone with Gyroscope, the sensor might still not be calibrated correctly. Calibrating that sensor may fix 360-degree VR YouTube videos. This is how you can calibrate the sensor.

  • You can calibrate the Gyroscope by opening Settings in your Android device.
  • Then you should tap Accessibility in Settings.
  • Now you might find a Gyroscope calibration option. Select that option to calibrate the Gyroscope.
  • Now try playing the 360-degree clip in the YouTube video app again.

So with those fixes you should now be able to play those dazzling 360-degree videos in your browser or YouTube apps. You can also watch the clips with 360-degree video player software and apps covered in this Windows Report article.

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