YouTube modifies player size on desktop; reception is mixed

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 30, 2018
Internet, Youtube

If you have been to YouTube in the past couple of hours  using a desktop computer you may have noticed that the player size and interface looked different to before. Google has done away with black bars and uses an algorithm to determine the best player size for users who visit the site to play videos.

Google Community Manager Marissa published the news on the official YouTube Help Forum

She writes:

We launched an update to the YouTube video player on desktop – the player now automatically adapts to provide the best viewing experience based on the video’s size (aspect ratio) and your computer’s screen/browser size.

Basically, what YouTube does right now is take the aspect ratio of the video, e.g 16:9 and the size of the browser window into account to create the video player interface.

One of the effects is that there are not any black bars anymore when you watch vertical videos on the site; this is true especially for vertical videos and 4:3 videos. Other video formats may have had their player size changed as well. Videos of the format 16:9 for example use a larger player interface in the updated version.

Note that I ran a quick test in a couple of browsers and not all had the new experience. Google's own browser Chrome and Mozilla Firefox used the new format while Microsoft Edge did not at the time of writing.

One thing that users may notice is that they can't change between normal and wide video player sizes anymore. The option to enable the wider video site appears to have been removed; it is still available in Microsoft Edge but no longer an option in browsers that show the new player interface already.

Take a look at the two following screenshots of the same video. The first shows the new playback interface of YouTube in Mozilla Firefox, the second the old interface in Microsoft Edge.

youtube new player format

youtube old player format

User feedback on the official support forum is mostly critical of the change. YouTube users state that videos do get cut off, that it is not possible anymore to play fullscreen videos, that the default resolution is set to a low resolution automatically, that nothing but the player interface is shown, that low quality videos, e.g. 240p videos are blown up, and that videos get cut if they are not in one of the default player resolutions.

Browser extensions like Iridium may provide options to change the playback interface.One option to overcome the limitation is to watch YouTube on the desktop without using a browser.

Now You: What is your take on the new viewing experience on YouTube?

Related articles

Google making YouTube slower for non-Chromium browsers?


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vYouTube modifies player size on desktop; reception is mixed
If you have been to YouTube in the past couple of hours  using a desktop computer you may have noticed that the player size looked different to before.
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  1. Anonymous said on September 24, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Okay, been using the new format several months now and I still hate it. If I can find a fix for it I will be all over it. Thanks YouTube.

  2. Janice Satterwhite said on March 12, 2020 at 12:23 am

    If I click anywhere in a video it automatically increases the size of the video. I don’t like or want this. It actually stops the video playing as well. WTH!! How do I fix/stop this? I hate it.

  3. Software Arrogance said on December 12, 2018 at 1:32 am

    In the 70s a person could CHOOSE (purchase) whatever size TV screen they wanted, and control BASIC things like brightness, contrast, sharpness, color, saturation, tint.

    50 YEARS LATER NONE of these options exist for youtube videos.

    Instead it’s continual CHANGE FOR NO REASON.

    It’s because of the sheer arrogance of all (politically far left) tech companies.

  4. Anonymous said on August 28, 2018 at 11:23 am

    i hate it. its so small in theater mode at zoom 133 it looks like size 90. and default size is no better. google just loves to break things.

  5. Drago said on August 1, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    I hate this. I also hate what Google has been doing recently. Google is just making changes for the sake of changing things. If you don’t believe me, look at what they’ve done to Material Design.

  6. Michael P. Shipley said on July 31, 2018 at 9:49 am

    What I would like is for the video to be resized vertically so the player controls dont obscure text I need to read at the bottom of a video. Its a constant irritant.

  7. Yuliya said on July 31, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I get a different UI with two independent scrolling areas:
    I kind of like it. “Theater mode” is still available which, if enabled, it’s just like before.

  8. A little bit of Martin Context said on July 30, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    Context: YouTube is losing money due to the exorbitant bandwidth usage price (Google executive once reportedly said, “It’s pretty concerning and difficult to deal with on the long term.”), they’re working underneath on a torrent web video player to minimize bandwidth costs as much as possible, to proceed on such a plan requires first minimizing bandwidth temporarily while the switch is being done (and this change falls under this category).

    Source: Pulled them straight out of my thin foil mouth.

    1. Tom Hawack said on July 31, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Someone will have to explain why then YouTube by default autoplays next videos if the bandwidth cost is such exhorbitant.

      1. Autoplay Gotta Play said on July 31, 2018 at 11:52 am

        Autoplay => more user time => more ads displayed => more revenue => better than no autoplay.

    2. Dave said on July 31, 2018 at 6:49 am

      Or perhaps they are following M$’s example and trying to extort people into using their app instead of a browser by screwing up the way it works on browsers on purpose?

      That way they can more effciently collect personal information about viewers to sell.

  9. Anon said on July 30, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    I don’t know about you guys, but I have no problem. Everything works as intended with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (or aspect ratio 16:9). I used the wide video player (still present now in the interface) to enlarge the comment section in the past, but now it is no longer necessary.

    I am happy with this change! Sorry if it is not the same for you.

  10. Anonymous said on July 30, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    I don’t get it. It looks like all they did, is swap out the black backdrop for a white one. How can you fuck that up?

  11. Anonymous said on July 30, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    I would not watch Google’s things with my little Fox anyway.

  12. Tom Hawack said on July 30, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    YouTube on Firefox 61.0.2 (x64) / Windows 7 (x64), device is located in France

    – I can still change between normal and wide video player sizes, wider video (theater mode) button available,
    – playback interface follows background color but only in “normal” mode (not in theater mode, not in full-screen).

    The big change here is that the settings button requires now an account (sends to Google account).
    I would use the YouTube cookies only for dark background and no autoplay.
    Therefor :
    – No point in allowing youtube cookies : blocked
    – To have a dark background : ‘YouTube Deep Dark Material’ at
    – To block autoplay (that of next videos, not first) : ‘Remove Youtube Autoplay’ at

    1. klaas said on July 31, 2018 at 11:48 am

      @Tom: thanks for the link to the “Remve Youtube Autoplay” script.

      1. Tom Hawack said on July 31, 2018 at 12:27 pm

        @klaas, I’ve just discovered that the ‘Remove Youtube Autoplay’ script appears sometimes to not trigger when YouTube videos start, maybe related to YouTube’s latest modifications.

        I’ve tested another script which seems to perform better:
        ‘Youtube No Autoplay – “Up Next” Disabled’ at

      2. klaas said on August 1, 2018 at 9:36 am

        @Tom: thanks for this update, I appreciate your work :-)) I removed the previous script and added this one. Thank you !!

  13. ams said on July 30, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Ouch, the bright background surrounding the video is hard on the eyes. Hopefully I’ll figure out how to set a custom color for that box via userContent.css

  14. Weilan said on July 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Looks stupid, it’s as if they are making changes for the sake of making changes.

  15. Timi said on July 30, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Install youtube restore classic userscript and get the old layout,there problem solved,for as long as google doesn’t fuck with the old layout and axes it!

  16. pHROZEN gHOST said on July 30, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I don’t see this. Videos still look the same as they ever did. Fullscreen works fine.

    Is it with all or only some (newer) videos?

    Is it perhaps only a trail in some regions?

    1. klaas said on July 31, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Yep, the same for me too, full screen no prob either.

    2. Tom Hawack said on July 30, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Looks the same here as well, even if some videos (not all at this time) are a bit wider (margin to left border smaller than before). No full-screen problem, theater mode (wide) still available.

    3. satrow said on July 30, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      I was logged when I checked but it still looked the same to me too.

    4. Anonee said on July 30, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Yeah, it looks the same for me too.

  17. Anonymous said on July 30, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    If that forum thread is anything to go by, “reception is mixed” is an inaccurate headline. Youtube layout changes have been a disaster for years (not to mention all of the third-party extensions they ruined along the way), and this one is no exception. Maybe they should take a page from Mozilla’s book and look at what 99.9% of their users want. Inconsistent size, scaling and position for videos is not one of those things.

  18. Mark Hazard said on July 30, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    I don’t like it.

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