YouTube․com no longer supports 4K video playback in Safari

“A recent discussion on Reddit has brought to light the news that YouTube no longer has the 4K video playback option when using Safari,” Greg Barbosa reports for 9to5Mac.

“The change may have come after a long ago announcement that YouTube began encoding uploaded videos into VP9,” Barbosa reports. “The change seems to affect recently uploaded videos, and thus so far only seen on the main YouTube site and not within embeds.”

Barbosa reports, “Recently, /u/themcfly helped point out some specific changes as to what was happening: Upon further inspection, I discovered that YouTube stores different kinds of video on their servers, encoded either in VP9 or the older H264 codec. Safari has no VP9 support…so it gets automatically served a H264 version from YouTube… Chrome supports VP9 so gets served that version.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Google’s mission is supposedly “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” As Steve Jobs would likely say, “Google’s mission statement is bullshit.

By trying to force their crappy VP9 on users, Google is failing miserably in fulfilling their bullshit mission.

Steve Jobs email drops hint on Google’s VP8 open video codec – May 21, 2010


  1. VP9 is a great codec. And it’s completely on the Safari team’s shoulders to support it.

    It’s well known in the Web Dev community that Safari is the new Internet Explorer, supporting the fewest new web technologies, while IE and Chrome are both better browsers.

    Safari offers PIP on MacOS as well as integrated Continuity between mobile and desktop, but Chrome offers something similar if you’re logged into your google account (which most people are).

    1. VP9 is just an alternative to H.265. It is not “a great codec”. It does a few things better than H.265, but many things worse.

      Google is just attempting to enforce it as both VP9 and YouTube are their properties. YouTube was originally, virtually 100% standards based media. Now Google is slowly, and quietly trying to convert YouTube to a Google only standard. This just just Google’s version of Microsoft’s old strategy of “adopt, extend, extinguish” where Microsoft used to *appear* to adopt standards, then come out with a Microsoft exclusive variant, then try to kill the standard leaving Microsoft as the only option standing.

      You shot yourself in the foot when you said that both IE and Chrome are better than Safari. IE is, for all practical purposes, an abandoned browser. Not as abandoned as Navigator, but Microsoft is putting 99% of their browser development efforts into Edge, not IE. Conversely, Safari is an actively supported and evolving browser (though not evolving as fast as most of us would like).

      And your statement “most people are” tries to use the ludicrous bandwagon effect just as in the old days of “there are more Wintel PCs in use than Macs therefore the Wintel PCs must be better than Macs”. It’s also true that there are more cockroaches on the Earth than humans. That does not make cockroaches a higher lifeform than humans.

      1. Well said, Shadowself.

        It needs to be said though that Apple isn’t doing themselves any favors in the video world. They aren’t taking a lead in pushing for open standards. Moreover, VP9 is not Flash. If Apple can retain user security, then it’s dumb of them to not support popular CODECS. If Apple doesn’t like Google’s video services, where is Apple’s superior option? Quicktime version 8 Pro anyone?

        The sad reality is that for the last decade, VLC has been the best video player for the Mac platform. Sad to see Apple squander its talents to fall so far behind in areas that matter.

      1. As much as i haye to…. but i must admit google’s AI is way more superior to Apple’s… (amazon too )
        and i Hate this fact…
        Please Apple, quadruple down on your AI initiatives and System/ecosystem wide Implementation of it .🤞🤞🤞

  2. Its a proven technical FACT.

    Safari is a lame duck anyways, its the new IE. bundled with the OS.. it even pops up to ask you if you really don’t want to use it as your main browser every once and awhile.. SO INTRUSIVE.

    1. If I could give the above post (VP9 > H26#) a negative star rating I would.

      The premise that VP9 > H.265 is NOT a proven fact. Lots of comparisons of various media shows H.265 consistently better. VP9 does come out better occasionally, but NOT consistently. I’m sure you can find a handful of test that can support your case, but any unbiased person can find an equal number (and lily more) of cases to prove you wrong.

      Also, have you seen how many times Chrome and the rest have popups that ask if you want to make them your default browser? They’re annoying too.

      1. VP9 is simply inconsistent. The mileage varies greatly, depending on type of content compressed, type of OS and hardware used to decompress it and the target bitrate.

        In most cases, H.265 simply works better. Its greatest advantage over VP9, however, is that you can reliably know what to expect across the vast sea of platforms, OSes, devices, hardware, software and types of content. With VP9, there is a good chance that you’ll get surprisingly good results with some frugal bitrate on some (or more devices), but you can never be sure if that result will be the same on other devices / platforms. Give it some other type of content tomorrow, send it through the same encoder on the same device, watch the result on the same output target and scratch your head to the difference…

  3. I’m watching 4k video that was uploaded 20 minutes ago in Safari. Looks stunning. From a DJI Osmo.

    So if I understand this correctly, you get Google’s CODEC if it is supported. If not H.264.

    How is VP9 being forced upon me?

    Safari has issues, but streaming 4k from youtube doesn’t seem to be one of them to me.

  4. It is locking down the content at 4k as it is selling video services now. The 264 video can easily be downloaded from You Tube by any number of tools (Parallels Toolbox, for example). Content creators do not want you grabbing pristine 4K content off of their servers.

  5. I hide the icon and undefault it on every build I do. Its pretty much the worst browser available on OSX right now.

    1. Chrome, 2 Firefox.

    If they need Safari for testing then I will unhide it for them..

  6. Judging from tests documented above, we don’t have the whole story.

    WebM is the format that encloses VP9. Historically, there’s been controversy regarding WebM, which is proprietary to Google, despite the ‘free’ licensing. Here’s something I wrote up about WebM back in 2014:

    The background: There has been a lot of controversy regarding WebM. In 2010, Google threatened to remove considerable support for H.264 from Chrome while instead supporting their WebM technology. H.264 is specifically part of the HTML5 specification. WebM is not. WebM is… NOT actually an open source project, despite hype to the contrary. Therefore, a great deal of argument arose in the computer community regarding the point of WebM and Google’s attempt to foist it on the world while denigrating H.264. Eventually, Google backed down and never withdrew H.264 support in Chrome.

    The WebM controversy has been going on since 2011.

    At the iTunes Store, for $1.99 you can download the “WebM Player Extension for iOS and Safari”. But it has a low, 2-star user rating.

  7. 9th District won’t come down on Alphabet for “unfair practices”: just because Google will only play content to their own browsers or devices, how is that unfair? It’s only unfair when Apple does something similar.

    1. What ‘content’ does Google provide that is not available to other devices (excepting Android Apps working on iOS or vice versa obviously)? If you claim VP9 incompatibility, since it is an open standard you have only Apple to blame for not implementing it in Safari. Outside of IE, Safari is the only other popular browser holdout on using VP9. In a year or so even that won’t matter since AV1 will most likely replace it. I understand the stated goal of AV1 is to be 50% more efficient than HEVC(H.265).

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