Our thinking

Fixing YouTube videos in Safari that say they need Flash

YouTube have been rolling out html5 video playback for a few years now, and by this stage all of their newly uploaded videos are in H.264.

This allows them to play on mobile devices, as well as removes the need for Flash on desktop computers. Or does it?

A few years back, YouTube introduced their HTML5 Video Player trial. This allowed people using modern to opt-in to viewing videos in h.264 instead of Flash. It was good.

Recently, I got a new MacBook Pro which shipped with Mountain Lion and, of course, no Flash preinstalled. Making the conscious choice to see how life is with no Flash, I have not installed it and so far everything is good… Except YouTube.

When I view embedded YouTube videos on other sites, they view fine. When I click on the YouTube logo on the video however, it takes me to YouTube where the video now proudly says: The Adobe Flash Player is required for video playback and helpfully gives me a link to go and download it.


Now, I know that this isn’t the case as I can view this video on the website that was embedding it. I can view the video on my iPad, or iPhone and, if I go into the super-secret Develop menu in Safari and change the User Agent to an iPad one, I can view it on my desktop. What’s going on?

One word.


YouTube are now showing more and more ads than ever before when viewing videos directly on their website. I’m guessing that these ads are still in Flash format, so as it’s unable to show me the ad, it won’t then go ahead and show me the video either. Thanks, YouTube.

(Yes, at this point, I realise I’m not paying for the service, so I’m probably the product, not the customer, so I should shut up and stop complaining)

Fortunately, there is a solution.

Some dude called Connor, over at the Vertical Forest, has made a great plugin for Safari called YouTube5.

What this plugin does is gets YouTube to load the HTML5 version of the video and as a side-effect, you don’t get the annoying ads. Does it get any better than that? Why, yes it does. YouTube5 also allows you to set default preferences for what size of video you prefer for YouTube, Vimeo and FaceBook. I’ve not had problems with any videos on Vimeo (I think they’re great, far better than YouTube!) but I have had problems viewing videos on FaceBook now that I think about it. As another bonus, it also allows you to right-click on a YouTube or FaceBook video (but not Vimeo) and download it.

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