Force YouTube to buffer your videos all the way

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One of the biggest complaints about YouTube is trying to watch a video that has to keep pausing while it buffers.  The video is playing faster than it can download to your computer.  So every so often it has to pause, download a little more, then play some more of the video until it has to pause again.  After a short time you’re about ready to throw your computer out the window.

YouTube buffering

For a while, there was a fairly easy solution to this issue.  We could just hit the “Pause” button and walk away or do something else for a while.  This gave the video time to pre-load all the way to the end, then you could come back and watch the whole thing in one sitting.  It wasn’t necessarily the most convenient way to view videos, but it worked if you didn’t mind coming back later to view it.

YouTube doesn’t do that any more.  They now use what is called “DASH Playback”.  DASH stands for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP.  What that simply means is this:  for purposes of loading, they break the video into segments.  The video data will pre-load (buffer) the first segment, but then it will not buffer past that until the first segment is just about finished playing.  Then it starts to buffer the second segment, and so on through the end of the video.

This might be good from YouTube’s standpoint since it optimizes the use of their bandwidth and they can adjust it based on how much traffic they are getting hit with at any given time.  But it’s not very convenient for us as the users, since we can now no longer hit “Pause” and wait for the video to fully load.  And YouTube does not give any option to turn off or disable DASH playback.

Thankfully, there is a solution for this.  It’s called YouTube Center.  You can get it here (it’s free).

YouTube Center is a browser extension.  This means it works inside your web browser (including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari or Chrome) and allows you to make all kinds of adjustments to how YouTube videos work on your computer.

For most of the browsers, it’s just a matter of going the the website (linked above) and clicking on the proper download based on the browser you are using.  The exception is Chrome.  For Chrome, you will need to just download the file then drag it to the “Extensions” window in Chrome (under the Tools menu).

When YouTube Center is running, it will display a little settings icon in the top right corner of your YouTube window:

YouTube Center


When you click that Settings button, it opens up a new window with all kinds of options and adjustments you can make:

YouTube Center settings


It’s up to you if you want to explore all of the various categories and options that are available here.  There is a LOT you can do with it.  But our main purpose here today is the resolve the buffering issue.

How to force YouTube to buffer the whole video:

With the YouTube Center settings window open, look on the left side and click the “Player” category.  Then look for the Dash Playback option, and UNcheck it.

YouTube Center settings


Simple as that – no more frustration with videos that won’t buffer all the way through.  Now you should go try it out – go find a long video in YouTube and play it, then hit the Pause button and watch the progress bar continue all the way across as the full video buffers up.  It’s a thing of beauty!

You’ll see in the YouTube Center settings, as I mentioned before, that there are a lot of other options to play with.  I haven’t explored all of them myself.  If you find some other use that is cool (and maybe even practical), let us know in the comments.

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