I guess you’ve noticed that the YouTube video quality keeps changing through 144p, 240p, 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, and more video resolutions as you continue playing various videos.

The cause of this video quality change is that YouTube is set to automatically choose the best video quality depending on various factors.

In this tutorial, you’ll notice that I occasionally interchange video quality with video resolution. For this specific guide, consider video quality and video resolution to mean the same thing.   

Why YouTube video quality keep changing.

  • The speed of the internet connection. YouTube settings are automatically configured depending on the speed of the current internet connection. YouTube always loads a higher video quality if the device is connected to fast and stable internet and lower video quality on a slow internet connection.
  • Video player screen size. YouTube automatically changes the video quality depending on the size of the display. You’ll notice that high definition videos are loaded automatically on larger screens. This is because low-resolution videos will still look fine on smaller screens like phones.
  • Original upload quality of the video. Other than the automatic configuration of video quality by YouTube, the original upload size of the video matters. YouTube will not load high resolution for videos uploaded in lower resolutions.

Why set default YouTube video quality permanently.

The YouTube automatic configuration of video quality is not a bad one, but neither is it ideal for all situations.

Imagine if, for example, your internet speed is constantly changing. This means that the quality of the currently playing video is constantly changing. The change won’t consider if the video is in the middle of playing. This can not be good.

And what if you’re subscribed to a limited internet package say on a mobile phone connection, and you don’t want to use up all the gigs in just a day.

This means you need YouTube to load a lower resolution (probably 480p) but YouTube doesn’t know about your limited package(it only knows about the speed) so you will have to change the video quality yourself.

This is why you have to gain full control over the video quality loaded by YouTube.

How to set YouTube video quality permanently on a computer

YouTube provides a way to change the video quality of the currently playing video. This setting however only lasts for a single video (currently playing video).

Once a new video is loaded, the automatic video settings apply. You should, however, note that the higher the video quality, the more bandwidth(internet) needed.

Before we go through the steps for setting a default video quality on YouTube, let’s first loop through the steps for changing the YouTube video quality for a single/currently playing video. 

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Set YouTube video quality for a single video on a computer.

  1. Load a video on YouTube.
  2. Hover the mouse pointer on the currently playing video to display additional options.
  3. At the bottom right of the video player, click on the Settings icon. Here you will view the settings available for the player.
  4. Click on Quality. This will display the available qualities for the particular video. The available qualities differ among videos depending on the upload quality. Select the preferred video quality and the setting will be applied straight away.  
change Youtube video quality for a single video on pc

Change YouTube video quality for a single video on mobile

  1. Load a video in the YouTube application.
  2. Click on the currently playing video to view additional options for the player.
  3. Open the player settings by clicking on the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the video player.
  4. Open Quality settings.
  5. Select the preferred video quality for the video.
Change YouTube video quality on mobile

How to set YouTube video quality permanently on a computer 

This is for those who are tired of frequently changing the video quality for each video that loads. YouTube doesn’t offer the inbuilt setting for video quality permanently.

In this guide, we shall be using a browser extension to offer the ability to alter various YouTube settings including change of themes or even execution of a custom JavaScript code.

First step is to install a browser extension called Enhancer for YouTube.

How to install Enhancer for YouTube in Firefox 

From the Firefox browser, click on the menu icon in the top right corner of the browser window.

Open Firefox menu

Click on Add-ons. This will open the currently installed extensions.

But we need to install a new add-on. You’ll observe a search bar at the top right corner.

Search for “Enhancer for YouTube”. The extension is most likely to appear at the top of the list.

Click on the extension to view installation details.

Click the Add to Firefox button to install the extension. The browser will prompt you to confirm the addition, click add to complete the installation process.

Add Enhancer for YouTube to Firefox

How to install Enhancer for YouTube in Google Chrome

Open the Google Chrome menu by clicking on the three vertical dots in the top right corner on the window.

From the list, hover the mouse on More tools, click on Extensions from the new context menu.

Open Google Chrome extensions

This will open the extensions tab. Click on the menu icon in the top left corner to view additional extension settings.

At the bottom of the page, click on Open Chrome Web Store.

pen Google Chrome web store

From the Chrome Web store, search for Enhancer for YouTube. Its likely to appear at the top of the search list.

Click on Add to Chrome and confirm with add extension in the browser confirmation prompt.

Install Enhancer for Youtube in Chrome

Configuring Enhancer for YouTube to set a default video quality YouTube

The steps for configuring Enhancer for YouTube are similar for both Google Chrome and Firefox.

For purpose of demonstration, I will use Firefox.

At this point, I believe you have installed the Enhancer for YouTube.

After the installation of the extension, the icon for Enhancer for YouTube is displayed in the extensions section and it’s from there that you can open its settings.

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Click on the extension icon in the top right corner of your Firefox browser to open settings.

Open Enhancer for YouTube

The extension provides a variety of various enhancements but we shall stick on setting a default video quality.

Scroll down to the Video player section. You’ll notice the Automatically play videos at my preferred quality label. The setting is by default unchecked.

Mark the label as checked and go ahead and set your default video quality to be applied to the YouTube videos.

Set default video quality in Youtube

Enock Lubowa
A technologist who writes for both the geeks and non-geeks. I am an entrepreneur and software developer with a Computer Science background. Discuss complicated stuff with me via my social handles below.