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Easy Steps For Watching YouTube on Your TV

published by Chad Evans
February 27, 2023 at 8:12 p.m. PST
  • Launched in 2005, YouTube is now one of the most popular video-sharing platforms.
  • Viewers originally watched YouTube videos on computers, with smartphone compatibility coming a few years later.
  • Mobile viewership accounts for 40.1% of the YouTube user base.
  • Today, it’s possible to watch YouTube videos on your flat-screen TV with built-in apps, TV devices, or a simple HDMI cable.

It’s Easy to Watch YouTube on Your TV

Want to watch videos from YouTube on your TV? If you own a smart TV manufactured within the last five years, you can probably watch YouTube using built-in apps. Wirelessly beaming YouTube videos from your computer, phone, or tablet is convenient for those with older televisions. If all else fails, you can connect your iPhone to your TV with an inexpensive Lightning to HDMI cable. Follow this guide for instructions on how to get started!

Watch YouTube on Your Smart TV

If you bought a television within the past five years, chances are that it can run apps such as YouTube. This is the easiest way to go because you don’t need a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Your TV can already stream YouTube videos.

Since there are so many televisions on the market, writing instructions for every model is impossible. Some come with YouTube pre-installed, while others have a market or store where you can download the app for free.

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Some smart TVs might not support YouTube directly, but they may have apps providing access to the streaming giant. This isn’t strange, as Apple initially did this with the YouTube app for the first iPhone. It wasn’t an official YouTube app but, instead, one created by Apple.

For some time, a rift between Amazon and Google prevented an official YouTube app from running on Fire TV. This situation has changed, with Amazon’s television platform now supporting an official YouTube experience.

Although it’s impossible to show you how to access YouTube on every smart TV, it may be helpful to see how it’s done on a popular and highly rated television. Most other TVs will follow the same workflow. Let’s look at how to access YouTube on a Sony Bravia XR A95K OLED TV. This model comes with the Google TV platform built-in, making it easy to access YouTube.

  1. Turn on the Sony Bravia XR A95K using the power button on the remote. The Google TV home screen appears.
  2. Use the remote’s navigation control to select the YouTube app, then press the center button.

That’s it. YouTube launches, and you’ll be able to watch millions of videos.

Alternatively, you can press and hold the Google Assistant button on the remote and say, “launch YouTube.”. This is even easier, and it’s the future of computing. I always prefer to use voice commands when available because such interactions will be more common as technology advances.

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Watch YouTube on Your TV With a Streaming Device

If your TV isn’t very smart, you may need to connect it to an external brain. Streaming devices range from tiny sticks that plug directly into your HDMI port to full-on video game consoles. Apple’s TV device, Apple TV, offers something in between — a powerful unit geared toward content consumption but capable of playing some impressive games. You can even order pizza directly on Apple TV.

Since there are so many streaming sticks and devices, let’s look at options from the three major vendors: Apple, Google, and Amazon.

Apple TV debuted back in 2007, making it one of the most mature and established streaming devices. It’s much more than a content streamer. The latest model, equipped with a powerful A15 Bionic chip, is more than capable of streaming YouTube videos.

Although Apple TV may be more than what you need, I found that the games, in particular, are surprisingly good. I got so into gaming I ended up buying a Bluetooth game controller. The Siri Remote also serves as an excellent steering wheel for racing games, where users can control the car by tilting the remote.

Here’s how to watch YouTube videos on any Apple TV model running the latest tvOS software (16.3.2):

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  1. Press the TV/Home button on your Siri remote to power on your TV and Apple TV. The Apple TV Home screen appears.
  2. If the YouTube app isn’t already installed, launch the App Store by navigating to the icon on the top row of the Home screen. Click on the clickpad to open the App Store.
  3. Using the Search feature, search for the YouTube app. When the YouTube app appears, navigate to its icon and click on it.
  4. Navigate to the “Get” button and click on it. You’ll be prompted to install the app. Agree to the confirmation, and the app will begin installation. A spinning circle on the app icon indicates the app’s install progress. When finished, the word “Open” replaces the circle icon.
  5. Click on “Open” to launch the YouTube app. The YouTube Home screen appears, and you can now access millions of videos.

As you can see, Apple TV works a lot like your iPhone. It even uses the same processor. tvOS is a variation of iOS. That’s why Apple TV offers so many apps.

Google’s Chromecast device offers a much less expensive method for accessing YouTube, Netflix, and many other streaming services. If you’re not steeped in the Apple ecosystem and don’t care about apps and games, Chromecast is an excellent choice. With the HD model retailing for $29.99, it’s a fraction of the cost of Apple TV.

The best part about Chromecast is that YouTube comes pre-installed. There’s also a YouTube button on the remote. It makes sense, as YouTube is a subsidiary of Google.

Watching YouTube on TV is remarkably easy with Chromecast. The remote comes with a YouTube button. All you need to do is press it, and you’re watching dogs on skateboards.

Amazon offers the most compact, and often the cheapest, streaming stick. The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite costs about as much as Chromecast and supports YouTube. Here’s how to watch YouTube on an Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite:

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  1. Power on your TV and select the HDMI port to which your Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite is connected. The Amazon Fire TV home screen appears.
  2. Navigate to YouTube on the top row of apps and click on the icon. The YouTube detail screen appears.
  3. Use the remote to select and click on the Get button. Fire TV will start installing the YouTube app.
  4. Open the YouTube app and enjoy!

As you can see, all three major tech companies provide excellent streaming technologies, making it easy to watch YouTube on your TV. If YouTube is your primary destination, Chromecast is the best of the bunch. Apple TV is better for those looking for more options, such as gaming and high-end apps. The Fire TV Stick Lite is an excellent choice if you’re deeply vested in the Amazon ecosystem or if it’s on sale at a steep discount.

Beam or Cast YouTube to TV with AirPlay or Chromecast

Believe it or not, the ability to beam content to TV is somewhat old. Intel was the first to debut this technology, with a system known as WiDi, but it never caught on. A few years later, Apple introduced AirPlay with its second-generation Apple TV in 2010. After a few failed attempts at TV devices, Google launched a stripped-down Chromecast dongle, which mainly relied on “casting” or beaming content from a smartphone or tablet to TV. Unlike Apple TV, Chromecast wasn’t very smart, but it cost a fraction of the price and gave users most of what they wanted — watching video content on TV.

Now that we’ve learned the history of beaming/casting videos to TV, let’s look at how to get YouTube videos from your smartphone to your flat-screen television. We’ll look at AirPlay first, then Chromecast.

How to use AirPlay to beam YouTube videos to Apple TV:

  1. Ensure you’ve connected your Apple TV and beaming device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) to the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. Turn on your Apple TV and connected television.
  3. Launch the YouTube app on your source device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac). The YouTube home screen appears.
  4. Find a video you’d like to beam to your TV and start playing it. You’ll see a “cast” button at the top of the video. It resembles three curved lines and a rectangle combined (like waves beaming to a TV set).
  5. Press the cast button. A menu appears with the option “AirPlay & Bluetooth devices.”
  6. Tap on “AirPlay & Bluetooth devices.” A new menu appears, with a list of AirPlay and Bluetooth-compatible devices.
  7. Tap on your Apple TV. The menu disappears as your source device beams the YouTube video to your TV.

It’s worth mentioning that some newer TVs come equipped with AirPlay. Even Apple’s rival, Samsung, provides AirPlay capabilities with many of its TVs. If your TV comes with AirPlay support, you won’t need an Apple TV to beam content. Of course, an Apple TV does much more than that, but your TV’s AirPlay support may be enough.

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Chromecast works the same exact way, regardless of whether you own an iPhone or Android device. Since Google owns YouTube, the “cast” icon works for both AirPlay and Chromecast. Simply tap on the “cast” icon and select your Chromecast unit. This will cast YouTube from your smartphone, tablet, or computer onto your TV.

Beaming or casting is unnecessary if you have an Apple TV or modern Chromecast. You can just use the remote and native app to watch YouTube on your TV. Nonetheless, some prefer the user experience of browsing YouTube videos on a phone or tablet rather than using a remote.

I have to admit, searching on Apple TV isn’t easy, and although one can use an iPhone as an Apple TV keyboard, it makes just as much sense to find the YouTube video on my phone and beam it to my Apple TV. That said, I usually watch YouTube videos directly on my Apple TV, using the tvOS app.

Watch YouTube Videos on Your TV with an HDMI to Lightning Cable

If all else fails, there’s a low-tech option for watching YouTube videos on your TV. Simply connect an HDMI to Lightning cable between your iPhone and TV. Turn your TV on and change the input to the HDMI port connected to your iPhone. Your TV will now display any video you play on your iPhone.

This also works for Android; however, it requires a different cable. Most Android phones need an HDMI to USB-C cable to connect to a TV. It works the same way. I’ve tried it on an iPhone and OnePlus device, and all you need to do is connect it to your TV, switch the HDMI input, and start playing videos.

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Why You Should Watch YouTube Videos on Your TV

Unless you own a video projector, your TV is likely the biggest screen in your home. It’s sad to think of someone watching YouTube videos on their phone at home, when they have a perfectly fine flat-screen TV. But it happens all the time!

Maybe it’s laziness. I succumb to this myself. I’ll start watching a YouTube video on my phone, sitting on my sofa, not far from a large, flat-screen TV. If it’s a short video, it’s not worth the trouble. But sometimes, even I will have a sofa-based YouTube session on my iPhone. I usually regret it.

Ergonomics is a major reason why you should watch YouTube videos on your TV. Your arms won’t get tired from holding an iPhone. (They’re getting heavy these days!) You won’t have a sore neck or eye strain from positioning your body in strange ways and watching a small screen.

The bottom line is that you have to treat yourself. If you’re in for an evening of binge-watching YouTube videos, don’t do it on your iPhone. You don’t need an expensive TV or device to do it. Your TV may already support YouTube or casting technologies. If not, an inexpensive cable is all it takes to put YouTube onto any TV.


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