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Posted by Donna Peng - Contact Author

How to Watch 4K YouTube Video on Apple TV 4K and Older Models

"I purchase the apple TV 4K but it doesn't give me the option for watch things in 4K even though I have a 4K TV. Is this a bug?" - from r/appletv Reddit

No, this is not a bug of YouTube or Apple TV. This happens because YouTube 4K videos are encoded with VP9 codec which isn't supported by Apple TV. But that will change with the arrival of tvOS 14[1]. Your Apple TV, if it is upgraded to tvOS14, will get support for the VP9 video codec and thus will be able to stream 4K videos in YouTube. And the new iOS 14 also gets the same improvement, so as to watch YouTube videos in 4K quality on iPhone iPad.

In this article, we'll show you:
1. How to Download and Install tvOS 14 on Apple TV to Play 4K YouTube Videos
2. How to Watch 4K YouTube Videos on the 3rd-Generation Apple TV and Earlier Versions
3. How to AirPlay 4K YouTube Video from iPhone iPad to Apple TV

How to Download and Install tvOS 14 on Apple TV to Play 4K YouTube Videos

To watch 4K YouTube videos on Apple TV, you need to get tvOS 14. But this new tvOS hasn't been officially released yet. It is still in beta stage. If you are anxious to have a try, follow our guide below to install tvOS 14 beta on Apple TV and play 4K YouTube videos on Apple TV.

Note: Beta software may contain bugs and issues, so it is possibly unstable.

Is your Apple TV Supported by tvOS 14?

tvOS 14 compatible devices: the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TVs, namely Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K.
tvOS 14 incompatible devices: the third generation Apple TV and earlier versions are not supported, because they don't support tvOS.

If tvOS 14 is compatible with your Apple TV, you can keep on reading the steps of installing tvOS 14 beta software. If not, you can try our other methods to watch YouTube videos in 4K on Apple TV.

How to download and install tvOS 14 on Apple TV HD/4K?

Apart from checking compatibility, you also need to enroll in the free Apple Beta Software Program. Let's check how to get enrolled.
1. Open your browser, and then go to Apple Beta Software Program page.
2. Click the blue Sign Up button.
3. Type in your Apple ID and tap the Sign in button.
4. Agree to the Apple Beta Software Program terms and conditions if necessary.

Apple Beta Software Program
Apple Beta Software Program

Now, you can download and install Apple tvOS 14 beta.
1. Open your Apple TV, and navigate to Settings and click Accounts.
2. Under Apple ID, sign into at least one of the account options (iCloud, iTunes and App Store, or Game Center) with the same Apple ID that you used to enroll for the Apple Beta Software Program.
3. Click through to Settings -> System -> Software Updates, and then turn on Get Beta Updates. And now follow the onscreen instructions to complete the process.

Install tvOS 14 beta on Apple TV to play 4K YouTube
Install tvOS 14 beta on Apple TV to play 4K YouTube

If you have Automatically Update turned on in the Software Updates settings, your Apple TV HD/4K will download and install the latest tvOS 14 public beta software automatically. To manually check for updates, you can click through to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.

When you finish tvOS 14 installation, open YouTube app, play a 4K video, and now you should be able to choose 2160P 4K quality.

How to Watch 4K YouTube Videos on the 3rd-Generation Apple TV and Earlier Versions

Apple TV 3rd Gen doesn't support tvOS, let alone upgrading to tvOS 14 for streaming YouTube videos in 4K. What's more, this generation and older versions can't support 4K[2]. So I'm afraid that you've to give up the idea of streaming YouTube videos in 4K on Apple TV 3 and lower.

If you have some 4K videos that you download from YouTube or record by yourself and want to play on Apple TV 3/2/1, you can use WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe to downscale and convert them.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe can help you do the following things:
1. Downscale 4K to 1080p, 720p and other video resolutions.
2. Convert video to Apple TV accepted formats. It has premade presets for all Apple TV models.
3. Also support converting video for iPhone, iPad, Android, PS4, Xbox One, and more. 420+ profiles in total.
4. Other features: download videos from YouTube and more (1000+ sites supported), edit video, create photo slideshow, and record video (only available on Mac version).

How to convert (YouTube) 4K video to Apple TV?
1. Open WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe and click + Video button to load target 4K video.
2. On Output Profile panel, click Apple Device -> to Apple TV Video -> choose an Apple TV profile based on which model you use. For example, we choose Apple TV 3 (H.264). To change resolution, you can click the gear setting icon.
3. Hit RUN to begin converting and resizing. Hardware acceleration (if it is supported on your computer) will be used by default to boost the decoding, processing, and encoding speed.

Convert (YouTube) 4K Video for Watching on Apple TV
Convert (YouTube) 4K Video for Watching on Apple TV

How to AirPlay 4K YouTube Video from iPhone iPad to Apple TV

As mentioned above, iOS 14 will also add support for 4K in YouTube app. Therefore, you can AirPlay 4K YouTube videos from iPhone or iPad to Apple TV.

Note: Apple hasn't released the official version for iOS 14. Now you can only download and install public beta version. You can learn how to download and install iOS 14 beta on iPhone iPad here. Once done, you can try this AirPlay method.

1. Open the YouTube app on your iOS 14 powered iPhone or iPad, select a 4K video to play, tap the three-dot "More" icon to choose quality as 2160p.
2. Tap the cast icon which is a rectangle with wifi symbol, and then choose AirPlay & Bluetooth devices and choose your Apple TV. Now the 4K YouTube video should immediately start playing on your Apple TV.

AirPlay 4K YouTube video from iPhone iPad to Apple TV
AirPlay 4K YouTube video from iPhone iPad to Apple TV

References:
1. "Apple TV 4K will at last play YouTube in 4K with tvOS 14 update". THE VERGE
2. "Apple TV 1080p/4K Support Details, Ports". EveryMac

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Peng

Donna Peng's fascination with multimedia began at an early age - shortly after she licked the physical disc and then she's been obsessed ever since. Her decade-long career at Digiarty after the graduation has seen her unmatched expertise in the field of DVD, digital video, software and anything related to home theatre. She is currently fascinated with photography.

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