Watching YouTube Videos in Whonix
YouTube videos can be watched using Tor Browser, streaming, MPV or VLC Media Player, other alternatives such as Invidious. Alternatively, downloading may also be possible. This page also discusses troubleshooting YouTube performance and other issues.
- Watching videos directly in Tor Browser via the YouTube or Invidious websites.
- Downloading videos -- for example via the yt-dlp command line downloader, Invidious or YouTube video download sites -- and then watching them in VLC Media Player (pre-installed).
- Using the YouTube URL to watch videos directly in MPV or VLC Media Player via the network streaming option.
To watch videos directly on the YouTube website, use Tor Browser.
Figure: YouTube in Whonix Tor Browser
It is common to experience "buffering issues" (interrupted video playback) because Tor is slow. A simple workaround is to pause the video when it first starts so it can "buffer". This allows enough of the upcoming video playback to load in advance for an uninterrupted viewing experience. Alternatively the videos can be downloaded instead and watched in a media application like VLC Media Player, rather than relying upon an online internet connection with the YouTube website. To stream videos:
Set the Tor Browser security slider to the "Safer" setting→
click the "script blocked" icon→
Video playback is usually dysfunctional if the security slider is set to the "Safest" level. Higher security settings might work at a later time, so readers are encouraged to edit this page if the situation changes. In late 2021 it is common for YouTube to report 'suspicious network activity' when attempting to stream videos in Tor Browser (due to the detection of Tor exit nodes in use).
It is strongly recommended to utilize Invidious (project homepage) as an alternative front-end to YouTube. It is recommended to also check the register of public clearnet Invidious instances and Invidious onion services.
Invidious is more lightweight than YouTube itself and comes with many additional features such as a video download option and onion addresses. Also, it does not present the user with login prompts or terms of service messages.
Figure: Invidious in Whonix Tor Browser
Media Player Streaming
sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade
B. Install the
apt command line parameter
--no-install-recommends is in most cases optional.
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends mpv
The procedure of installing package(s)
mpv is complete.
After locating the relevant video, copy the URL and run.
mpv your URL
VLC Media Player
- Locate and copy the relevant video URL.
- Launch VLC Media Player.
Open Network Stream...→
Paste the URL→
Figure: YouTube Streaming in VLC Media Player
- "Forget" about Whonix for a moment and imagine you had never heard of the platform. Test this using the virtualizer software (such as VirtualBox, KVM or Qubes) without Whonix being involved first.
- Try a VM other than Whonix such as Debian
- If the issue persists, this means the root issue is not caused by Whonix. Therefore it is recommended to attempt to resolve the issue as per the Self Support First Policy.
VirtualBox users should note that video performance might be slow. For a possible solution, see: VirtualBox, Troubleshooting: Slow Video Playback.