Why Can't I Watch Videos on My Computer?

By James Wright

Difficulty watching videos from your hard drive or in your Web browser can be a result of outdated software, a lack of appropriate media players or security software interference. Many issues can be resolved by making sure you have the right software and media platforms installed and making sure they are up to date, but in some cases you may need to add exceptions to your firewall or check your extensions to make sure none of them are disabling Flash or JavaScript.

Outdated Applications and Platforms

When watching videos or other streaming content in your browser, keep your software up to date to make sure it can play what you want to watch. In some cases you may experience problems if your browser hasn't been updated, but you should also make sure that Adobe Flash is up to date (see link in Resources). If it's not, you may only see a black screen where your video should be, and your sound may not work correctly either.

Disabled JavaScript

JavaScript is necessary for many players like YouTube to work properly. If all your software is up to date, you may simply need to enable JavaScript in your browser settings. The steps you take to do this will vary depending on what browser you use. If JavaScript is enabled but videos still aren't working, check your browser extensions and add-ons to make sure that none of them are disabling JavaScript while you browse; if so, look for any options that let you set individual exceptions for the websites you watch videos on.

Unfamiliar File Types

If you're trying to watch videos you have downloaded or imported onto your computer, hover over their icons or right click and select "Properties" to see their file types. If some videos work and others don't, the latter videos may be in a format that none of your current video players support. This can happen often if you're using only your computer's default media player. While you can try to find the files in different formats, you can also download media players that support a wide range of formats, like VLC, Wondershare Player or UMPlayer (see Resources).

Security Software Interference

Security software like firewalls can interfere with attempts to stream or play downloaded media by blocking any files or websites the firewall views as a threat. Not all software will notify you when something is being blocked, so disable your firewall or security software, then attempt to to watch your videos. If the problem goes away, you've narrowed down the problem to your security software, and can then set exceptions for specific websites or programs.