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How To Link To And Embed YouTube Videos In HD Or A Specific Quality Level

How To Link To And Embed YouTube Videos In HD Or A Specific Quality Level

Please note that this post is over a year old and may contain outdated information.
This post has been revised as YouTube has made changes to their platform. YouTube discontinued past methods for linking to and embedding videos in HD. Here is the latest method that still works.


Linking To HD YouTube Videos


To link to a YouTube video so it plays in HD by default, use the following URL:

https://www.youtube.com/v/VIDEOID?version=3&vq=hd1080
Change VIDEOID to the YouTube video ID that you want to link to. When someone follows the link, it will display the highest-resolution available (up to 1080p) in full-screen mode. Unfortunately, vq=hd1080 does not work on the normal YouTube site (with comments and related videos).


Embedding HD YouTube Videos


When getting the embed code for a video, you must select the old embed code option. Then add &amp;vq=hd1080 to the end of both URLs (one in the <param and one in the <embed. The embed code will end up looking something like this:

<object width="560" height="315">
<param name="movie" value="//www.youtube.com/v/VIDEOID?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;vq=hd1080"></param>
<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param>
<param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param>
<embed src="//www.youtube.com/v/VIDEOID?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;vq=hd1080" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>
</object>


Other Quality Levels


If you want to use a specific quality level other than HD 1080p, you can do so by changing the vq=hd1080 part of the URL to one of these:

URLDefault Quality
vq=small240p
vq=medium360p
vq=large480p
vq=hd720720p
vq=hd10801080p


Legacy Code


In case you're curious, older versions of YouTube used to allow you to append &hd=1 to the URL to make it play by default in HD. This no longer works. Prior to that, you used to be able to append &fmt=35, &fmt=22, or &fmt=37. This also no longer works.
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Comments (7)

Dominik Korsa   Feb 12, 2018
How does this info tool work? How do you get the stream URL?
Josh Herrig   Apr 04, 2015
Hey Nick--thanks for this info! Im 'linking' or 'embedding' into a smugmug site. Using both methods it doesnt destroy the link, still works....but doesnt default to HD sadly. You dont happen to have any experience with the smugmug platform or what modifications I might need to make? Thanks in advance!
Mike Gargan   Mar 29, 2015
Thank you, very much appreciated!
Funny Videos, Pranks, Images, Ideas   Feb 03, 2015
Thanks for tips
Jason Burroughs   Dec 26, 2014
I'm trying to watch it in 1080p on my 4k Sony TV via the Youtube app embedded in the TV. It always shows it in lower quality (can't tell exactly what resolution). I'm thinking if I can be watching an exact URL, then "save for later", then log in to my account on the TV, it would be there in HD. When I try this using the standard video url, it plays in lower quality. This may be specific to my TV, and I will seek out help elsewhere as well, but thought you might have a tip to force HD in the URL like that.
Roger Davies   Oct 06, 2014
Please note: none of these querystring parameters discussed have any effect whatsoever for almost all users who will be on the HTML5 version. You may want to caveat all this further and say 'must have pre-HTML5 website using the flash object embed (not current HTML5 standard embed) and be using the old (legacy) embed code for any of this to have any effect at all". Otherwise, will just confuse people who may wonder why nothing written here actually works
Nikhil Gyan   Sep 11, 2012
Nice Article. But if it will work with rel=0 atleast then it'll be more useful
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