Vertical videos, and the black bars accompanying them when played on YouTube, are one of the internet’s biggest pet peeves. Now, YouTube has rejigged its desktop player to reduce the annoyance, as well as adapting to other odd aspect ratios, and your computer’s screen/browser size.
According to an official post on the Google Product Forums , black bars no longer appear when playing “non-widescreen” clips, such as vertical or square videos, on desktop. Instead, the player window appears to follow the size of the video in question.
In the case of vertical videos (seen above), the black bars are seemingly replaced by white space, but the video is larger. However, it seems like the actual player UI (e.g. play button, quality toggle) doesn’t change much unless you shrink the browser tab/window in question.
The change also affects 4:3 videos, as the player window uses the extra white space to adapt to the legacy ratio. And the UI adapts to the 4:3 ratio too, so your full-screen toggle and other buttons shouldn’t spill over the video.
This update has been available on Android and iOS for a while now, so it’s a case of the desktop service playing catch-up. However, this past weekend’s dark mode update for mobile was previously available on desktop first.
The update also comes a few weeks after the Android app received an incognito mode that essentially pauses your viewing and search history. It’s far from perfect though, as it merely signs you out, forcing you to sign back in to watch age-restricted videos.