YouTube VR

YouTube VR

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Watching YouTube 360 Videos without YouTube VR
By ReverendTed
Detailed guide for setting up the Opera VR Player to allow viewing of 3D and 360 YouTube videos in a VR headset now that YouTube VR is broken or gone and other alternatives have stopped working.
The Problem
There is a substantial volume of 3D and 360° video content on YouTube, and a VR headset would seem to be an ideal means for viewing this content. Strangely, despite increased adoption of VR headsets, there appears to be a decreasing number of working methods for viewing 360° YouTube videos. Threads and blog posts about viewing 360° YouTube Videos in VR would frequently reference the YouTube VR app, DeoVR, and the Opera VR Player - each of which appears to have lost the ability to render 360° content as expected. I don't know for certain why that would be, but I will post some speculation at the bottom of this guide.

The Good News
Fortunately, the VR Player in Opera can still be used, but we're going to have to jump through some hoops. While Opera appears to have removed the VR Player from the browser beginning with version 56 in 2018, you can still download and install Opera version 55 with the VR Player intact.

The Catch
There's one more catch: Opera is configured by default to check for, download, and install updates the first time it is run, so the second time you run Opera you'll be on the latest release and the VR Player will be gone again. Furthermore, the installation process will run the Opera browser automatically after completion if that's not disabled. This guide primarily exists to walk you through the process of disabling automatic updates for the Opera browser so that you can stay on version 55 and enjoy 360° video content in your headset.

The Process
(These instructions will be for Windows 10. If there is enough demand for alternative Operating Systems, I'll update if I can.)
With that out of the way, here's the short version of what you'll need to do:
  • Download Opera version 55
  • Run the Installer with the "--launchopera=0" command line option
  • Modify any shortcuts you'll use to start Opera by adding the "--disable-update" command line option
    • (Optional) Completely disable the opera_autoupdate.exe by renaming it
    • (Optional) Remove the Opera Automatic Update task from Task Scheduler if it was added
  • Enjoy 3D and 360° YouTube Video content in your VR Headset!
Let's get started.
Download Opera Version 55
  • Browse to and select "Downloads" (NOT "Download Now")
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Downloads page and click "Archived Versions of Opera" then "Find in FTP Archive"
  • Click the link for 55.0.2994.61, the most recent build of version 55
  • Select your OS, in this case "win" for Windows
  • Download (but do NOT run) the 32- or 64-bit setup file as appropriate for your OS. (Do NOT select the Autoupdate version.)
Install Opera Version 55 with Autorun Disabled
Ok, so you've downloaded an Installer for Opera version 55, but we need to make sure it doesn't run Opera automatically after installation, or we won't have a chance to disable the Autoupdate first.

Create an Installer Shortcut with Automatic Launch Disabled
These instructions will create a Shortcut for running the installer with the "--launchopera=0" command line option. You can also use the Windows Run menu for this purpose if you're comfortable.
  • Locate the installation file you just downloaded.
  • Right-click the installer and select "Create Shortcut"
  • Right-click the shortcut you just created and select Properties
  • In the Target field, add a space after .exe and the following command line option:
  • For example, the target line might look like this:
    C:\Users\USERNAME\Downloads\Opera_55.0.2994.61_Setup_x64.exe --launchopera=0
  • If there are quotation marks around the executable, put the command line option outside the quotation marks:
    "C:\Users\USERNAME\Downloads\Opera_55.0.2994.61_Setup_x64.exe" --launchopera=0

Install Opera Version 55
  • Double-click your new shortcut (NOT the original installation file) and Opera should install
  • Do NOT run Opera, yet. We still need to disable the Autoupdate features so we get to keep version 55 for more than a single run.
Disable Opera Autoupdate Features
To disable Opera Autoupdate features, you need to do one (or both) of the following:
  • Modify your shortcuts to add the "--disable-update" command line option for any shortcut that will be used to start Opera
  • Rename the opera_autoupdate.exe file
Additionally, you may wish to delete the Opera Automatic Updates Scheduled Task if it was created.

Modify Opera Shortcuts
  • Modify the Start Menu shortcut
    • Locate the Start Menu shortcut for Opera.
    • Right-click it, select "More" and "Open File Location"
    • Right-click the Opera Browser shortcut and select "Properties"
    • In the Target field, add a space after .exe and the following command-line option:
  • Modify the Desktop shortcut
    • Locate the desktop Opera Browser shortcut
    • Right-click it and select "Properties"
    • In the Target field, add a space after .exe and the following command-line option:
  • ONLY run Opera using these modified shortcuts to avoid triggering the autoupdate feature
Disable the Opera Autoupdate Executable by Renaming It
  • Right-click one of the Opera Browser shortcuts listed above and select "Open File Location". This should take you to the Opera installation folder. (You may need to do it twice if you're using the Start Menu shortcut.)
  • Open the folder named "55.0.2994.61"
  • Locate the opera_autoupdate.exe application file
  • Rename it. For example, "OFFopera_autoupdate.exe"
  • This should disable the Automatic Update feature regardless of how you start Opera
Delete the Opera Automatic Updates Scheduled Task
If you have previously run Opera without disabling the update feature, it may have added a Scheduled Task to run the Automatic Update executable. If you have only ever run Opera with the "--disable-update" command line option, the Task may not have been created and you don't have to worry about deleting it.
  • Click the Search icon on the Taskbar and type "Task Scheduler"
  • You can also go to Start - Windows Administrative Tools - Task Scheduler
  • In the left pane should be "Task Scheduler Library", select it
  • Find the Opera Automatic Update Task in the list. Right-click it and select "Delete"

That's it! Now we can run Opera without it updating itself and removing the VR Player.
Run Opera and Confirm Correct Version
  • Run one of the shortcuts you modified above to start the Opera Brower with Automatic Updates disabled
  • In the address bar, type the following command:
    and press Enter. This should bring up the About Opera information page
  • You should see "Opera 55.0" at the top of the page, and Version should read "55.0.2994.61 - Update checker is disabled"
  • If so, great! If you see a later version listed, then you'll need to uninstall Opera and start again from the beginning.
  • If you get 360° videos to work the first time, but they don't work the next time you run Opera, check your version again, because some element of the Autoupdate process may have found a way to run.
Enjoy 3D and 360° Video Content!
Congratulations! You made it! It's just that easy!
  • Have your headset in standby mode. (You can also browse using the Virtual Desktop inside your headset if desired.)
  • Open the Opera Browser with one of the shortcuts modified above, and go to YouTube.
  • Find a 3D or 360° video to watch.
  • When hovering over the video Window with your cursor, you should see a small VR headset icon appear at the top of the video. Click it to send the video to the Opera VR Player inside your headset. (Mine does not have the "Watch in VR" text.)

  • Put on your headset and configure the video play options
  • There are at least 11 geometry formats for 3D and 360° video, only one will be correct for each video, and the software cannot automatically identify which is being used so it's likely the video is going to look Weird and Wrong at first. It's usually a process of trial and error to determine which is correct from the video you're watching. You can select Flat, 180° and 360° geometry, each of which can have stereoscopic options of None, Bottom-Down, and Left-Right. You can also select Cube geometry which has options for 2D and 3D.

This image is outdated - the settings button is no longer present and there is now a "Turn off" button at the bottom - but I've selected it because it labels the geometry options.
  • Once you've got the video displaying correctly, you can hide and show the UI by clicking somewhere off the controls.
  • In my Oculus Rift CV1, the Opera VR Player doesn't automatically trigger the transfer of sound to the headset, so I have to go to my Windows Sound settings and select my Rift headphones as the output device.

VR180 and Stereoscopic 3D
While some Flat and 360° videos are able to be viewed in 3D, it has come to my attention that certain true 3D VR180 videos do not seem to be working in stereoscopic 3D, instead showing as a single 180° hemispherical projection.
Some users have speculated that YouTube is simply not sending the stereoscopic information for VR180 videos to most viewer software, with the possible exception of the now-defunct YouTube VR itself. When viewing these videos in YouTube VR, you can see the images for both eyes are being sent, but YouTube VR displays them as opposite halves of a 360° sphere instead of sending each 180° image to a different eye.
Certain other VR180 3D videos are able to display in stereoscopic 3D, and there is no obvious distinction for why one would work and not another.
This information is current as of 1/25/2021 and will be updated if I receive new information.
So why are applications that previously supported viewing 3D and 360° YouTube content in VR removing the functionality? (Or, in the case of YouTube VR, disappearing from Steam altogether?)

I think the primary reason is that, in its current implementation, it's a support headache and breaks several cardinal rules of UI design and VR:
  • There isn't currently a standard to communicate what geometry\format in which a 3D video should be displayed. Without that, the content is a nonsensical mess and most users are going to have to use trail-and-error to select the correct format. This is a hassle at best, and many novices would simply presume something was broken and complain, or write the technology off as problematic altogether.
  • Many videos contain camera movement, which can be uncomfortable for many VR users. Personally, I'm fortunate to have never suffered from VR sickness, and can spend hours at a time in VR. For many people, a single VR rollercoaster (to say nothing of video shot with a head-mounted camera with the camerman looking every which way) would have them on the couch with their head spinning for half an hour.
  • It's not a prime use of VR. While I think it's neat enough to have jumped through all these hoops, most of the best VR content is produced for the platform natively, or intentionally adapted for it.
Hopefully as VR continues to mature, better standards will be developed and we'll see a reintroduction of 3D and 360° video applications for VR headsets.
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EquableClover Nov 27 @ 2:39pm 
I can't get youtube to actually play video in v55 Opera
BigFun Nov 25 @ 7:46am 
The Windows v55 FTP archive *is* still there -->
ReverendTed  [author] Nov 12 @ 5:23am 
Also, I've just confirmed that the Archived Versions option is still available on the Opera Download page (Nov 12th, 2023).
Kizmint Nov 11 @ 4:59pm 
Cant believe there's others here for the exact same reason lol
ReverendTed  [author] Nov 11 @ 10:47am 
@Ninefoldrin - Just to address one point at the end of your comment: Apps native to the Quest and Quest 2 are Android OS apps. While I'm not familiar with the specifics, that architecture would be more similar to apps for mobile phones than to PC programs. So, having a app that will run (natively) on the Quest 2 AND PC requires maintaining two branches, similar to having a program that runs on Windows, but also maintaining a version for Mac, or Linux, or iOS. (Yes, I'm aware of the Quest's ability to use Link to stream PC VR into those headsets.)
So, yes, PC VR should absolutely be able to "handle" it, and obviously I think they SHOULD maintain a PC branch, but it's not as simple as just checking the "Make available on Rift" box.
FMAylward Nov 11 @ 4:51am 
Just used this to get it working and like the last person for Miku Expo tonight. I was however able to find the correct version still in the Opera archive.
Ninefoldrin Nov 10 @ 11:42pm 
Glad to see this is still working. Couldn't find Opera's version archive, but found a version 55 installer on a (slightly sketchy) download site that seems to work fine. Was freaking out 'cause I remember using the built-in VR function in the past on YouTube so I couldn't understand why it was just suddenly gone. Gonna need it soon for the Miku Expo 2023 stream. Hope it actually works for a new, live video. Absolute BS that the Oculus YouTube app is ONLY available for Quest and Quest 2. There's no reason that the Rift S can't handle something that apparently works on the original Quest.
ReverendTed  [author] Nov 2 @ 9:32pm 
Glad to hear you got that sorted!
AutumnRain Nov 2 @ 3:29am 
Dude, I solved that problem, steamvr has to use a discrete graphics card at the same time as other software to launch the program properly. So I set Opera to launch with a discrete graphics card and then I can watch vr videos in Opera normally. Maybe you could add this to the article it might help some people.
AutumnRain Nov 2 @ 3:15am 
Bro, I have a problem I need help with, my VIVE Pro won't open vr videos after connecting to my laptop and opening Opera youtube videos The steamvr prompt in the bottom right corner of the desktop says: wrong graphics card Please speak your headset monitor into the same graphics card as your main monitor.
Please what do I need to do in this case to fix this problem. I'm guessing this may be because I'm using a laptop connected to a vive pro via a streaming box.