Awhile back, YouTube changed the way you experienced buffering with adaptive bitrate streaming, where the player would decide what quality the video could reasonably run without interruption. Obviously, not all internet speeds are created equal, and most of us would like to enjoy the best quality possible. The problem with the new streaming is that you can't just pause the video and let it buffer all the way to the end...the buffering occurs only when the video is played. So if you like 1080p, and you have a slow connection, you probably have some issues playing those videos. Luckily, there are some browser add-ons that help with this.
Carla Marshall pointed me to this article, which touts an add-on known as YouTube Center. It's available on pretty much all the browsers, as you can see here. As always, with add-ons, do all the research you can on them before downloading. YouTube Center does a lot more than change the buffering settings, it centers the page, removes ads, allows you to download videos, repeats videos, and tons more.
So I downloaded it on Mozilla to give it a test drive. It does not require a browser re-boot, which is cool.
If you're interested specifically in being able to pause the video to allow buffering time, here's what you do:
Once you download YouTube Center, a "gear" icon will show up next to your account name on YouTube. You'll want to click the sub-tab "Player," where you'll see these options:
You want to deselect "Dash Playback." Now, when you pause the video, the buffering will go all the way to the end, and you can just wait it out if you'd prefer. You may have to click on the video again, or another video, to see it working.
Maybe you don't like the way this one does its thing. So there's another option called SmartVideo For YouTube, which can be found on Mozilla, Chrome, Opera, and Safari. Once downloaded, this add-on requires you to exit out of the browser and re-load. Here's what it looks like:
SmartVideo only shows up when you hover the mouse over the player. Once visible, you'll want to go to "Global Preferences." A menu will fill your screen. As you can see, you can control the videos on YouTube and where they are embedded:
You'll want to click the option that says "Ensure that videos are buffered even if they are paused." It won't happen right away. You'll need to click on the video again to see this option working.
Whatever add-on you may use, this is a cool option to have for those who have slow connections and don't want to be at the mercy of YouTube's default buffering.