How to Play YouTube in the Background on Android and iOS

Mobile Apps

With over 120 million daily users, YouTube is, without a doubt, the top choice for video streaming and sharing. On the app, you’ll find a variety of content: tutorials, music videos, interviews, and so much more. But unlike other apps that play media even when you switch your attention to another app, YouTube pauses the video you’re watching once you exit the app. This keeps you from doing other things on your phone, like replying to a text or checking your email while watching or listening to YouTube videos.

However, there are workarounds to this problem. In this handy guide, we’re showing you how to play YouTube in the background on any mobile device.

 

Inside This Article

  1. Using Picture-in-Picture Mode to Play YouTube in the Background
  2. Playing YouTube in the Background for Free (Android)
    1. Using Firefox or Chrome
    2. Using Split Screen
  3. Playing YouTube in the Background For Free (iOS Devices)
  4. Pop-up Video Players That Play YouTube in the Background
    1. Awesome Pop-up Video
    2. Stream
    3. Minimize Play in Background

 

How to Use Picture-in-Picture Mode to Play YouTube in the Background

One of the ways you can play YouTube in the background is by using YouTube’s picture-in-picture (PiP) mode. PiP lets you watch YouTube videos and use other apps simultaneously. With this feature on, you can watch videos in a small player, which you can move around your phone’s screen and place on top of other apps.

Who can use YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode? As long as you’re an Android 8.0 (Oreo) user living in the United States, you can use this feature for free. However, you will get ads, and you won’t be able to watch music content on PiP. If you want ad-free PiP playback with music content, you’ll have to upgrade to YouTube Premium, which costs $11.99 a month.

For Android Oreo users outside the US, PiP mode is only available with a YouTube Premium subscription. Meanwhile, iOS users will have to wait a bit more before they can get the PiP feature, but it is in the works. It’ll first roll out to YouTube Premium members, and afterward, all iOS users (including those who aren’t on Premium) in the US will get the feature.

To enable PiP, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the YouTube app
  2. Then, tap on your icon or profile
  3. Go to Settings, then select General.
  4. Toggle Picture-in-picture to enable the feature.

 

If PiP doesn’t work after you’ve followed these steps, make sure you’ve enabled the feature on your phone’s settings. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings, and then select Apps.
  2. Tap on YouTube.
  3. Select Picture-in-picture, then toggle Allow picture-in-picture to turn it on.
how to enable PiP on Android
Screenshots from Samsung Galaxy A52

 

And that’s it! If you want to go back to the YouTube app, just double tap on the mini player. To dismiss the video, simply drag the player downward.

 

How to Play YouTube in the Background for Free (Android)

If you find having a small video player hovering over your apps annoying, there are other methods you can try. Here are a few ways you can play a YouTube video in the background on your Android devices. The best part is that you won’t need a YouTube Premium subscription for either of them to work.

 

Using Firefox or Chrome

You can also use Firefox or Chrome to play YouTube videos in the background if you’d rather not use the app. You will need at least version 54 of Chrome for the trick to work. Also, you can only listen to YouTube videos, not watch them.

To do this, follow these easy steps:

  1. Launch the Firefox or Chrome app, then go to youtube.com.
  2. Find and select any video or song to play in the background.
  3. Tap on the menu icon.
  4. From the menu, tap on the Desktop site.
  5. The site will then transform into the desktop version of YouTube. Tap on the play button once again.
  6. Go to your Home screen to close the browser. This will pause the video that’s playing.
  7. Access your notifications panel.
  8. There, you’ll see the video you just played. Hit the play button so that it starts playing again.
how to play YouTube in the background using Chrome or Firefox
Screenshots from Samsung Galaxy A52

 

With this trick, you’ll be able to listen to YouTube videos with other apps open and even when you lock your screen. You can also play a playlist seamlessly. Just make sure that you’ve enabled auto-play on YouTube.

 

Using Split Screen

Android's Split Screen Feature
Photo from Android

 

Using Android’s Split Screen feature is the best way to go if you want to multitask. With this feature, you’ll be able to listen to and watch YouTube videos while using another app. However, not all versions of Android have this feature. You can only use Split Screen view if your device is running on Android 7.0 or higher.

To play YouTube in the background using your Android phone’s Split Screen feature, proceed with these steps:

  1. Launch the YouTube app. In the search bar, type in the title of the video you want to watch in the background, and hit enter.
  2. Head over to Recent Apps by tapping on the icon with three vertical lines. You can usually find this in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
  3. Tap and hold on to the YouTube app’s icon until a menu appears.
  4. Tap on “Open in split-screen view.”
  5. The YouTube app will then appear on the top half (or right side if you’re in landscape mode) of your screen.
  6. Look for and tap on the other app that you want to use alongside YouTube.
how to play YouTube in the background using split screen
Photo from Samsung Galaxy A52

 

Both apps will now appear one-above-the-other or side-by-side. A black bar will separate the two; you’ll be able to adjust how much space each app occupies on your screen by dragging the bar. If you want to end the split-screen, simply tap and hold on the black bar, then drag it to the direction of the app you want to close.

 

How to Play YouTube in the Background for Free (iOS)

Playing YouTube videos in the background is much trickier on iOS than it is on Android. That’s because every trick that has previously worked usually gets patched out when a new iOS update comes along. That said, it can be done. Here’s the newest trick that lets iOS users—even the ones on iOS 15—play YouTube in the background. Similar to when you play YouTube in the background using Firefox or Chrome on Android, you can only listen to the audio when you use this trick.

  1. Open the Safari app, and then head over to the YouTube website.
  2. Look for and select the video or song you want to play in the background.
  3. Wait for any ads to finish and for the video to start playing, then go full screen.
  4. Head back to the Home screen to close the Safari app. You’ll notice that the video will appear in PiP mode for a second before disappearing. The video will stop playing as well.
  5. Access your phone’s Control Center. Depending on your iPhone’s model, you can do this by either pulling down from the top of the screen or pulling up from the bottom of the screen.
  6. In the section that shows what media is currently playing, tap on the play button so that the YouTube video starts playing again.

 

Now, you’ll be able to use other apps, turn your screen off, and open new Safari tabs while playing YouTube in the background. Take note, though, that you won’t be able to play a full playlist without interruptions; you’ll have to repeat these steps for every video you want to play in the background.

 

Pop-Up Video Players That Play YouTube in the Background

If you’re on Android, you can also download a pop-up video player app to play YouTube in the background. A pop-up video player works just like YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode. So if you have an Android 7.0 phone or earlier, you might find pop-up video players especially useful. Here are three apps that let you watch YouTube videos and, at the same time, use other apps:

 

Awesome Pop-Up Video

Awesome Pop-up Video
Photo by Dragan Atanasov from the Google Play Store

 

With Awesome Pop-Up Video, you can search any YouTube video you want on the app, and it’ll play in a separate and smaller window. Just like in PiP mode, you can drag the mini player and move it anywhere on your screen. Plus, the video player snaps right to the edge of your screen, so you won’t have to painstakingly align the player yourself. You can also customize the app’s colors so that it matches your phone’s theme. The only downsides are that the app is ad-supported and that your video will pause when you turn the screen off.

Download on Android

 

Stream

Stream
Photo by Stream from the Google Play Store

 

Stream is another video pop-up player you can use to play YouTube in the background. With Stream, you get access to all of the videos in YouTube’s catalog, and you won’t get ads. The app also lets you also create playlists for a more seamless watching or listening experience and add videos to your queue. Plus, you can move the floating video player to any corner of your screen and change its size. Stream also has other nifty features, including a sleep timer and a battery saver. However, similar to Awesome Pop-Up Video, Stream pauses your video when the screen is off.

Download on Android

 

Minimize Play in Background

Minimize Play in Background
Photo by video-mini.com from the Google Play Store

 

Minimize Play in Background is a reliable app that lets you watch YouTube videos through a floating mini player. Just like the other two apps, you can move the video player to any corner of your phone’s screen while you’re using other apps on your phone. However, you won’t be able to adjust its dimensions.

The app also lets you create and save playlists and stores them on your phone. That way, you won’t ever lose them. It has a power-saving mode as well, which lowers the brightness of the videos you watch. The ads do tend to be intrusive, though, and will play right before every video. Nonetheless, it’s still a solid video pop-up player app.

Download on Android

 

Play YouTube Videos on the Background Without Worries

There’s no denying how popular and useful YouTube is, but the fact that you can only play a video while the app is open can be pretty annoying. Fortunately, there are workarounds that let you play YouTube in the background, even if you’re not subscribed to YouTube Premium. We hope this guide helped you determine which method works best for you.

Which among these workarounds did you find most useful? Feel free to let us know!

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