how to play youtube in the background mobile

YouTube is one of the most varied content platforms in the world, and it’s easy to find tutorials, TV shows, and even the latest music videos. But it’s not just about the watching — sometimes all you want to do is listen to YouTube in the background, busying yourself with something else on your phone. Closing the YouTube app will stop the video from playing, but there are a few simple workarounds that will allow you to listen to a video in the background while you get on with something else. Here is our simple guide on how to play YouTube in the background, for both iOS and Android devices.

Looking for music on YouTube to listen to in the background? Perhaps you should take a look at our simple guide on how to download music from YouTube and listen on any device.

YouTube Premium (Android, iOS)

how to play youtube in the background premium

Red is dead — Premium is the future. It used to be that YouTube Red was YouTube’s official way of letting you close the app and keep listening, but that service has shuffled off in favor of YouTube Premium. Thankfully, there is not much of a difference between the two where our needs are concerned. It still gets rid of ads on desktop and mobile, opens access to exclusive videos, and allows for downloading of videos — but crucially for our purposes, it also allows users to continue listening after shutting off their phone’s screen, or navigating to a different app.

YouTube Premium also comes with ad-free access to YouTube Music — the replacement to Google Play Music — and Premium gives you the option to shut off the screen in that app, too. What is the catch? As you might expect, it’s money. YouTube Premium will cost you $12 a month, or $18 for a family subscription of up to six members.

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Android iOS

Playing videos with Opera Mini browser (iOS)

play youtube in the background

On an iPhone? There is a way to play YouTube videos in the background on iOS without jailbreaking your phone. It’s as easy as playing the video in Opera Mini, and then closing it after it starts playing.

Step 1: Launch Opera Mini as you would normally, and head to the YouTube website. Make sure you stay on the website and don’t divert to the YouTube app.

Step 2: Navigate to the video you want to play in the background.

Step 3: In Opera Mini, tap the red O in the lower right-hand corner, then go to Settings > User Agent and select Desktop. Press Done in the upper right-hand corner when you’re finished.

Step 4: Play your desired video while in desktop mode and then close the browser to go back to your home screen.

Step 5: Swipe up on the home screen to open Control Center and reveal the music player. On the iPhone X, you need to access the Control Center by swiping down on the top right edge of the screen.

Step 6: In the Control Center’s music playback control, you will see the YouTube video paused. Simply tap play and continue listening to your video as if you were watching it on your device.

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Playing videos with Firefox and Chrome (Android)

how to play youtube in the background mobile desktop view

Playing YouTube videos in the background in Android can be done with both Firefox and Google Chrome. You can use either browser, but your version of Chrome must be version 54 or higher.

Step 1: Launch Firefox or Chrome as you would normally and go to the YouTube website.

Step 2: Navigate to the video you want to play in the background.

Step 3: Go to the Settings menu by tapping the three dots in the upper-right corner of the window. Afterward, tap Request Desktop Site.

Step 4: Start playing the video, and press the Home button to close your browser. If the video stops playing while using Chrome, you may also have to pull down the notifications bar and press play. Make sure you don’t close the screen before pressing the Home button, as that will cause the video to automatically stop.

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Picture-in-picture mode in Android 8.0 Oreo


This one seems like a bit of a cheat because it’s not an app at all. Android 8.0 Oreo, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, supports “picture-in-picture mode“, which automatically pops up a miniature viewing window if you navigate away from YouTube. This window can be dragged anywhere on the screen, and tapped to enlarge, or to access playback controls.

It used to be that this was a feature restricted to YouTube Red subscribers only, but with the introduction of YouTube Premium, Google has begun offering picture-in-picture on YouTube to non-subscribers too. However, it won’t work with content classified as music, so you’ll still need to pay for that.

You can check what version of Android you have by going to Settings > About phone > Android version (may vary on smartphone), and you can see when your phone may get Android Oreo by taking a look at our guide.

Playing videos with Awesome Pop-up Video (Android)

how to play youtube in the background pop up video2

Android 8.0 Oreo not possible on your phone? Don’t worry; there’s an app for that. Awesome Pop-up Video will play your chosen video in a pop-up window so you can do other things while the video is playing. Just open the app, and use the search function to find your chosen video. Tap it and it will open in a separate window that can be dragged around the screen, similarly to the Oreo picture-in-picture mode.

Unfortunately, there is no way to close the screen and continue listening, but the addition of a picture-in-picture-type mode is good enough to warrant inclusion in this list. There’s also a premium version of the app that allows for offline downloads (but not of YouTube videos, oddly), and removal of ads in Awesome Pop-up Video.

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