How to Play YouTube Videos in the Background on Your iPhone

  • You can play YouTube videos in the background on your iPhone using YouTube Premium or Safari.
  • YouTube Premium lets you play videos when the app isn’t open, but it costs $11.99 per month.
  • You can also play YouTube videos in the background in Safari using View Mode.

Many people use YouTube as their primary music streaming app. But unlike other music apps, if you close the app or lock your iPhone while listening, all the music will turn off.

That is, unless you subscribe to YouTube’s paid subscription service, YouTubePremium. This is the only official way to play YouTube in the background on your iPhone.

If you don’t want to sign up for YouTube Premium, you can also use a trick involving the Safari app on your iPhone. However, this method can be tricky and may be removed in a future update.

Here are the two ways to play YouTube in the background on your iPhone, so you can start listening to videos without keeping the app open.

How to Play YouTube in the Background on an iPhone Using YouTube Premium

First, you need to sign up for YouTube Premium.

YouTube Premium costs $11.99 per month for a single account ($6.99 per month if you’re a student) or $17.99 per month for six accounts in a “family plan”.

Signing up will remove all advertisements on YouTube videos, allow you to download videos to watch offline, and give you access to both “YouTube Original” videos and YouTube Music, the site’s music streaming service.

And, of course, you’ll be able to play and listen to any YouTube video in the background, even while using other apps.

How to sign up for Youtube Premium

Now let’s see how to sign up for YouTube Premium.

1. Go to the YouTube Premium homepage, which is located here.

2. Click the blue button that says FREE TRYwhich will open a window allowing you to enter your payment information.

The premium YouTube homepage, with the button

Go to the YouTube Premium homepage to start the registration process.

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3. Enter your payment information and postal code. YouTube Premium offers a three-month free trial, so if this is your first time signing up, you won’t be charged the $11.99 fee until the months are up. YouTube may, however, charge you a $1 fee initially to ensure that the payment information you provided to them is valid – that dollar should be refunded within a few days.

The pop-up window

Enter the payment information you want to use to pay for Premium.

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4. The YouTube account you used to sign up for Premium will have immediate access to all new Premium features.

How to Play YouTube Videos in the Background

Now that you have YouTube Premium, here’s how to play videos in the background:

1. Open the YouTube app on your iPhone.

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

3. Once playback begins, feel free to lock your iPhone or close the app and open another one. You can pause and play video audio from the iPhone’s control center, by opening it and holding your finger on the music tab for a moment.

The YouTube video playback widget in Control Center.

You can control volume and playback from your iPhone’s Control Center.

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As long as you subscribe to YouTube Premium, you can listen to YouTube videos without opening the app.

How to Play YouTube in the Background Using Your iPhone’s Safari App

Since launching YouTube Premium, Google has worked hard to make sure it’s the only way to play YouTube in the background. Every few months a new trick appears that allows users to circumvent it, but it is quickly fixed.

This is the last tip. This involves opening YouTube in the Safari app, then using the desktop view to trick your phone into thinking it’s just a regular video, which can play in the background.

1. Open Safari and navigate to www.youtube.com. If you do this and it automatically redirects to the YouTube app, you may need to uninstall the app.

2. Find the video you want to play in the background and start playing it.

3. Press the aA icon in the lower left corner of your screen and select Request a desktop website.

YouTube on Safari, with the menu

Activate the desktop view.

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4. The page will reload and the new video player will look like the YouTube website you would see on a computer. Tap the video again to start playing it. It will start playing in full screen mode.

YouTube in Safari appears in desktop mode, with all the functionality of the desktop website.

This new page will have all the functionality of YouTube’s desktop website.

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5. Close the app. You will notice that the sound will stop playing – this is normal.

6. Open your iPhone’s Control Center. In the box showing the music currently playing, press the button play button.

The control center, with the music player widget highlighted.

Press the play button to resume the video in the background.

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Now you’ll be able to lock your phone, use other apps, and even browse other Safari pages with YouTube running in the background. Just note that if you’re playing from a playlist, you’ll need to do this for each individual video.

An iPhone's locked screen with YouTube playing.

Play YouTube from iPhone lock screen.

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Shirley K. Rosa