How to Watch YouTube Videos Using Picture-in-Picture on Your iPhone or iPad « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks


Apple has given third-party developers access to Picture in Picture on iPad since iOS 9 and, more recently, on iPhone since iOS 14, but Youtube was one of the few that didn’t support the feature outside of Safari or premium subscriptions. Fortunately, this is no longer the case if you live in the United States.

Google has started rolling out Picture in Picture to its YouTube app for iOS and iPadOS on 11 July. PiP was previously available as an experimental feature for YouTube Premium subscribers, but Google removed it as an option in April for those who haven’t activated it yet. A workaround would let you use picture-in-picture for YouTube videos in Safari, and there was even a shortcut you could use to open videos in PiP directly from the YouTube app, but those- these are no longer needed.

If you’re in the US, Picture in Picture for YouTube on iOS and iPadOS is available to everyone, whether you’re a free user or a premium subscriber. However, free users can only use PiP with non-music content. To watch music videos with PiP, you will need to pay the premium rate. This makes sense since PiP also allows background playback of YouTube videos.

To make sure the feature is available, tap your profile icon in the YouTube app, select “Settings,” open “General,” and enable “Picture-in-picture” if it’s off. You also need to enable “Start PiP automatically” on your iPhone or iPad, so go to Settings -> General -> Picture in Picture to check that it’s enabled.

To use Picture in Picture in the YouTube app, play any video (or anything other than songs if you’re a free user). It works in full screen mode, normal view, and even when using the YouTube in-app mini-player that lets you search while you watch. Then just close the YouTube app. The video should immediately collapse into Apple’s picture-in-picture overlay window.

As with any Picture in Picture video, you can:

  • Drag the PiP overlay to different parts of the screen
  • Drag the PiP overlay off the screen to hide it while it continues to play
  • Double-tap the PiP overlay to shrink or expand it
  • Tap the PiP overlay to reveal player controls
  • Press the “X” button on the PiP player controls to exit the video
  • Tap the PiP player controls expand button to return to the app

You can start PiP on a YouTube video while ads are playing, but you won’t be able to “skip” ads from the PiP window. Instead, you’ll have to wait until you return to the YouTube app to ignore them.




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Cover photo, screenshots and GIFs by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

Shirley K. Rosa