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How to Play YouTube in the Background on Your iPhone: A Short Guide for 2023

Published August 10, 2023

Although it is brimming with excellent features, YouTube has one flaw that annoys just about everyone. Namely, the app never lets you play a video in the background while scrolling away on your socials or typing a text. As soon as you tap on a notification or exit the app, the content will stop playing.

However, YouTube Premium and the Safari app give you ways to bypass this restriction and listen to your favorite music or vlogs in the background on your iPhone. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Get a YouTube Premium Subscription

One of the biggest selling points of YouTube Premium is the fact that it allows you to play videos in the background any time you want. In addition, a subscription also gives you a chance to watch ad-free YouTube videos, download content for offline viewing, and have access to YouTube Music.

The regular premium subscription fee is $11.99 per month. However, if you are a student, you may be eligible for a discount, in which case the price is $6.99. And for anyone who has a big family or wants to share an account with friends, there is a 6-account combined subscription package at $17.99 a month.

To play a YouTube video in the background, use these steps:

  • Open the YouTube app;
  • Find a video you want to watch and hit the play button;
  • Open another app or simply lock your iPhone screen.

If you lock your screen, you can pause the video via the iPhone Control Center. You can access this Center either by swiping down from the top right-hand corner of the screen or from the bottom edge, depending on the iPhone model you have. Just hold your finger on the music tab for a second, and you’ll be able to pause and play the video.

Lastly, YouTube Premium also allows you to customize background play in the app. By selecting Background Play under Settings, you can choose between Always On, Off, or Headphones/External Speakers based on your needs.

Use the Safari App

If you don’t want to pay for a premium subscription, you can bypass it by opening YouTube in the Safari app. Follow these steps to use this trick.

  • Open your Safari app and type www.youtube.com into the search bar. In case your iPhone redirects you to the app right away, uninstall the app and then try again;
  • Search for the video you wish to play and open it;
  • Next, click on the aA sign in the top left-hand corner of your screen;
  • In the drop-down menu, select Request Desktop Website. Once you do that, the page will refresh and look just like YouTube’s website you’d see on a PC browser;
  • Play the video and close the Safari app;
  • Since the video will stop playing, go to your Control Center and press the play button.

And that’s all! Once you complete these steps, you will be able to lock your phone, open another app (or multiple), and even browse other Safari pages. However, you might run into an issue if you want to listen to a playlist. In that case, you will have to repeat the instructions above for every individual video.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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