YouTube is full of great videos to watch, but there’s a whole load of music and other things which you might want to listen to while using another app. Or you might want to listen to something from YouTube and turn the screen off to save power, just as you do with podcasts or music from the built-in Music app.
You can’t do this if you use the official Google YouTube app as the sound cuts off as soon you exit the app or press your phone’s sleep button. But there is a workaround using Safari which we’ll show you here. You can also download YouTube videos to your iPhone but doing this means you can’t play sound in the background, sadly.
Note: the video above shows the process in an older version of iOS, but it’s identical in later versions.
Play YouTube in the background in iOS
This method works in all versions of iOS back to iOS 7. We’re using an iPad here, but it’s pretty much the same on an iPhone.
1. Launch Safari, the default iOS web browser.
2. Search for YouTube in the address bar / search box, or simply type youtube.com and search for a video that you want to listen to.
3. Let the video begin to play – wait until any advert has finished and the actual video is playing.
4. Press your device’s home button to return to the home screen. The music will stop. But, swipe up from the bottom to display Control Center. Tap the play button to continue playing the audio from the YouTube video.
In later versions of iOS, you may have to swipe between tabs in the Control Center to see the playback controls.
5. You can now launch another app, such as Messages or Mail and keep listening while using that app. Some games (those which allow you to keep listening to your own music) will still be usable without cutting off the audio from the YouTube video.
6. If you want to browse the web, you’ll need to use a different web browser from the one which is playing the YouTube video, since switching tabs will cause playback to stop. If you don’t have another browser installed, try Google Chrome, Firefox or Opera.
7. You can listen to YouTube with the screen off, too. Press the sleep/wake button to turn your device off and the audio from Safari will stop. Now press it again and tap the play button on the lock screen to restart the audio. Now when you turn off your iPhone or iPad, the audio will keep playing.
How to listen to YouTube playlists in the background
If you want to listen to entire playlists from YouTube in the background, you’ll need to install an app which allows this, since the official Google YouTube app doesn’t. Go to the App Store and search “YouTube background” and a selection of apps will be shown, many of which are free.
They’re all very similar but bear in mind that most of the free ones have adverts unless you pay for the ‘pro’ or premium versions.