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How to play YouTube in the background
Google Pixel 3 XL Apps 6 min read 129 comments

How to play YouTube in the background

One of the most annoying restrictions on YouTube app is that it automatically pauses the video you're watching or listening to when you navigate to another screen or open another app on your device. But there are ways around this. 

Google may want us to watch YouTube a certain way (perhaps to keep us focused on the precious ad space), but it's not too difficult to circumvent this restriction, either through browser tricks or apps. Here's how to get YouTube to play in the background.

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Free solution

The easiest and most cost effective solution is to use FireFox rather than the YouTube app. This browser will allow you to continue to listen to the video of your choice with the screen off or while doing something else on your device. 

androidpit youtube request site
Make sure you request the desktop site, or your phone may automatically load the YouTube app. / © AndroidPIT

If you find the YouTube app opening automatically when you try this, just go to the three-dot menu at the top right,  and check the “Request desktop site” box.

You can download FireFox below. If you want more features than this, read on.

YouTube Premium/YouTube Music Premium

One way to play YouTube in the background is to purchase a YouTube Premium subscription, which costs $11.99 per month. Or you could just get a YouTube Music Premium account for $9.99 if music is all that you're interested in. 

These services come with the feature called 'Background Play' which allows your video to play in the background when you open different apps or turn the screen off. An added bonus of YouTube Premium is that it also removes those annoying ads. 

androidpit youtube hero 1
YouTube Premium gives you plenty more features. / © AndroidPIT

Use a bubble browser

Bubble browsers such as Flynx or Flyperlink are another option. They float above the user interface and can be minimized to a small icon. In such a bubble, you access YouTube's mobile website and start streaming. YouTube videos will continue to run even when the screen is turned off or your system is running another app.

With Brave, the power saving mode must be set to "Off" first - otherwise, the video will stop with the default settings when you minimize the bubble or turn off the display.

brave flyperlink
Link bubble browsers can be an ingenious workaround. / © Screenshot: AndroidPIT

Not every bubble browser is the same: Fast access to YouTube is not easy with Flynx, because the bubble browsers are optimized to collect links from Twitter clients, Facebook or other apps. Flyperlink allows you to enter a URL directly - there's hardly anything standing in the way of YouTube fun. The bubble browser solution has the advantage that you can also use other video services with it.

NewPipe and YouTube alternatives

One way to watch YouTube in the background is by using a different app altogether. These alternative apps still use YouTube's content, but with a different, usually better feature set. 

Our favorite YouTube alternative is NewPipe , but unfortunately, it is not available in the Google Play Store. Naturally, Google takes a dim view of apps that attempt to circumvent their own restrictions on YouTube.

Instead, you'll need to check the alternative app store, F-Droid. In F-Droid you will find many free open source apps. The service also takes care of automatic updates of the apps installed.

To be able to install F-Droid and the apps it contains, you must allow the installation of apps from unknown sources. To do this you'll need to manually enable it in your phone's security settings.

galaxy s7 install unknown sources
First, you have to allow the installation of unknown sources. / © AndroidPIT

Now you can go to the F-Droid website in your smartphone browser and download the FDroid. apk. After the download, the installation should start immediately. If not, tap the completed download notification to start it.

After installation, you can start F-Droid immediately. But initially, the list of apps will be empty. F-Droid must first download the currently available apps from the server. This may take a few seconds. After that, you can type in NewPipe in the search field. In the search result tap the Install button to install NewPipe.

If you tap on Run, NewPipe starts up and with a red search bar at the top and an otherwise completely white screen. Type in the name of your desired song or artist to search.

youtube newpipe background playback
Ziggy Stardust plays Major Tom in the background. / © AndroidPIT

In the search results, tap the headphone icon in the top right corner to hear the song of your choice in the background. If the quality is not good enough for you, you can change the level on the left.

Newpipe isn't the only alternative to the YouTube app out there. Our community have also recommended YouTube Vanced, from the great team at XDAdevelopers, and OGYouTube. These YouTube wrapper apps broadly do the same thing...play YouTube videos, but with extended user options such as downloading, ad-blocking, and of course, background play.

Pop-up video apps

Another option for playing YouTube in the background is Awesome Pop-up Video Pro. Now, it doesn't play YouTube in the background, as such, rather it plays them in a small, movable pop-up window, which can be dragged to the side of the screen to achieve a similar effect. You can download the app below.

Please note that although this app allows you to play YouTube in the background, it won't let you play them with the screen off. The Mozilla Firefox option does.

popup
YouTube plays in the background while you're free to run other apps. / © AndroidPIT

With this app, you'll pay only a few bucks as a one time purchase instead of a monthly payment for YouTube Premium. You won't have access to the great features available from the monthly package deal but it's a cheap and quick way to play YouTube videos in the background.

There are other pop-up video apps available, however, such as Floating Tube and various others which advertise this function. They all vary somewhat in look and function, and we haven't had time to try them all. Let us know your favorites in the comments!

Do you have any other methods for playing your YouTube videos in the background? Tell us in the comments.

Readers' favorite comments

  • Jack Frost Jan 13, 2016

    Two words, Firefox browser. Problem solved.You can play in background and/or have your screen turned off.

  • Sanjay Bhingare Mar 26, 2017

    Use below method it always works on chrome Android:
    Select below mentioned options serially:

    1) Android settings> application>YouTube app>set as default>Go to supported URLS>always ask

    2) Open chrome browser>open you tube website>select desktop site from options(three dot menu, upper right corner)

    A notification of chrome media player appears in notification panel. Now directly press home (without exiting chrome, don't hit back key, go directly to homescreen)

    Now chrome notification player paused in notification panel, just open notification panel and hit play button. YouTube will start to play in background. Also can be played in screen locked and off.

    This works on my Galaxy S7, previously on Android 6.0 & now on Android nougat.

    Enjoy!!

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  • S9+ chrome no longer plays videos with desktop version when screen is locked.


  • dj.si 1 month ago Link to comment

    The YMusic app is another alternative and popular choice. It streams only the audio from YouTube content, and continues playing while the phone is locked. I've been using it for about a year and it works well, without needing lots of unnecessary Android permissions.

    Since Google would prefer you to use the offical YouTube app (complete with ads!), YMusic is not available from the Google Play Store. YMusic is available from xda-developers.com and needs to be side-loaded.


  • Wasn't aware of alternatives to the YouTube site - for some years the unwanted, idiotic "recommendations for me" polluting listed subscriptions has been irritating as heck, as if users are going to spend ten minutes clicking "not interested" in order to replace clots of them with something else equally ridiculous. Browser links don't help with that. If there's a decent free alternative that accesses subscriptions and watch later lists, I'm for it.


  • YouTube vanced APK will do all these tricks.


  • Sumit 3 months ago Link to comment

    Simply Download Youtube vanced made by XDA developers, that's it.


  • As far as I know, the video playback feature in the background is available on Youtube red


  • You can activate splitscreen mode in newer Android versions if you want Youtube to play in the "background" while you do stuff in another app. The advantage is no fuss with 3rd party apps and not having to deal with the horrendous experience of using Youtube in browser/desktop mode. The drawback is that splitsceen mode means a significant loss of screen real estate to the "background" app (~1/3 of screen reserved for the inactive app versus ~2/3 for the active app) and not all apps will support splitscreen mode, notably no app that's required to work in fullscreen mode. Despite these mentioned drawbacks, I find splitscreen mode much more practical than having to rely on Youtube in browser/desktop mode.


  • does not work in Note 8


  • Walter 7 months ago Link to comment

    I would like to suggest TVlc. It supports Youtube battery saving audio only background playback since Version 10


  • Let use VLC app, copy youtube link, on App, go Stream and paste the link in the textbox, after that minimize the video...and you can turn off the screen but VLC stilll play video as audio in background. Try this, it amazing.


  • This is exclusively for Xperia users. Search in the small apps and you will find ytplayer which is a floating app that lets you play YouTube even when your screen is locked. I used to use an Xperia, recently switched to S8. I miss the ytplayer so much.


  • Hi,

    Use OGYOUTUBE!

    How:
    0.Allow unknown sources
    1. Download & Install 'OGYOUTUBE'
    2. Download & Install 'microG for OGYT'
    3. Profit!

    --------
    I USED APKMIRROR.COM TO DOWNLOAD ogyoutube AND microg for ogyt
    -----------

    OGYoutube features:
    -popup video(multitasking)
    -built-in video/audio download (mp4/mp3 320kbps)
    -video quality preset ( one for wifi , one for mobil data )
    -no ADs ( before & between videos ; during video play )
    -background video play (WORKS WITH TURNED OFF SCREEN TOO)

    for these settings go to the 3 dot menu in ogyoutube >settings>downloads
    !!!!
    do not forget to put these two apps to memory clean whitelist to prevent them closing when you turn the screen off (for e.g. in Huawei: Settings>Battery>Close apps after screen lock>find these two apps in the list and choose the 'don't close' option)
    !!!!

    Works fine for me ( Android 7.0 Huawein p9 lite ) since the summer of 2017

    I hope i could help, sorry for bad english :)

    Á.Sz.


  • Also multitasking and attaching a window to the home screen ...


  • Ixon Oct 12, 2017 Link to comment

    Sorry but this is total BS it doesn't work feom android 6.0 on lg g4 ... It's disapointing...


  • What is working to me like a charm is:
    - Firefox Beta with option set: request desktop site.
    Enjoy guys! 😀


    • GB TB Sep 15, 2017 Link to comment

      Nice thanks man, I already had Firefox which is the best independent browser, and just clicking the 3 dots out on the right and going to desktop-version did the job, can even put the screen to black, tytyty has been a problem.


  • Hi,
    I am using an app which has an interesting approach: it does not use Youtube API nor search functions but a pre-loaded db with links to the video, which gets streamed using a third party service.
    The name is YouLink.
    happy streaming!


  • I'm using AudioPocket it's working like a charm.
    Search AudioPocket-alpha.1.2.


  • Another solution is to enable multi window in android and run YouTube in one window, then decrease the size of this window to smallest

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