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How to play YouTube videos with the screen off

Playing YouTube videos with the screen off is tricky business. As soon as your screen switches off, YouTube automatically pauses what you are watching, so you can't just listen to videos while getting on with other things. There's no setting to solve this in the default YouTube app, but there are ways to play YouTube videos with the screen off. We've outlined three of the best below. 

androidpit youtube hero 5
This is how to play YouTube videos with the screen off on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

Mozilla Firefox

This method involves using the free Mozilla Firefox browser app and it should work on all devices. Firstly, download and install the Mozilla Firefox browser on your phone (the link can be found below). Next, go to the YouTube website within the browser, tap the settings (three dots) button at the top right of the page and tick request desktop site

Once you have completed the steps above, tap on a video to play it, and it will continue to play even after you lock your phone. 

androidpit youtube request site
Make sure you request the desktop site, or your phone may automatically load the YouTube app. / © ANDROIDPIT
Firefox. Browse Freely Install on Google Play

Sony Xperia Small Apps

This trick only works for Sony Xperia devices. It makes use of the Xperia range's Small Apps feature.

Download Media Viewer Small from the Play Store via the link below and install it. Next, access Small Apps by tapping on your recent apps button (the square at the bottom right of your screen) and then tapping the upward arrow at the bottom left. From here you can access the Web Videos app. 

androidpit access small apps
This Small Apps feature is unique to Sony Xperia devices. / © ANDROIDPIT

Tap on the Web Videos app and a new window will pop up, allowing you to search for videos and play them even when the screen is off. The app has its limitations, and you can’t access all the regular features of YouTube, but that may be a small price to pay for being able to play a video while your phone is locked.

androidpit sony xperia small apps
You can also access web videos by tapping the 'plus' button in the media viewer app. / © ANDROIDPIT
Media Viewer Small App Install on Google Play

YouTube Music Key subscription 

One of the, ahem, key selling points of the YouTube Music Key subscription service is that it provides offline and background access to content. For a US$9.99 monthly fee, you get access to these features, as well as an ad-free YouTube experience.

Once you've set up the subscription, go to Settings in your YouTube app (the three dots button), then Background & Offline, and make sure Playback is set to Always on. That's all there is to it. 

androidpit youtube music key
Ad-free, background play and offline access are some of the benefits of Music Key. / © Google

Let us know in the comments if you know of any other ways to listen to YouTube with the screen off.

42 comments

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  • Easiest way...
    1. Uninstall your youtube app (or disable and remove all updates)
    2. Uninstall your firefox (if you already have it)
    3. Google Firefox Android version 45 .apk and install.

    4. Play all your youtube clips minimized :D

    Step 1 might be all you need to do, I didnt test it. I just did all 3 steps and it works

    • Just installing Google Firefox Android version 45 .apk was enough for me to get youtube videos running on the background. I have Samsung S7

  • Odd. I have a HTC desire eye running 6.0.1 mm. And everytime I lock the screen with YouTube app on. After a few seconds it plays it in the background. I have the latest version of YouTube installed.

  • Dam It 1 month ago Link to comment

    Desktop Firefox works on my xperia z3 phone! Thank you so so much!

  • Toby 1 month ago Link to comment

    I use AudioPocket.

  • Media Viewer Small app Not really works on Sony devices 😤
    It's not working on my Z5 compact...
    About the app from Google play store:
    NOTICE:
    v2.4.0 onwards, Youtube Background Playing is not allowed due to Youtube API requirement.
    That means no more screen off / minimized playback.
    For Dailymotion and Twitch, background playback is still available.

  • Don Poka 2 months ago Link to comment

    There is an app that handles that really well, and it REALLY turns off screen while keeping YouTube playing. It still requires YouTube to be in the foreground when you turn the screen off with proximity sensor.

    This app is pretty new but has over 10 K users already.

    Just search for Pocket Lock in Google Play - the icon is a blue chameleon.
    It really really works, so no need to open Firefox or use paid YouTube features.

    • I find that app quite interesting - seems to be working well on my Nexus 6 .
      Turns the screen Off but keeps YouTube playing.
      Keep in mind that's only in pocket, I assume with the help of proximity sensor.

    • This worked! I just reflashed my tablet and Im trying the no root/xposed way of life for a time. Your recommendation was very helpful, thank you!

  • Ahm A. 2 months ago Link to comment

    Gr8 job but not necessary

  • Thank you, but is this solutions work also with radio via mobile?

  • Oh, Scott, you have possibly increased my GPA by .5 points! Firefox works like a charm. YouTube wants us to pay $10.50 per month for the privilege of keeping videos active during screen locks, EVEN when streaming. To make matters worse, the purchase process is buggy beyond belief and the actual download feature is even buggier. Yes, I initially watch all my online class lectures, but I also fill mundane time during driving and housework with an audio review of material my professor obviously considers important. Also, I am often able to grasp complex concepts the second or third time I hear it. THANKS!!!

  • Great ! Now I can listen to meditation music, to operate in my frame of Zen, without random buttons being pushed as it rests in my shirt pocket.

  • Shane K 6 months ago Link to comment

    My God, the firefox method works. My device is the Galaxy S6 Edge+, so can only confirm for this phone. Open firefox, click the top right button, choose request desktop site. Then go to youtube.com, search for your vid, play, then turn off the screen. Audio will continue to play. Great option for streaming albums.

  • Skin1980 6 months ago Link to comment

    search for Screen Off Keep Playing, its free and works very well on Amoled Screen

  • Bad Bob 7 months ago Link to comment

    I went with the firefox method but requires a lot of tweaking to reduce the number of clicks (so I can turn off my screen as quickly as possible).
    1. Install app 'Open Link With'.
    2. Install app 'Firefox'.
    3. Install firefox addons: uBlock Origin (to block ads), Desktop by Default (so videos play automatically), and Youtube's Autoplay No More (disable playing of up-next videos).
    4. In Youtube, click the Share icon for a video, choose 'Open Link With', choose Firefox, and set to always open.

    So now you just need to share a video from youtube and it will automatically play in firefox without ads. ONLY issue I can't figure out is how to stop firefox from opening links a new tab. So if you have firefox playing a video and you share another link from youtube, firefox will play the new video in another tab and now you have two videos playing at the same time. I've tried some tweaks in about:config but maybe they don't work in the android version.

    You can leave out the addon 'Youtube's Autoplay No More' if you want enjoy continuous playback.

    • Bad Bob 7 months ago Link to comment

      I actually may have found a better way:

      When using the web-version of youtube within chrome, play a video, pause it, pull down the notification bar, find the video title with a play button, and press play button. The audio from the video will play and will continue to play even when you turn off the screen / lock the phone.

      To quickly send a video from the youtube app to chrome, install 'Open Link With', share the link from youtube to the app, and set it to always open with Chrome.

      • Shon Gray 7 months ago Link to comment

        I cant get the to work on my Note 3. Tried on Crome with m.youtube as well as on just youtube.com the only time it appears in the notification bar is when playing in m.youtube. If I pause it it goes away. If I pause and play from notification bar it still pauses when seen turns off. Sad p2

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