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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, as YouTube would rather we keep our eyes glued to their ad space, but there are still a couple of ways to play YouTube videos with the screen off. We've outlined the best below. 

Use a web browser

To watch YouTube with the screen off without paying any money, you can just use a free web browser app like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. This method should work on all devices.

Firstly, download and install Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser on your phone (your device probably already has Chrome, but the Firefox 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

NewPipe: open source app for background playback

NewPipe is a handy app, but unfortunately it is not available in the Google Play Store. 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 F-Droid app. 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 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.

newpipe
NewPipe's background playback setting continues with the screen off. / © AndroidPIT

In the default 'main' setting, YouTube videos played with NewPipe will stop when the phone screen is off, but if you tap those 3 dots and then select Switch to background your video will continue to play even when the screen is off.

YouTube Red subscription 

One of the main selling points of the YouTube Red subscription service is that it provides offline and background access to content. For a monthly fee of $9.99, 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. 

youtuberedmusic
Ad-free, background play and offline access are some of the benefits of YouTube Red / © YouTube

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

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