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How to play YouTube videos with the screen off

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 on the go. 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. 

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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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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
  3. 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. You will find many free open source apps on F-Droid. The service also provides automatic updates of installed apps.

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 visit the F-Droid website in your smartphone browser and download the F-Droid app. The installation should start immediately after the download. If not, tap the completed download notification to start it.

After installation you can start F-Droid immediately. Initially the list of apps will be empty. F-Droid must first download a list of 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'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.

Use Audiopocket

One option that doesn't involve straying from the Play Store is AudioPocket. This app converts YouTube videos from the regular Android app to mp3, which then keeps playing in the background as a regular audio file.

To use Audiopocket to play YouTube with the screen off, follow these steps:

  1. Open the YouTube app.
  2. Search for the video you want.
  3. Tap on the overflow menu (⋮) next to the desired search result.
  4. Select Share.
  5. Wait for the video to be converted to mp3 (you'll get a notification).
  6. YouTube audio will start playing automatically as soon as it has been buffered.

YouTube Premium subscription 

One of the main selling points of the new YouTube Premium (formerly Red) subscription service is that it provides offline and background access to content. For a monthly fee of $11.99, you get access to these features, as well as an ad-free YouTube experience.

How to play YouTube in the background on iOS

If you are using an Apple iPhone running iOS, the process is a little bit different. Basically, iOS does not make it easy for you but there is a workaround. You will have to abandon your default Safari browser first and download an alternative. Simply follow the steps below.

  1. Download an alternative browser for your iPhone, such as Opera or Dolphin.
  2. Once you are into your new browser, open the mobile version of YouTube.
  3. Now search for the video you want to play in the browser. It's important to stay in the mobile version of YouTube here.
  4. Once the video is playing, opening another app or locking your screen will cause the video to stop. That's when the trickery comes in. Swipe to the music player and press play on the audio controls.
  5. Now, the video will continue to play even if you switch apps and lock the screen.
ios control center
You can trick a third-party browser into playing YouTube in the background via the control center on iOS. / © AndroidPIT

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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  • Thanks for sharing

  • Thanks for sharing this useful information and I noticed that my battery is running much more then past.

  •   25
    Deactivated Account 11 months ago Link to comment

    I am using YouTube Premium 😎. All niche features available to me including background play.

  • Thanks for letting us know about NewPipe. It works great for wanting to play youtube in the background while the screen is off

  • I don't know if i can post this but what the hell, you can use Youtube Vance is a modified version of Youtube (and yes modified means H..K), no root needed is totally safe. downside you need root to login (i'm not totally sure about this haven't tried it yet).

  • srd Oct 24, 2018 Link to comment

    Good advice!

  • Knowledgeable read. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow, what a useful tip you have shared with us
    Thanks alot

  • Thanks a lot :-D

  • Walter Jul 24, 2018 Link to comment

    I use TVlc. It does a decent job with only a few ads.

  • No Pause Lock on google play. lock your phone without pausing active app

  • Thanks the newpipe worked for me i think i might get malwares of it but worth it :)

  • Great trick, Now I can listen the top songs on youtube while driving... :D Thanks for the tips.

  • z b Jan 16, 2018 Link to comment

    Firefox works for me. Thanks

  • Great Thanks , mozilla tips work perfectly on S8

  • Galaxy s7 edge android 7.0 is working. Thank you!

  • shit, the guy maintaining the youtube background playback xposed module has stopped. he says something about force closing youtube and then it would work but not for me.

    see, this is a true loss for the community.

    • Yeah, but Xposed has been losing relevance with the advent of Magisk - it has a YT client in it's repository that allows background playback.

  • Google Chrome has got "desktop version" option -_-

  • fufu Dec 13, 2016 Link to comment

    Try No Pause Lock on google play. Great app that simply allows you to lock your phone without pausing active app

  • 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

  • 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 Oct 21, 2016 Link to comment

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

  • Toby Oct 12, 2016 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:
    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.

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

    • Didnt work for me. Did it on my iPhone 6. Installed firefox. opened up Youbtube--> Request desktop site --> Turned of screen but it stops playing then.
      Help please :(

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Didnt work for me. Did it on my iPhone 6. Installed firefox. opened up Youbtube--> Request desktop site --> Turned of screen but it stops playing then.
      Help please :(

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

    • I found this to be the best app for the job and works with youtube app.
      It must say ok for the first two things, and you must enable turn off screen by notification bar.
      When its black, now you can put your phone down.
      All other mentioned apps failed; this one works.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

  • Hi, I have a problem I have done the Mozilla Desktop Version of YT on my samsung tab A, but even on playlists it will still only play 1 music video at a time when I close my Tablet case to listen on my headphones so please help me

    • This is what I did: While in the Mozilla Firefox app..I clicked on the option tab on the upper right..then clicked "Request Desktop Site". This should solve the problem..as the videos will play even when you turn off the screen. I would also recommend you click the upper right tab again and click Tools and then Add On's and then download AdBlock for YouTube..as it will stop ads from interrupting your music. But..after doing this..make sure the check is still on "Request Desktop Site" or it won't work. Good luck!

      • Desktop site doesn't work on my Note 3. I mean it loads the desktop site but videos still pause as soon as the screen times out.

      • I think you should go with this Poke Lock app - just search for Poke Lock in Google Play. This app turns screen off when you put phone in your pocket - no matter what app is opened, and it keeps it running . So ti will keep YouTube running while screen is Off. Try it - it works!

  • For your favorite videos and offline viewing or listening copy/paste YouTube URL to offliberty.com. also I'm using an HTC 1 m8, it glitches if I pause the video and lock the screen I can restart the video from the pull down menu. Useful in the car as I can then use my Bluetooth voice commands to start navigation and continue listening while the map is shown

  • Just force the desktop version on a browser. Make complaints to the YouTube app until they get it right.

  • Viral lite app! Play youtube when screen is off

  • VIRAL LITE app! you have not mentioned this one

  • Alexio Dec 27, 2015 Link to comment

    We have in the Philippines is YOUTUBE RED, is that the same as MUSIC KEY?

    • Paolo Dec 28, 2015 Link to comment

      "Youtube Red is currently not available in Philippines." Or is it available to you?

      And yes, YT Red is the, err, fuller version of YT Music Key. With GP Music All Access included in the monthly bill.

  • I would, but I really hate all that adds they push on me, so I prefer to listen to the music via other means.

  • Cool, thanks for the tips, great article ;)

    You can also use a little app called "Black Screen of Life" in order to turn off the screen while YouTube stock app keeps playing.

    In my humble opinion, it is easier and more practical than the methods you presented, as it works with the stock app.

    • Not working on Sony SGP611. It will not work with devices without proximity sensor.

    • This did not work with my LG G4 and YouTube app. When you try to leave the YouTube app to click the black screen icon..YouTube simply stops playing. If anyone knows of a YouTube player app that plays when the phone is off please let me know.

  • very helpful tips,thanks.keep up the good work.

  • Excellent Tips! Thank You!

  • Nice trick thanks

  • OgYouTube

  • Loony Oct 12, 2015 Link to comment

    YouTube background playback via Xposed

  • Thanks for sharing this Guide

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