On iPhone, listening to YouTube audio in the background usually requires paying for a YouTube Premium subscription, but there is a simple workaround that allows you to keep listening to a video when you are doing other things on your ‌iPhone‌ or when your device is locked. Keep reading to learn how it's done.

General YouTube Feature 1
As YouTube has grown in popularity over the years, Google has opted to park several features of the video hosting service behind a paywall, such as ad-free viewing, SharePlay on iOS, and the ability to listen to YouTube audio on your ‌iPhone‌ when the app is closed.

Unfortunately, YouTube Premium costs $13.99 a month to access these features. But if all you want to do is listen to YouTube-hosted audio like podcasts, music, or lectures when you are in other apps or when your ‌iPhone‌ is locked and in your pocket, there is a way to achieve this without paying for the subscription.


The following steps show you how it's done.

  1. Launch Safari on your ‌iPhone‌ and visit youtube.com, then search for the video whose audio you want to listen to.
  2. Next, tap the aA button in Safari's address bar, then select Request Desktop Website from the popup menu.
    safari

  3. Tap the play button or tap the video to begin playback, while ignoring or dismissing any popups encouraging you to open the YouTube mobile app. (You will need to watch or skip a few ads before video playback begins.)
  4. Now, lock your ‌iPhone‌ with the device's Side button. The audio will pause, but you can just tap the Play button in the Lock Screen playback controls widget to resume listening.
    Lock Screen

After following the above steps, the audio from YouTube will continue to play on your locked ‌iPhone‌ for as long as the video lasts, leaving you free to pocket your device and listen on headphones.

youtube dynamic island

Alternatively, if you want to use other apps while listening, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to exit out of Safari, and then use the media controls in your ‌iPhone‌'s Dynamic Island or Control Center to resume playback when it automatically stops.

Top Rated Comments

d5aqoëp Avatar
9 weeks ago
Youtube blocking this in 3… 2… 1…
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thingstoponder Avatar
9 weeks ago
Why is YouTube allowed to lock basic OS API features like this? I thought it wasnt allowed
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klasma Avatar
9 weeks ago
While not everyone can or wants to afford YouTube Premium, I think it’s worth it for ad-free and background play/picture-in-picture and YouTube Music. I just wish that Premium users weren’t still subject to YouTube’s engagement-maximization algorithms, since YouTube shouldn’t care as long as you pay.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
brofkand Avatar
9 weeks ago
I use the Safari plugin "Vinegar" to not only strip ads but also allow PIP/background play on YouTube.com in Safari. Runs on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dadiy Avatar
9 weeks ago
Or use the free app called x.app that gives you the pip extension to the YouTube app under the share menu.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HeroOfTime32 Avatar
9 weeks ago
There is a MUCH BETTER and easier way to do this (for me on my 13 pro at least). Just start watching any video on Youtube. Swipe up to the home screen. Hopefully the video supports PIP and you can then see the video playing on your home screen. Lock your phone next. Then swipe down to reveal the control center. In the music section of the control center it will just say 'now playing' but not indicate anything in particular. Just click the play button...and VOILA! It's playing with your phone locked. Easy peasy. The Macrumors instructions above are somewhat cumbersome. Cheers :)

Edit: once in a blue moon the PIP doesn't work for me, and then this method doesn't work. I do not have YT Premium for the record.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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