How to play YouTube videos in the background on your iPhone without having to keep the app open


YouTube app for iPhone

  • Playing YouTube videos in the background while using your iPhone just isn’t as easy as doing the same on your computer.
  • Not being able to play YouTube videos in the background has been a long frustration for iPhone owners who frequently use YouTube and want to do so while doing other tasks.
  • Signing up for a YouTube Premium subscription is currently the only reliable way to play YouTube videos in the background on an iPhone. 
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Say you’re riding shotgun in your friend’s car. It’s Friday night, and you’re playing music from your favorite YouTube playlist. Then, someone asks you to look up directions. Since your iPhone is already connected to the car’s stereo, once you leave YouTube, the music stops and everyone in the car collectively sighs.

YouTube lovers have long expressed dismay over this inconvenience. There used to be a way to get around this by navigating to YouTube using Safari instead of the YouTube app and playing music from there, but that trick has since been patched out.

That means that, unfortunately, the only way to play music from YouTube in the background is to sign up for  YouTube’s paid subscription service, YouTube Premium.

YouTube Premium costs $11.99 a month for a single account ($6.99 a month if you’re a student), or $17.99 a month for six accounts in a “Family Plan.” Signing up will get rid of all ads on YouTube videos, allow you to download videos to watch offline, and give you access to both “YouTube Original” videos and YouTube Music, the site’s music streaming service. And, of course, you’ll receive the ability to listen to audio from YouTube videos in the background, even while using other apps.

Here’s how to sign up for YouTube Premium, and start listening to YouTube whenever you want in the background.

How to play YouTube in the background using YouTube Premium

First, you need to sign up for YouTube Premium.

1. Navigate to the YouTube Premium homepage, which can be found here.

2. Click the blue button that says “TRY IT FREE,” which will open a window for you to enter your payment information.

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3. Enter your payment information and zip code. YouTube Premium offers a one-month free trial, so if this is your first time signing up, you won’t be charged the $11.99 fee until a month has passed. YouTube may, however, charge you a $1 fee at first to make sure that the payment information you’ve given them is valid — this dollar should be refunded within a few days.

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4. The YouTube account you used to sign up for Premium will be immediately granted access to all the new features of Premium.

Now, here’s how to play songs in the background.

5. Open the YouTube app.

6. Navigate to the video that you want to listen to in the background.

7. Once it starts playing, feel free to return to your phone’s Home screen, and open other apps. You can pause and play the video’s audio from the iPhone’s Control Center, by opening it and holding your finger down on the music tab for a moment.


As long as you’re subscribed to YouTube Premium, you’ll be able to listen to YouTube videos without having the app open.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to lock your iPhone with a passcode and make it ‘virtually impenetrable’ to strangers — from your phone or remotely, if it’s lost or stolen

  • How to restore your iPhone from a backup after taking the ‘nuclear option’ of a factory reset

  • How to backup an iPhone to iCloud, your computer, or an external hard drive

  • ‘Why won’t my iPhone turn on?’: 3 ways to troubleshoot an iPhone that won’t restart

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