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How to play YouTube audio in background on an iPhone or iPad

Lou Hattersley
2 April, 2014
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Play YouTube audio in the background with this neat trick. YouTube alone is every bit as strong as Spotify for playing individual music tracks, and YouTube is completely free.

Why audio stops playing in background on YouTube

There’s just one problem. With the YouTube app, when you press the Home or Sleep/Wake button the audio stops playing. So you have to keep the phone on, and playing the video on the screen, in order to listen to the audio. This is annoying, because you can’t put the iPhone in your pocket (it’ll push the on-screen buttons) and unless you set the Auto-Lock option to Never, it’ll stop playing when the iPhone locks. And watching it with video playing drains the battery.

How to get audio to play in the background in YouTube

There is a solution, however, follow this guide to get YouTube audio playing in the background.

  1. Open YouTube (www.youtube.com) in Safari. This trick uses the Safari versions of YouTube. It doesn’t work with the YouTube app. Both websites are pretty much as good as the apps these days though, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
  2. To find a music video tap the Search icon in the top right and enter the name of a track or artist you’d like to listen to. Start playing the music video.
  3. Press the Home Button. The music video will stop playing.
  4. Slide up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Centre.
  5. Press Play. Control Centre will start to play the audio again.
With this trick you can play YouTube and BBC iPlayer audio in the background
With this trick you can play YouTube and BBC iPlayer audio in the background

You can now press the Sleep/Wake button and the audio continues to play in the background.

With Control Centre you can control audio volume levels, and play/pause the audio. One thing you can’t do though is skip to the next track. You can only play one track at a time with this trick. Fortunately YouTube is packed with lengthy audio  tracks (often whole albums) so you can listen to as much music as you want.

By Lou Hattersley. Macworld UK.

One Comment

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  1. Andy Carver says:

    iTunes Radio?

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