YouTube is the world’s top destination for streamable music videos so it’s hardly surprising that folks who don’t buy a lot of music, or don’t sync their music libraries, rely on YouTube

to discover and enjoy new music releases.

But what if you want to listen to music on YouTube while you use your iPhone or iPad for something else? YouTube’s mobile app lacks background audio playback unless you sign up for YouTube Music Key, a subscription service.

Thankfully, there’s an easy workaround to listening to a video’s audio in the background on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad while multitasking. In this tutorial, I’m going to demonstrate just that: how to play YouTube audio on your iOS device in the background, no jailbreak required.

How to play YouTube audio in background on iOS

Step 1: Open the Safari browser on your iOS device.

Step 2: Point Safari to the mobile YouTube interface at

iOS 8 Safari YouTube background audio iPhone screenshot 005

Tip: You might be yanked out of Safari and sucked into YouTube’s native app. Should this happen, reopen Safari, enter the URL again and hit Return. Safari should ask if you want to open the webpage in the YouTube app.

iOS 8 Safari YouTube background audio iPhone screenshot 001

Tap Cancel and you should be good.

Step 3: Next, tap on the small magnifying glass icon in order to use the search option to locate the video you want to play. I’m kinda in the mood for Taylor Swift’s music today so I’ll just go ahead and tap on a random video on her Vevo channel on YouTube.

iOS 8 Safari YouTube background audio iPhone screenshot 004

As soon as the video starts streaming Safari should take you full screen, as shown on a trio of screenshots right above.

Step 4: Press the Home button on your iOS device to exit to iOS’s Home screen. The music will stop playing.

Step 5: Now swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and hit the Play symbol.

iOS 8 Safari YouTube background audio iPhone screenshot 002

Safari will start streaming the video’s audio in the background, allowing you to run other apps and multitask like you normally would. Notice, if you will, that the audio continues to play in the background even on the Lock screen, as if you were playing music stored locally through the stock Music app.

iOS 8 Safari YouTube background audio iPhone screenshot 003

If you send your device to sleep by pressing the Sleep/Wake button, the audio might stop playing. Just press the Sleep/Wake, or Home button again and tap the Play button to restart the audio. If you now turn off your device, the audio will keep playing.

Things you should know

This method works in both iOS 7 and iOS 8, in Safari or Chrome, with or without the official YouTube app, but isn’t without downsides.

For starters, while iOS’s media playback controls in Control Center and on the Lock screen let you pause and restart playback and adjust the volume, you cannot jump to a specific point by dragging the progress slider, nor can you skip between the tracks in a playlist nor can you listen to entire playlists from YouTube in the background.

While only the audio portion of the YouTube video plays in the background, Safari still streams the entire file so you will not save any cellular data when rendering audio from a YouTube video in the background.

The biggest downside has to be the fact that you won’t be able to surf other websites in Safari without stopping background audio. For instance, if you exit the full screen mode in Safari the video will automatically pause. Switching tabs in Safari on the iPad will also cause playback to stop.

To surf the web while enjoying background YouTube audio, use another browser like Google’s Chrome or any of the other web browsers that are readily available for download in the App Store.

See also:

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