How to play YouTube videos in the background on Android

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 24, 2013
Updated • Feb 15, 2014
Google Android, Youtube

You can open the video hosting website YouTube in one of the mobile web browsers installed on your Android device, or use an official or third party YouTube application for that. While that ensures that you can play YouTube videos just fine on your device, you will notice that it is not possible to keep the voice or sound running in the background while you are doing something else on your phone. As soon as you hit the back or menu button, the video stops playing and so does its audio.

I'm usually not watching videos on YouTube as I value the battery life of my phone too much for that, but if you happen to do so, for instance while your phone or tablet is connected to a power source, you may be interested in an option to keep the video playing in the background while you are doing something else.

YouTube Keep Alive is a free application for Android 2.3.3 and up that lets you do so. It looks more or less like the official YouTube application, and there are two main differences that you will notice right away.

First, there is an ad on top of the screen, and second, tapping on the menu button sends the application to the background where the video will continue to play.

youtube keep alive play youtube videos in background

Once you start to play a video you will notice that it plays just like normal by default. Once you hit the menu button a notification will be displayed shortly that informs you that the YouTube video is still playing in the background. You will also hear the audio still playing regardless of what you are doing on your phone or tablet at that point in time.

This is great if you want to listen to a lecture, podcast or other "teaching" related video file, or just listen to music on YouTube while you are using your Android device for other activities.

You can go back to the video at any time by opening the notification area and tapping on the "now playing" listing here.

The music will stop automatically if a call is incoming or if you are making a call.


If you like to watch YouTube videos on your Android device, then you may find YouTube Keep Alive  ideal for that activity. While I had no issues playing videos of any length using the application, I could not figure out how to play playlists using the app.

Update: The Android application is no longer available. You can use uListen as an alternative. It does support background playback as well, and has been optimized for audio playback. Even better, it will save you bandwidth as well.


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  1. LOL said on April 25, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    Recently, I had an error with Google Play, I have a Xiaomi Redmi 10C with Android 12 and I’m not sure if it was the phone that caused this or not. The error was basically sometimes when I try to download an app or update one, it would sit in a “pending…” state almost indefinitely and sometimes it would fix itself on its own, sometimes I had to restart the phone, sometimes restarting wouldn’t do anything. I ignored it because eventually the apps would install/update themselves, but recently I received a firmware update for MIUI and I think after that the “pending…” error disappeared.

    I wonder if anyone else had this in the past month…

  2. zon14 said on June 23, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    Well, tried everything here and the error still persists. Have a feeling Google bolloxed something and now we all need yet another update for the bug fix.

    1. Peter said on June 26, 2023 at 12:10 am

      I have the same problem

      1. Truby said on June 28, 2023 at 7:15 am

        Same here

    2. Al Ades said on July 4, 2023 at 6:02 pm

      Exactly. Went through all the steps above and checked my GOOG account directly and through Samsung DeX. Unfixable at this point. My son suggested jailbreaking…not a smart idea with possible catastrophic data loss.

    3. Raj kuamr said on July 10, 2023 at 1:33 am

      Play store problam

  3. Borked said on June 25, 2023 at 11:44 pm

    Same here. Strange thing is, I can tap my photo icon at upper right and update apps as usual from “Manage apps & device”. Also, I’m able to search for apps using the top bar with no issues.

    The monthly firmware update was late this month, so I can’t help but think something got borked by applying that.

  4. Gary Garibaldi said on June 27, 2023 at 1:49 am

    Same problem here. Tried all above and other methods found on the internet. Ended up resetting the phone and it worked for 3 days and just started up again. I believes google broke something an an update. I’ll wait for a further update, just hope it comes soon. I’ve already dumped Windows 11 for a MacBook 13 Pro. Guess I’ll look into iPhones. Phone Samsung Galaxy S22 on T-Mobile.

  5. Angelbabe1uk said on June 27, 2023 at 1:59 am

    My s23 ultra did android update yesturday and now im getting this error
    Ive tried all the fixes listed non work
    I to can tap my pic in store and update that way but when i load up the store it still shows the error listed here

  6. Anonymous said on July 6, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    I have tried all above and nothing worked…then I was playing around in the Settings-> Authentication and I turned on the ‘Biometric Authentication for Google Play purchases on this device’. AND NOW IT WORKS!!!!!

  7. Kelly said on August 3, 2023 at 6:28 pm

    Pixel phone has this issue, tried all of the above and still not fixed

  8. Otto said on August 18, 2023 at 4:31 am

    Nothing worked on N100

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