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YouTube Doesn't Allow PiP on the iPhone. Here's How You Can Do It Anyway.

Use this trick to get a floating window for any YouTube video on iOS.

hands holding a phone
YouTube got rid of PiP on iOS, but there is a workaround.
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Apple introduced Picture in Picture mode back in 2020 with the release of iOS 14, which allows you to watch videos in a floating window anywhere on your phone or tablet. If you want to watch Netflix or HBO Max without being in the app, you can easily do so by swiping up out of it, which usually enables PiP by default. Unfortunately, PiP doesn't work with every third-party video streaming app on iOS, including YouTube.

YouTube's iPhone app has offered a Picture in Picture feature to YouTube Premium subscribers as an experiment for nearly a year now, but recently the popular video-sharing service confirmed on Twitter that the feature has been removed. PiP appears to remain available if you've already activated it, but if you haven't, YouTube hasn't mentioned a date for its return. 

The announcement came after YouTube sent out a since-deleted message on Twitter stating that PiP would soon be available for everyone, causing confusion for viewers who were hoping to enjoy the feature. YouTube tweeted out: "Are you using an iOS smartphone? If so, the Picture-in-Picture feature is still rolling out & will be available in a matter of days across all iOS 15+ devices. Tweet back @ us if needed."

It turned out the announcement was about the YouTube TV service instead, which apparently is rolling out PiP for iOS users, and that was then followed up by another announcement from the official YouTube TV Twitter account. YouTube did mention that PiP is still available for the regular YouTube app, but only for premium members on Android, which wasn't the case until pretty recently (it's been widely available on iOS).

Fortunately, if you're an iPhone user and still want to access the removed feature, there's a workaround to get YouTube to work with PiP on iOS -- and it doesn't require a premium subscription.

Use the PiPifier app on your iPhone or iPad to get Picture in Picture

To use Picture in Picture with YouTube on iOS, you'll first need to download PiPifier, an app from Arno Appenzeller that acts as an extension for Safari and allows you to use PiP with any HTML5 video (essentially every web video on iOS) in Safari. That includes YouTube, but only if you access it in your web browser.

PiPifier's page in the App Store showing screenshots of the app

PiPifier is free to download on the App Store.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

PiPifier is free to download from the App Store and works on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac. It requires at least iOS 15, iPadOS 15 or MacOS 12 (the Apple M1 chip version) to work properly.

Enable the PiPifier extension in Safari

Once you download the app, you don't need to open it -- you can go straight to Safari to turn on the extension. In Safari, tap the AA icon on the top-left, go into Manage Extensions, toggle on PiPifier and hit Done. This will enable the PiPifier extension in Safari, which means you can now use it directly from the website settings menu.

Screenshot of the Manage Extensions setting

In Safari, go to AA > Manage Extensions to enable PiPifier.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

How to use Picture in Picture with YouTube on the iPhone and iPad

To use Picture in Picture with YouTube, open the Safari app, go to the YouTube website and find the video you want to watch. Now tap the AA icon on the top left and hit the PiPifier option in the menu that appears. A small floating window should appear at the bottom of your screen, playing the YouTube video.

Screenshot of PiPifier in a dropdown menu.

Run PiPifier from the AA icon in Safari.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

You can then swipe out of Safari and the floating window will follow you wherever you go, including your home screen and other applications. Use your fingers to move the floating window around the screen, and pinch in and out to resize it accordingly. If you tap on the floating window, you have options to fast-forward, rewind and play or pause the video, as well as maximize it to full-screen. To close the floating window, tap on the X icon on the top left of the window.

A PiP YouTube video playing on top of a phone's home screen

You can now watch YouTube videos from anywhere on your iPhone.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Functionality of a PiP video, in comparison to using the YouTube app, is pretty much the same: You can like and save videos, create a queue and leave a comment. The user interface is a bit clunkier, so it's more difficult to use, but if you're only using PiPifier with the YouTube website, you shouldn't really run into any major issues.

If you want to learn more about other iOS settings, check out these 10 iOS 15 hidden features you might have missed and 20 iOS 15 settings you can tweak to help you become a power user.