YouTube’s Picture-in-Picture for iOS is ending, but there are ways to keep it

YouTube has removed PiP on iOS, but there is a workaround.

Oscar Gutierrez / CNET

YouTube’s iPhone app has offered a picture-in-picture function for nearly a year as an experiment to YouTube Premium subscribers, but earlier this week the popular video-sharing service confirmed on Twitter that the feature was being removed — for now. PiP appears to remain available if you’ve already activated it, but if you haven’t, YouTube hasn’t given a new date for its return.

The announcement came after YouTube tweeted a since-deleted message that PiP would soon be available to everyone, causing confusion among viewers hoping to enjoy the feature. YouTube tweeted: “Are you using an iOS smartphone? If so, the Picture-in-Picture feature is still rolling out and will be available on all iOS 15+ devices in a few days. Tweet us back if needed.”

Turns out the announcement was instead about the YouTube TV service, which appears to be launching PiP for iOS users, and was followed by another announcement from the official YouTube TV Twitter account. YouTube has mentioned that PiP is still available for the regular YouTube app, but only for premium members on Android, which wasn’t the case until recently (it was widely available on iOS).

Luckily, 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 no premium subscription is required.

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

To use Picture in Picture with YouTube on iOS, you must first download PiPifier, an app by Arno Appenzeller which acts as an extension for Safari and allows you to use PiP with any HTML5 video (essentially any web video on iOS) in Safari. This includes YouTube, but only if you access it in your web browser.

PiPifier page on the App Store with screenshots of the app

PiPifier can be downloaded for free from the App Store.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

PiPifier is free to download from the App Store and works on 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’ve downloaded the app, there’s no need to open it – you can go straight to Safari to enable the extension. In Safari, tap the aa Icon top left, go inside Manage extensions, Switch PiPifier and hit Done. This will enable the PiPifier extension in Safari, meaning you can now use it directly from the site’s settings menu.

Screenshot of 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 iPhone and iPad

To use picture-in-picture with YouTube, open the safari App, go to YouTube website and find the video you want to watch. Now tap on the aa icon at the top left and press the PiPifier option in the displayed menu. A small floating window should appear at the bottom of the screen with the YouTube video playing.

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 apps. Use your fingers to move the floating window around the screen and drag your fingers in and out to resize accordingly. Tapping on the floating window gives you the option to fast forward, rewind and play or pause the video as well as maximize it to full screen. To close the floating window, tap the X icon at the top left of the window.

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

You can now watch YouTube videos anywhere on your iPhone.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

The functionality of a PiP video is pretty much the same compared to using the YouTube app: you can like and save videos, create a queue and leave a comment. The interface is a bit clunkier and therefore more difficult to use, but if you only use PiPifier with the YouTube website you shouldn’t really run into any major problems.

If you want to learn more about other iOS settings, check them out 10 Hidden iOS 15 Features You May Have Missed and 20 iOS 15 settings you can customize to become a power user.

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