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YouTube's iPhone picture-in-picture mode is coming back — here's how to enable it

YouTube logo on an iPhone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

YouTube's picture-in-picture mode was just removed from the iOS version of the app, but the good news is it's coming back soon.

PiP mode, which was previously an experimental YouTube Premium-only perk, is now coming to all iOS 15 users in the coming days. The Team YouTube account explained it a user asking about the missing feature. Not only is PiP coming back, it will now be available to all users, whether they pay for ad-free YouTube or not.

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Existing YouTube PiP users (myself included) may have forgotten that the feature was meant to only be a limited trial, despite that trial lasting nine months. However, the abrupt disappearance of the feature (including from the YouTube Labs page where you had to enable it) was a bit of a shock, so it's good to have YouTube's tweet clear it up.

Android users can just sit back though. As you can see in our how to use YouTube picture-in-picture mode guide, the picture-in-picture option for Android phones is much easier to enable, and is already available for everyone running Android 8 or later, whether you have YouTube Premium or not.

As it stands, only one iPhone-using TG staffer currently has the option available, with the rest of us (including YouTube Premium subscribers) having now lost the option. Hopefully YouTube will keep its promise and bring the feature to all users, and back to those who previously had it, in the near future. For now, here's how to enable the feature if you've got it.

How to enable YouTube picture-in-picture on iOS

Follow these instructions if you want to enable or re-enable the mini-player for YouTube on your iPhone. If these don't work for you, then your app likely hasn't been updated yet. See if there's an update available in the App Store now, or wait a day or two to see if it rolls out to your phone automatically.

1. Tap on your user icon in the top right corner of the app, and then select Settings

A demo of how to enable picture-in-picture mode on the iOS YouTube app, showing how to open the settings menu

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Now select the General heading

3. If the option's available for you, you'll be able to toggle the Picture-in-picture mode on.

A demo of how to enable picture-in-picture mode on the iOS YouTube app, showing where in the settings menu to find and enable the PiP mode

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. To use the feature, just exit the YouTube app by swiping up from the bottom of your screen or pressing the home button while you're playing a video.

5. You can resize the player by using a pinching motion. There are three available sizes, with the largest taking up the whole width of your screen.

A demo of how to enable picture-in-picture mode on the iOS YouTube app, showing the three different sizes of mini player

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. If you want to get rid of the player, you can swipe it to the left or right to minimize it. Tap the arrow icon when you want it back.

A demo of how to enable picture-in-picture mode on the iOS YouTube app, showing the minimized player

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.