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How To View the YouTube Desktop Site from your Phone

Posted by Jamie on August 22, 2019

The mobile version of YouTube has come a long way in recent years, even so far as to help replace the dedicated mobile app for some. Most features available in the version on your desktop or laptop computer have made their way to mobile devices. From comments and playlists to dark mode and annotation, YouTube’s mobile site—in addition to their mobile app—have all gotten really great. Of course, sometimes you need to use the desktop site in order to make the most of watching video. While more than half of all internet traffic now lives on mobile devices, you’ll occasionally need to switch to the desktop version of YouTube to accomplish something. Here’s how to load the desktop version of YouTube on your phone or tablet.

View the YouTube Desktop Site from your Android Phone

Our screenshots are using Chrome, but this should work no matter the browser you’re using on your device.

The first method is to begin by browsing to YouTube on your mobile browser, then clicking the triple-dotted menu icon in the top-right corner and selecting desktop. However, in our testing, if you have the mobile app installed on your device, you’ll find that Android redirects you to the mobile app no matter how many times you click desktop.

No matter, as there’s another solution we can turn to. Instead of clicking the YouTube menu icon, click the Chrome menu icon to open up Chrome’s settings. In this dropdown menu, you’ll find a checkbox for the desktop site. Unlike the YouTube option, this will redirect you to the desktop version of YouTube within Chrome.

You should now see the desktop site but in miniature. You should also be able to access all the navigational features, see your favorites and all that good stuff. The same process works on other mobile browsers too, although the Desktop option may be hidden in a different menu than on Chrome. Either way, just look for the option that reads “Desktop Site.”

View Any Desktop Website from your Android Phone

The above process will work with any website you choose to visit. You can also make the same selection with other mobile browsers. In Firefox you select the menu and ‘Request desktop site’. In Opera, access the menu, Settings and User Agent and then switch from Mobile to Desktop.

If you use a different browser, chances are it will have the same kind of option. As most of them are based on Chromium, they will likely be similar to Chrome.

View the YouTube Desktop Site from your iPhone

iPhone and iOS users experience the same thing. Mobile Safari does a pretty good job of rendering mobile sites but it isn’t always the experience we want. Just like Android, there is a way to view the YouTube desktop site from your iPhone using Safari.

Depending on how you have set up your phone, you may need to enable JavaScript first.

  1. Navigate to Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Select Safari and then Advanced. Toggle JavaScript to On.

Now use Safari to access YouTube.

  1. Open Safari as normal and navigate to youtube.com.
  2. Select the menu icon in the top left and select Desktop.

If you’re using iOS 11 or higher you can also select Share in Safari and then select Request Desktop Site. Either way, you should now see the desktop version rather than the mobile version of YouTube.

View Any Desktop Site from your iPhone

As with Android, you can repeat the above process on almost any website you choose to visit. If you use Chrome for iOS or other browser instead of Safari, you can also request the desktop website.

  1. Open Chrome on your iPhone.
  2. Select the three dot menu icon in the top right.
  3. Check the box next to Desktop site.
  4. Navigate to your website as normal.

The same is true for Opera Mini, Dolphin, Firefox Focus or any of the alternatives you may have installed. All will have a similar options to select the desktop site from the menu.

The theory behind offering a mobile site over a desktop one is sound. They will be streamlined and pared back to burn less data and will load much faster. They should also be optimized for smaller screens. That’s fine if the site itself doesn’t compromise the browsing experience and gives mobile users as close to the desktop experience as possible. But that isn’t always the case. In YouTube’s case there just isn’t enough screen real estate to emulate the desktop experience in a way that works well enough to satisfy Google. Users on the other hand have other ideas.

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