Videos are meant to be watched which means if you’re watching YouTube, the website expects that you haven’t sent it to the background. That’s not how everyone watches YouTube. The website lets you create playlists and if they’re music playlists that you’re listening to, the tab doesn’t really have to be in the front. You can send it to the back or minimize the window that it’s open in. YouTube can’t tell if it’s in the background or not but it can tell if you haven’t interacted with the website in a while and that’s when it will pause the video that’s playing. You will see a ‘Video paused. Continue watching’ prompt. You have to click Yes to continue watching.
To disable the ‘Video paused. Continue watching’ prompt, you have to use an extension called YouTube NonStop. This is a Chrome extension so this solution only applies to Chrome, and also to the Development beta of Edge, if you’re running it.
Install YouTube NonStop from the Chrome Web Store and it will take care of the rest. You can leave YouTube running in the background and the extension won’t stop the video from playing when you haven’t interacted with the website for a long time.
YouTube added this prompt about two years ago. It was sporadic back then and not all users saw it. It seems to only appear if you’re signed in to YouTube and have been ‘watching’ for too long.
The feature is meant to save data, and perhaps even battery if you’re watching on a laptop that isn’t plugged in. If the video keeps playing, it will consume more data, especially if you have autoplay enabled. At the same time, the battery will deplete much faster because you’re playing media in a resource hungry browser. The prompt isn’t without purpose but there should be an option to turn it off.
The extension is passive; you can hide it in the overflow menu or the extensions’ menu. You can’t toggle it On or Off. You can disable it if you want the feature back (or uninstall it) but there’s no off button. If you prefer Firefox over Chrome, there doesn’t seem to be an add-on for it that can get rid of this feature. We mentioned that the prompt doesn’t appear when you watch without signing in. If you can watch without signing in, you may not see the prompt. Of course this means no watch history and you lose access to your playlists and channel subscriptions.