Tech

How to Use Ambient Mode on YouTube (and What It Does)


Immerse yourself in your favorite YouTube videos with Ambient mode. Here’s how to use this feature on mobile and desktop.


If you spend hours of your time watching YouTube content, the platform has a feature to help augment your viewing experience on both mobile and desktop named Ambient mode. This feature allows you to view videos in an immersive way.


Here’s a complete guide on YouTube’s Ambient mode feature and how to use it to help you get started.


What Is Ambient Mode on YouTube?

Ambient mode is a feature that adds gradient colors to your screen’s background while watching YouTube videos. The feature takes colors from the YouTube video you’re watching and adds them with a soft gradient texture—it appears as if colors from the video are leaking into the surrounding parts of the video player.

YouTube’s Ambient mode is dynamic and instantly updates the background color every time the colors change in the video making your viewing experience more immersive. Due to the nature of the feature, it only works in dark mode.

That said, start by enabling dark mode on YouTube first before jumping into the next section, where we cover the steps on how to use Ambient mode. We also recommend updating your YouTube app on mobile to be sure you’re running the latest version, just in case you don’t see the option.

How to Use Ambient Mode on YouTube (Mobile)

Enabling dark mode on YouTube will automatically enable Ambient mode. However, you can switch off the feature. Here’s how:

  1. Tap on any YouTube video to start playing.
  2. Tap the screen to reveal control options.
  3. Tap the Settings icon in the top right. This will reveal a pop-up menu.
  4. In the pop-up menu, tap Ambient mode to disable the feature. You will see an Ambient mode is off pop-up message confirming the feature has been disabled.

If you want to re-enable Ambient mode, follow the same steps. One limitation you should note about Ambient mode is it doesn’t work for offline videos. If you download a YouTube video and play it, you won’t even see the Ambient mode option in the settings pop-up menu.

How to Use Ambient Mode on YouTube (Desktop)

On YouTube’s desktop site, you can also use Ambient mode. And similar to mobile, you must first turn on dark mode, which will also enable Ambient mode by default.

With that said, here’s how to disable Ambient mode on YouTube’s desktop site:

  1. Play a YouTube video of your choice and move your cursor to the video player to reveal control options.
    YouTube video player controls

  2. Select the Settings icon in the bottom right of the video.
  3. In the pop-up menu, click on Ambient mode to disable the feature. Surrounding areas of your video player will immediately lose the gradient background. From there on, Ambient mode will be disabled on all YouTube videos.
    Disabled Ambient mode on YouTube desktop

There’s a slight limitation to Ambient mode on the YouTube desktop site. As of writing, YouTube desktop’s Theatre mode doesn’t have Ambient mode support. Therefore, you must use the Default view for the effects to appear. You’ll know you’re using Theatre mode if the video player spans the entire screen horizontally.

You can switch back to the Default view by moving the cursor over a playing video and clicking the white rectangle box icon in the bottom right. You should now see the video player area reduced and a list of recommended videos on the right-hand side. If Ambient mode is enabled, the gradients will instantly start displaying.

Improve Your Viewing Experience on YouTube With Ambient Mode

Ambient mode allows you to make your YouTube viewing experience a little better. Another tip is to increase the video quality by selecting Settings > Quality > Higher picture quality (mobile) or, if you’re on YouTube’s desktop site, select higher specific resolution like 1080p, 1440p, or 2160p.

However, if you’re using a limited data plan, this can quickly become a costly adventure, so streaming at a lower resolution would be better.

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