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A Guide to YouTube Desktop View in Mobile

Published on 04.04.2024 by Tracey Chizoba Fletcher

As a way of optimizing the YouTube viewing experience, YouTube has a mobile app that is meant for smartphone and tablet users. Not only is the mobile app convenient to use, but it also offers a better viewing experience. 

However, some YouTube features are only visible on the desktop app and unavailable on mobile devices. This often leads to questions on how to view the desktop site on mobile devices. Before we answer this question, let us compare the mobile version versus the desktop version. This will help you understand which option to use for YouTube monetization.

Difference Between a Mobile Site and an App

Many people don't understand why they need an app when they can access the desktop site on their favorite browser, whether on YouTube or any other site. After all, mobile sites and apps can look very similar at first glance. We need to understand the difference between a mobile site and an app to answer this question.

Mobile Site

A mobile site is similar to a desktop site as it is usually made of browser-based HTML codes linked together to be accessed through the internet. The main difference between a desktop website and a mobile site is that the latter is optimized for viewing on the small screens of mobile gadgets. It is also designed for touchscreen devices and is, therefore, organized to enable users to easily navigate mobile sites.

With mobile devices' increased popularity, it is common for website owners to optimize their sites for these gadgets. Such sites are also designed to scale to different screen sizes, whether desktop tablets or mobile phones. The mobile sites are designed to provide most features, including images, contact information, and videos. They may also include other mobile-specific features, such as calling directly from the site.

Benefits of Mobile Sites

One of the benefits of mobile sites and other apps is that they help improve search engine optimization. When considering the site to rank, Google does not look at the available apps. Instead, it considers desktop and mobile sites. If your site is well-optimized for search engines, you can rank highly on the SERPs.

Mobile sites also help people find a business when the location is enabled and linked to a navigation app such as Google Maps. On top of that, it is easier for users to share website links than apps. All they need to do is to copy the link before sharing it on social media.

Mobile App

Apps refer to applications downloaded to a mobile device rather than accessed through a browser from the device's specific portal, such as Play Store or Apple App Store. The app can get data from the internet just like a mobile site or can download content to be accessed by the visitor.

Mobile apps can sometimes be confusing as they offer similar functionality to mobile sites. For instance, sites like Facebook, Amazon, and EverNote have mobile sites that function similarly to the apps. However, the user experience differs depending on what they use to access the site.

While the functionality and content of mobile apps are identical, the two have varying user experiences due to differences in visual design and capabilities. Mobile sites are designed to fit within the capabilities of web technologies or how they appear in the browser. On the other hand, mobile apps can benefit from native design features such as GPS and push notifications, which provide an immersive and personalized experience.

Benefits of Mobile Apps

Companies can customize their app functionalities and interactions to meet different user needs. For instance, bank customers can access some online banking apps from anywhere without needing the internet, while other features can only be accessed using the internet.

Similarly, companies can send push notifications to users within an app if a user has allowed notifications on settings. In such instances, it becomes possible for the company to send alerts, updates, reminders, and more to customers.

Differences Between a Mobile Site and an App

While both the mobile site and app can be accessed through mobile devices, they have several differences, such as:


Mobile sites are made to be accessed across all devices, including desktops. On the other hand, apps can only be downloaded and will adapt differently to different operating systems, such as Android and iOS. Apps only become accessible after installation, unlike sites that are always available.


The main role of a website is to inform, while apps are usually made to help complete a task. That's why apps are usually more interactive, while websites are made for viewing, reading, and listening. With web apps, users can manipulate data, while mobile sites enable them to complete tasks such as filling a form.


A website is a simple collection of pages and is not as complex as apps, which have interactive elements and a more intuitive interface. Apps also allow users to customize them after downloading. They can track user data to provide a better user experience. Apps also allow users to track location and access device features like cameras and GPs. Therefore, apps are more complex than mobile websites.

Upgrades and Cost

It's cheaper to develop a mobile website than an app. As noted earlier, apps are more complex and take more time to develop as they need additional programming. It is also easier to upgrade a mobile site than an app. Once the website owner updates the sites, the new update will be visible to the user. This is unlike the apps where the owner must push users to download the latest versions to get the latest features.

Should You Choose a Mobile Site or an App?

The choice you make will depend mostly on your individual needs and your specific business goals. While a mobile site will meet most of your business goals, it may be limited compared to an app. Since mobile sites depend on the browser to carry out certain tasks, such as refreshing, their capabilities can be limited. Depending on the connection, they can also be slower than an app.

When a Mobile Site is Necessary

A mobile site is a good first step for interacting with users of mobile devices. If a business doesn't have real-time interaction with customers, the mobile site can serve them well. They are also a great choice for businesses that want to reach a bigger audience.

Mobile sites can help businesses with social presence by offering videos and blogs that users can share. Sites can also help with social media branding as the site owners can share links to their sites on social media sites, blogs, brochures, business cards, and more.

When an App is Necessary

An app offers more functionality in the customer buying journey. Therefore, if a business product requires more customer interaction, an app will serve them well. If a consumer wants fast access to a product multiple times a day, an app will help them.

Difference Between the YouTube Mobile Site and the App

The YouTube mobile site and the app differ in user experience. By opening the YouTube site on a browser, you may not have access to all the functionality and features of the YouTube app. This is because the site may not be fully optimized for mobile devices. You may find it hard to access certain features, such as background play, offline viewing, or selling products on YouTube.

On the other hand, the YouTube app is fully designed for mobile devices. Therefore, it provides a better and more seamless user experience. You can access features like easy navigation, offline viewing, and push notifications using the YouTube mobile app.  With push notifications, entrepreneurs can use YouTube for personal branding. Your preference will determine if to go with the YouTube app or the mobile site.

How to Access the YouTube Site on a Mobile

It's possible to access YouTube through the desktop app or a browser on a mobile device. Here are the steps to follow when doing that:

  1. First, you must sign into your account for the best viewing experience. You can log in by tapping your profile picture at the top right corner.
  2. You should then tap on “sign in” to log in using your Google account

Remember that you cannot upload or edit videos through the mobile browser. Instead, you need to download the YouTube app to complete these tasks. But once you have logged into your YouTube account, you will see different features such as:

  • Home. This is where you will land when you visit the YouTube site on your browser or app. It will show your recommended videos. These videos are often a result of your activity on YouTube.
  • Library. You will see your watch history, playlist, uploads, and purchases on this tab.
  • Trending. This will show you the trending videos on YouTube. You can also select the kind of videos you want to see according to the category. This is a great metric for those who want to monetize YouTube videos.
  • Subscription. This tab shows the video you have subscribed to on YouTube. You can visit the channel by tapping on their graphics.
  • Settings. You can see the settings by tapping on your profile pictures. This will also enable you to get assistance.

Final Thoughts

The best way to access YouTube is through the YouTube app. However, there are times when you need to use the browser app. For instance, when your phone app is full and you are unable to download the app. In that case, you can use the steps mentioned above to open YouTube on your mobile browser. You can then take the steps you need to increase your YouTube views and subscribers.