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YouTube Music gets local audio file browser with annoying limitations

Yes, you can play local audio right in YouTube Music, but there are two big catches.

Published onApril 29, 2019

YouTube Music - notification
A photo of YouTube Music's notification player.

Although you can already play your own locally-stored music files using YouTube Music, you can’t do so from within the app itself. Instead, you need to use a file browser app to navigate to those files and then play them.

That’s going to change soon as Google is going to integrate a file browser right into YouTube Music, which will allow you to play your locally-stored files without having to exit the app.

You can play ad-supported YouTube Music for free on Google Home speakers
Photograph of Google Home Hub, Home Mini, and Home side by side

This new feature will bring YouTube Music one step closer to replacing Google Play Music — although it still has a very long way to go before it will achieve feature parity with that other, older product.

Check out the screenshot below from MS Power User that shows how the on-device files browser will look:

A screenshot showing the upcoming addition of a device files browser within the YouTube Music app.

In the screenshot, you might notice the warning bar at the top. That statement lists out the two major limitations to using YouTube Music to play your locally-stored audio:

  • You cannot mix your local files in with playlists created with YouTube content.
  • You cannot cast locally-stored content through YouTube Music.

These two limitations are pretty annoying, especially when you consider that Google Play Music doesn’t have the first one. For the second limitation, GPM allows you to upload your local tracks to the service and then easily cast those files — YouTube Music has no such feature.

Regardless, YouTube Music is very slowly making its way to replacing Google Play Music. If you want to know what to do with your Play Music library, check out our discoveries of one potential option below:

NEXT: I ditched Google Play Music for my own Plex server: The good and the bad