At one point you have probably been in this kind of predicament — you’re watching a video on your browser, then suddenly you need to do something else while still watching. But then you realized that you can’t multitask and switch to another tab or window and continue to watch the video. So if you’re following a tutorial video to troubleshoot an issue, you will need to pause it first and then switch in and out of the page to watch and troubleshoot at the same time.

Thinking of it, it sounds like a tedious task to deal with and you’re probably hoping there’s some other way to make multitasking possible on your machine. Well if you’re a Mac user, your wishful thinking has just became an instant reality because its latest version, the macOS Sierra, comes with a Picture-in-Picture feature.

What is PiP?

First started in iOS, Picture-in-Picture (PiP) in macOS Sierra lets a user shrink a compatible video down as a floating window that remains on top of all windows and applications. This will now make it easier for you to watch your favorite movie or video while doing something else on your Mac. There are many good uses of this certain feature. For example, you can keep a tutorial video playing while you’re following the instructions on other programs or applications, watch a webinar or an online course while keeping notes in the text editor, or wait for the second half game between the Cavaliers and Warriors without postponing your deadline.

However, not all video or applications can use this PiP feature. At the moment, the support is only limited to iTunes and HTML5 videos from certain websites such as Apple, YouTube, and Vimeo. Also, you need to open these sites via Safari, since the PiP feature doesn’t currently support third-party browsers.

How to Use PiP

PiP with iTunes

Here’s how to use PiP on iTunes: First, open iTunes, then go to the Videos menu from the sidebar. Choose a video from your collection, then hit the Play button at the top.


When the video plays, hover to the bottom right corner of the screen, then click on the Picture-in-Picture button as shown below.


The video will be shrunk to a smaller screen and snapped in one of the four corners of the screen. You can drag it anywhere, and it will always go to the nearest corner. If you want to restore it to its original size, hover your mouse pointer over the video, and you will see the Restore icon.


PiP with Support Web Videos

There are websites, such as Apple and Vimeo, that are specifically coded to support macOS Sierra’s Picture-in-Picture feature. These sites will provide users with a similar button to the iTunes video for their convenience.


To use the feature on other supported websites without the code, such as YouTube, you need a different way of doing it. First, open the site in Safari, then play the video. While the video is playing, right-click on it to open the YouTube menu. Now, pay extra attention — right-click it again to replace the menu with the macOS menu. There you will find the option to select Enter Picture-in-Picture.


You can use similar methods to exit the PiP view — either click the Restore button or click the X button at the corner of the PiP window to close it.

How to Do It on Other Players

Placing the video on top of other applications is not new for Mac machines which support multitasking long before Picture-in-Picture was introduced. There are video players like the free MplayerX, VLC, and iTunes that already have the ability to always stay on top when there is video being played. You only need to enable this feature on the player’s Preferences menu. The example shown below is enabling the Float on Top feature of the VLC media player.


The advantage of the Float on Top feature compared to PiP is that users can resize the video window size according to their preference and place it anywhere on the screen. However, you can’t use these players to play web videos.


This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 6:29:14 AM and is filed under Tech Tips & Tricks.

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