When you watch a video in your browser, you’ve probably realized that you can’t do many things and switch to another tab or window and keep watching the video. It also means that if you are using a video tutorial to fix the problem, you will need to pause and go to the page in and out to watch and fix it at the same time. Obviously, this is a laborious process, and you may be wondering if there is an easier way to do it. Can you watch the video and do something else in the background at the same time?

If you’re a Mac user, play this great song of praise out loud because macOS Sierra has a Picture-in-Picture feature.

PiP to the rescue

Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support, first launched in iOS, finally arrived in macOS with the release of Sierra. This feature allows the user to shrink compatible video as a floating window that stays on top of all windows and applications.

Now you can watch the video and work on something else. There are many situations that fit this scenario. For example, you can continue reading the tutorial video by following instructions from other apps, watching a webinar or online course while taking notes in a text editor, or waiting for the next goal of legendary football without delaying your deadline.

But not all videos or applications can still use this PiP mode. As of this writing, support is limited to iTunes and HTML5 videos from certain sites, such as Apple, YouTube, and Vimeo. Also note that you need to open these sites in Safari, as this feature does not currently support third-party browsers.

How to use PiP

As mentioned earlier, there are several video types that can use the PiP function. Let’s look at them one by one.

PiP with iTunes

Open iTunes and go to the “Videos” menu in the sidebar. Select a video from your collection and press play.

While playing a video, move the mouse in the lower right corner of the screen and click the Picture in Picture button.

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The video is reduced to a smaller screen and taken from one of the four corners of the screen. You can drag it anywhere and it always moves to the nearest corner.

To restore it to its original size, hover over the video and you’ll see the Restore option.

pip-mte restoration

PiP with supported online videos

There are sites that are specifically coded to support Sierra PiP. These sites, such as Apple and Vimeo, offer users an iTunes-like button.

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If you want to use the feature on other supported websites without the code, such as YouTube, you need another way. First, open the site in Safari, then play the video. While the video is playing, right-click to open the YouTube menu. Here’s the important part: replace the menu with the macOS menu with the right mouse button AGAIN. You will find the option “Enter picture in picture”.

pip-mte-youtube

You can exit the PiP view in similar ways: click the Restore button or click the Close button (X) in the corner of the PiP window.

Old option

The ability to put video on top of other applications isn’t new on Macs that have supported multitasking for years. There are free video players like MplayerX, VLC, and iTunes that already have the ability to stay in the foreground during video playback. All you have to do is activate the feature in the “Settings” section.

pip-mte-vlc-Preferences

The advantage of this “Float on Top” feature over PiP is that users can resize the video window to their liking and place it wherever they want. However, you cannot use these players to play online videos.

Now that you know the secret to always placing videos front and center, you can enjoy these video tutorials while doing other things in other applications.

Go and simplify your workflow.

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