Why Picture-in-Picture Mode Is Awesome and How to Enable It in macOS Sierra

While watching video in your browser, you probably realized that you can’t multitask and switch to another tab or window and continue to watch the video. This also means that if you are following a tutorial video to troubleshoot an issue, you will have to pause and switch in and out of the page to watch and troubleshoot at the same time. Obviously, this is a tedious process and you may have wondered whether there is a more practical way of doing it. Can you simultaneously watch a video and do something else in the background?

If you are a Mac user, play that glorious praise song out loud because macOS Sierra comes with a Picture-in-Picture feature.

PiP to the Rescue

First started in iOS, the Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support finally arrived in macOS with the release of Sierra. This feature lets a user shrink a compatible video down as a floating window that remains on top of all windows and applications.

Now you can watch a video while working on something else. There are many occasions that fit this scenario. For example, you can keep a tutorial video playing in front while you follow the instructions on other applications, watch a webinar or an online course while keeping notes in the text editor, or wait for the next legendary football goal without postponing your deadline.

But not all video or applications can use this PiP mode – yet. At the moment of writing, the supported ones are limited to iTunes and HTML5 videos from certain websites such as Apple, YouTube, and Vimeo. Please also note that you need to open these sites using Safari, as the feature doesn’t currently support third-party browsers.

How to Use PiP

As mentioned before, there are several kinds of videos that can use the PiP feature. Let’s look at them one by one.

PiP with iTunes

Fist open iTunes and go to the “Videos” menu from the sidebar. Choose a video from your collection and hit Play.


When the video plays, hover to the lower right of the screen, and click the Picture-in-Picture button.


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.

To restore it to the original size, hover your mouse pointer over the video, and you will see the Restore option.


PiP with Supported Web Videos

There are websites that are specifically coded to support Sierra’s PiP feature. These websites, such as Apple and Vimeo, will provide users with a similar button to the iTunes video to do the trick.


To use the feature on other supported websites without the code, such as YouTube, you need a different method. 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 here’s the important part: right-click AGAIN to replace the menu with the macOS menu. You’ll find the option to “Enter Picture-in-Picture.”


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

The Older Alternative

The ability to put a video on top of other applications is not new for Mac machines which support multitasking from ages ago. There are video players such as the free MplayerX, VLC, and iTunes that already have the ability to always stay frontmost when the video is playing. All you need to do is to enable the ability in “Preferences.”


The advantage of this “Float on Top” feature compared to PiP is that users can resize the video window size to their liking and place it anywhere they like. But you can’t use these players to play web videos.

Now that you know the secret to put videos always on top, you can enjoy those tutorial videos while doing something else on other apps.

Go and simplify your workflow.

Jeffry Thurana
Jeffry Thurana

Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He's on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.

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