How to get Picture in Picture Mode in your Browsers

Picture in Picture mode is an option to take a video you’re playing and “pop” it out of the tab.  The video can then sit in a small corner of your screen while you work on something else.  This is useful for a variety of things, like having a small stream going in the background where you’re able to keep an eye on what’s going on while you work, to just seeing where you are in a Netflix or YouTube video.  Whatever your reason, you can access Picture in Picture on all 4 of the major web browsers, some more easily than others, provided the video is a standard HTML5 video.  Here’s how to do it.

Firefox:

You’ll need to be running Firefox 72 or later for this.  Earlier version don’t have it turned on, but you can manually enable it.

The first way to get this is by hovering over an HTML 5 compatible video, where you’ll get a blue pop-up that says “Picture in Picture”.  Click on this, and the video will pop out.

2019-11-30-14-41-29-b5e7d9
Firefox PiP pop up demo, courtesy of Firefox

Another option is to simply right click the video to get the native right-click menu, and select “Picture in Picture” in the menu.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.05.06 AM.png

Firefox’s pop-out window seems to be the largest pop-out video from the start, which I mention because it oddly isn’t resizable at this time.  But you can move it to any part of your screen that you want, as well as other spaces and monitors, so you can probably find a place for it.

Chrome:

Chrome is the only option on this list that requires an extension to do use PiP.  While others, like Safari, can have their PiP function improved, the function is still baked into the browser. As of Chrome 79, you need to install the “Picture in Picture Extension (by Google)” to enable this functionality.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.14.03 AM.png

Once installed, it will sit next to the other extensions you have in Chrome in the toolbar.  Whenever you’re ready to pop out a video, you just tap the extension in the toolbar and it will pop out your video.  You can also hit Option-P on Mac (Alt-P on Windows and Linux) if you’re more of a keyboard junkie.  Unlike the others, there is no right click option for video.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.18.28 AM

Chrome’s pop out tends to be the smallest, but is resizable.  The control elements also are the smallest of any to hit as well.  I also found this worked best on dedicated video sites, like YouTube and Netflix, but had mixed results on mixed content sites like news sites.

Safari:

Safari PnP

For this, you’ll need to be running MacOS 10.12 Sierra or newer.  In Safari, the easiest way to tell is if you have the Picture in Picture icon as part of the video controls, typically in the bottom right hand corner near the full screen button in most video control.  You can hit this button, and the video will pop out into another corner.

Safari PnP icon

You can also right click on the video to bring up the context menu, and select “Enter Picture in Picture”

Safari PnP rc

Safari is rather unusual in its implementation.  Like the others, you can resize the window to your liking, and it has the same 3 video controls as the others (namely play/pause, Return to Tab, and Close video).  However your video can only be in one of the four corners of your screen; it can’t occupy any other area of the screen.  On the plus side, it’s the only option that will automatically move with you across multiple virtual desktops, unlike the other browsers where the pop-out stays on the original screen unless you manually move them.  Also, because it’s built into the OS, it works in other apps like iTunes and Apple TV.

Safari also seems to be the most finicky in which videos it will pull from.  Several major sites support PiP, but then other sites won’t.  One help in this regard is a free Safari extension called PiPer, which adds the functionality to many more sites.  I highly recommend it, and our review will be coming soon for it.

Piper

 

Microsoft Edge:

Microsoft Edge’s new Chromium based browser is currently in beta, but it already has Picture in Picture mode ready to go.  To use, right click on the video you want, and hit “Picture in Picture”

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 4.40.09 PM

Edge’s option, much like Chrome, has rather small playback controls in the pop out, but otherwise functions the same.  Likewise the video can be resized and moved anywhere else on screen.  It also seems to be one of the quickest to launch, though admittedly this is anecdotal from my test.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 4.44.04 PM

 

Conclusion:

Some websites, despite using HTML5 video, will not work.  YouTube is the most consistent platform I’ve had success on, whereas others like Netflix have success on some browsers but not others, and some major news sites I couldn’t get to run at all.  With that said, it’s still a handy feature, and still a fairly new one in the market.  It seems like the browsers that relied on the right-click method to activate PiP, like Firefox and Edge, had less luck due to some websites not allowing right-clicking in videos, like news sites and Netflix.  Those that had a button, like Chrome and Safari, had more success.

It’s also important to note that certain sites, like YouTube, will up up their own right click menu first rather than the browser’s own menu. Typically, if you right click a second time you will get your browser’s own right click menu to get the Picture in Picture option.

Personally, I like the option to have a button and right-click option like Safari does, and Firefox to a certain extent.  Generally it’s good to have multiple ways to do something, as well as to specify what video you’re referring to.  Plus it helps in the cases like Netflix where you can’t right click on anything.  Overall though I imagine we’ll start to see all of these browsers begin to iron out their own quirks and each of them become much more similar to the others.

What is your favorite implementation?  Let us know in the comments and on social.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email at easyosx@live.com  You can also check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  Thanks!

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