How to Use Picture in Picture Video Player on Mac

Oct 14, 2016 - 8 Comments

Mac Picture in Picture video mode

Picture in Picture mode is one of the more useful features available in the latest version of MacOS, essentially it allows you to pop open a little hovering video player that is unobtrusive as it floats over the screen. This is great whether you’re watching a game, tutorial, TV show, or a movie while working (or just pretending to work).


Using Picture in Picture mode requires macOS Sierra 10.12 or later, and the feature works with any web-based video playing in Safari, and some third party apps are adopting support as well. If you don’t have a modern version of Mac OS, don’t worry, we’ll point you to an alternative solution for using Picture in Picture too, so you’re not left totally in the dust with this nice feature.

How to Use Picture in Picture Video on Mac

  1. Open Safari and visit any video you want to place into PIP mode
  2. Start playing the PIP video, then right-click (or Control+Click) on the playing video and choose “Enter Picture in Picture”
    • Using YouTube Picture in Picture Mode – for using PiP on YouTube videos, you will need to right-click (or control+click) TWICE to gain access to the “Enter Picture in Picture” menu

    Enter Picture in Picture mode in Mac OS

  3. The video will immediately pop-out into a Picture in Picture player which can be moved around on screen and resized as necessary
  4. Picture in Picture mode on Mac

The pop-up window has video play/pause controls, and you can also send the video back into the originating browser window.

You’ll find the video embed has changed to a message stating “This video is playing in Picture in Picture”, this will remain active until you close the PiP window, or the originating video player window.

Picture in Picture mode floating on mac desktop

If you close the originating Safari window, the picture-in-picture window of that video will also close.

In this walkthrough we are using the embedded video below, it’s a thrilling slow motion video of a wasp crawling around in a glass. Go ahead and start playing the video, then right-click on the video twice (since it’s YouTube it requires the double right-click) and choose “Enter Picture in Picture” mode to immediately try this out yourself.

Remember, these features require a modern version of Mac OS, anything beyond 10.12 will have PiP natively. Don’t have a modern version of Mac OS but want to use picture-in-picture mode? Sure thing, check out Helium app to gain a similar PIP feature in other versions of Mac OS X, it works in a similar manner.

Finally, Picture in Picture Mode is usable on iPad too and is equally as useful there, if you have an iPad be sure to check that out as well.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

8 Comments

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  1. janchip says:

    I can’t do it on my MacBook Pro.
    Is it works without mouse on touchpad as well?

  2. Phil says:

    The new version of Safari that came with latest Mac OS does not recognize YouTube’s HTML 5 format and thus will not play.

  3. mike sanders says:

    I cannot make it work, double control click does nothing but bring up the usual menu. How exactly are you double clicking?

  4. ktiff says:

    Mike, you have to do the second right click outside the first message list that comes up.

    Phil, I have the latest Safari and the wasp video played for me.

  5. coolhead says:

    I found out by accident on my MacBook Air

    step 1 – 2 finger click to show the context menu
    step 2 – move the cursor outside the context menu display
    step 3 – 2 finger click again will shown the PIP menu. Bingle!

  6. James says:

    Hi there I tried doing this and it didn’t work i have the newest update for my computer. I would like to know how to do it thanks

  7. zaz83 says:

    OK. Yay! I just figured this out, and I’ll say it in plain English for anyone who, like me, just wants to get how to do this without jargon.

    Literal instructions:

    1. Go to your video (i.e., YouTube).

    2. Hold down Ctrl + click once on the video.

    3. You’ll likely see a drop-down menu reading like:
    – Copy Video Url
    – Copy Video Url at current time
    – Copy Embed code

    4. If you see that, don’t worry. So far, you’re doing this right.

    5. While seeing that and *still* holding down CTRL, click just one more time.

    6. This second click should bring up new options:
    – Show Controls
    – Enter Full Screen
    – Enter Picture-in-Picture

    7. Select ‘Enter Picture-in-Picture.’

    You SHOULD be all set!

    I still don’t understand why the automatic icon button isn’t there on the menu on YouTube as suggested online by Apple / outlined here: (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206997).

    But for now, this worked for me.

    Hope this helps someone in the future! Enjoy.

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