Get Picture-in-Picture Floating Videos on Mac OS X with Helium App
If you want to play a web based video while you work or multitask on the Mac, you’ll typically resize a small browser window and stuff it into the corner of your screen, right? Rather than do that, you can use a neat little free app called Helium, which creates a floating overlay of videos and multimedia that you can hover over anything on the OS X desktop. The floating video is actually quite similar to the great Picture-In-Picture (PIP) feature that is available for iPad with iOS 9, except of course, the PIP video in this case runs atop whatever is on your Mac and OS X desktop.
With Helium, you can work (or pretend to work) while you watch an online video, YouTube, TV show, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, or any other video from the web, in the little floating window. It uses Safari webkit, so all plugins that you have installed in Safari will apply to the Helium player as well. Yes, of course sound works too, and basically if you can start or watch a video on the web, it’s safe to say you can overlay the playing movie over anything on the Mac desktop.
Using Helium to get Picture in Picture mode on the Mac desktop is very simple, just do the following:
- Download the Helium app here (it’s free and open source) and launch it in OS X
- Feed Helium a URL where a web video would be, resize it accordingly, start playing, and you’re good to go
When you click the Load button the Helium window loads the page with the video in Picture in Picture, which you can place anywhere.
Super easy, you now have Picture in Picture mode, it works to play a video over anything, whether you’re in Xcode, Microsoft Office, or deep in a Civilization game.
The video below demonstrates how Helium works on the Mac, as you can see it’s very similar to Picture in Picture mode on the iPad, except the NOVA video is playing over an OS X desktop.
This is one of those apps that is best tried yourself, so if something like having Picture In Picture mode appeals to you and your Mac usage, download the app and try it out. I think it’s useful enough that it would be a great future addition to Safari and the Mac in general, so perhaps we’ll see something like this natively in the next version of Mac OS.
Also notable is that Helium picture-in-picture does not register mouse clicks when the translucency feature is in use, meaning you can click into the picture (or behind it, rather) to select a visible scroll bar, navigational element, highlight on screen text, or whatever else you’re doing on the Mac.
Anyway, check it out, it’s pretty neat.