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I couldn’t live without this simple desktop YouTube feature

Big YouTube fan? I know I am. I have ASMR content rolling all day while I’m writing away, so yes, I’m one of those people who pays for YouTube Premium. But one feature I’ve been using a ton recently doesn’t require a premium membership — the excellent picture in picture mode.

Showing how to enable picture in picture mode on desktop.
I’m a big synthwave nerd too. That’s not relevant, I just love The Midnight. Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to use YouTube picture in picture

If you typically watch YouTube on your phone, you’ve probably come across this feature already. You just swipe away from the app to ‘exit’ it while you’re watching a video, and it will appear as a small window in the corner of your phone.

But did you know you can use it for desktop and laptop PCs, too? There’s no swiping to do there, but if you double right-click, you’ll find the option available in a drop-down menu. Select it, and the video will pop up in the corner, floating over the rest of your content. That way the video remains visible no matter what else you do on your computer. It doesn’t have to be in a browser, either.

Even Windows Key+D doesn’t defeat it. Impressive, right?

What can you do with YouTube PiP?

If you often work with YouTube on in the background, PiP has an obvious benefit. Sure, you could just pull the tab out into a separate window and resize it, but if you work on a large monitor, PiP is extremely convenient. But that’s not the only situation it comes in handy for.

If you’re trying to do some troubleshooting on your computer, having an instructional video sitting on top of everything else is super useful. No minimizing and re-opening it every time you want to change the active window.

You can move the PiP window around too. It doesn’t have to just stay where it pops out. Stick it in the corner. Stick it in the middle of your screen. Have it take up the center of your top bar like some kind of Mac notch.

When you’re on mobile, look out for the headphone icon in PiP mode. If you tap that, you’ll just listen to the audio rather than loading the video. That can save bandwidth if you’re in an area with a weaker signal.

Writing an article on DigitalTrends with YouTube PiP playing.
It’s great for having your ASMR shoe-fitting video running while you write about YouTube PiP. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do you need YouTube Premium to use PiP?

No. Not exactly. At least, according to Google. YouTube’s Picture in Picture feature works on any browser and any device, for anyone, regardless of whether they have YouTube Premium or not.

However, there is certain content that reportedly won’t work with PiP without a subscription. Google suggests that includes certain “music videos,” though I’ve not been able to find one that won’t allow PiP without a subscription. So for the vast majority of content, you’re fine without it.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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