If you’ve ever attempted to use picture-in-picture (PIP from this point on) on a Chromebook, you likely understand a bit of the frustration that comes with the territory. For instance, you’ve always needed to right-click twice on YouTube videos to get the proper context menu to appear and choose to enable PIP. Even then, however, it didn’t always work or the option would sometimes disappear. It’s been so unreliable for me that I’ve never picked up on the habit of actually using the feature.
When I was actually using it, I was leveraging the Google-made PIP Chrome extension that, oddly enough, still lives on in the Chrome Web Store. You would think that Google would remove that since the feature is supposed to be baked into Chrome at this point, right? Perhaps, for many, having a dedicated button for PIP when you need it is the more straightforward, approachable route. It seems Google thinks so, too, and they’ve created a much more simple and direct route to start a PIP session on Chrome OS.
A new way to PIP
In the Stable Channel right now, you can turn on a simple flag to enable this new PIP setting and make it far easier and far more reliable to drop your videos in a small, floating PIP window. Just head over to chrome://flags/#global-media-controls-picture-in-picture, flip the flag to ‘enabled’, click that blue restart button and the next time you pull up a video that supports PIP (YouTube is the obvious choice, but many services use it), you can now look in your notifications tray for a new PIP button.
Over the top of your settings over in your system tray, you should see a persistent rich media player control. In that playback card, you’ll now have a new button that will quickly call up a PIP window without the need of digging through sub-menus or installing extensions. Even better, the ability to put the PIP window back into the tab from where it originated is also part of this media card. You can see in the pics above how the icon subtly changes from a pop-out button to a pop-in button. And it just works.
While this is still behind a flag, I’d assume we’ll see this as a standard feature in the next update or two to Chrome OS. It is simple, effective, and a great addition to the way PIP is handled in Chrome OS. Though we are expecting some changes to the way global media controls are presented in future updates, I’m hoping this feature comes along for the ride.