Apps

Helium: Get Picture-in-Picture for Netflix, Plex and more in macOS Sierra

Helium is a nifty little app that allows you watch videos while working on any other task. It is like Picture-in-Picture – an iOS feature – for OS X. More details after the break!

Update: Apple released macOS Sierra earlier this week. One of its most useful features is the new Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode for Safari and iTunes. If you like being able to watch a video while you browse in Google Chrome or any other app, you should consider Helium, and SidePlayer. Both offer similar functionality.

It is not irregular for me to keep a YouTube / Reddit tab open while I wait for A/B testing or online marketing results to update, so it was nice to come across SidePlayer, a browse extension that allows you to watch YouTube videos while you peruse others tabs.

Helium app inserting link

I was, however, dismayed to find it is only for Google Chrome. I do not use Google Chrome since it is a battery hog on OS X. Instead, I use Safari which is actually pretty amazing. Unless you’re a power user who relies on multiple, niche extensions, you’ll have a great experience on Safari especially if you are well invested into Apple’s ecosystem.

Anyhow, I recently discovered Helium for OS X. It’s a floating video player that allows you play video from all of the most popular online sources, including YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. Unlike Sideplayer, it is independent of the browser, and can thus work anywhere.

When you’re multi-tasking, it is easy for one app to be in the way of the other, so you have to click your app of interest to make it the ‘active’ app for scrolling, adding text, clicking on buttons, etc. Helium’s most delightful feature is how you can adjust translucency of its user interface, and even click-through it!

Helium app opaque

With full opacity.

Helium app transcluent

With nuanced translucency.

Yes! From Appearance in the menu bar, you can adjust opacity to be anything between 0-100%. I set it at a reasonable 70%, so I was able to write this blog, select and highlight text, while watching a video.

I’m experimenting with the idea of multi-tasking. Those who have made it a habit to work on multiple tasks at one time claim it makes them more productive. I’m not sure I like it, however. I feel like focused, single-tasking makes you more productive in the long run, as it increases the quality of your work.

Helium is a free and open source app. You may download it from the developer’s GitHub repo from the link below.

Download Helium [GitHub]