How to Use Picture-in-Picture on Your Android

This Android Oreo feature lets you watch your favorite videos while multitasking

Smiling teenage girl playing electric guitar and texting with cell phone
Hero Images​

Picture-in-Picture (PiP) is a feature available on Android smartphones running Android 8.0 Oreo and later. It allows you to multitask. For instance, you can search for a restaurant while video chatting with a friend or watch a YouTube video while getting directions on Google Maps.

It sounds gimmicky, but it's a nice feature for heavy multitaskers who jump from app to app. PiP is also convenient if you want to casually watch a video rather than pay full attention, such as a funny video that's taking too long to get to the punchline. This feature may not be something you use every day, but it's definitely worth giving it a try. Follow the instructions below to set it up and use it.

Note: The apps and directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Apps Compatible with Picture-in-Picture

Screenshot demonstrating picture-in-picture with Google Maps and home screen
Android 8.0 Oreo Screenshot

Since this is an Android feature, many of Google's top apps support picture-in-picture, including Chrome, YouTube and Google Maps.

However, YouTube's PIP mode requires a subscription to YouTube Red, its ad-free platform. The way around that is to watch YouTube videos in Chrome rather than using the YouTube app.

Other compatible apps include VLC, an open source video platform, Netflix (with an update to Android 8.1), WhatsApp (video chats), and Facebook (videos).  

Find and Enable PiP Apps

Screenshot showing list of picture-in-picture compatible apps
Android screenshots

This feature isn't compatible with all apps, and it's up to developers to indicate whether an app supports this function (they don't always do this). You can see a list of all the apps on your device that support picture-in-picture. First make sure your apps are up to date, then:

  • Go to Settings on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Tap Apps & Notifications, then Advanced.
  • Tap Special App Access, then Picture-in-picture.

Then you get a view list of apps that support picture in picture and which ones have PIP enabled. To disable this feature on a per-app basis, tap on an app, and slide the Allow picture-in-picture toggle to the left into the off position.

How to Launch Picture-in-Picture

Screenshot of VLC video app menu showing picture-in-picture option
Android 8.0 Oreo Screenshot

There are a few ways to launch picture-in-picture, depending on the app. With Google Chrome, you have to set a video to full screen, then press the Home button. If you want to watch YouTube videos on Chrome, there are a few extra steps.

  1. Navigate to the YouTube website, which will probably redirect to its mobile site (m.youtube.com).
  2. Tap the three-dot menu icon.
  3. Tick the box next to Desktop site.
  4. Choose a video and press Play.
  5. Set the video to Full Screen.
  6. Press the Home button on your device.

On the YouTube app, you can just start watching a video, then press the Home button.

With some apps such as VLC, you have to enable the feature in the app settings first, as you can see in the screenshot above. On WhatsApp, when you're in a video call, tap the Back button to activate picture-in-picture. 

Picture-in-Picture Controls

Screenshot of picture-in-picture controls
Android 8.0 Oreo Screenshot

When you've figured out how to launch PiP in your favorite app, you'll see a window with your video or other content on the bottom left of your display.

Tap the window to look at the controls: Play, Fast Forward, Rewind, and a Maximize button that brings you back to the app in full screen. For playlists, the Fast-Forward button moves to the next song on the list. 

You can drag the window anywhere on the screen, and pull it to the bottom of the screen to dismiss it.

Some apps, including YouTube, have a headphone shortcut that lets you play audio in the background if you don't need visuals.