Picture in Picture is an iPad-multitasking feature that lets you watch a video (in a supported app), or conduct a FaceTime call in a small window while using another app. While powerful, figuring out how it works takes some practice. Here’s how to use it.
Picture in Picture (PiP) scales down a video or FaceTime call to a small movable window that stays in the corner of your screen while you use other apps. It is especially handy when you might need to reference a video while working, or in situations where you’d like to continue on a video call while using your iPad for other tasks.
Apple first introduced Picture in Picture alongside other iPad multitasking features in iOS 9, which launched in 2015. It’s available on iPad Pro or later, iPad (5th generation) or later, iPad Air 2 or later, and iPad mini 4 or later. All iPad models currently sold by Apple support Picture in Picture.
Not every video app supports Picture in Picture, but official Apple made apps like Facetime and Apple TV do. Several major streaming video apps (such as Netflix and Prime Video) support it as well. You can also play certain videos from Safari in Picture in Picture mode.
Third-party developers must specifically choose to support the feature for it to work properly. There is no master list of Picture in Picture supported apps, so you’ll have to use trial-and-error to see if your favorite video apps work with it.
To use Picture in Picture, first open an app that supports it. In some apps (such as Apple TV), you can easily launch Picture in Picture by tapping its icon, which looks like two overlapping rectangles with a diagonal arrow pointing down and to the right inside one of them.
In other apps, you can only launch Picture in Picture by returning to the Home screen.
To return to the Home screen, you can either press the Home button (on iPads with a Home button), or by using a Home screen gesture on iPads without a Home button. There are two gestures that return to the Home screen: perform a five-finger pinch on an app, or swipe upward from the bottom of the screen until the Home screen appears.
Once you launch Picture in Picture correctly, the video you are watching (or the video call you are participating in) will turn into a Picture in Picture window in the corner of your screen. You can then launch another app, and the Picture in Picture window will remain as an overlay on the screen.
To reposition the Picture in Picture window, you can tap and drag it to any of the four corners of the screen.
You can also resize the Picture in Picture window by performing the pinch/expand zoom gesture using two fingers. Place two fingers on the video pane and spread them apart or bring them together.
If you are playing a video using Picture in Picture (and not making a FaceTime call), tap the Picture in Picture window once to reveal three control buttons.
From left to right, tapping on the first button makes the Picture in Picture video occupy the full screen of your iPad (ending Picture in Picture mode). The second button pauses or plays the Picture in Picture video. The third button (the “X” in a circle) closes the Picture in Picture window completely.
If you’re using FaceTime in Picture in Picture mode, you can tap the Picture in Picture window to reveal or hide three control buttons.
From left to right, tapping on the first button makes the FaceTime call occupy the full screen of your iPad. The second button ends the FaceTime call. The third button “pauses” your video feed, closing the Picture in Picture window but keeping the call open in the background as audio only. You can resume the video feed by tapping on the small green call logo in the status bar at the top of the screen.
To temporarily hide or minimize the Picture in Picture window, swipe it quickly toward the left or right edge of the screen (whichever edge is closest). It will turn into a small tab with a carat-style arrow on the edge of the screen.
To see the Picture in Picture window again, tap on the tab, and it will reappear nearby.
Once you’re done with Picture in Picture mode, you can get rid of the window by tapping on it once to see the on-screen controls. Then tap on the close button (which looks like an “X” in a circle), and the window will disappear.
If you’d like to close the FaceTime Picture in Picture window, tap on the window to reveal the control buttons. You can either return to full screen by tapping the Picture in Picture icon (on the far left), or tap the hang up icon (it looks like a phone handset in a circle) and the window will disappear.
Multitasking features on the iPad can be quite useful if you get the hang of them. Because of the nuances of the gestures involved, they do take patience and practice to get just right.