A new GNOME Shell extension lets you turn any app in to a picture-in-picture window on Ubuntu.

You’re probably already familiar with picture-in-picture mode (PiP) through your web browser. The likes of Mozilla Firefox and Chrome let you to “pop-out” video playing on web pages to view as a thumbnail-size window that floats over other apps, and resize and reposition the PiP window.

PiP in browsers only works for online video, which is useful if want to watch a video on YouTube or another supported site while you work in a different tab or app (I use the feature to follow along with online video tutorials, e.g., ‘how to do cool thing in Krita’, as I use the app).

Well, the new WTMB GNOME Shell extension does something, but outside the browser.

Once installed — works with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS or above — it lets you run any desktop app in picture in picture mode:

You could use this to watch a local video in a floating window, monitor a command line process/job, keep an eye on a video call, view something non-video happening on a web-page (like a live blog, if those still exist), etc — the possibilities and use cases are as varied as your needs are.

Rote example; run multiple app PiP windows!

A few handy tips:

  • To make an app go PiP focus it and press super + t
  • Hover over a PiP window and use mouse-scroll wheel to resize
  • Right-click on a PiP window to view larger preview
  • Double-click on PiP window to focus main window

Plenty of settings are available to tinker with, including options to choose default thumbnail size (as a percentage), set PiP spawn position, define hover/click actions, customise keyboard shortcuts, and lots more.

Right-click on a PiP thumbnail for a temp enlarged view
Right-click on a PiP thumbnail for a temp enlarged view

Check it out on the GNOME extensions website (though, as always, I recommend installing it using the Extensions Manager desktop application as it’s less fuss and makes it easier to access settings, and manage all installed extensions).

• Get WTMB on GNOME Extensions

GNOME Extensions