Sometimes you want a cinematic YouTube Experience, but the website’s default player sizes leave something to be desired on desktop.
The normal player is fine, but it’s small and the UI can be distracting. Full-screen mode fills your entire display with the video, but you can’t access other browser tabs or applications while watching this way.
The middle-way option is “theater mode,” which expands the video beyond the normal player size without blocking out the other tabs you have open. However, it’s not that much bigger than the normal YouTube video size and it reconfigures the website’s UI in inconvenient ways.
If none of these options are ideal for you, you might want to check out the YouTube Windowed FullScreen browser add-on.
Like YouTube’s normal full-screen mode, YouTube Windowed FullScreen enlarges the video beyond the normal or theater mode views, but it only takes up the browser window, not the entire screen, so you can continue using other apps. Best of all, videos maintain the browser-filling size even if you move over to other tabs or apps, so you won’t have to reenable when you return to the video.
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I’ve only been testing it a short time but I’m sold. I’m also surprised YouTube doesn’t offer the option yet. Here are some comparison screen grabs:
Here’s how it works:
- Download the add-on from the Chrome or Firefox add-on stores. Full the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
- With Windowed FullScreen installed, head to YouTube and Play a video.
- Tap the “ ` “ key (it’s directly to the left of the “1″ key) to enter windowed full-screen mode. Press it again to return to the default view.
You can also tweak a few options in the add-on’s settings to customize the controls and behavior to your liking.
One of the settings lets you hide YouTube’s default “fullscreen” toggle from the video, and you can change the hotkey for enabling/disabling the windowed fullscreen mode. The add-on can also auto-toggle whenever you play a video. To find these options, right-click the YouTube Windows FullScreen icon next to the URL bar then select “Options.”
YouTube Windowed FullScreen is great if you don’t like any of the compromises YouTube’s default video layouts force on you, but it’s not the only alternative YouTube viewing experience available to Chrome and Firefox users.
There’s also a picture-in-picture (PIP) playback option if you would rather always have the video on-screen. Unlike the Windowed Fullscreen mode, PIP plays YouTube videos in a smaller, resizable player window that will display over other on-screen apps. YouTube’s PIP is available in Chrome and Firefox by default—you don’t have to install any third-party extensions, but the steps to use it depend on which browser you’re on.