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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Watch MLB TV in Picture in Picture on a Mac

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

It’s baseball season again, and there’s some good news for people who use MLB TV to watch out-of-market games on their Mac: This is the year that Major League Baseball has finally ditched Flash or Silverlight or whatever they were previously using for desktop streaming. This is nice, because it means I can use Safari (my preferred browser) rather than Chrome (which I keep around for sites that aren’t compatible with Safari or require Flash). But there’s a great side effect: It finally gives Macs the ability to do what iPads have been able to do for a couple of years, namely pop a baseball game into Picture in Picture mode, so it floats above other windows on your screen without any browser chrome getting in the way.

Unfortunately, MLB has not implemented the standard picture-in-picture feature provided by Apple, possibly because it’s dressing up the video page with fancy stuff like a linescore and other extra data, but more probably because it’s running ads between innings in a layer that floats above the existing HTML-embedded video, which doesn’t contain those ads.

Still, I was able to enable the Picture in Picture mode by using this Picture in Picture bookmarklet. Once the MLB TV stream plays for a few seconds, I can click on the bookmarklet and the game pops out into a standard Picture in Picture box.

There are a few quirks, though. At some point in the next minute or two, Safari pops up an alert that I’m about to leave the page, which I have to accept. At that point, I can safely minimize the browser window and the video continues to play. (In order to adjust the volume of the audio, you’ll need to go back to the browser window, where the volume control lives.)

Then there are those between-inning commercials. Because they run in the browser window as an overlay, they don’t show up in the picture-in-picture window—but they do still play. Which means you still hear those ads, but don’t actually see them. It’s a little disconcerting, but I’ll get used to it—they’re just ads, and it’s worth it to get a floating window I can put anywhere on my screen.

Since this is an unsupported way of viewing the video, it could vanish at any time, but for now it’s the best way to watch live baseball on your Mac. I can’t wait for some of the remaining Flash video holdouts (Xfinity, I’m looking at you) to switch to HTML5 video so I can do the same with them.

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