If you’re someone who likes to watch movies and TV shows in the background while you work, you might want to give the Helium floating web browser a try.
Helium is a multitasker’s dream, making it easy to watch your favourite shows without sacrificing any valuable screen real estate or resizing windows. The secret? It turns your videos partially transparent while removing your mouse’s ability to interact with it, freeing you up to use your mouse to click, scroll, and select anything that resides behind your video.
This means you no longer have to worry about accidentally selecting or dragging Netflix or Hulu away from your work when you need to explore a document or access additional controls — with Helium you can still see your movies and TV shows playing, but they just can’t interfere with your work.
In the screenshot above, you’ll notice that I can access and click on the edit button and Google Doc settings behind the video while “The Office” plays in the foreground.
“I’ve spent so many hours trying to watch Hulu while I code, always getting frustrated when the video gets lost behind my work,” Helium founder Jaden Geller wrote over on Product Hunt. “A few days ago, I spent the night hacking this together to fix that, and I’m pretty pleased by the results!”
Setting up Helium is fast and easy.
First you’ll need to head on over to the Helium website and download the Helium Mac app by clicking “Download App.”
Once you’ve installed Helium and booted it up, you’ll notice it just looks a smaller version of web browser, minus the address bar. Helium has removed all the clutter from its browser so it doesn’t distract you while you work, so if you want to navigate to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, or wherever else you want to watch a video, you’ll need to click on the Helium icon (a hot air balloon) in your dock and then click on “Location” at the top of your screen and then “Open Location” to type in your desired URL.
After you’ve found a video to watch, you can then adjust the transparency settings to allow you to see through the video so you can work on things in the background.
You can then re-arrange the Helium window to the size and location of your liking and press Command + T to turn on transparency. This frees up your mouse so you can click on things around and behind your video without disrupting your workflow or accidentally selecting the video itself.
If you need to pause the video or re-arrange the placement of Helium on your desktop, just click on the Helium icon in your doc and your mouse will now be able to select the video.
If you want, you can even resize your Helium window to watch videos full-screen, though it’s not going to be for everyone. Below you can see I tried to enlarge Helium to almost full-screen while continuing to work on a Google Doc in the background.
In the future, Helium’s founder says he wants to introduce a 1-click “Open in Helium” button for Safari, which should make navigating to Netflix, Hulu, or your favourite video website much easier.
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