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Chrome Hijacking Your Media Keys? Here’s The Simple Fix


We often hear from agitated users having issues with their keyboard media keys not working in desktop apps when the Chrome browser is running.

So what’s going on? Well, their batteries have not run out, and there’s not a kink in their system.

Global Shortcuts in Chrome

Google Chrome introduced Global Keyboard Shortcut control earlier this year. The feature allows Chrome Apps and extensions, be they media players or toolbar add-ons, to have a specific keyboard shortcut or button assigned to them. Tap it and the extension appears, window opens or track plays, even when Chrome isn’t in focus.

It’s a great feature on the whole, one that makes the new Google Play Music Player so handy. It puts album art and controls on the Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS desktop. But it doesn’t need to be visible to respond to presses of media/F7-F9 keys.

According to the Chrome Web Store listing more than half a million people use this one app alone — so that’s a lot of people who may find themselves wondering why iTunes or Spotify don’t respond to media key presses when Chrome is running.

Thankfully there are a few ways to solve it if the behaviour isn’t one you want.

You can set to the keyboard shortcuts to work only when Chrome is in focus:

  • Open the Chrome app menu
  • Select Tools > Extensions
  • Click the ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’ link at the bottom of the page
  • Find the Google Play Music section
  • Change any specified media key options from ‘Global’ to ‘In Chrome’

Fix Media Key Hijacking in Chrome

Or you can disable/remove the app/extension from Chrome entirely:

  • Open the Chrome app menu
  • Select Tools > Extensions
  • Find ‘Google Play Music’
  • Uncheck the ‘Enabled’ box OR click the trash can to remove

google chrome media key fix


  • Chrome apps and extensions can be assigned shortcuts
  • Some are assigned global shortcuts, meaning they work when Chrome isn’t ‘in focus’
  • Global shortcuts can interfere with regular desktop app shortcuts
  • With Google Chrome set to run ‘in the background’ it can be confusing
  • You can manually change app shortcuts yourself through the Extensions page

This post is part of our Handy Helpers series, covering small tips and fixes for common problems in Chrome.

  • Anna

    Thank you! This was super helpful! :)

  • Blastoise

    Thank you.

  • Kingcharming

    Thank you! I thought I did something silly, then I remembered the last thing I installed was the Play Music extension.

  • fokm

    This did it for me too! Thanks a ton.

  • psychoticpanda

    What if I don’t have google play music extension? Still doesn’t work for me.

    • Morgan Hirtle

      I am having the exact same problem, and no other applications seem to be hijacking these keys. I have been troubleshooting this for days.

  • Byron

    Thank god. This has been such an annoying little bug for me.

  • Drake

    Thank you, I was searching for this fix.

  • Patrick Buchi

    Give this man a prize! I’ve been messing with this crap for 2 days, this sorted it out. Thank you! Now my remote works properly on XBMC again.

  • kyle

    I have control of my music player back. Thank you!

  • duepeace

    This is a lifesaver. Thanks!!

  • MyEnigma

    Ha. I just spent an hour online with Apple and they couldn’t figure it out. Did everything from repairing disk to reinstalling iTunes to an SMC reset. Finally, I googled my issue, fixed it with this while talking to Apple, and walked them through the issue. Thanks for your help :)

  • EllGuapo

    Ah lifesaver! Can’t believe this was the problem, and I wouldn’t have known if your page didn’t show up on first page of GOOGLE search results. Jeeezus man, why you gotta be playing with my media buttons like that?!

  • Wesmosis

    so useful ! wokred 100%

  • Mutated Spleen

    100% useful. Was pulling my hair out over this and wondering what I screwed up. I’m glad we can change these, because they are useful when I am actually using the Google Music player.

  • Deftdrummer

    Not sure what people are finding so useful…as of 12/4/14 Google does not employ an actual extension. I do not see any keyboard settings for installed apps because there is not a Google Play Music extension installed. Go to the Chrome Web Store and it simply says “launch app.” This is driving me insane, as my media keys do not work with GPM and my Corsair keyboard.

  • ihsan ışık

    Thank you very much! I’ve been going crazy over this. It never occurred to me that Google Play Music may be the cause of it.

  • Holger

    Thanks for this post. It saved me hours of research :D

  • noname

    this doesn’t seem to be a full solution, because it seems to reset itself after a while.

  • Xar

    TY! recently installed the windows 10 preview and thought that was the problem, greatly appreciated