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

music-on-top1

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

Summary

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

      • upfish

        Did you ever find a solution? This is driving me nuts!

    • David Jaffe

      Did you ever figure anything out? I am having the same issue, BONKERS!

  • Byron

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Dim Domain

      I’d like to hope that you’ve resolved this by now, but just in case:

      What you are missing is that it does not have to be Google Play Music that is causing the issue. It could be any number of extensions.

      What you want to do is:

      1. Open Google Chrome
      2. Go to Settings
      3. Go to Extensions
      4. Click Keyboard shortcuts

  • 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.

    • Ryan Grobe

      Delete the shortcuts from Chrome entirely, worked for me.

  • Xar

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

  • YAYAYAYY

    BLESS YOU SIR/MADAM/WHATEVER

  • TheUglyHedgepiglet

    thanks! this worked for me.

  • Thank you!!

  • SergeyMkhitaryan

    My prev/play/pause/next keys don’t work but I don’t have chrome installed. Also play/pause is triggered automatically every couple of minutes. Any knows how to fix this ?

  • Ryan Grobe

    For once a page that actually let me use my multimedia keys in iTunes again. Thank you for this.

  • Alexandre Sapata Carbonell

    omg, ty so much

  • Corey Watford

    THANKS SO MUCH!!!!

  • B

    Thank you!

  • Yup

    Awesome

  • Guest

    Thanks :)

  • David Valdivieso

    omg, thanks

  • edmundo096

    Dislike when new major changes are added without advice, for example in Chrome, changing the behaviour of apps and the system.
    No change log, or “what is new”, every time Chrome auto updates itself.
    So, well, Thanks for the info!

  • X13

    Dear Lord!!! THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!!
    I looked everywhere with zero answer to my media keys in VLC.
    So quick!!!

  • Sebastián Rojas Ricaurte

    Help please, I can’t fin the extensuion, when can I installe it?

  • Arcendus

    Sure, it’s a fix, but ultimately the shortcuts are re-enabled randomly when the extension updates or like in my case right now when the shortcuts just come back out of nowhere. So it’s good to know how to fix it when it goes wrong, but the advice here doesn’t prevent anything – and I don’t include “remove the extension entirely” as a bit of reasonable advice at all, considering if I didn’t need the thing I wouldn’t have it to begin with.

    • To be fair, this is probably all you can do on the user end. It’s something you’d have to take up with Google if you wanted a more in-depth solution.

  • alego500

    This article saved my music experience! Thanks so much. Easy fix after all

  • Christian Fischer

    Almost trashed my keyboard. Haha. Thank you.

  • (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    This just worked! Thank you!!

  • steven c shepard

    Well, on my Windows 8.1 system, I don’t use the Chrome app, I use the Chrome Browser. I don’t use Google Play anything, and yet my function keys are hosed. Nice, Chrome.

  • Distiller74

    cheers mate. almost bought a new keyboard

  • Thanks so much for this post! Life is finally back to normal :-)

  • Blaimis

    Not using any extensions, all been disabled but still media keys opening chrome… Need help

  • Friscas

    Thanks ! That helped me.

  • Prezes Dyrektor

    Excellent, this helped solve the issue, ty!

    It’s not obvious to figure that it’s chrome causing this. It was Plex app for me too as I don’t have Play Music installed…

  • I have been racking my brain on this for 2 days. I ended up uninstalling the google play extension and it still did not work.
    Turns out Plex server also uses those keys within chrome, but was much further down the keyboard shortcut list. I changed plex settings from ‘global’ to ‘in chrome; and bingo iTunes works!

    Just check the whole list for other extensions hijacking the keys!

  • Enlightened

    I still want to use my media keys with Google Music. But it’s not releasing control when I close the tab.

  • Byron

    This doesn’t do anything for me. Uninstalled the extension entirely as I only use GM on my phone. Restarted Chrome, it’s not working.

  • Jesse DeLeon

    praise allah!!! i have my media keys back! I love you! I love you! I love you!

  • ziplock9000

    This worked perfectly. Thanks!

  • Krinj

    Problem. Search. Solution. Works. Thank you!

  • TheCrimsonPugilist

    Works! Thank you so much!

  • Gingersnaps

    Thank you!

  • willpowered

    Doesn’t work. I don’t have Google Play Music installed, and my media keys are still being hijacked by Chrome when Chrome is in focus.
    I have 3 extensions total, and none of them have keyboard shortcuts associated with them in the Extensions -> Keyboard Shortcuts page.

    • Flocki Wa

      Same here :/

  • CG9090

    nailed it. brilliant work, saved me hours of hair pulling

  • Rashad

    THANK YOU! I thought I was going crazy! Eventually I just googled ‘media keys not working’ as a last resort, lol. I’m glad I made it to this page.

  • Dave

    For me, it was Plex that was the culprit and the media keys were bound to my mouse. These suggestions still worked perfectly, thanks!