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How to enable a play/pause button on the Chrome toolbar

Controlling media that’s playing in a browser isn’t as easy as it is when you use a dedicated media player but Chrome has been working to bridge that gap. A few releases ago, it added support for the Windows 10 volume/media OSD keys and controls though many users seem more interested in disabling it than actually using it. With the latest release of Chrome, there’s a play/pause button that you can enable for the Chrome toolbar.

Play/pause button on Chrome toolbar

To enable a play/pause button on the Chrome toolbar, you need to open the browser and in the URL bar, enter the following.

chrome://flags

Tap enter, and you’ll be taken to the Chrome flags page. Here, search for Global Media Controls. Select the flag that matches, and set its value to ‘Enabled’ from the dropdown menu. Relaunch Chrome to apply the change.

The Play/pause button only appears if you have a tab open with media in it. If you later close the tab, the button doesn’t go away but it won’t be present in any new windows that you open until you open something else to play.

When you click the play button, a little window opens giving you the title of whatever is playing, the URL that the media is streaming from, the play/pause button, and buttons to move to the next or previous item in a list. In some cases, the window will also offer a thumbnail for the video that’s playing.

The control updates in real time and it supports multiple tabs which means you can access i.e., play/pause media, and move to the next/previous item in any tab from any window.

The feature doesn’t work the same for all websites but it will definitely let you play/pause media on most, if not all websites. During tests, it was able to play/pause YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix but the next/previous item buttons only appeared for the YouTube video. Additionally, the thumbnail and video title was only generated for the YouTube video as well. It’s safe to say that this feature works best with YouTube.

While the feature doesn’t work perfectly with all websites, it’s still not to be discounted just for that reason alone. It’s a native way to control media that’s playing in any tab and before Chrome 77, this is something that required an extension. There are still many extensions that outshine this feature but for something basic, this beats many other options.

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