The Netflix app automatically pauses when you minimize it, or when you lock your system. The Movies & TV app on Windows 10 used to do that as well but it doesn’t anymore. It was a great feature but not many media apps support it. VLC player is, of course, the exception. There’s an option to automatically pause anything that’s playing in VLC player when you minimize the app. Here’s how to enable it.
Pause VLC player when minimized
Open VLC player and go to Tools>Preferences. On the Preferences window, go to the Interface tab. Here, look for the ‘Pause playback when minimized’ option. Enable it, and click the Save button at the bottom. Close VLC player, and open it.
While the feature is great and offers a quick way to pause whatever it is you’re watching and hide the app window at the same time, it would be better if it also worked when you locked the system. There’s no way to force it to pause on system lock. When you return to VLC player i.e., when you maximize it and return the app to the foreground, the media will start playing again. If you pause a video and then minimize it, this functionality will not be activated. When you return to the app window, the media won’t automatically start playing because you paused it deliberately.
VLC player has had this functionality for a very long time. Windows 10 only recently added, and then removed it from the Movies & TV app and gave no reason for the change. It wasn’t expected behavior for most users but the feature was still useful.
It’s odd that there isn’t an app for the job. There used to be an app called MonitorES that could pause media when a user locked their screen but it has long gone out of development. The app can still be downloaded from Github but it isn’t going to work on Windows 10. Even when it was under development, the app only worked with select apps like the Windows Media Player. VLC player wasn’t in the list of supported apps. The gap left by MonitorES has yet to be filled.
Given this is a useful function, you can use the dedicated media keys on your keyboard to pause what’s playing. If the player you’re using works with these keys, you should be able to pause playback even after locking the screen. They tend to work with most popular media players so you technically just need to develop the habit for it.