Right now I have both Chrome (With 'Streamkeys'), and Spotify open - and when Chrome isn't running, Spotify responds to media keys (Pause, skip track, etc.). However when Chrome is open and Streamkeys is running, Streamkeys captures all media key keystrokes. Is there a way to determine which program Windows is sending the media key keypresses to, and ideally change it without disabling the extension or closing Chrome every time I want to use my media keys with Spotify?

  • it's possible this is in the keyboard configuration rather than windows - can you share the keyboard brand and model number?
    – LevenTech
    May 31, 2017 at 20:46
  • @LevenTech It's just a generic 'AOpen' keyboard, no special software or drivers.
    – Jon
    Jun 1, 2017 at 0:24
  • I have the same problem -- when I have ITunes open on Windows 10, it "claims" the media keys (play / pause etc.), but I want to control Windows Media Player. I wish there was a way to control which app gets the global keypress. I can't see any way in ITunes to ask it to stop listening.
    – Rich
    Jun 6, 2018 at 10:19
  • with Firefox 81.0b5 the media button controlled both some random video in the browser and the Spotify app at the same time.. It was very annoying and this was the top search result when looking for a solution => FYI for anyone affected: there is a setting in about:config media.hardwaremediakeys.enabled which can be switched to false to disable the feature until Windows makes a better job with configuration of this feature
    – Aprillion
    Sep 3, 2020 at 17:44

4 Answers 4


If you're up to putting some work into it, you might try AutoHotkey, which allows you to script and automate lots of things on your PC.

I'd start with something like the accepted answer in this Stack Overflow post which solves a similar problem of intercepting a key press globally and sending it to a specific window.

In their example (shown below), they are capturing Ctrl+L and sending it to Firefox. In your case, add a copy of the snippet into your script for each key or key combo you wish to capture and modify the MozillaUIWindowClass to whatever app you wish to receive the keystrokes. They also have a utility called Window Spy for getting any needed information about the destination window, such as name or handle.

IfWinExist ahk_class MozillaUIWindowClass
    Send ^l

Or, as Rich ultimately ended up doing, you may need to send commands to the window specifically instead of just giving it focus and sending them globally. His working solution looks like this:

#IfWinExist ahk_class iTunes
Media_Play_Pause::ControlSend, , ^p, Windows Media Player

#IfWinExist ahk_class iTunes
Media_Next::ControlSend, , ^f, Windows Media Player

#IfWinExist ahk_class iTunes
Media_Prev::ControlSend, , ^b, Windows Media Player

For more help with AutoHotkey scripting, try their documentation page.

  • 1
    Thank you for you contribution! As it stands this reads more like a comment than an answer- it would be preferable to include the information from that answer in your answer (with attribution). Please edit your answer to include that information :)
    – bertieb
    Jun 6, 2018 at 13:36
  • 1
    Hi, I added more detail. Does that work? Jun 6, 2018 at 15:22
  • This is a great idea, but it doesn't quite work for me. ITunes still seems to "steal" the media key press from WMP, even if WMP is the active window. If I have WMP active and press "Media_Play_Pause", then the current song will start playing in ITunes :-(. I am fine with using AHK. I tried the above script but using "Media_Play_Pause" instead of ^L. Any idea how I can "send" a key but have it seen only by a particular app?
    – Rich
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:25
  • ControlSend does not appear to work for sending the Media_Play_Pause key only to WMP and not to ITunes.
    – Rich
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:38
  • 1
    This works for me: gist.github.com/RichardBradley/9ca64bee1793b12a19725e67343c0224 Thanks! I can use ControlSend to send ctrl+p to WMP when iTunes is open, and suppress the Media_Play_Pause key. I'll give you the 50pts when I can (looks like tomorrow)
    – Rich
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:54

In newer version of Windows 10 (version 1903, at least on my PC) there's a built-in toggle button to let you select which app responds to media keys.

enter image description here

  • 5
    Do you know of any keyboard shorcut to access functionality?
    – x d
    Sep 23, 2019 at 17:08
  • 3
    It might help to let us know where this built in toggle button is!
    – John Stock
    Jun 20, 2020 at 8:43
  • @JohnStock It's the arrow down the right side. Jun 24, 2020 at 19:39
  • 2
    @SerhiiKheilyk I think that's clear; the question is if it is possible to "click" that shown button with a keyboard shortcut. Otherwise you need to do media key on keyboard -> move cursor and click -> media key on keyboard again (or move cursor and click again). Not very convenient for those who would rather stay on the keyboard. Feb 24, 2021 at 6:31
  • 1
    @DebieDowner Have you found a solution to this problem?
    – MrEduar
    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:17

There's a Keyboard Shortcuts link at the bottom of the Chrome Extensions list . You can get to the list from the Settings menu, by selecting More Tools, then Extensions.

Those settings list all the keyboard shortcuts, grouped by the Extension that uses them. Every shortcut has an option for whether the keyboard shortcut works "Globally" or just "In Chrome". If that doesn't work for some reason, you can also delete the keyboard shortcut from Chrome entirely.

keyboard shortcuts in chrome

  • This is mostly unrelated from the question at hand - plus I said "ideally change it without disabling the extension or closing Chrome every time I want to use my media keys with Spotify?" The issue at hand is how does Windows decide who gets to see the keypresses.
    – Jon
    Jun 1, 2017 at 16:03
  • I think the global/chrome-only toggle in Chrome makes it clear that Windows allows apps to declare their own key capturing. I don't think I suggested closing Chrome or deleting the extension - do you mean that you need a solution that allows you to keep the Focus on Chrome?
    – LevenTech
    Jun 1, 2017 at 19:38

Disclamer! This is not my respons, it's Matt_H's. I found it on the spotify forum, and thought that it might help you. Here's the link to the original discussion: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Desktop-Windows/Keyboard-media-launch-button/td-p/1736288

I've just been faced with this same problem and managed to solve it by modifying the registry. There's a standard disclaimer with editing the registry - be careful, be precise, if you break it you get to keep both pieces.

The behaviour of the keys are defined here:


You can create a string key + value here of "ShellExecute" and the path to your spotify. This is what I'd done with Win7.

However, as an optimisation, Spotify registers "spotify://" as scheme to be handled by Spotify, so a string key + value of "Association" and "spotify" works.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AppKey\16] "Association"="spotify"

  • Not work for me
    – MrEduar
    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:16

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