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When an application is not focused I believe it's considered "in the background" by windows.

My specific frustration is with games. I tend to play games in a windows so I can quickly switch to chat and other things.

However when games are not focused their audio disappears, I assume it's getting muted. If I'm streaming or recording, the audio is lost in my output.

Can this behaviour be disabled, if so how? Thanks

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4 Answers 4

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It's not a Windows issue. Applications get notified on whether they hold the focus in the desktop. Some of them will "for your own convenience" stop emiting sound when they lose the focus.

But that's not Windows muting them, it's just that the apps stop playing.

Easy test: If you open a video in your browser, minimize it and do something else, the video will still be played and it will still sound.

Usually games do a lot of things they wouldn't be normally doing, such as reshaping your mouse pointer or even hiding it and drawing another thing that does not really point to the OS-advertised pointer (such as Skyrim) that are even more a pain to run in a windowed environment.

And those games do all those kind of things without that many options screens, so it's unlikely that you'll be able to check whether you want to mute them or not when they are not holding the focus.

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  • It seems you're correct, it's actually the games doing it. Thanks
    – Rob
    Jun 17, 2014 at 22:31
  • Do you know which APIs are usually leveraged for this? How exactly a game knows it doesn't have focus and mutes the sound? Is there a Windows API for supporting this kind of logic?
    – julealgon
    Jul 20, 2018 at 20:33
  • Additionally, would it be possible to "fake" focus notifications to a given app, so that it behaves as if it was on the foreground even when that's not actually the case?
    – julealgon
    Jul 20, 2018 at 20:34
  • It seems it may be possible to send fake notifications such as stackoverflow.com/questions/13843742/… but I haven't tested it. If it works, report back :)
    – ssice
    Jul 21, 2018 at 9:13
  • That doesn't mean windows couldn't prevent it. You just have to find a way make windows stop sending the focus notifications.
    – stackers
    Aug 17, 2019 at 20:19
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Store Apps are suspended when they are send to background.

Win 8 Store Lifecycle

To Support Playing in background the App must support the Background Tasks which makes no real sense for games.

You can cheat the mechanism by using PLMDebug.

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Do you have a mic on the headset you're using? Set the recording device to be anything other than the headset otherwise the audio is muted when app focus is changed. I know, doesn't make much sense, but there you go. 20190625

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The problem I had for no sound when minimizing the Edge Browser and how I solved it for my situation. Do the following.

  1. Click Control panel
  2. Click Sound Icon
  3. Click Communications tab.
  4. Click "do nothing tab"
  5. Click apply.
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  • 1
    Unfortunately, the problem you solved doesn't see to be the same as the one in the question.
    – Blackwood
    May 5, 2019 at 19:30

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