The Play button on Chrome's browser toolbar.

Which tab is playing sound? With Chrome’s new Play/Pause button, you don’t have to hunt it down. You can control playback from any browser tab using a convenient button on Chrome’s toolbar.

Google Chrome’s new media playback controls are part of the stable version of Chrome 77 but disabled by default. You can enable the button with a hidden flag and use it today, just like Chrome’s new Extensions menu, hidden Reader Mode, and the “Send Tab to Self” feature.

Like those other options, this feature is hidden behind an experimental flag. Google may change how it works or remove it in the future. However, we expect Google to enable the Play/Pause button for everyone in a future version of Chrome.

To find this option, type chrome://flags/ into Chrome’s Omnibox (address bar) and press Enter. Search for “Global Media” here.  You can also copy-paste the following line into Chrome’s Omnibox to go straight to this option:

chrome://flags/#global-media-controls

Enabling global media controls in Google Chrome.

Click the box to the right of Global Media Controls and select “Enabled.”

Chrome will prompt you to restart your browser. Click “Relaunch Now” when you’re ready, but be sure to save your work in any open tabs first. Chrome will reopen any tabs you had open after it restarts, but the current state of the tabs—for example, data you’ve typed in text boxes—will be lost.

Relaunching Chrome after enabling a flag.

The new Play/Pause icon will appear on Chrome as soon as a tab starts playing video or audio in your browser. For example, you’ll see it when you start watching a YouTube video or playing music on Spotify’s website.

To use the playback controls, just click the button. You’ll see the name of what’s playing along with a Play/Pause button as well as Previous and Forward buttons. If multiple tabs are playing different things, you’ll see controls for each tab actively playing media here.

Multiple websites showing playback controls on Chrome's browser toolbar.

The Play/Pause button works even if the media is playing in another Chrome browser window on your system. Even if you have a mess of tabs and browser windows open, it’s now easy to control media playback.

RELATED: What’s New in Chrome 77, Arriving Today

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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