System Admin

Hardware Media Keys not working anymore? Firefox may be the culprit


Mozilla released Firefox 81 Stable earlier this week, and it included a good number of improvements or new features. One of the new features introduced support for hardware media keys to control media playback in Firefox using these keys.

Some computer keyboards, headsets and other peripherals have media keys that users may activate to control media playback, e.g. to mute the volume, stop playback, or skip to the next video or song.

Firefox supports media controls in the new release to control audio and video playback with hardware control buttons on keyboards, headsets and other peripherals.

Users who have upgraded Firefox Stable to the latest version may use the keys to control media playback in Firefox. If you play a song on Spotify or a video on YouTube, you may use the keys to control the playback, even when the computer is locked.

Google introduced support for global media controls in Chrome 79 in December 2019 to provide Chrome users with multimedia key support. Some users noticed that media keys stopped working in certain applications installed on the system, for instance Spotify and iTunes, once Chrome was updated to the version supporting these new controls.

The only way to address this was to disable the controls in Chrome. Firefox users may be in the same position now as some applications may stop responding to media hardware keys once the browser is updated on the system.

The solution is identical to the one in Chrome: disable support for hardware media keys in the browser. The downside to this is that media keys won’t work in Firefox anymore.

Here is the fix:

firefox disable media keys

  1. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful by clicking the “accept the risk and continue” button if it is displayed.
  3. Type media.hardwaremediakeys.enabled in the search box at the top.
  4. The preference determines whether hardware media keys are supported in Firefox, or not.
    1. TRUE is the default value; it means that support is enabled.
    2. FALSE means that support is disabled.
  5. Double-click on the preference name, or single-click on the “change” button to the right, to toggle the state of the preference.
  6. You may need to restart Firefox before the changes become active.

Firefox should not respond to hardware media keys anymore once you set the preference to FALSE. You can restore the functionality at anytime by setting the preference to TRUE again.

(via Ask VG)