Google Chrome users who updated the web browser to version 75 may notice a new element on the lockscreen of the system when they lock it.
Our Deskmodder colleagues report that they noticed a chrome.exe element on the lockscreen along with media playback and volume controls after upgrading Chrome to the new version on a Windows 10 machine.
The module is displayed when Chrome is minimized according to the article. It is unclear if it is necessary to play media or if that is unrelated.
I tried to replicate the issue on a Windows 10 system with Chrome 75 but could not get chrome.exe to display on the lockscreen no matter what I tried (Minimize Chrome, play media, play media and minimize).
Chrome.exe is not the only program that may display media controls on the desktop. Windows 10 supports this since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update release. Back then, Groove, a native music application of the operating system, would display media controls if media played when the screen was locked.
Still, Chrome users who run into the issue can resolve it if they dislike the presence of chrome.exe on the lockscreen.
The feature seems to be linked to the Hardware Media Key Handling flag of the browser. The flag takes over hardware media controls on computer keyboards and that led to media keys not working properly anymore in media applications such as Spotify.
The solution for that issue was to disable Hardware Media Key Handling in Google Chrome, and that is also the solution for the chrome.exe issue on the Lockscreen of the Windows operating system.
Here is how you resolve that issue
Load the page chrome://flags/#hardware-media-key-handling in the Chrome web browser. You may also load chrome://flags and search for Hardware Media Key Handling instead.
Set the experimental flag to Disabled.
Restart Google Chrome.
Google seems to have activated the feature in Chrome 74 by switching the default status from “disabled” to “enabled”; that’s why Chrome users ran into the media key hijacking issue when that version started to roll out in April 2019.
Experimental flags may not be kept forever in Chrome, however. It is possible that Google will revert the setting or keep it enabled and remove the flag so that users cannot disable the feature anymore in the browser.
For now, all you have to do is disable the Hardware Media Key Handling flag to return to the status quo.
Now You: What is your take on this? Should a browser take over media keys?
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