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How to use the Universal Media Controls in Windows 11 – News Opener

Universal Media Controls allows you to create and manage a focused and productive state of mind. Microsoft has recently added this quality-of-life feature to Windows 11.

Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

For many of us, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones and some background music is the best way to stay productive and focused on the task at hand. Since the 1990s, Windows users have often been forced to rely on third-party apps or keyboard controls to manage their media. However, a recent version of Windows 11 has finally added, without much fanfare, Universal Media Controls.

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The Windows 11 Universal Media Controls feature allows users to control the media playing on their PCs using built-in Windows software, which means third-party applications are no longer necessary. Conveniently, Universal Media Controls are not only accessible from the application itself, but also from the taskbar and even the Windows 11 lock screen.

Using the Universal Media Controls in Windows 11

The Universal Media Controls in Windows 11 should work for any media app including Spotify, Amazon Music, Microsoft Edge and Media Player. For our example, we will be using the Amazon Music streaming app.

As you can see in Figure A, the Amazon Music app displays important information about what is currently playing and presents standard essential controls like play and pause, previous song and next song.

Figure A

The Amazon Music app displays important information about what is currently playing and presents standard essential controls like play and pause, previous song and next song.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

With the Universal Media Controls, users can now also access essential features from the taskbar when the application is minimized. As shown in Figure B, hover your mouse over the appropriate icon on the taskbar to display minimized versions of the controls.

Figure B

Hover your mouse over the appropriate icon on the taskbar to display minimized versions of the controls.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

With these minimized media controls, you can now pause or play, skip to the next track or play the last without leaving the app you are currently focused on completing. This is a great quality-of-life, time-saving feature.

On occasions when you would like to get up and take a break from your task without shutting down your media, you can lock your Windows 11 computer and leave the media playing while still being able to control it. For example, while media is playing, press the Windows Key + L on your keyboard to lock your PC.

As you can see in Figure C, the Windows 11 lock screen now displays basic controls for the media application running in the background.

Figure C

The Windows 11 lock screen now displays basic controls for the media application running in the background.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

You can control your media application without logging in and unlocking your Windows 11 desktop. This can help you keep focused on your non-computer tasks while still enjoying your media.

Why Universal Media Controls are important

Remaining focused and productive in a work environment that is increasingly dynamic and collaborative sometimes requires a little “do not disturb” time. Stepping into a space where focus can be maintained through media is often our best choice to get important tasks done. Windows 11 Universal Media Controls allow you to create and manage this focused space.

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