Until recently, multimedia keyboards were very popular. In the meantime, they’ve simplified quite a bit, especially when they came to laptops. Fortunately, this does not mean that they are less useful, even in the age of the Internet.
It is a very good chance that your keyboard you are currently using has dedicated buttons for Play, Pause, Stop, Next or Previous Track. Initially, they were designed for interaction with multimedia content in dedicated applications such as Winamp, iTunes or VLC.
But too few people listen to music or watch movies through those programs. Now, most multimedia content is played through your favorite browser, whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge. Fortunately, lately, all modern browsers have learned to process and implement multimedia keystrokes.
Thus, whether you watch videos on YouTube or play your favorite music through the Spotify web application, you can interact with that content using the dedicated Play / Pause keys. It’s so simple, even if it hasn’t always been that way.
When you listen to music on Spotify, for example, the “Next” and Previous keys are useful for jumping from one track to another, one way or another. Basically, it works just as well as in iTunes.
Predictably, the functionality detailed above will not be valid on any obscure site that hosts a video clip, but has a good chance of working on most web pages. Plus, if you’re on a site with a built-in YouTube clip, it will work from there.
Not even the operating system works. It is irrelevant if you are a user of Windows 10, macOS, ChromeOS or Linux. The multimedia keys will work anyway.
As a brief history, multimedia key support was included in Chrome 73 released on March 12, 2019 and in Firefox 81 released on September 22, 2020. In theory, Mozilla included it earlier in Firefox, but activating it was not an easy process. In Edge you can find it from January 15, 2020, while Safari was the first, from September 25, 2017.