How to play/pause background Chrome windows

Controlling media, especially on Windows 10, is still a bit of a clumsy process. If you have the right drivers installed, and you’re using a compatible app, you can play/pause media from the dedicated keys or the Function keys on your keyboard. Unfortunately, not all apps support the media keys with VLC player being the glaring omission. It’s one of the most popular media players across multiple platforms but you cannot play/pause it with the play/pause keys on your keyboard. If you watch media in Chrome, and plenty of people do, you might do it in a separate window (or tab) while you work in a different one. If you need to quickly play/pause background Chrome windows without having to select them first, you should give the Streamkeys extension a try.

Streamkeys is a popular Chrome extension that fills in for keyboard functionality the browser doesn’t have out-of-the-box. It’s built specifically for controlling media and works with websites that can play it. It will not allow you control websites that do not play media. If you watch Netflix in Chrome, this is definitely an extension to try out.

Play/pause background windows – Chrome

Install Streamkeys and it ought to work out of the box. It is pre-configured to work with a lot of websites that play media. If you go to the Streamkeys’ options/settings, you can see which websites it supports. If the website you tend to watch (or listen to) media on isn’t listed, there’s a chance the extension might still be able to control it.

This will work not just for background windows but also for tabs that aren’t in focus. Out of the box, Streamkeys can play/pause background Chrome windows using the play/pause key on your keyboard. If this key isn’t suitable, you can go into the extension’s settings and change it from the General tab.

A recent Chrome update added support for the media keys and the OSD media  overlay that Windows 10 has. This isn’t exactly a popular change since many users don’t like the OSD. Streamkeys doesn’t depend on this feature to work so you can disable it and still use Streamkeys.

Streamkeys is a fairly capable extension so, in addition to using it to play/pause a background Chrome window, you can use it for controlling other aspects of media. More importantly, if you happen to watch media on several different websites, you may benefit from the priority feature that Streamkeys has.

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How to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page

Google doodles mark important historic dates, people in history, and current events. Some doodles are static while others are quick little animations. In some cases, e.g., during the Soccer or Cricket World Cup, or the Olympics, theses doodles are small games that you can play. If you don’t like the doodles, or you end up playing them instead of working, you can choose to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page.

Hide Google Doodles

It’s fairly easy to hide Google doodles from the Chrome New Tab Page. You can do it by disabling a flag. Open a new tab and enter the following in the URL bar;

chrome://flags

On the Chrome flags page, search for ‘doodles’ in the search bar. You will find a flag called “Enable doodles on the local NTP” and it will be set to Default. Open the dropdown next to this flag and select the ‘Disabled’ option.

Relaunch Chrome and open a new tab page. The Google Doodle with be gone and instead be replaced with the usual Google logo.

Google doodles are normally just images, static or animated. In some cases though, they can include a by-line. Disabling the flag will disable/hide the Google doodle but the by-line will still be present at the very bottom of the New Tab Page. There doesn’t seem to be a way to disable it but it is far less distracting than the doodle itself. For one, you can’t play it and end up wasting time, and it’s at the very bottom of the page and much easier to ignore.

There are some extensions in the Chrome Web Store that claim to be able to hide the Google doodle from the New Tab Page but they didn’t seem to work. Given a choice between an extension and disabling a flag, it’s better to go with the flag option. Extensions, while great, tend to slow Chrome down and also cause it to use more RAM.

This is a Chrome specific setting. If you visit the Google home page, or go to a Google search results page, the doodle will still appear on both pages. If you’re too tempted by it, it’s best to just type searches in the URL bar in Chrome, or use the search field on the New Tab page. There is unfortunately no escaping the doodle on the search results page but it’s smaller and off to the side so it’s far less visible.

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How to run Chrome in full screen on launch

Chrome has a full screen mode that you can switch to regardless what you have open. In order to switch to full screen, you have to tap the F11 key. This full screen mode is exclusive to the tab you’re in i.e., you can’t switch to a different tab while you’re in full screen mode. You will have to exit it, select a different tab, and then tap the F11 key again to return to full screen. If you want to run Chrome in full screen on launch, and set it up so that it always opens a certain website at launch, you can do so with the use of a switch and a little change in the browser’s settings.

Chrome in full screen

In order to launch Chrome in full screen, you will have to run it from a desktop shortcut. If you’re on Windows 10, you will have to forgo launching Chrome from the Start menu.

Create a desktop shortcut for Chrome. On Windows 10, you can create this shortcut from the Start Menu. Open the Start menu and go to the apps’ list. Look for Chrome and then drag & drop its app tile on to your desktop.

Next, right-click the shortcut and select Properties from the context menu. Go to the Shortcut tab and locate the ‘Target’ field. At the very end of this field, add one space, and add the following at the very end;

--start-fullscreen

Click Apply and, then OK. If you have any Chrome windows open, you’re going to have to close them first. Next, use the shortcut you created to open Chrome and it will open in full screen. Depending on what your start up settings for Chrome are, it will open either a new tab, or a specific website.

If you need to define which website Chrome should open when you open it in full screen mode, you can do this from Chrome’s own settings. Click the more options button at the top right and select Settings from the menu. Scroll down to the On startup section and select the ‘Add a new page’ option. Enter the URL of the website you want to open. This will apply to Chrome as a whole which means that even if you’re not using the shortcut you created above to open Chrome, it will still open this website.

If that’s a problem for you, it’s a good idea to create a separate profile and setting the start page to a specific website for that profile. You can then use another switch to run Chrome in that particular profile. Chrome can be run with multiple switches easily enough so pair the profile switch with the full screen one.

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How to limit RAM and CPU on Opera GX Gaming browser

A gaming browser is not something most people would have imagined to be a thing. There are gaming PCs, gaming consoles, gaming keyboards, and even gaming chairs but a browser is unlikely to make that list. Still, Opera has a new version of its browser called Opera GX which it says is a gaming browser.

Opera GX is still the usual Chromimum based browser with one or two features geared towards those interested in games such as Twitch integration. It also has what many browsers do not; a sound track, or more precisely, audio alerts to indicate an action. When you start the browser, it has a ‘boot’ audio. The one highlight feature it has is a RAM and CPU usage limiter that allows you to limit RAM and CPU on Opera GX. Here’s how it works.

Limit RAM and CPU on Opera GX

Download and install Opera GX. Run the browser and along the left, you will see a controls bar. If you already use Opera, you’re going to be familiar with the layout of the browser and won’t have too much trouble navigating it. If not, it’s fairly easy to learn.

Click the speed dial/GX Control in the column on the left to open the GX Control panel. It houses the RAM and CPU controls. Look for the RAM limiter, and turn it On. Select the amount of RAM you want to allow the browser to use from the slider at the bottom to limit it.

If you scroll a little further down, you will find the CPU usage control. It mimics the RAM limiter. Turn it on, and select how much of your CPU’s power you want to allow the browser to use. Opera GX doesn’t let you allocate the number of cores the browser can use.

With both RAM and CPU, you’re not free to set any limit. The RAM usage is limited in multiples of two whereas CPU usage is allocated in quarter increments i.e., 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% usage.

A browser isn’t exactly an essential, must-have, tool needed for gaming. There are some online games that you can play in your browser and maybe this browser may be a good tool to play them in. You might find other uses for this browser outside of gaming. The most popular browsers do not allow you to limit RAM, or CPU usage. At best, you can limit bandwidth in Chrome but that too is a complicated process.

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How to check for a Photoshop footprint in EXIF data

Photoshop was originally a tool for improving photos or fixing mistakes in them that couldn’t be corrected when a photo was actually taken. It’s a powerful bit of software so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it’s used for more than just its intended use. Of course, no one could imagine it would be popular with Instagram users. If you happen to come across an image that you suspect is Photoshopped, and you can’t tell just by looking, there’s still a chance you will find a Photoshop footprint in the EXIF data. Here’s how to look for it.

Photoshop footprint in EXIF data

There’s no shortage of tools for viewing EXIF data. You can find web apps, desktop apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and mobile apps that do the job. The results may vary in that some apps may not display all the data that is stored in an image.

For this specific purpose, i.e., to find the Photoshop footprint in EXIF data, you can use a web app called Exifdata.

Visit the web app and upload the photo you want to check for the Photoshop footprint. The image should not be larger than 20MB. Once uploaded, the app will reveal the EXIF data that it’s found.

Under ‘XMP Toolkit’ and ‘Creator Tool’ look for anything related to Adobe and any mention of Photoshop. In the screenshot above, Exifdata not only indicates that the image has been passed through Photoshop (notice the very obvious brush stroke on the image), but also that it was edited on a Windows system.

Is EXIF data wrong?

Technically, EXIF data can be removed from an image and it can be edited. There are quite a few EXIF data editors available for free use. Additionally, someone editing an image in Photoshop may have the foresight to remove or prevent this information from being added to an image in the first place. Last, if the image you’re checking was downloaded from a web service e.g., a social media website, it is possible that the website removed some of the data when the original uploaded added it.

If you do need to investigate an image, the EXIF data is a good place to start for two reasons; it can be independently verified by anyone, and it’s quick. On this same note, remember to not use this method maliciously. You might want to use it to verify if a photo of a UFO landing is real or not, but using it on someone’s vacation photos to prove they’re not real is a bit much.

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