Sunday, January 23, 2011

Windows Media Player Pause / Space Bar

Ever since I updated to Windows 7, I have had the perplexing experience of seeing probably the world's best Operating System (OS) - right alongside the world's worst update for the Windows Media Player.

See, in their latest update to Windows Media Player - Microsoft took away a simple and very valuable functionality: using the space bar to pause. I watch a lot of subtitled shows, so being able to instantly pause the screen at a moment's notice, and read text that might be going by too fast, is simply invaluable. For everyone else - it's just good for you if you're eating and watching a show on the computer; much easier to quickly tap the largest button the keyboard to pause, instead of getting crumbs on you're mouse or smaller harder to hit keys.

Anyway, I was deeply, deeply frustrated. It simply amazes me the level of stupidity that went into redesigning and taking away this simple and popular functionality. Apparently there was a reason - something to make the space bar not conflict with other functions. But MY WORD - allows us to set it in preferences, if you don't @#$%!ing mind!

Again, I was just frustrated. I thought maybe I could go back to my previous version of WMP, either 10 or 11 (I'm not sure when the Pause/Space Bar was taken out). I tried downloading it - but apparently Windows 7 thinks it knows better than you, and will not allow lesser versions to download. I then decided to uninstall WMP - and then put in the older and more reliable version. Nadda on that, too. Microsoft made this latest version of WMP a part of the Windows 7 OS. Soooo... what other options does that leave me? Microsoft Support directed me to a third-party video player, VLC. It seemed comprable to WMP - and it had my valued pause button! But this sadly would not last. VLC has just a litany of bugs and issues. Videos I watched would have stuttering audio - leading the sound and picture to be out of synch. I tried looking up an answer to it - but I couldn't find it. So - VLC just isn't reliable.

I once again went onto Google searching for an answer. I don't know what made me think I was going to find an answer this time, (I had gotten all those failed solutions doing this already) - but I went searching, and found a very interesting program. AutoHotKeys. I was weary of this at first - I didn't want to damage my computer by trying to change it. Then later - I found this article "Pause Windows Media with Space Using a simple AutoHotKeys Script" This blog post was also mentioning AutoHotKeys. So I decided to try and use it. They have an executable file to do it all for you, but my system didn't seem compatible. But you can download AutoHotKeys your self and then add the code he listed. First off - AutoHotKeys is very hard to understand for anyone not versed in computer. Follow the instructions it provides to create you're first "Hot Key" (it's essentially a page with code.) I erased the code that was already there and copied and pasted this guy's code. Saved it, double clicked on it to tell the computer to activate it - and boom! WMP is pausing just like the good old days.

Problem solved, right? Nope. Very close, but not yet. See - the code this guy offered did indeed pause WMP. But not when you brought it to full screen. (Like most people would want to do when watching a video or movie). I then found out it did pause in fullscreen; the problem was it wouldn't pause while the Information Display was up (the thing that shows the video's progress, volume, time, ect) Once that faded away - it could pause.

I could have lived with that, but luckily I stumbled around a bit to see if it couldn't be improved upon. I looked in the AutoHotKeys Help forum, and while I found some info - none of it was giving me the answers I needed. But, I began piecing together pieces of code - and found one that somebody said did work. I didn't completely understand the answer the guy seemed so satisfied with, because the code mentioned alone didn't help me. So then I added this code to the code from the aforementioned blog.

I don't know why it works, or what all the code means - but it works. It pauses WMP in fullscreen, with or without the information display. Finally, my journey as an aggravated consumer is finally over. ............ Well, the Music Section of WMP is crap now (since the update) too. But one crisis at a time ^_^

Also please note that, at least how I experienced this, when I shut my computer off and then on again - the script would stop working. (Just right click on it and tell it to run again). To ensure this script works all the time, I added it to my task scheduler, to begin working when the computer comes back on.

Here it is, just copy and paste this into AutoHotKeys. It worked for me. I hope it will work for you, but I cannot guarantee it. Again, just use the instructions on this guy's site here, but add the code here below instead.

GroupAdd,mplayer,Windows Media Player
GroupAdd, wmp, Windows Media Player
GroupAdd, wmp, ahk_class WMP Skin Host
GroupAdd, wmp, ahk_class WMPTransition
GroupAdd, wmp, FullScreenTopLayout
#IfWinActive, ahk_group wmp
Space::Send ^p
Enter::Send !{Enter}
#IfWinActive,ahk_group mplayer ; All hotkeys from this point only work when media player is active
#Ifwinactive, ; All hotkeys from now on work in any window.

; All other hotkeys


  1. My friend, THANK YOU!!! I've been looking and looking for this but found nothing. I greatly appreciate the effort you've put out to compile and improve this script!
    Unfortunately it means adding another background process to hog my memory, but I guess I have to live with that.
    You made my day :))

  2. Hi - Thanks for this! It's pretty unbelievable that one has to resort to a hotkey scripting application, but this solution does work perfectly. I understand Microsoft's reasons for disabling the spacebar as a hotkey by default, but why can't they provide a simple way of overriding the defaults to be whatever the user wants!? Anyways, thanks again!

  3. Thank you very much for sharing the information.
    It worked great for me.

  4. For the people who like to use VLC, and find the audio out of sync with the video, the keys J and K will allow you to adjust the audio track to sync with the video. I use VLC, and I don't have any problems with it, I like it much better than WMC, but that's just me. I like the Blog. Peace.

  5. have a look at

  6. I can't access that guys blog/instructions D: Can you tell me how? I got AutoHotkey but I don't know what to do now... where do I paste the code?
    Please reply!

  7. Never mind!! I just had to click reload! :D Thanks a ton!!!!

  8. In VLC you can change the sync of the Audio - its in the playback menu.

  9. THANK YOUUUU you are my hero of the day!

  10. that "other page" is no more.. :(

  11. The link is broken! :(