Play Music on a Surface While the Screen is Off

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 13, 2016

I bought a Surface Pro 4 some time ago and like the device a lot. It replaced the laptop that I used while on the go and traveling, and is an excellent device all in all.

One thing that I did not realize up until recently was that the Surface behaved weird when it comes to playing music.

While you can use all kinds of programs and apps for that, the following happens when you play music using desktop programs: As soon as the screen goes to sleep (the device itself is still active), music stops.

As soon as you use the touchpad, type or use the mouse so that the screen becomes active again, music playback continues.

This means that you cannot play music using desktop programs continuously while the device is idle. That is, unless you change the default configuration of your device.

Note: While music is mentioned, the same behavior happens when you play videos. If you play music videos on YouTube, those videos will stop when the power saving mode kicks in.

Play Music on a Surface While the Screen is Off

You may have noticed that the majority of Windows Store applications don't show the same behavior when you play music in them.

The main reason for this is how the Connected Standby feature works on the device. Microsoft introduced Connected Standby in Windows 8 as a way to bring a low-power state to Windows devices that works similar to how smartphones and tablets handle things.

The feature is not supported by all devices running Windows though, but Microsoft Surface devices like the Surface Pro 4 support it.

Basically, what is happening is that your PC continues to perform certain operations while in that mode. It may check for new messages, emails or other updates, and download those if available.

Connected Standby works mostly with Windows Store applications and not desktop apps, and that is the main reason why desktop programs will stop working when the computer enters the mode.

So what can you do?

You have a couple of options to address the issue.

Option 1: Use Windows Store apps

edge play music

Since Windows Store applications (including Microsoft Edge) are not affected by the issue, you may use them to play music even when your device enters Connected Standby mode.

If you use web streaming services, you may use Microsoft Edge to play those continuously on the device even if the power saving mode kicks in on it.

The screen will turn dark, but music continues to play regardless of that.

While this may work for some users, others may prefer not to use apps for that purpose.

Option 2: Disable Connected Standby

disable connected standby

If you disable Connected Standby, Windows will revert to Hibernation instead. The side-effect of the procedure is that desktop programs will continue to work when the screen turns off.

A negative effect of this is that it may take longer for your device to wake up which impacts when the device is ready for use.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Navigate to the key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power
  3. Locate the preference CsEnabled on the right side.
  4. Double-click on it, and set its value to 0.
  5. Restart the PC.

This disables Connected Standby on the device. You can revert the change at any time by setting the value to 1 again using the process above.

I have created two Registry files that you may use to enable or disable Connected Standby on your device. This may help you if you only need to turn off the feature occasionally, but want to use it at other times.

Download the following zip archive to your system and extract it: (Download Removed)

You can double-click on the Registry files then to turn CS on or off.

You may need to disable automatic hibernation as well. I suggest you try it first without disabling it, and only perform the following operation when music stops playing after a while (not when the screen turns off, but when hibernation kicks in).

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Select System > Power & Sleep > Additional Power Settings.
  3. Click on "change plan settings" next to the active power plan.
  4. Select "change advanced power settings" on the page that opens.
  5. Find the Sleep listing, and there the Sleep after listing.
  6. Set it to never by entering a time of 0 minutes.

Option 3: Google Chrome's exclusive-mode-audio feature

chrome exclusive mode audio

If you use Google Chrome to play music, for instance using web services, then you may start it up with a parameter called exclusive-mode-audio to keep music playing when the device enters Connected Standby mode.

  1. Locate the Google Chrome shortcut on your system.
  2. Right-click on it, and select Properties from the menu. Note that you need to right-click again on Google Chrome in menu first if you right-clicked on the Chrome icon in the Taskbar.
  3. Append --exclusive-mode-audio at the end of the target line, and make sure there is a space between.
  4. Restart Google Chrome afterwards or start it up.

Google Chrome should continue to play audio from that moment on, even with Connected Standby enabled.

Now You: Have another tip on how to handle the issue?

Play Music on a Surface While the Screen is Off
Article Name
Play Music on a Surface While the Screen is Off
Find out how to continue playing music on a Surface device or other device supporting Connected Standby running Windows 8 or 10.
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  1. BR said on June 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    When streaming audio using my Surface Pro 4, the sound stops when the screen goes dark. It does the same thing using Edge and Internet Explorer. It’s ridiculous that Microsoft has set up Windows 10 to do this without giving users a switch like Chrome apparently does. It has turned me paranoid because Windows 10/Edge have so many anomalies that , say, Windows 7 didn’t have. Did Microsoft fire all the grownups and all of the employees are now too young to know any better? It wasn’t long ago that we controlled our computers…now our computers control us. Hahaha…I need to make an aluminum foil helmet for either me or my Surface!

    1. DJ said on October 17, 2017 at 5:36 am

      Same here lol, this annoying setup from win 10 drove me crazy, just like microsoft’s recent update – some creator build shit, whose font size for menus can not be modified and you have to stare at crazy small titles on a large screen…

      wish somebody can help

  2. Jeff said on September 13, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Other media players like foobar2000 can also use exclusive audio mode. What happens if you use them? Does the audio stop when it turns off screen?

    Also if you put Classic Shell, it has a “Turn display off” command. Does music stop playing when you use that? Or “nircmd.exe monitor off”?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Jeff, when you turn off the monitor manually, music continues to play. I have not tried Foobar and cannot say if audio continues to play if you enable the mode. I would say that it seems likely, but I have not verified it.

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