Locked laptop began playing loud audio
August 29, 2021 3:34 AM   Subscribe

Why is a locked laptop suddenly playing loud music?

Yesterday late afternoon, my daughter was playing a web-based game on a laptop. The game had music that played repetitively. When she stopped playing the game at about 6 pm, the music wasn’t playing. She either muted it or she switched to a different browser tab, she can’t remember. She didn’t close out of the game though. The laptop was left open but auto-locked the screen.

About 12 hours after she stopped playing, I happened to wake up to go to the bathroom, and heard LOUD music coming from downstairs (I don’t think that’s what woke me, it wasn’t really audible in my bedroom with fans going but I could hear it when I went towards the bathroom). Everyone else was sleeping. I woke my husband up to go downstairs with me to investigate (it was super creepy). The still-locked laptop was playing the music from the game (I think from the game? It is not outside the realm of possibility that it was music from an ad; the game had ads) more loudly than my daughter ever has. We unlocked it and turned down the volume to 0.

How on earth did this happen? We have a cat but it’s extremely unlikely that he walked across the keyboard. Even if he did, isn’t the point of the locked screen that you can’t, say, turn the volume way up? Any insight into this mystery welcome and appreciated!
posted by amro to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The keyboards of many laptops, gaming ones in particular, have media keys that yep, regulate volume and/or initiate video playback. Source: the many times I had to lurch dripping into the computer room when my feline brats played YouTube at full volume to get me out of the bath, even when it was buried deep in browser tabs. Teach her to close the lid when it's done. Don't teach the cat that you'll feed it once you get out of the bath, they get creative...
posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:58 AM on August 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Agree with I claim sanctuary.

On my Dell laptop, the Mute/Unmute and VolUp/VolDown keys do still work when the screen is locked (just checked).
posted by BlackPebble at 4:03 AM on August 29, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you both! I just checked, and the volume keys do work when the screen is locked. Sounds like I underestimated the cat.
posted by amro at 4:05 AM on August 29, 2021

Response by poster: Added wrinkle: I just shared this very logical explanation with my husband, and he says he’s pretty sure the laptop was closed, not open. So…. Any explanation if that was the case?
posted by amro at 4:13 AM on August 29, 2021

It's probably not closed "all the way" to force the laptop into sleep mode, and the cat jumping on may have triggered one of the keys, such as space bar, to wake the laptop up.
posted by kschang at 5:52 AM on August 29, 2021

Perhaps the laptop wasn't closed until it startled the cat.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:03 AM on August 29, 2021

Best answer: I woke up to my laptop playing videos after midnight a few times (and blamed the cat, too) before I realized what was happening - I was watching YouTube and just closed my laptop lid to sleep the computer before bed. When the Windows updates ran at midnight, the computer restarted automatically then the browser re-opened to the YT page, running through its auto-play playlist.
posted by Gortuk at 6:11 AM on August 29, 2021 [11 favorites]

Here to say the same as Gortuk. It happened on my Mac in the last two-three weeks.
posted by wotsac at 6:36 AM on August 29, 2021

Happened to me a number of times with opened or closed laptop. Sometimes it's the updates restarting the computer, but sometimes it seems to be a random reload of the specific browser tab which had a paused video or audio playing.
posted by Ender's Friend at 6:43 AM on August 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

I hate this so much. No pets currently, but youtube and Britbox will launch themselves for no reason, so I wake up to the sound of a sitcom, deeply disconcerting. Dear designers of web apps and laptops, please put a stop to this nonsense.
posted by theora55 at 11:02 AM on August 29, 2021

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