[HOW-TO] How to actually PAUSE the sim!

(Guide updated 15 September 2020 with permission of OP)

You have perhaps heard that MSFS has an active pause feature but what about the traditional FSX style regular pause?

There are three kinds of pauses:

  1. Active pause (default key: PAUSE): this freezes the plane but everything else goes on… which may end in disaster quickly: only use this when in level flight and to make a small adjustment to something (which may be hard to do while flying). It is not advised for taking screenshots or using the drone cam as background processes continue to function that can cause problems when active pause is cancelled (e.g. autopilot behaving strangely or aircraft suddenly seems to stall)

  2. Simulator App Pause (default key: Esc): this brings you to the options menu… not really what I call a pause and totally useless for taking screenshots and such.

  3. The more traditional FSX style pause (default keys… NONE!!! :dizzy_face: ): yes, there is a pause option that mostly pauses the entire sim as you’d expect… but it has no key assignments by default and you even need two keys for it…! (Turn on/turn off) Amazing, odd, strange, whatever, but luckily it’s there and here is how you enable it:

Setting Pause on/off
- Go to Options>Controls screen and select the keyboard. Make sure to set the filter to ALL!!!
- Search for SET PAUSE OFF and SET PAUSE ON. I assigned P to PAUSE ON and control-P to PAUSE OFF (yes, you need two keys) but you can assign anything you want, of course. There is as yet to toggle key for this option.

With THIS pause option you can take screenshots, use the drone cam, go out for dinner, watch a movie, whatever, without having to fear for what happens when you unpause. Why this option isn’t the default one is beyond me but well…

None of the above pauses stop time, i.e. ‘real world time’/flight sim time. E.g… time for the purpose of your flight log continues to move forward and is not paused. So what may have been a 20 minute flight could be recorded in the pilot log book as a 50 minute flight, if the sim was ‘paused’ for 30 minutes during the flight.

Note: There are two work-arounds if you wish to freeze time as well as other aspects of the sim:

a) Use the Pause Simulation option in the Dev drop-down menu. It freezes time, including in the sim.
(Thanks to @AZRedneck33 in this post)

b) From @JALxml in this post:“Hit the Esc key and IMMEDIATELY save the game. When you reload the game, you will be back at the exact GPS position, plane attitude and speed as when you invoked Active Pause by hitting Esc, with a few seconds lost before you save the flight parameters.” Note this isn’t really a pause as it is more of a save flight/ load flight scenario. It also brings with it some other issues that forum users have reported, such as weather editability on the reloaded flight.


Thanks for taking the time to share this. I agree with you, it is odd that they have made the default pause ‘active’ pause; and that you need two different key to PAUSE ON and PAUSE OFF. I think a control called “TOGGLE PAUSE” would have been a far more elegant (and simpler) solution.


That is exactly what happend to me, I ended up closing the game

Thank a lot for this tip !


Thanks for the information.

Requested many many times throughout the Alpha and Beta! Can keep hoping but great post @JvanE100 alerting to the problem. Thanks.


The pause in the sim is actually a “live pause” which pauses you but not the life around you. A new feature in the sim. Just don’t pause at 35000 feet if there is a plane behind you on the same flight path :wink:


I was using the P- ESC method. But after hitting Esc the sim returns with no sound! Luckily, a forum post to go to exterior camera view brings the sound back.

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Set a keybind for Set Pause ON and OFF. Unlike Active Pause, Set Pause ON does not allow the sim to cumulatively build up aircraft momentum etc while Paused, which can be real catastrophic once unpaused.

Which is another bug that exists since day one.

So happy to have seen this tip. Finally I can pause TIME. Why didnt the game ship with a regular FSX style pause??

Thanks for sharing that tip :grinning: :+1:

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I use the FSX old style pause: “p”
same I usa many other old style FSX keys :roll_eyes:

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And don’t use “active pause” if you’re low on fuel as really everything else than the plane’s position moves on, so the engines also use normal amount of fuel in the meantime, but you’re not moving (or nearly not moving) so you have to count double fuel for the active pause duration…
Really haven’t figured out yet, for what purpose Asobo/MS have integrated this… yeah… let’s call it a “feature” :smiley:

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Active Pause is simply ‘position freeze’, no more, no less. Things will still tick along, including your engines and systems.

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In particular, the PIDs in your autopilot will wonder why the aircraft is not descendig despite their command, so will continue to increase demand on the elevons…

… and when you un-pause, you will find Asobo has created MCAS´s evil brother on steroids taking you straight to hell…

There are so many great things about this simulator, I still can not understand how is it possible to have so many absurd “features” like this, more than two years after release…


Thanks for this! Gonna have to give it a whirl.

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They were so focussed on promoting active pause that they forgot to tell everyone what it really is. Even the blurb about it advises you can just leave the aircraft if you need to do something.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I disabled it already long before launch.

It’s one real use is as an ‘anchor’ for floatplanes. Handy to hold the aircraft alongside the dock or whatever before you are ready to taxi.


That’s actually an excellent idea. :clap: Well done!

There is a bug with “Set Pause”. All External View audio is either completely lost or extremely faint when unpausing. Cockpit audio is also reduced.

Haven’t found a solution outside of reloading flight.

I lost the audio when using the ‘real’ pause via the keyboard, but not from a key-binding on my joystick. #YMMV

Aside from that, can anyone reading this explain to me what the point of ‘active pause’ even is? I can’t say I see any reason for it to even exist, aside from maybe the above suggestion as a ‘virtual anchor’ for planes on floats. And I very rarely fly seaplanes, I’m not even rated for them! Course, I’m not rated for multiengine aircraft, nor 737s, A320s, and dam sure not an F14!

I think I would have rather bought the F18, though, as I’ve flown that in DCS and have at least SOME familiarity with it. But, I’m drifting off topic- as usual LOL!

I have noted, however, that at least some aircraft continue to burn fuel, even on ‘real’ pause, so if you want to pause your flight to go to sleep, the ESC menu may be the only option.