Turn Off AutoPlay Videos in Browsers

Back when I was in high school, I was at a friend’s house and got into a conversation with her father. He told me he had given up trying to stop squirrels from eating the seeds in his bird feeders. I asked him why and this is what he told me (paraphrased): “I finally realized that I was probably spending an hour or two a day trying to come up with ways to keep the squirrels off the feeders. The squirrels, on the other hand, are spending every waking moment trying to get on them!” (Meanwhile, I actually buy walnuts to feed to the squirrels, but that’s neither here nor there… 🙂

I think of that story when I think about annoying technology like autoplay videos, especially those that start playing the sound automatically. No matter how much time one group of software developers spends creating code to stop them, another group of developers is spending WAY MORE time trying to break that code. *sigh*

All that to say that what I’m posting here will not work 100% of the time and may not apply at all a few months from now. But for the time being, here are some things you can do to minimize the annoyance.

Note: These options are for the desktop versions of the browsers. Mobile browsers and other apps each have their own settings, some of which are further described in this article from Popular Science:

How to stop videos from autoplaying

Turn Off Autoplay in Firefox

  • Type “about:config” (without the quotation marks) in the location bar. It will open a new window with a warning that you can ignore to go to the list of configuration options.
  • Search for “autoplay”. You’ll see a preference called “media.autoplay.enabled” with a value of True. Double click on it to switch it to False.

Turn Off Autoplay in Chrome

At the moment, Chrome doesn’t have a built-in feature to turn off autoplay. However, in version 64, expected to be released in early 2018, it will stop videos from autoplaying if they have sound enabled or unless you have a history of playing videos on that particular site, or you interact with the site in some way (like clicking on a link). Find more info about this upcoming development in this article from The Verge:

Chrome will get better at stopping those annoying autoplay videos starting in January

In the meantime, you can install the Disable HTML5 Autoplay extension. The developer is no longer maintaining the extension, partly because Chrome is working on the built-in features, but it still works.

To disable Flash videos from autoplaying, you need to block Flash altogether. To do this, go to Settings > View Advanced Settings > Content Settings. On that page you’ll see a list of features you can allow or block, including Flash.

Turn Off Video Autoplay in Edge

There’s currently no way to stop HTML5 videos from autoplaying (thanks Microsoft!) but you can turn off Flash for this browser as well by going to Settings > View Advanced Settings and turning off the Use Adobe Flash Player setting.

Turn Off Video Autoplay in Safari

I don’t have a Mac to try this out myself and Apple no longer makes a Windows version of their browser, but here is a link to their Help page that explains how to turn off autoplay for an individual website or for all sites.

Stop autoplay videos

Muting Videos Quickly

While the autoplay feature is annoying for a lot of reasons, the biggest issue for most people is when it starts blaring sound unexpectedly, even if you’re on a different tab or using a different application. If that happens, you may not be able to find the video right away so the easiest way to turn off the sound is to look at all your tabs. The one that has audio playing will display a speaker icon and you can just click or right-click on it to mute the sound for that tab.

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Elizabeth Kricfalusi

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