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Saturday, April 13, 2024

How to Turn Off Autoplay in Your Browser

At some point, you've probably had your web browsing rudely interrupted by an unexpected burst of music or other audio—usually accompanying some kind of video content on the page that you're viewing.

Sometimes these videos are adverts, sometimes they're content posted by users, but the clip and the accompanying sounds that go along with it are often not what you want to focus on. They can also start up at the most inconvenient times: You don't want an ad blaring through your laptop speakers when you're studying in a coffee shop, for example.

It doesn't have to be this way, because there are settings in all the popular browsers that can stop this behavior. It's also worth checking the settings for the sites you use to see if there are options you can tweak.

In the case of YouTube, for example, click your profile avatar (top right), then Settings. Under Playback and performance, turn off the Inline playback toggle switch so videos don't start running as you hover the cursor over them. On Netflix, click your profile avatar (top right), then Account. Click your account name, then Change next to Playback settings, and uncheck the Autoplay previews whilst browsing on all devices box.

Other sites have similar settings, but if you can't find what you're after, you can make some changes at the browser level as well.

Google Chrome

While there was, once upon a time, a setting inside Chrome to stop video and audio from autoplaying as soon as a page was loaded, it's now been excised from the browser. To get the same end results you need to turn to a third-party browser extension, and one of the best is AutoplayStopper.

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It's free, it's simple to use, and it does the job effectively. Videos still show up onscreen, but you're only shown a static thumbnail—they're not allowed to start playing without your approval. If you decide that you do want to see a video, just click on it.

The AutoplayStopper icon in the Chrome toolbar keeps track of how many videos have been blocked. If you right-click on it and choose Options, you can add particular websites that you want to be exempt from the AutoplayStopper restrictions.

There is one setting built into Chrome that you can take advantage of: If there's one particular website that's always interrupting your browsing with audio that starts up automatically, right-click on the browser tab at the top and pick Mute site—you won't hear a peep from any more pages on that particular site.

Apple Safari

The options built into Safari cover the bases pretty well when it comes to controlling autoplay behavior—which is just as well, as Apple's browser isn't as well provided with third-party extensions as some of its competitors.

To stop media from automatically playing on a specific site in the browser, open the Safari menu and choose Settings for … (the site name will be listed here). Next to Auto-Play you'll see that there are three options: Allow All Auto-Play, Stop Media with Sound (videos with audio are blocked), and Never Auto-Play (all videos are blocked).

To control autoplay in Safari more generally, open the Safari menu and pick Preferences. Open the Auto-Play tab, and you'll see you can set the options for the site you're currently on. Any sites that you've previously customized are listed here too.

At the bottom, there's another drop-down menu that lets you configure any websites that haven't yet been customized individually. To remove a website's individual setting, click on its entry in the list and then choose Remove.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox comes with a specific setting for media autoplay, so you don't necessarily have to rely on an extension. To find it, open the browser menu (the three horizontal lines, top right), then choose Settings, Privacy & security, and Settings next to Autoplay.

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You've got three options, which are fairly self-explanatory: Allow Audio and Video, Block Audio, and Block Audio and Video. That middle option gives you an alternative between the two extremes of all or nothing—you can use it if you're happy for videos to play silently as soon as they're loaded on a particular page.

To make an exception, click the icon next to a website URL (it'll usually be a padlock), then click the connection link, More Information and Permissions: You can make changes under Autoplay. There's also the option to quickly mute a site by right-clicking on its tab and choosing Mute Tab from the menu that pops up.

With everything handled by the browser, there's less demand for autoplay add-ons, but you can still find ones that apply to specific sites: Autoplay No More, for example, will stop videos from automatically playing on YouTube, Vimeo, and several other sites.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is based on the same Chromium code as Google Chrome these days, and so you can use the same browser extensions with it. Rather than just recommend the same add-on a second time though, we'll give you an alternative to try: Video Autoplay Blocker.

It does exactly what its name might suggest, stopping videos from playing without your express permission. That permission can be granted by simply clicking on the video you want to watch—and until that happens you'll just see a static thumbnail.

Unlike Chrome, Edge does still have a built-in setting for controlling autoplaying media. Open the "edge://flags" page, search for Show block option in autoplay settings, and change it to Enabled. You can then click the three dots (top right), Settings, Cookies and site permissions, and Media autoplay, and change the Control if audio and video play automatically on sites option to Block (or Limit to be less restrictive).

Finally, you can quickly silence a site in particular by right-clicking on the header of the tab that it's open in and choosing Mute tab. At the moment you can't mute sites in their entirety using the integrated options in Edge, as you can with Chrome.


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