One of the annoying things correlating with an ever-faster Internet is an increase in the number of websites that deem it okay to autoplay videos (often with sound!) as soon as you land on their homepage. Sometimes the videos quietly tick away in the corner of the screen, other times they’re obnoxiously in your face, but the point is you should be able to control whether you see them or not. Both Chrome and Firefox are pretty liberal with their autoplay policies by default, so you may need to do a little tweaking to disable them.
We’ll show you how in the following guide.
Disable Video Autoplay in Chrome
Chrome’s autoplay policies have been going through a lot of changes of late, and it’s a little bit confusing now to know where they’re at exactly. They talked earlier in the year about implementing stricter autoplay policies, but then they rolled back the policy after HTML5 indie game devs complained that these policies had a terrible impact on their income.
So right now, Chrome isn’t too strict on autoplaying videos. It will autoplay videos so long as their sound is muted if you click on the page somewhere or if you’ve frequently played media on that site before. If you still want to block autoplay even when these criteria are met, you need to do the following:
1. In your Chrome address bar, type
2. Click the dropdown next to Autoplay policy, and you’ll see four options:
- Default – Autoplay is enabled
- No user gesture is required – Autoplay is enabled
- User gesture is required for cross-origin iframes – Autoplay is enabled for videos that aren’t hosted on other sites (linking to YouTube, for example)
- Document user activation is required – Video starts autoplaying as soon as you click or interact with the web page
Select the last option to block autoplay, at least as long as you don’t interact with the web page.
Control Flash Video Playback in Chrome
Flash videos are disabled by default in Chrome (the browser will ask if you want to play the video first). You can, however, fine-tune which sites to block and allow the playing of Flash videos by clicking the padlock in the address bar when you’re on a site with Flash video.
Once you’ve clicked the padlock, click “Site settings,” then click the dropdown next to Flash and select “Ask,” “Allow” or “Block” as required. This lets you set absolute rules by website, so videos can autoplay on those you trust or be outright blocked on those you don’t. While you’re at it, while you’re here, you can block and allow different things on websites, such as that pesky sound.
Use the Data Saver Extension
It may not have been updated for a couple of years, but the official Data Saver extension for Google Chrome remains one of the best ways to blanket-block videos auto-playing in your browser. Install it, get it up and running, and you’re away!
Disable Video Autoplay in Firefox
Firefox Quantum rung in the changes when it launched last year, and these include a slightly different way of preventing videos from autoplaying in the browser.
The best thing you can do is go to
about:config in the Firefox address bar, and type in
media.autoplay into its search box.
media.autoplay.default should show up, and its value should be “0,” which will permit autoplaying videos. Double-click the value and change it to one of the following:
- 1: Block all autoplay videos
- 2: Get asked on a by-domain basis about whether or not to autoplay videos
It’s a time of flux for autoplaying videos online, as Chrome and Firefox look for the best ways to ensure our web-viewing experience is uninterrupted. They haven’t got the balance right just yet, as we still need to dig around beneath their bonnets to block intrusive video content, but at least the option’s there, and in the long term it’s something the browser giants are working on.
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