How to Stop Autoplay Videos

Videos suddenly playing when you're online? Turn that 'feature' off

An icon of an autoplaying video.

Shutterstock / Public Domain

If you’ve been reading an article on a website and found yourself startled by audio playing when you didn’t expect it, you’ve encountered a site that has what’s called autoplay videos. Usually there’s an ad associated with the video, so the site plays the video automatically to make sure you hear (and hopefully see) the ad. Here’s how you can turn video autoplay off in the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer
  • Safari

Google Chrome

Google Chrome may be the worst browser for navigating autoplay. Google stripped out any option for disabling autoplay completely, and most extensions have spotty support at best. There are two options for handling autoplay with Chrome, but neither is ideal.

Mute Audio by Default

Your first option for handling autoplay on Chrome is to mute all audio by default. This will prevent the obnoxious audio playback from blaring through your speakers, but the videos will still play. It also forces you to manually unmute any sites you want to hear audio from.

  1. Open Chrome.

  2. Open the menu by selecting the three stacked dots in the upper right.

    Google Chrome menu
  3. Choose Settings from the menu.

  4. Front the Settings tab, choose Privacy and security from the left side menu.

    Google Chrome settings
  5. Under Privacy and security, choose Site Settings.

    Google Chrome privacy and security settings
  6. Your tab will shift to display Chrome's site settings. Scroll down to the Additional content settings, and select it.

    Google Chrome site settings
  7. From the expanded Additional content settings, choose Sound.

    Google Chrome additional content settings
  8. Locate the toggle for Allow sites to play sound near the top of the page, and switch it off.

    Google Chrome mute sound
  9. Whenever you want to hear sound from a site, right click inside the tab for that page. A menu will open up. Select Unmute site.

    Google Chrome unmute site

Disable Autoplay in Your Shortcut

Here's a frustrating bit of news; Chrome does contain the ability to disable autoplay(sort of). Google purposefully made it inaccessible within the browser. You can disable it via a command line flag in your desktop shortcut icon, though. This will only work when you launch Chrome through the shortcut, so be mindful to make a habit of opening your browser that way. It also doesn't appear to be a guaranteed for all sites, either.

  1. On your desktop, right-click the Google Chrome shortcut icon.

  2. Select Properties from the menu.

    Right click Chrome shortcut
  3. A new window will open up with the settings for your Chrome shortcut.

  4. Find the Target field. Place your cursor following the quotes after chrome.exe.

    Google Chrome shortcut properties
  5. Add a space and include the following flag.

    --autoplay-policy=user-required
  6. Press Ok. Windows may require admin permissions to make the change. Agree.

    Google Chrome shortcut autoplay flag added

Firefox

You can disable video autoplay in Firefox through the browsers regular privacy and security settings. Here’s how:

  1. Open Firefox.

  2. Select the three stack line menu icon in the upper right of the screen.

    Firefox home screen menu open
  3. When the menu opens, choose Options/Preferences.

  4. The Options/Preferences tab will open up. Select the Privacy & Security tab from the left.

    Firefox options
  5. Scroll down until you see Permissions.

    Firefox privacy and security
  6. Press Settings across from Autoplay.

    Firefox multimedia permissions
  7. A new window will pop up for your autoplay settings. Near the top, use the Default for all websites drop-down to select Block Audio and Video.

    Firefox autoplay settings
  8. Press Save Changes in the bottom right of the window.

    Firefox block autoplay

With Firefox, you can also use the same controls to whitelist sites where you may want to allow videos to play automatically, like YouTube or a streaming service.

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer

Edge is Microsoft’s latest and greatest browser and the one replaces Internet Explorer. Edge has made some major improvements in both performance and usability. Among those is the ability to control how your browser handles autoplay videos.

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.

  2. Open your browser menu by selecting the three horizontal dot icon in the upper right of the screen.

  3. Choose Settings from the menu.

    Microsoft Edge menu
  4. The settings will slide open. Select Advanced from the left side of the menu.

    Microsoft Edge settings
  5. Nearly immediately, you'll see an option for Media autoplay. Use the drop-down below to choose Block.

    Microsoft Edge block autoplay video
  6. Close the menu. From now on, Edge will block all autoplay videos by default.

    Microsoft Edge autoplay video blocked

Safari

If you are running the latest macOS (called High Sierra), that means you have the latest version of Safari and you can easily turn off video autoplay on any website you visit. Here’s how:

  1. Open a website that contains one or more videos.

  2. Press Safari in the menu bar.

  3. Select Settings for This Website.

  4. Within the pop-up menu that appears in front of the webpage, select Stop Media with Sound (it's to the right of the Auto-Play option).

  5. Select Never Auto-Play.

Disable Autoplay by Default in Safari

Safari also lets you disable autoplay by default, making it much easier to control which sites are and aren't allowed to play videos automatically.

  1. Open Safari, and select Preferences.

  2. When the Preferences window opens, choose Websites from the icons across the top.

  3. On the Websites tab, choose Auto-play from the left side menu.

  4. Look for When visiting other websites in the bottom right. Use the drop-down to choose Never Auto-play.

If you aren't running High Sierra, have no fear because Safari 11 is available for Sierra and El Capitan. If you don't have Safari 11, just go to the Mac App Store and search for Safari. If you are running an older version of macOS than that either of the ones listed just above, however, you'll be out of luck.