No one likes auto-play videos. A random assault of sound that you may or may not have come to see is rarely a pleasant surprise. This week, Firefox received an update that adds a new, robust tool for blocking the audio from auto-play videos from any site, which makes web browsing much more comfortable.
To turn this on, update Firefox to the newest version (66.0), and click on the information icon —that’s the lower case “i” in a circle in the browser bar. Click on “Permissions,” which brings you to a menu and check the box next to “Block websites from automatically playing sound.”
As the setting name implies, the tool specifically focuses on blocking videos with auto-play sound. Sites that run videos silently, like Facebook, will still run with the feature on. Likewise, sites like YouTube and Netflix, which play many videos consecutively after a single click, will still be able to do without restriction.
As The Verge pointed out, Firefox is not the first browser to integrate this kind of service. Chrome has had an auto-play video blocker in its preferences for some time. However, Chrome’s version blocks auto-play videos with sound on many sites, but Whitelists a number of popular ones. There is a way to block auto-play videos on Chrome, but it requires going to the browser’s semi-secret “Flags” menu for experimental features.
FYI: If you’re on Chrome, you can turn off all auto-play videos and audio by going to chrome://flags/, searching for “Autoplay Policy” and switching the setting to “Document User Activation is Required.”
While Mozilla is technically catching up to Google in this specific regard, it feels like they’ve done the right thing here. Chrome offers all or nothing: Firefox gives you more controls, and makes it easier to leverage them.