New Chrome feature to make websites shut up

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Sometimes when I’m browsing the web, I get annoyed and confused. Annoyed at websites that automatically start playing sound, and confused as to why the creator of that site thought it was a good idea.

annoying website sound


I mean seriously – websites auto-playing sound became a trend maybe 15 years ago, but users made it very clear that the practice was not acceptable. Any course, class or seminar on website development will make it clear, you don’t start playing audio automatically when someone visits your website. So, for a long time, professional websites didn’t do it.

But now it’s back! And even the major online sites are joining in. As an example, take a look at this news story from CNN. You might want to visit that link just to READ the story like a civilized person. But no. As soon as the page loads, there’s the reporter in your face with a full-sound video, TELLING you the story.

annoying cnn video


And now there’s a new thing. What, you’re going to scroll down the page so you don’t have to watch the video? Here, we’ll make it smaller and stick it in the corner, and make it stay visible on the screen, even as you try to scroll away from it. YOU VILL VATCH ZE VIDEO!

more cnn annoyance


And these are major websites doing this. The example is from CNN, but Fox News does the exact same thing, along with lots of other websites.

So it’s an ongoing fight between what the websites want to make us see and hear, and what we the visitors want to NOT see and hear. We’ve already won that battle in terms of display advertisements – the uBlock Origin ad blocker extension for Chrome has given us the freedom and added security of not having to look at ads.

And now Chrome has been updated to give us the added pleasure of being able to say SHUT UP to websites that auto-play music or any other type of audio.

A while back they gave us the little “speaker” icon – so if you happen to have a bunch of tabs open and one of them is a website that suddenly starts to play audio, you can quickly see which tab it is just by looking for the speaker icon:

Chrome speaker icon


And now you can actually mute the sound being generated by a website – just do a right click on the tab, and in the drop-down menu, choose “Mute site”:

Chrome mute site


And it’s not just the sound for that particular web page, or that particular news article on the site – it means all of the sound on that entire website.

And the nice thing is, Chrome remembers that selection. So you can close the tab and open that site in a different tab, or you could even close Chrome completely and then run it again and go back to that website – and that site will still be muted. So you don’t have to click “Mute site” every time you go there.

(Also, I just checked on Firefox and you can do the same thing – the menu item is called “Mute tab”. Should work the same way.)

And it’s actually kind of gratifying – if you are on the site and there’s some idiot news reporter blathering on and on, and you click to mute the site, the video part just keeps playing. So you’ll SEE the person speaking, you just won’t hear any of the sound. On the rare occasion that I might watch something on TV, that’s exactly the same effect as when I hit the “Mute” button every time a commercial comes on. Wonderful, blessed silence…

wonderful silence


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February 19th, 2018

Great information on how to stop being very annoying trend on websites!

Larry O'Grady
February 19th, 2018

Thanks for that information Scott. I run firefox and it has the ‘mute tab’ or ‘unmute’ built into this version. I’ve just been punching the on/off button on my speakers but sometimes forget to turn them back on!

It even works on your site! (your ‘client’ video…) Yeah, I know there is the volume control there, but I was just testing it. Thanks again.

By the way, maybe you could have a different client – You’ve had the same guy
there for years.


February 19th, 2018

IMHO, the criminal aspect to this is the auto load of the associated video. For those of us who cannot get “unlimited” data this eats into the monthly allotment. Some sites even continue the download to completion even when the pause button has been pushed.

Earl Hanson
February 24th, 2018