Autoplaying videos are a scourge. And no, I’m not talking about YouTube, Netflix, or any other site that you visit simply to stream videos. It’s those sites that you go primarily with the intention to read. Instead, you are bombarded by stupid videos that start to play somewhere within a page.
These videos are just plain pointless for the most part. Not just that, but they also come with increased page loading times and consume tons of bandwidth in the process.
Thankfully, Firefox now features the ability to block these pesky videos from playing automatically. Finally, you won’t have to rely on extensions (that may or may not work) to help you out in that regard.
However, there’s a caveat. Mozilla’s web browser blocks only audible (unmuted) videos. So muted videos can still give you grief. But don’t worry. I will show you a nifty workaround to block those as well.
Note: Before proceeding, make sure that you have the latest Firefox update installed. To do that, open the Firefox menu, click Help, and then click About Firefox. If a new update is available, it should start downloading and installing automatically.
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Disabling Autoplay Videos
Mozilla added the ability to block videos that autoplay (and aren’t muted) in its Firefox browser version 66.0 update. However, you still need to manually enable the functionality before the browser can actually stop videos from playing automatically. The following steps show you how to do just that.
Step 1: Open the Firefox menu, and then click Options.
Step 2: Click the Privacy & Security side-tab. Next, scroll down to the section labeled Permissions, and then check the box next to Block Websites From Automatically Playing Sound.
That’s it. Load up whatever pesky site it is that plays videos with your speakers blaring. And you should be happy to learn that those videos no longer autoplay. Instead, you will see them paused. CNN is a perfect example to test this awesome functionality in action.
Of course, you can play blocked videos manually whenever you want to by clicking the Play icon in a video pane. That’s how it should’ve been all along.
Obviously, you’d not want Firefox to disable videos from playing automatically on sites that exist primarily to stream video. It breaks the experience. For example, I found Firefox to block YouTube videos from autoplaying whenever I wanted to open them in a new tab, which is not cool and odd.
I checked if I could lift this restriction, and found out that I could do just that pretty easily.
Whenever Firefox blocks an autoplaying video, you should see a tiny icon denoting the fact to the left corner of the URL bar. Click it. On the context menu that shows up, click the pull-down menu next to Autoplay Sound, and then select Allow. Firefox will no longer block videos from the particular site anymore.
Alternatively, you can choose to go back to where you had to enable the functionality to block autoplaying videos in the first place. Then, use the Exceptions button next to Block Websites From Automatically Playing Sound to exclude sites by directly inserting URLs. That is where you should go to manage your exceptions.
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Disabling Muted Videos
If you also dislike muted videos (I know I do), then you can rely on a simple workaround to make Firefox disable those as well with its latest video blocking functionality. Don’t worry. You don’t have to install any extensions! All you have to do is change a single Firefox preference, which you can accomplish using the built-in Configuration Editor.
Step 1: On a new tab, type about:config, and then press Enter. When prompted, click the I Accept the Risk! button to proceed. Just so you know, there’s no reason to be scared by that prompt. Follow my instruction, and you should be fine.
Step 2: Type media.autoplay.allow-muted into the search bar at the top of the Configuration Editor. That should filter the particular Firefox preference from the others.
Step 3: Double-click the filtered preference to change its value from ‘true’ to ‘false.’ Close the tab to save your changes.
And that’s it. You should find all videos, regardless of whether they are muted or not, blocked from playing automatically. Of course, you can exclude videos from being blocked on certain sites just like with unmuted videos.
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What a Menace!
Autoplaying videos are the worst way to push content onto visitors, and I wish publishers understood that. The fact that they've resorted to pushing even more videos over the years probably means that they don’t care about their audiences much. Thumbs up to Mozilla for delivering native functionality to stop this menace by ourselves.
Next up: Did you know that a malicious code wrapped in a harmless looking extension can hijack Firefox to mine cryptocurrency without your knowledge? If you are concerned, here's how to stop that from happening.