back to article Google to kill Chrome autoplay madness

Google has promised to end the infuriating autoplay of videos in its Chrome browser – but with a heap of exceptions that may actually make the problem worse. Most internet users have suffered from having sound blaring out from one browser tab while looking at a different one. Although Google made it easier to find the …

  1. fidodogbreath


    Burn it. Burn it with fire.

    1. Joe Werner Silver badge

      Re: Autoplay

      ... or... dunno... more fire? Though: it is as we all expected. Neither the device nor the data are yours. With data I mean both the monthly allowance you have and your personal details (name, phone, friends, date and place of birth, where you live, your SO lives, details about your other love interest, the stuff you posted anonymously, etc.).

      Another reason to not use chrome. Ever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Autoplay

        Another reason to not use chrome. Ever.

        On a Chromebook, not many other viable options. Firefox for Android pales in comparison, and Crouton, whilst opening up several options, is pretty overkill.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Autoplay

          Firefox mobile on android is OK.

          Proper autoplay block and decent add ons for script & ad defence / block.

          I use Firefox as my default on android quite happily

          1. Tigra 07
            Thumb Up

            Re: Autoplay

            Try Firefox Focus. Blazingly fast, beautiful to look at, and built in ad and tracking blocker.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Autoplay

      "Burn it. Burn it with fire."

      then MURDER! IT! TO! DEATH!!

      what part of "nearly all of that CRAP is advertising and we don't want to have it SHOVED UP OUR DOWN OUR THROATS" do they NOT understand???

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Autoplay

        "what part of "nearly all of that CRAP is advertising and we don't want to have it SHOVED UP OUR DOWN OUR THROATS" do they NOT understand???"

        It's Google, the worlds BIGGEST internet advertising company. What makes you think they don't understand?

      2. Stevie

        Re: Autoplay

        Bob! Take your meds!

    3. TheRealRoland

      Re: Autoplay

      I say we take off and nuke the entire browser from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

      1. davidp231

        Re: Autoplay

        I fear that even a nuclear warhead from orbit won't be sufficient... I recommend a trilithium torpedo, fired into the sun. That should take care of it.

    4. Updraft102

      Re: Autoplay

      media.autoplay.enabled = 0

      Problem solved.

      In Firefox and derivatives, anyway. Don't mention it too much though, or Mozilla will be reminded of one way that FF is still better than Chrome and "fix" it.

      Then there's this:

      "Most internet users have suffered from having sound blaring out from one browser tab while looking at a different one."

      Yes, but you just look for the little speaker icon on the tab and click it to mute that tab. In Firefox, again.

      So many people badmouth Firefox, but it still gives more control over annoyances than anything else out there. I know Mozilla is working hard to remove all features from FF that make it better, but FF is open source, so hope springs eternal: Maybe one of the FF derivatives will become the "default" version once people realize what Mozilla has done to their formerly great browser in version 57.

      Chrome was built to a philosophy of, "We're Google, so we know the best way of doing everything. We're not going to give you any options, because the product is already configured ideally. If you don't agree, you're wrong, and the answer for that is not for us to change the product to suit you, but for you to stop being wrong."

      Firefox was built to be the opposite. Its XUL addon system was powerful enough to allow the devs to remove popular features from the core product without alienating a lot of users. The core browser would be just the bits that everyone uses, with the less-used stuff made into addons, which (once installed) were functionally the same as if the code was included in FF itself.

      Now Mozilla has forgotten everything it knew about browser design and is trying to be Chrome, even though the world already has a browser that is, by definition, the browser that will forever be the most Chrome-like browser possible. It's insanity for Moz to forsake their remaining user base and develop for the people that are already happy with Chrome, and in doing so go head to head with a corporate giant with many orders of magnitude more resources.

      No matter what Mozilla does, I won't touch Chrome proper. Maybe someday some other browser that uses Chromium as a base will be decent, but none I have tested thus far even hold a candle to what I can do with pre-57 Firefox and its addon library. I won't be adopting FF 57+, unless they somehow include (into FF itself) all of the functionality I was going to add myself with my 20 some odd "legacy" addons. Given that so many of my addons are about undoing Mozilla mistakes (Australis, getting rid of the status bar, that kind of thing), it doesn't seem terribly likely.

      1. beep54

        Re: Autoplay

        "media.autoplay.enabled = 0

        Problem solved."

        Er, nope. Tried it and stuff will still autoplay. And anyways, Firefox is turning into a clone of Chrome. I really like Pale Moon, but there are some addons (such as for stopping autoplay) that don't work.

      2. jelabarre59

        Re: Autoplay

        If you don't agree, you're wrong, and the answer for that is not for us to change the product to suit you, but for you to stop being wrong."

        That's precisely the answer I've been given whenever I say I **NEVER** want to have tabs in the window title-bar. Generally it's been a "feck you and take it, stupid user".

  2. Josh 14


    Time to consider moving to another mobile browser more seriously?

    As much as I don't like saying it, Chrome is the simplest to use on my Android device.

    Firefox takes a good bit to load, and the other offerings that I've tried were barely worth a glance before they were uninstalled, either due to missing functionality, poor behavior, or just poor UI.

    1. Updraft102

      Re: So....

      The last time I used Android, which I am realizing was probably over a year ago (so things may have changed), there were no decent browsers available on that platform. None. I've tried them all.

      Opera Classic would be the one that I would pick if it didn't always hang while loading pages all the time. Firefox lacks a text reflow on zoom (or they did last time I used Android... the feature was in there originally, but it worked so poorly that they removed it instead of fixing it); instant disqualification. On a mobile device, not having automatic, robust text reflow is unforgivable.

      Any browser with disappearing UI that can't be turned off is instantly disqualified. I had Chrome installed when they removed that ability (Google knows best, you know; there's no need for options when the correct ones have already been selected for you). It was still in that state the last time I tried it.

      All of the others have major issues that prevent them from being any good. Or had, I should say; it's been a long time, so someone may have actually fixed one of them by now. No matter to me; I'm beyond caring about Android (and I never cared about iOS). Mobile is just awful in general. Sometimes it amazes me that it's as popular as it is... other than being convenient when you're out, it just sucks balls in every possible way, IMO.

      For me, if I am out (on my own time), I do whatever it is I need or want to do that has me being out (whether running errands or hanging out with friends), then when that is done, I go in. In is where my desktop is. If I am in, I use that; it has a glorious large screen, a full-size keyboard, a mouse that is far more ergonomic and speedy than trying to use fleshy fingers on a touchscreen, and it's far faster. I can get whatever it is I need done on it far faster than if I am hobbled by a mobile device.

      About the only time mobile devices really shine is when someone is stuck having to wait for someone or something. Thankfully, that seldom happens very much for me. Otherwise... meh. I like my PCs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So....

        I'm on my first "smart phone". I used feature phones up until this and finally made the switch because the cost was equal to or less than on my feature phone. Must be subsidies, otherwise I'm not sure how that works. So, having succumbed to the smart phone I'm not seeing the allure. I don't find it any easier to make calls and harder to text as it lacks the nice side slide keyboard. It's bigger so as to provide enough screen real estate to see a web page, but it's still to small to be functional that way (for me at least).

        I do understand that there are many apps for these that many people find very useful but for me, and I think a lot of people, modern smart phones miss the mark. I do find it interesting that ISPs can make the cost of owning one less than that of a feature phone.

  3. elDog

    They're not going to stop trying to dominate the media market

    A 1-inch bandaid on a gaping wound won't staunch the flow. As we all know, google pwned youtube so they can capture the eyeballs for adverts. Apparently the feckless youth are really into flashy objects and disco bouncing things.

    A simple solution would be a quick dropdown of all tabs that have moving pieces and give us old folks a way to say f-off. I have 20+ windows open, each with 5-10 tabs. I don't want to go through each one looking for that little mike symbol

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: They're not going to stop trying to dominate the media market

      "Our metrics indicate that Chrome users indicate an interest in YouTube by visiting the site, so YouTube videos are exempt from having autoplay disabled."

  4. MonkeyJuice

    I fscking hate autoplay on most sites, but as a developer I would strongly make the case where games and video sites are an obvious scenario where a user would happily whitelist this capability where necessary, much like you can whitelist video capture, geolocation data or myriad other features.

    Autoplay is one of those features that is *really* useful for a narrow class of popular websites and applications, that has been horrifically abused by everyone especially mainstream news sites.

    Now we have a botched solution that looks like it will suck for both end users and developers, breaking sites that will need it up front, and letting idiots through the net. This is why we can't have nice things.

    1. StevenN

      I think the use case for autoplaying videos is a full 0.00000000% of web sites. To be useful, it must be unilateral and complete.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Youtube et al.

    2. find users who cut cat tail

      > much like you can whitelist video capture, geolocation data or myriad other features

      I can, but I'd be happier if I could not. It's better if the browser doesn't implement them at all because then no mistakes, bugs, upgrades & configuration changes, ... can enable these antifeatures.

    3. Wade Burchette

      The ONLY time when an autoplay video is acceptable is when I click on a clear unambiguous link to a video.

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      "Autoplay is one of those features that is *really* useful for a narrow class of popular websites and applications"

      Name one.

      One that truly honestly seriously needs to autoplay videos and would be badly damaged by the user having to tap or click one extra time to start the video playing.

      1. Updraft102

        "Name one.

        One that truly honestly seriously needs to autoplay videos and would be badly damaged by the user having to tap or click one extra time to start the video playing."

        Peacemaker browser benchmark. It doesn't work with autoplay off (or at least not as it is intended to).

        It's not supported anymore, but still quite useful. There's the one use case-- a tool for evaluating browsers.

    5. Stevie

      As a developer ...

      As a developer who fled that field in the 1980s, let me just say that rewarding lazy behaviour in the user never ends well*, and that I personally cannot envisage a single use-case in which having the sound off by default with a prominent "begin play(back)" button is a worse option than having some witess heavy metal blither (why is it always heavy metal?) blast out over whatever the user had playing at the time in the background when the onload event triggers.

      This was in the "never do" column of web design handbooks back in the dawn of the World Wide Web.

      I guess "F*ck 'Em" supplanted "User Experience First" thinking sometime in the interrim.

      * Case in point: the article's subject

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ****ing BBC are the worst ....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ****ing BBC are the worst ....

      Really any news site these days. Apparently kids these days click through headlines for the shiny videos rather than to, I dunno, READ.

      Bring back 56kbps. It's good fer yer.

      1. Joe Werner Silver badge

        Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

        Bring back news on paper. Nothing beats the haptics of dead trees!

        Before you call me a COF: every (almost...) type of content delivery has its place. Autoplaying vids have no place in my browser (nor has autoplay of CDs, USB discs etc.)

        1. emullinsabq

          Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

          "Bring back news on paper. Nothing beats the haptics of dead trees!"

          I haven't taken the paper in over a decade, but I had a chance to look at this week's Sunday edition where I live. Suffice it to say that paper news isn't what it used to be. They have decided to follow suit with advertising at the expense of user experience too. It really is horrid-- articles have ads in the text, the text is less about informing and more about what people feel about xxx. Save your money.

          Maybe this isn't true everywhere, but in my city (ABQ as I'm sure you guessed), we are down to one paper. It is thinner, more ads, worse content, and more expensive than every previous year.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

        The BBC also auto-play subsequent 'related' videos extending the agony.

        It really pisses me off that there is no off switch available on the BBC website for this behaviour.

        I use the BBC website less and less these days, auto-playing videos, more news stories only being available as videos without a text (or subtitle) option.

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

          I haven't visited a BBC website for years now. Last time I looked they were really going for the lowest denominator in terms of content and a design, which might have looked good on a mobile device, was simply horrible on a desktop. Am I right to assume that it hasn't improved?

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

          "The BBC also auto-play subsequent 'related' videos extending the agony."

          And what's the point of that, anyway?

          BBC is licence financed, FFS!

          I guess in the internal politics of money distribution the web team want to be able to show some meaningless figures, that works because management are totally clueless, and get more of the cake.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

        Actually, it's old people that are the problem.

        "Younger adults more likely than their elders to prefer reading news":

        1. Richard Jones 1

          Re: ****ing BBC are the worst ....

          No, No, No unless you are paying this 71 a compliment as being young.

          I want to read the news, not have it blare out from some tiny speaker on a mobile or flash across a screen silently on the PC because the speakers are turned off. It would be nice to have the choice of not listening to random voice of the population stuff., but getting the substance of an event.

    2. Steve Foster


      Disable JavaScript on the BBC news website. That gets rid of all the "millennial" shiny shiny crap and leaves the news stories (mostly). Yes, links to somemany "stories" will get you to an essentially empty page (because they're nothing but soundbites or blipverts), but after a while it's fairly straightforward to know which ones will be like that and avoid them.

    3. Cynical Observer

      Stay away from the Independent in that case. Even worse for video launches, they are truly an abomination

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Autoplay is easy to disable in Firefox (media.autoplay.enabled or media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground) but you need to double-click on the pause icon to start it.

        What's worse are those sites that render another story under the one you're reading just before you reach the bottom of the page. It's an outrage, hanging offence, etc...

      2. Allan 1

        Stay away from the DailyMail/MailonSunday sites then. Every story has a video player, that not only autoplays, but slides out, and slides off to the side, and won't let you kill it until its played 30 seconds of commercials.

        Thanfully I found a very simple uBlock Origins filter sniplet, that kills the flyout mechanism for it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I find the Telegraph to be the worst. When you read an article there that has an accompanying video, the video loads so slowly that you've scrolled well past it before it starts deafening you.

  6. Mark 85

    I'm of the opinion this really isn't about videos but advertising such that looking at a page with an ad blasting video is "indicating interest" even if it's page not the ad. err.. yeah.. how dare anyone be against ads, right? Sorry, but this really stinks.

  7. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Note to self: make that donation to the Mozilla Foundation.

  8. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I effing love having flickering animated and/or loud content pushed into my face all the time. The "blink" HTML command was a brilliant idea, as has been Flash, and all other things invented since then. What would life be without pushy adverts? Not worth living, if you ask me!

    Oh, and the best thing?

    Restoring a crashed session gives all those yummy videos an opportunity to start playing simultaneously! And that regardless of their actual state before the crash. Delightful!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >I effing love having flickering animated and/or loud content pushed into my face all the time.

      I've noticed that some of the ad's that free games display on the ipad now flicker at an irritating rate, distracting you from the rest of the screen, however the flciker rate the ad is using prevents you from actually reading the ad...

    2. pyite42

      It is really bad over RDP

      I only use Windows as a WebEx launcher. I dread the times when I have to go to to join because it auto-plays a video that makes rdp freeze for awhile because it insists on rendering every frame.

      The only acceptable solution is to deny auto-play by default and have a popup to whitelist them, similar to the way browsers can currently handle popup ads.

  9. Jflynn007

    The auto play blocker in the Safari beta for High Sierra is somewhat effective and a better implementation than what Google is planning on. Haven't tried an iOS beta yet to see how well it works there. Nice thing is Safari is picking up a nice speed improvement.

    Chrome has been my go to Windows browser. Might be time to look at Firefox again. These auto plays are brutal.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The best advert for the new Safari is the outraged letter a group of advertising associations have written complaining about Apple's cookie-killing system: "how dare Apple stop us from tracking users across websites". The poor dears.

  10. rightwingnutjob

    This website wants to autoplay video

    Allow or Deny?

    I don't see why it needs to be anymore complicated than that. Besides Youtube I can't even think of a website where I'd prefer videos to play automatically.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      I would argue specially on YouTube you do not want auto play, as YouTube has its default behaviour of going on to play another video after the one you have been watching is finished.

      This hit an older relative of mine who had to leave the house at short notice to deal with family crisis and so accidentally left their PC on YouTube for most off the day ..and burned through a huge chunk of their monthly data allowance in one day.

      1. Tigra 07
        Thumb Up

        RE: tiggity

        See that button on the right with the "Autoplay" label. You can switch it off.

        If your older relative logs into Youtube, the settings you change are permanent.

        You're welcome

  11. The Unexpected Bill

    For Firefox Users...

    Setting the preference value of "media.autoplay.enabled" (to false) does a wondrous job of stopping the plague that is any HTML 5 video.

    Why Groan couldn't have something similar, simple and every bit as effective can only be imagined.

    A word of caution: some web sites can't cope with this and flip out at the very possibility that someone wouldn't want their video to play automatically. So far, I've found that behavior to be a fair barometer of whether or not I actually want to continue visiting said web site.

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: For Firefox Users...

      Would that be 'said web site@? Or rather should it be 'sad web site'?

    2. gormful

      Re: For Firefox Users...

      "A word of caution: some web sites can't cope with this and flip out at the very possibility that someone wouldn't want their video to play automatically."

      Yep. Vimeo in particular refuses to play video if 'media.autoplay.enabled' is false. Bastards.

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    There should be no whitelist of sites for autoplaying videos, how hard is it for someone to press a play button if they want to watch the video?

    I use mobile broadband a lot and on capped data so don't want to be wasting my limited allowance streaming videos that I am not interested in so my FF will remain with media.autoplay disabled and Chrome will be left for testing purposes only.

    1. Not also known as SC

      Also thing of the health benefits? Google are trying to save us from ourselves. The user will probably burn an additional 0.01 of a calorie moving their finger therefore reducing the obesity epidemic. If we weren't given the choice of moving our eyeballs and then stabbing repeatedly at the screen to kill the video off think how unhealthy we would all be.

  13. herman Silver badge

    In sheer desperation, I have resorted to the Dolphin text browser on my iPhone. It doesn't do graphics - at all. That solves a whole zoo of evils.

  14. pro-logic

    Is there actually a way to currently fully disable auto-pay in chrome?

  15. ecarlseen

    Duh. Google is an advertising company, people.

    Google makes money from selling ads. Effectively disabling things like autoplay and tracking cookies are not on their list of things to do, because it will cost them money.

    Look, Internet companies get people hooked on their stuff by giving it away for free, and then they take that away to see if you'll keep paying. In some cases it's obvious and they start charging a fee. In other cases it's less obvious, and they do it by whoring out your privacy, personal data, ability to block autoplay or tracking cookies, or you'll pay with your time running around playing whack-a-mole with your time and mental energy fiddling with privacy settings and third-party tools. But - and let this sink it - one way or another, you *will* pay.

    There are three possible outcomes:

    1) You will pay with your privacy... errr... the lack thereof. This is the easiest approach and requires no effort. You will absorb the advertising content your corporate overlords throw at you, and you will tell them everything about you, including things you probably don't know about yourself. This is the Google / Android / Microsoft Windows 10 world with default settings, and 99.99% of people will not change the default settings. Sure, you can get on your knees and beg politicians to fix this for you and see where that gets you. That's always funny to watch.

    2) You will pay with your time. This involves fighting back the advertising firehoses and privacy sieves. The easiest way on the desktop / laptop world is to use Linux, but this isn't a practical option for everyone. Alternately, you can stay eternally vigilant and play whack-a-mole in the Windows (outside of high-priced Enterprise editions, where even the admins still have to invest time) and Google worlds and hope for the best. In the mobile world, the modularity of Android Oreo may give end users a chance to bring this under control in a sane manner without investing insane amounts of time and effort, but we'll see. Other than that, enjoy beating back the waves of vendor-installed spyware, Google's information-slurping ecosystem of apps and services, and patches that are never offered.

    3) You will pay with your wallet. This probably means paying what The Register refers to as the "Cupertino idiot tax." This is an imperfect solution - you still have to take some proactive measures like installing ad blockers in your browsers, but at least your OS and browser aren't fighting you every step of the way. It has a lot of sensible privacy and security measures baked in and either turned on by default or can be activated with a minimal amount of effort. Security updates are almost always produced in a timely manner, and devices have excellent support timeframes (typically four years on mobile devices, seven years on laptops and desktops - but performance may suffer on older devices as OS updates start to take advantage of the extra processing power they have available on newer models). On the mobile side, you have to live in their walled garden. On a practical level this doesn't cause issues for most users, but those who like to fiddle with the innards of their OS will be deeply frustrated. And hardware upgrades? Heh. Not going to happen. It's an expensive world, but it's also an easy world. A classic economic trade-off.

    But again - never forget - you will pay, one way or the other. At least Apple is honest about how you'll do it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Duh. Google is an advertising company, people.

      Then they should give Chromebooks away for free, not expect us to pay hundreds of dollars just to watch adverts and have our private lives sucked away.

      In fact, if anybody came to me and said, "we want you to spend several hours a day watching ads and telling us your personal secrets so we can sell them on", I would want paying in return - an awful lot more than a few hundred dollars!

      Advertising is one thing, ****ing with my life is quite another.

      I use a chromebook and it is a zillion times better than the competition. But I still refuse to play its crappy little games.

  16. Howard Hanek

    Part of Its Social Justice Campaign

    .....striking a blow for ATSD sufferers everywhere.......

  17. JWLong

    For Chrome on Win

  18. John Crisp


    Didn't that go out of fashion with 1950s cars? Looked lovely til the rust set in.

    Or is it just some kind of spyware/billboard/advertisement hoarding?

    I must be getting old

  19. Stevie


    Never should have moved away from WAIS and GOPHER.

    Thin end of the wedge. Fought wars. Rationing. Mafeking. Lloyd George. Etc. More etc.

  20. raving angry loony

    Fuck Chrome

    Between their deliberate breaking of privacy-enhancing tools, and this, and a bunch of other things, anyone running a browser created by and for a major advertiser is just asking for spam, privacy issues, and other crap.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chrome !?

    Chrome - because Google's tracking you on the web is not enough? You want them right into your system?

    No thanks.

    I just use Firefox. It might not be perfect, it might even do some tracking (although I turned that off - FF let's you do that), but at least it is not hooked into Google.

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