Auto-playing videos can be obnoxious. Imagine settling down in a café or library with your laptop and starting a browsing session. After searching a couple of items on Google, you open up a few tabs and return to the search results page as you wait for the tabbed pages to load. Suddenly and without warning, a video begins to play in the background. You curse under your breath as it dawns on you that the speakers are set at maximum volume. As you frantically click on the tabs looking for the offending auto-playing video, everyone casts disapproving glances your way. If this was also a video you wouldn’t want to play in public because it may be considered objectionable, you end up thoroughly embarrassed.
Have you found yourself in such a situation lately? If you have, avoid a recurrence by making use of a couple of Chrome browser extensions to prevent videos from auto-playing. In addition to saving you the embarrassment, some of these browser extensions will help save your bandwidth and ensure that you enjoy your browsing experience by preventing annoying interruptions.
So, let’s get down to it.
Flash is still the main way that online videos are rendered.
You can disable flash without using a Chrome extension. In the Chrome menu, go to settings and scroll down to Show Advanced Settings. Click this and under the Privacy heading, click Content Settings. In the pop-up window, scroll down to Plug-ins and select the Click to play radio button.
This disables the flash player plugin. Videos using flash can only play when you click on the blocked plug-in area as shown below.
Alternatively, you can use a Chrome flash blocker extension. This isn’t the first time we have covered flash blockers. Saikat previously did an excellent review of FlashControl, a chrome extension that stops flash from loading automatically. A similar extension that does much the same thing is Flash Block.
The advantage of using a Chrome extension over the default method is that you have control over what plays and what doesn’t. For example, you may want to enable auto play by default on some sites and stop it on all other sites.
While flash is still the main way that many websites play video content, YouTube now uses HTML5. HTML5 does not utilize flash, so you cannot prevent videos from auto-playing by using a flash blocker.
The only reliable way I have found to prevent YouTube videos from auto-playing is a free Chrome extension known as Magic Actions for YouTube™. Download the extension from the Chrome web store.
To stop videos from auto-playing and to configure other preferences, you need to open the Options page. There are two ways to do this. After the initial set-up click on on the purple “Options” button. Alternatively, go the Chrome menu, scroll down to Tools and select Extensions. Scroll down and look for the Magic Actions extension. Click on Options. In the new page, click the Options button again. This will take you to the developer’s website where you can choose your settings.
Scroll down and look for the Stop Autoplay option. Tick the check box as shown below and that’s it!
Test out the app by firing up YouTube or checking the YouTube video below. Click any video and wait to see if it plays automatically. The video shouldn’t play or even start buffering. If the extension doesn’t work at first, restart your browser and try again.
As an added bonus, Magic Actions allows you to customize just about every aspect of your YouTube experience. In addition to stopping videos from automatically playing and downloading, you can also:
- Control video volume with various options
- Automatically select the highest resolution available or choose your resolution
- Automatically use a wide player
- Pick and choose customizations via a simple interface consisting mainly of checkboxes.
- Hide some page sections, for example, you can make comment threads disappear
You can access all these advanced settings easily via a bar that appears under all videos on YouTube.
A Word On Stopping Auto-Play Video
A few other apps I tested stopped the auto-play but the video still started loading automatically. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your own preferences. If you want to conserve your bandwidth, then preventing automatic loading is a good thing because we all know that sometimes you get distracted and end up not even watching the video. For more great Chrome extensions, please check out out our best Chrome extensions page.
What’s your take on auto-playing videos? Do you like the fact that YouTube videos load automatically by default? Please share your comments below.