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Chrome Will No Longer Autoplay Video in Background Tabs

Unexpected audio blasts can be super annoying

Unexpected audio blasts can be super annoying

The sudden jolt of panic caused by a background tab playing a video unexpectedly… Yeah, it’s something most of us are familiar with.

Recent versions of Chrome ship with features designed to tame this annoyance. There’s a nifty tab indicator to find a noisy web-page quickly and a mute button to make it shuttity-up -up-up.

Now, in the latest developer channel release of Chrome, Google is going one step further.

Google Presses Pause on Auto-Play Media

These annoying sound blast are the result of media elements starting to play as soon as a web-page loads.

It’s annoying because most of the time you don’t know these media elements are there (much less about to blast out of your speakers) or if you do know they’re there, you want them to ‘wait’ to play until you’re ready to watch (otherwise you wouldn’t be opening it in a background tab).

The latest dev channel release of Google Chrome for Windows, Mac & Linux solves these issues. Chrome will pause videos, ads and other auto-play media content until you’re ready.

Video content loaded in a background tab will no longer play automatically until you visit the tab.

Chrome will continue to load media content in the background. For example, if you middle click a YouTube video it won’t play right away but Chrome will begin loading it so as to avoid buffering.

This feature may, potentially, improve Chrome’s power usage too. Because plugins won’t need to start rendering media until you’ve given it the okay Chrome will, in theory, sup on a little less battery juice than before.

This doesn’t affect the ability to play video in the background

Before you panic this feature does not remove the ability to play videos in background tabs. You can continue to listen to Nyan Cat on loops on YouTube while browsing the Wikipedia entry for Groot.

All that’s being ‘halted’ here is the ability for tabs to automatically play content in the background. Chrome is ‘pausing’ content until it knows that you want it to play.

It’s a nifty features, and is enabled by default on the Chrome dev channel for Windows, Mac and Linux.

  • David Haymond

    This is a very welcome feature! Great job Chrome team!

  • michellerschneider

    hk pnm;ml’ ?

  • Patrick Mitchell

    The only problem is notifications for sites such as FaceBook, Twitter and others won’t play.

    • That’s what I was thinking about. I hope they’ve thought about this.

      • Patrick Mitchell

        Im looking for a way to disable this but so far no luck.

        • For what reason(s) would you want to disable it?

          • Enigmatic87

            In order to line up videos to autoplay in weak wifi zones – first google implement dash playback to stop videos buffering fully, so we have to download a plugin to override it – then they removed the plugin from the chrome store – and now this! This is the last straw, I’m switching browser – prob safari as it represents a huge difference in battery life too

          • Okay.

          • Enigmatic87

            I ended up going to Firefox as it also has plugin for multi-row bookmarks bar, and I can’t tell you how much better it is – prolonged battery life, uses less CPU, faster load times… now time to ditch Gmail! THE GOOGLE PURGE IS ON!

    • I believe they are looking for HTML5 elements, not HTML5 elements. As for Flash, I hope nobody is using Flash for audio these days.

      • Patrick Mitchell

        Most online games use flash audio and after a little digging GMail does aswell.

        • In any case, it never said Chrome would not allow notifications for Facebook, Twitter, etc. to play in background tabs. It said the mute feature would be for media executing *upon load* of the webpage.

  • I am Groot! >_<

    • liamdools

      Just no

    • Enigmatic87

      No you’re not. You’re not a knight either. But we do dread your inane comments.

      • Your comment is redundant, you just like hearing the sound of your own voice :))

        • Enigmatic87

          Ha – every heard the adage about those in glass houses? lol

  • Felipe Chierighini

    Is that on version 45 or only in the 46?

  • oneleft1

    I’d like to see them override web pages that disable pinch and zoom on mobile. I absolutely hate sites that decide what will and will not function on my device when on their site.

    • David Li

      It is already an accessibility option on mobile.

  • liamdools

    Can’t wait for Pale Moon to implement this

  • Biky Alex

    Hope other browsers will implement it too.

  • Haider Rehman Butt

    I wish Chrome worked better in HiDPI.

  • Anon

    You know what would be an even better idea? Allowing me to revert back to the old way thru settings in the off chance I liked the old way. Just an idea Google.

  • Anon

    I click on tabs that I’ve opened a while ago and forgotten and here comes the sound, great… I normally like to middle click on tabs and listen to the audio immediately as I continue browsing on the same page. I don’t ‘mind’ changes that software companies do, I do however find it very annoying when they assume 100 percent of the audience will love the change. I want it back the way it was, even if it’s not default. I looked through chrome://flags and I see nothing that will allow me to change it back. Stop it google, and stop it Microsoft(long story). I want to turn your autoupdates off because you pester me with changes that cannot be reverted and the mindset of the person that allows them to be finalize is infuriating. First no ‘go’ button, fine, then no bookmarks sidebar, ok fine, then you keep disabling my custom plugins even in developer mode, then you stop working with certain flash sites (pepperflash), now this. I really don’t like being parented by a company because you want to control so much how I use your product.

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  • Nick

    I’m all for improving people’s experiences but in this case this has made my user experience much more annoying. I listen to hundreds of songs per day while I’m at work from my subscription list and usually just scroll through my subs and middle click to play a song. It’s quite a nuisance to now have to activate the tab every time. I’m only ranting because it seems there are no options in any of the chrome settings pages (extensions, flags, settings, etc) to revert this behaviour. Please at the least allow users to revert to the old auto play methods…

  • CoMiGa

    How do you disable this annoying feature? I am all for making it an option for people who have the issue it is trying to address, but I don’t and now it is messing up how I use Chrome.

  • Fi

    How do I disable this?
    It is causing more annoyance for me than it was intended to fix.
    I use Google Chrome to play music on its own in the background and I hate having to revisit the tab each time the song ends just so it can continue playing.

  • Cyberianv

    More annoying than its worth. If I need to find something with sound i dont need it already has the mic icon so its incredibly easy to find and turn off. Having this a default setting stops me from being able to que up my youtube videos the way I have done for a looong time. A toggle in the setting somewhere would be best

  • DaveTheJackal

    How do I disable this dumb annoyance?

    • Why do you want a video to play if you do not watch it?
      If you want to use it to play music. Just open in a new window. (It still auto plays the videos.)

  • DaveTheJackal

    Installing firefox…

  • chello

    How do I turn this off? I listen a lot of music and this is just hindrance.

  • Enigmatic87

    First DASH playback, now this – Yet another change that’s bad for most consumers, but helps google save on bandwidth.. Gmail sucks, they’re insignificant in cloud storage, and Tesla has raped them in self-driving technology… what a surprise their stock is stagnating & consumers are flocking to a much improved safari and firefox.. including me. Idiots.

  • Ima Badlady

    This just started happening for me. I couldn’t figure out why You Tube videos refused to play until I went back to the tab.

  • john smith

    this is messing up facebook notifications…i no longer get the tone paying when someone messages me..very frustrated at it..they need to ad a whitelist

    • Sydney Bristow

      OMG! What do we do without Facebook? Sorry, it just made me laugh.

      • john smith

        just because you don’t make money threw facebook doesn’t mean others don’t
        i need notifications for customer support

  • john smith

    solution? chrome://flags/# Enable tab audio muting UI control

    • Franco Simonelli

      This doens’t work

      • john smith

        you probably need to restart the browser …did end up working for me

      • Tehol

        This function is *super* helpful, but it does something different. When you enable this function (enable tab audio muting UI control), you transform the little speaker-icons into buttons. When you press those buttons, you can now mute individual tabs.

    • Luke

      Where do I put this?

      • john smith

        it dosnt work

  • newfriend

    how do i disable this stupid feature? if there is no option to stop this, i’ll switch to firefox. >:(

    • Payden Keith Pringle

      Here’s how you stop that:

      Past this into your browser, chrome://flags/#disable-gesture-requirement-for-media-playback
      Click Enable.
      Restart Chrome.

      • Henry Lin

        You’re a lifesaver. I didn’t even know this page existed until now.

  • Liberty to comment was removed

    This is absolutely retarded and terrible! Are you nuts? “This doesn’t affect the ability to play video in the background”. I open a Youtube tab in the background to listen to music and it just doesn’t play unless I take from my time to bother to switch to that tab and then return to the tab where I was and continue with what I should have never been bothered to stop doing in the first place!

    The people who made and who wrote this have low to no intelligence. Only one more reason to put a f** bullet in my head and leave this ignorant aberrant species.

    • Liberty to comment was removed

      And what about Soundcloud, Newgrounds AP and many other music sites? Not just Youtube. And the rest of the internet as well. If I open a page it’s because I want that page to play! I wouldn’t have opened it in the first place.

      • laurenz

        Enable this to restore the feature
        chrome://flags/#disable-gesture-requirement-for-media-playback

        Don’t need to thank me :)

      • xdkos man

        Here is google’s response, most of our users are stupid idiots so we have to cater to them with default settings now, intelligent users have to search out the internet for fixes, sorry.

    • Tim Lempicki

      So disable it. Its on by default because you are the minority.

      • How do I enable it?

        I cannot find it anywhere. And youtube loads all the freaking videos..

        Was not like this before I had to format the PC ..

        Now I cannot watch youtube like I used to.. :(

      • BASSstarlet .

        Are you stupid?There is NO Enable/Disable option for this :/

  • In contrast to many below: THANK YOU for this Chrome.
    Of course it’s exactly as the article describes it and yes you are doing it wrong (but still you can switch to the original functionality).
    I reached here since I searched to see if this new feature is indeed feature or bug (I hoped it is not a bug and about to be fixed).

  • Archer Eon

    It’s very helpful when I go to my subscriptions on youtube, line up all the videos I want to watch and don’t have to go through and pause every single one like I did before. I love this! And most of the people complaining say they use youtube for music. Umm, wtf? Why wouldn’t you just use something like spotify? Don’t you just get more ads on youtube?

    • Michał Matyas

      Spotify doesn’t have all of the music in the world. Lots of times I go to YT because something I wanted to listen to was not available on Spotify.

      • Archer Eon

        And is this such a huge problem for listening to a few songs that you couldn’t get on spotify? All you have to do is click on the tab one time! Or, disable it!

        • hellol11

          not all of us have spotify.

  • Divine Martins Jr. Okoi

    One of the most awesome changes brought to a web browser. Another reason why Chrome is all I use

  • Jvdl

    This is why my videos no longer autoplay in the background?? Good god, what a retarded decision.

    • Some of us open videos in tabs, then watch them..
      Some of us = most of us.

      So this was not retarded at all. ;) Just for you, and those like you.

      • hellol11

        but then how are we going to listen to some music on pandora?

        • Just open it in new window, instead of in new tab.
          New window still autoplays.

          • hellol11

            ok, thnx.

          • Did it actually help? Or be you a internet-troller?

            I can not tell..

            You got me ever so curious though..

          • hellol11

            Actually, I was just putting up an example case for the people that actually use it.

            I’m not incredibly interested in music or anything.

          • I see. :D

  • Love how some people are aggressive about the change.
    Thing is (common logic), it was like it was before because by default every page opened was rendered (i.e. no specific behavior for background tasks). It was not something they made, it was something they didn’t.
    Then they realized that most people put things into background BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM THERE. So opening a VIDEO (you must comprehend the word really), makes no sense to automatically start except explicitly commanded by the user. This is the MAJORITY. After all many times you don’t know the actual contents of the page you visit (not all sites are YouTube where you expect a video to play).
    So they actually made a distinction of behavior and actively treat background tabs as background tabs.
    So even with common logic, you guys are a minority, so deal with it. That said, I am positive there is (or will be) a setting for you people. Go find it instead of moaning about progress. Or tell you what. FInd an older version and disable updates, since you can’t handle progress.

  • Kamorth

    Thank you to those who posted how to fix this. I play a bunch of idle games that I generally leave running in the background while I’m doing other things and in one of them I run several accounts designed to help newbies out. Having things turn off automatically was making this utterly impossible and I had no idea why I had to reload and log in to every single tab every time I did something else. I get that there are people out there who like this, but it was browser-breaking for me.

  • AB C

    i enabled it but new tab vid still not loading so i switched to comodo dragon. I dont need a daddy. The option is mine.

  • Stathis

    That’s good. But it would be perfect if there was a right click menu item with “Open in new tab and play” so everyone could be happy :)
    And to those talking about disturbing evolution/progress: true progress comes only with synthesis; new ideas alone are not enough ;)

  • how do I get this on firefox ?

  • Slobodan Miletic

    Wont autoplay on Chrome…