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How To Enable Chrome’s Hidden Tab Mute Feature

Last year Google Chrome introduced an easier way to find out which open tabs are playing sound, a feature that makes unexpected blasts from auto-play elements hidden on a web page far easier to deal with.

Oh how the MySpace years would have benefited from that!

But Chrome’s tab indicator can do more than simply show you which tab is playing sound. Oh yes; a hidden, experimental, feature turns the nifty speaker icon into a clickable mute button.

This image does not endorse muting Nyan Cat

This image does not endorse muting of Nyan Cat

Aside from avoiding wear and tear on your keyboard’s dedicated mute key the feature works on a per tab basis, not a system-wide one.

When a web page starts playing audio, be it intentionally or otherwise, you can click the speaker icon to toggle the sound for that one tab off, and click it again to toggle the sound back on. The flag also adds a command to the tab context menu for quick right click > shut up access.

Enable Tab Muting Feature in Chrome

To try Chrome’s Tab Mute feature out for yourself, bearing in mind that it’s still experimental, you need simply to do the following:

  1. Go to chrome://flags in a new tab
  2. Search for the ‘Enable tab audio muting UI control’ flag
  3. Hit the ‘Enable’ link
  4. Relaunch Chrome when prompted (on Chrome OS a full restart is required¹)

Now to test it out.

Open up a YouTube video (or any other web-page/website with sound, like Soundcloud) and hit play.

You should see the regular speaker icon now appear in the tab strip.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 22.40.05

Click it to mute the sound from that tab, and that tab alone.

tab mute

The mute button works when the tab playing sound is selected and when it’s in the background.

Nifty, no?

If you get experience any issues after turning the Tab mute control flag on you can quickly disable it:

  1. Go to chrome://flags in a new tab
  2. Search for the ‘Enable tab audio muting UI control’ flag
  3. Hit the ‘Disable’ link
  4. Relaunch Chrome when prompted

¹Thanks Jason

  • Vin

    I have the speaker icon, but the rest of this post is not reality for me. I can’t mute by clicking on the speaker and the context menu doesn’t have shut up. Still, the speaker is nice because I’ve wondered which tab at times was playing.

    • Jason Colby

      After enabling the feature, you may need to restart your device for the change to take effect.

      • I didn’t try this on my Chromebook; assumed like most flags a “relaunch Chrome” would be sufficient on Chrome OS.

        I’ll update — thanks! :)

    • Vin

      Yeah, Jason, that worked, thanks! I have a Chromebook and Joey said just restart Chrome. That gave me the speaker but not the toggling ability. Once I restarted the Chromebook, I can toggle the speaker. The change in the tab’s menu is “Mute tab” or “Unmute tab”. This is a very good tweak. Thanks Joey!

  • Eldaria

    Nice, very handy.

  • moe

    this came out a long time ago..

    • Vin

      Yeah. but that doesn’t mean that people know about it. As a relative newcomer to Chromebooks (I got mine in August 2014), I come here daily to learn stuff and tips like this are a good example.

      • Precisely that, Vin :)

        Useful tips are only useful when people know about them. Even I’m still learning about things Chrome has to offer.

      • Juan Carlos Cornejo

        I find this specially true for hidden features/flags.

        I enjoy it when someone highlights a feature that’s not part of the standard settings.

  • Thomas John Longworth

    I got my first chromebook today and this is one of the most useful tips I have recieved as I am used to having a computer with 30+ chrome tabs open at once when I open it.

    • Drew Ciccotelli

      Alt+Backspace is Delete.

      • ChromeDude

        Oh my god you have no idea how much that made me laugh

        • Drew Ciccotelli

          I’m always happy to hear someone is laughing.

      • Alan

        Thank you, I’ve been wondering how to do that…

  • novasucks

    Finally, this is gonna be so useful.

  • ChromeDude

    You had to use Nyan Cat, didn’t you?

  • Vengatesh TR

    Useful Addition. Thanks for sharing info :)

  • Nathan Shoemark

    Been waiting for this ever since they put the sound icon on the tab

  • Guest

    g < col Hiiiiiii Friends….'my friend's mom mkes $88 every hour on the internet .She has been unemployed for eight months but last month her payment was $13904 just working on the internet for a few hours. try this site <

  • Shaffy

    It… doesn’t work…?
    Pressing the sound icon does nothing…

  • Rick McConnell

    Awesome… so easy. Thanks!

  • Thanks! So useful! :D

  • Sababu1

    This is so cool m8. I r8 8/8. Now I can block all this John Cena nonsense.

  • I am


  • Ron W.

    Any way to make the default muted, and you would have to click to unmute?

  • Naveen Arur

    Thank you!

  • Now I can’t wait for this mute button to be removed from the tabs. Why not just have the mute option as a right-click context menu? Along with all the other options? This way, users can click on a tab to select it without accidentally muting a tab.

    More options, please. Do not ever remove flags or configuration!

    • Corey Myers

      Then you wouldn’t know where the sound was coming from if one of your many tabs starts playing sounds.

      • Yes, you would. Provided that it is an icon that shows you where the sound is coming from, and not a button. Now it is an icon, it is a button, it is mixing responsibilities of tab controls and status reports with media controls and media status reports, plus it conflates a button with an icon and it magically and unexpectedly changes between an icon and a button.

        This is truly some of the worst HCI design I have ever seen. In fact, I think it should be taught as an anti-pattern in universities and colleges to serve as a warning of how featuritis can ruin a GUI entirely.

  • Gato_wiska

    Now I can do a ptc and a Youtube video at the same time. Mute that damn ptc.

  • Bern White

    Great, it could be better with a keyboard shortcut though; just a suggestion.


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