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How to automatically mute tabs in Safari, Chrome and Firefox


Don’t you just hate it when you open a new tab, only to get a blast of noise that you weren’t expecting?

In the worst case scenario you’re in a public place, or had your headphones plugged in and the volume turned up to max, and now you’re desperately flicking through tabs, trying to find the auto-playing video that’s responsible for the racket.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to silence those irritating, potentially embarrassing auto-playing videos for good, by looking at how to auto-mute tabs across all the major web browsers.


Auto-Mute Tabs on Safari

If you’re running macOS High Sierra then you can access various muting options directly from Safari’s address bar. Whenever one or more of your tabs is playing audio, Safari displays a blue ‘Audio’ icon.

Clicking this icon has various effects, depending on the tab you’re currently viewing:

  • The current tab is playing audio. Clicking the ‘Audio’ icon will silence the current tab only.
  • Another tab is playing audio. Clicking the ‘Audio’ icon will silence the tab that’s currently playing audio.
  • Multiple tabs are playing audio. Clicking the ‘Audio’ icon will silence the current tab only.

You can also mute/unmute a specific tab, by clicking the ‘Audio’ icon that appears within that tab’s header.

Finally, you can modify Safari’s default auto-playing behaviour, by Control-clicking the ‘Audio’ icon in Safari’s address bar, opening the ‘Auto-play’ submenu, and then selecting one of the following options:

  • Allow all auto-play. This is Safari’s default behaviour.
  • Stop media with sound. Mute tabs that contain auto-playing video or audio-only content.
  • Never auto-play. Prevent all new tabs from auto-playing audio or video content.

Auto-muting tabs in Chrome

If you’re a Chrome user, then you can mute specific websites using the MuteTab extension.

To setup this extension:

  • Launch Chrome and head over to MuteTab’s page on the Chrome Web Store.
  • Select ‘Add to Chrome.’
  • Read the onscreen warning and if you’re happy to proceed then click ‘Add Extension.’

MuteTab adds a new icon in the upper-right corner of your Chrome browser. To access the various MuteTab settings, give this icon a click.

The subsequent drop-down contains the following options:

  • Mute background tabs. Mute everything except the current tab.
  • Mute all tabs. Mute every tab, including the current tab.
  • Unmute all tabs. Restore Chrome’s default behaviour.
  • Privacy mode. Automatically mutes all tabs.
  • Disable automuting. Temporarily disable all of the above behavior.

If one of your favourite websites is particularly fond of auto-playing video or audio, then you may want to blacklist its URL so that MuteTab knows to always mute this website automatically:

  • Click the ‘MuteTab’ icon.
  • Select ‘Options’ towards the upper-right corner.
  • Enter the website’s address in the ‘Domain’ field.
  • Click ‘Add Domain.’

In this menu you can also whitelist websites so that their content is never muted, regardless of your MuteTab settings, which can be particularly useful for websites that revolve around media, such as YouTube or Spotify.

Auto-Mute Tabs in Firefox

If you’re a Firefox user, then the equivalent of Chrome’s MuteTab extension is, coincidentally, also called MuteTab. This add-on can automatically mute new tabs, although the first tab you open will always have sound.

To setup this extension and auto-mute new tabs:

  • Launch Firefox and head over to MuteTab’s page in the Firefox Add-ons website.
  • Give the ‘Add to Firefox’ button a click.
  • When prompted, click ‘Add,’ followed by ‘Restart now.’
  • Once Firefox restarts, select the lined icon in the upper-right corner of Firefox, and then select ‘Add-ons’ from the menu that appears.
  • Select ‘Extensions’ from the left-hand menu.
  • Find the ‘Mute Tab’ item and give the ‘Preferences’ button a click.
  • Select the ‘Auto-mute new tabs’ checkbox.

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