Last updated: January 11, 2019
For a long time, automatic pop-up windows were the scourge of internet users. Today, most web browsers block useless pop-ups by default before they have a chance to interrupt your day. Apart from being an annoyance, pop-up windows often carried misleading content that led to malicious websites. There is a new bane in town — autoplay audio and video.
As the world’s most popular web browser, you would think Google Chrome would offer some recourse in Settings to thwart autoplay video. The Chrome Web Store offers a few extensions that perform this function. To natively disable autoplay video in Chrome, however, users must dive into the browser’s experimental features.
Disable autoplay video in Chrome
Flags are Chrome’s hidden experimental features. As Google warns, “by enabling these features, you could lose browser data or compromise your security or privacy.” So now you’re living on the edge because you don’t want to autoplay videos. Follow the steps below to disable autoplay video in Chrome by default.
Step 1. Launch Chrome and copy/paste this address into the address bar:
Step 2. Next, under Autoplay policy, click the Default drop-down menu. Choose Document user activation is required from the list.
Step 3. Finally, click the Relaunch Now button at the base of the page so your Autoplay policy change takes effect.
This effort stops autoplay videos in Chrome forever, right? Not so fast. Chrome uses a Media Engagement Index (MEI) as a signal to determine desktop user media interaction on a site. A site’s MEI score may allow it to bypass Chrome’s autoplay policy as it learns a user’s preferences.
Further, according to a blog post by John Pallett, Chrome’s Product Manager and Media Muter, “If you don’t have browsing history, Chrome allows autoplay for over 1,000 sites where we see that the highest percentage of visitors play media with sound.” This built-in “whitelist” of 1000+ sites may also bypass the autoplay policy.
If all else fails, use an extension
Thank you for visiting Tech Help Knowledgebase to learn how to disable autoplay video in Chrome.
Henry Irvine, Contributing Technology Writer, translates more than a decade of internet technology experience in product and customer relationship management into practical help and how-to content. Look for him on Bay Area trails or at the GAMH when he’s not writing. Don’t call him Hank if you see him. Seriously. Hank on Twitter