There’s A Reason Why Chrome’s New Audio Tabs Can’t Be Muted

February 11, 2014 - Written By Justin Diaz

If you use Google Chrome as your main browser on the PC, you probably already know about one of the latest features to come to Chrome 32, which is the addition of the Audio tab indicators that Google made so that we might have a better idea of identifying which tabs are making noise. Things like hangouts, and youtube video audio are good examples of how the indicators can come in handy, helping us to track down and locate which tabs are being noisy so that we might stop the sound. There’s no real need to shut off the sound for stuff like hangouts messages, as they only beep when you receive an incoming message. For YouTube videos though, or annoying video ads, the need to have the audio muted is something that can be extremely useful. However, Google sheds some light as to why they haven’t added in a “mute” button to the tab indicators and why they don’t plan to.

It boils down to a basic idea of redundancy and browser regulation, as Francois Beaufort states that adding in the mute button to the tab indicators, makes things redundant for cases where the tab with playing audio, already has media controls that could allow the user to mute the audio on the player itself within the webpage. In the case of browser regulation, he mentions that if Google and the Chrome team were to add the option to mute tabs specifically, that would imply that Chrome should Police content by way of controlling sound directly from the core makeup of the browser instead of through the websites controls. This doesn’t fall in line with what Google wants out of Chrome which is part of why they haven’t added in the muting option. Beaufort also mentions a statement brought up by users, which is that you can simply close out the tab altogether and not have to deal with it. While this may seem a bit drastic, short of muting your entire system, it might be the only way to stop the audio of annoying video ads from playing if the site doesn’t incorporate controls for the ads in the first place. We will probably never have the option to mute tabs directly through Chrome itself, but there is hope of having the feature in a round about way, if Google decides to build a chrome.tabaudio API which would allow approved Chrome extensions to handle the task of muting. For now, it looks like the options to mute are limited to the website itself or just closing out the tab altogether. Would you find the mute option useful if extensions were given the opportunity to take on the job?