Autoplay-Disabling Chrome Extension Saves Resources

February 20, 2017 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Google’s Chrome browsers is massively extensible and can support a wide-range of user-added features, such as blocking content that tries to play automatically when you enter a page, thanks to the Disable HTML5 Autoplay extension. The rather simple extension works by blocking certain HTML instructions that enable a piece of content to play automatically when a user wanders onto a page that contains it. Conveniently, the extension can also hook into Javascript, blocking off automatic Javascript players, as well. Few formats that can be set to play automatically are left on the table with this approach, saving a user valuable system resources, and of course saving them the embarrassment of having a video blast its audio in public.

Though the extension’s core functions are simple enough, it is highly customizable thanks to compatibility with user-added scripts and calls. While this approach makes things a bit verbose, novice users can always follow a guide, and experts can customize the plugin to their heart’s content. Naturally, this allows for things like only allowing certain sites to autoplay, or only blocking autoplay videos with advertisements attached or that have audio content, for example. The possibilities are nearly endless, and beyond the lack of a graphical user interface with switches, controlling the plugin is only as complicated as a user wants it to be.

On top of saving battery life, system resources, and sanity, disabling autoplaying videos ensures that users won’t miss out on content because they didn’t scroll to the video on time or because a page that they want to read has a video that crashes their lower-end device’s browser before they can read the rest of the page. There have been a number of ways to block autoplay for a while, but for Chrome users, this method may be the easiest out there. It should be noted, however, that autoplay videos are seen as a boon for advertisers, which could mean that video advertising on the web may end up feeling the effects of widespread use of this plugin and development of others like it, especially if the phenomenon makes its way into the world of the mobile internet.