If you’re like some people, then some of your most frustrating experiences while browsing the web occur when autoplay videos blare loud and obnoxious audio in a quiet work environment. You’ve probably installed a plug-in, if one exists in your chosen browser, aimed specifically at blocking such videos and maintaining your serenity. Those don’t always work, however, and that’s why Google is finally tackling the problem with the release of Chrome 66.
Specifically, the latest version of Google’s browser, Chrome 66, controls when media will automatically start playing. There are a set of rules governing autoplay, which Google outlined in an earlier blog post: “As announced earlier, autoplay is now allowed only when either the media won’t play sound, after the user clicks or taps on the site, or (on desktop) if the user has previously shown an interest in media on the site. This will reduce unexpected video playbacks with sound when first opening a web page.”
That’s not perfect, because it still means that videos will autoplay on your favorite sites, obnoxious sounds and all. But then again, Google has built in the ability to mute a site since Chrome 64, meaning that you can simply tell Chrome to never play sounds at a given domain unless you specifically want it to do so. It’s easy enough to set this up on the desktop: Just click on the padlock next to the URL bar, then click “Site Settings,” then find “Sound” in the list and set it to “Block” from the drop-down list. You will need to reload the page and when you’re on the page you can click the padlock again to quickly access your blocking settings and turn audio back on.
The new autoplay rules were supposed to roll out in Chrome 64 as well, but they were delayed until Chrome 66. If you’re running the Chrome beta, then you will have already received this new functionality. Otherwise, your Chrome browser will update itself and you’ll be good to go — pending a restart, of course. Chrome 66 also brings a number of security enhancements, including a trial of a new site isolation function that helps mitigate Spectre concerns, some additional intelligence in playing video based on a system’s capabilities, and the usual developer tools to make Chrome more dynamic and responsive.
Updated on April 18: Chrome 66 is rolling out.