Animated GIFs can be a fun way to spice up reactions on social media, or get a point across in an article–but they can also be annoying, and take forever to load if you have a slow connection. If you’d rather not see them, here’s how to stop them from automatically animating.

Animated GIFs are technically images instead of videos, so click-to-play plugins and video-blocking extensions like FlashBlock won’t stop them from automatically playing. This used to be easier: You could just press the “Esc” key to pause animated GIFs on the current page. But Chrome never supported this shortcut, and Mozilla removed it from modern versions of Firefox. It still works in Internet Explorer, but it doesn’t work in Microsoft Edge.

So in order to block those GIFs from playing, you’ll need to do a little extra work.

Google Chrome

RELATED: How to Enable Click-to-Play Plugins in Every Web Browser

Since Chrome has no built-in setting for controlling whether animated GIFs play, you’ll have to install a browser extension to control this.

Thankfully, Google provides their own official browser extension. Named Animation Policy, this extension gives you a browser toolbar button that allows you to control whether animated GIFs play. You can disable animations entirely, or force animated GIFs to only play a single time before stopping. You’ll have to refresh the current web page after changing this setting.

Some people report that the official Google extension may not work on some web pages. If it doesn’t work reliably for you, you may want to try the Gif Jam (Animation Stopper) extension instead. It provides a toolbar button that toggles animations on and off, too. You’ll have to refresh the current page to make your setting change take effect. However, it blocks animations in a different way, so it may work where Google’s extension won’t.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox offers a built-in way to stop animated GIFs from playing, or to force them to only play once.

To change this setting, type about:config into Firefox’s address bar and press Enter. You’ll see a warning telling you to be careful here, as you could change settings you shouldn’t. Be careful on this screen and don’t change any settings unless you know what you’re doing. Click “I’ll be careful, I promise!” to agree you’ve understood the warning.

Type image.animation into the search box on the about:config page. You’ll see a setting named image.animation_mode , which is set to normal by default. The “normal” behavior is to play every animated image on repeat over and over again.

Double-click the setting and set it to none to stop animated GIFs from playing. You could also set it to once if you want each animated GIF to play only once instead of repeating over and over. You don’t have to restart Firefox after making this change.

To undo this later, re-open the about:config screen and set this option back to normal .

The above option works, but it doesn’t give you much control. If you want the ability to more easily toggle animated GIFs on and off, you’ll need a browser extension instead.

If you’d like to sometimes play animated GIFs and sometimes stop them from playing, install the Toggle Animated GIFs add-on. It will allow you to disable animated GIFs with a keyboard shortcut, or disable animated GIFs by default and choose whether you want to play them. It’s a better solution if you might sometimes want to see the animations.

After installing the add-on, head to menu > Add-ons > Extensions and click the “Options” button next to Toggle Animated GIFs. Configure the add-on to use your preferred options. For example, you could set animated GIFs to disabled by default and have them automatically play when you hover your mouse cursor over them.

Internet Explorer

You can still press the “Esc” key to stop animated GIFs from playing in Internet Explorer. Press it after a web page loads and the animated GIFs on it will pause.

Internet Explorer also includes an option for controlling whether animated GIFs can play. To disable GIF animations completely, open Internet Explorer, click the settings menu icon, and select “Internet Options.”

Click over to the “Advanced” tab, scroll down to the “Multimedia” section, and uncheck the “Play Animations in Webpages” option. You’ll have to restart your computer for this setting to take effect, oddly enough.

After you do, Internet Explorer will no longer play animated GIFs at all unless you re-enable this setting. There’s no way to quickly disable the setting and play a GIF.

Microsoft Edge doesn’t yet offer a way to stop animated GIFs from playing, as it doesn’t support browser extensions. Browser extension support is coming with Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, so you should one day be able to find an Edge extension for this in the Windows Store.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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