Let’s say you’re trying to be quiet, browsing the internet at home, work, or a public space. You’re secretly filled with dread that anything you click will open a new tab with an autoplay video or blare an obnoxious audio ad. End that fear forever by keeping all your new tabs muted by default.
Nobody likes sudden, unexpected noise when browsing, yet content providers seem to keep adding it. Thankfully, browser providers and extension providers have added some easy ways to keep those annoying sites in their place.
Here’s how to default all new tabs to be silent, so that your browser doesn’t compete with your music or make it obvious you’re browsing websites at work.
If You’re a Chrome User
Chrome does have a “blacklist” built-in. If you only want to mute certain sites (like annoying ones with auto-playing videos), you can right-click on the site’s tab, choose “Mute Site”, and never hear from it again.
But if you want something more powerful—that is, muting all tabs by default and whitelisting them—you can do so starting with version 64, which graduated to the stable build in January.
Click the main menu button (the three vertical dots) in the upper-right corner, then “Settings.” Click the “Advanced” button at the bottom of the screen.
Under the “Privacy and security” section, click “Content settings.” Click “Sound.”
The default setting for “Allow sites to play sound” enables sound from every site on the web, whether you’ve visited it or not. To change this, click or tap the slider—but odds are pretty good that you don’t want to do that. If you do really want to disable all sound, you can add exceptions to this polity by clicking “Add” next to the “Allow” section.
But most users will probably prefer to keep the main option enabled and add sites to the “Muted” list. Simply type out any URL, then click “Add.”
Now whenever you visit that site or open a new tab via a link, all audio (including auto-playing video) will be muted. Enjoy the sound of silence.
If You’re a Firefox User
At the time of writing, Firefox is on release 58 of the new “Quantum” update. It doesn’t have the same built-in muting options as the latest version of Chrome, but there is an extension you can use that amounts to pretty much the same thing. An older user favorite, Mute Tab, is no longer compatible, but MuteLinks works with the latest versions. Click here to go to the Firefox add-ons page, then click “Add to Firefox,” then “Add” in the pop-up window.
Next, click the main menu button, the three horizontal bars, in the upper-right corner of the window. Click “Add-ons.” Under the entry for MuteLinks, click “Options.”
Scroll down to the section marked “Blacklist sites.” To add a site you want permanently muted, click the blue “+” icon. Then click the pencil icon, and type the URL of the site you’d like to permanently mute.
You can add as many sites as you want in this way. Now whenever you visit them from the URL bar or any link, they’ll automatically start muted for any videos or background music.
Alternately, if you’d like every site to start muted except for the ones you frequent most, click the “Mute by default” box. You can add exceptions to your Internet-wide silence by clicking the “+” under “Whitelist sites,” then clicking the pencil icon and adding URLs manually, just like the blacklist.
It’s actually very nice being able to browse without having to worry that your any link you click will by default be silent. Hopefully this will become a default feature in the near future for all major browsers, but until then, there’s always these options.