How to Mute Noisy Tabs in Google Chrome

Illustration to article titled Mute Noisy Tabs in Google Chrome

Screenshot: Gizmodo

There aren’t many online experiences worse than when you browse the web quietly, interrupted by the blaring audio of a video that has decided to go all alone. It’s rude and unwelcome … and you can stop it if you know how. Your choices are usually to mute the offensive tab or stop automatic video playback.

Chrome places a small speaker icon on the tabs that output audio so you can find them more easily. Once you’ve identified the tab, right-click on it and choose Mute siteAs the label suggests, the site will be completely muted until further notice. If you want to hear audio from this domain again, you have to choose Unmute site mute from the same menu.

This is a little different from how Chrome worked in earlier versions: you used to be able to click the speaker icon to mute that tab and only that tab so that other pages opened on the same site would keep playing. For whatever reason, Google engineers have decided to take that option away.

If you want to bring back the ability to mute specific tabs instead of entire sites, a few third-party Chrome extensions can help. Mute tabfor example, adds a mute button to the Chrome toolbar. Tabs can then be muted with one click, but you must switch to the relevant tabs first.

Illustration to article titled Mute Noisy Tabs in Google Chrome

Screenshot: Gizmodo

By the way, Chrome now puts default media buttons in the toolbar: for example, they appear when a tab is playing music or something on YouTube (the icon looks like a musical note). You can use this to pause playback instead of muting a site.

Mute tab shortcuts you can use keyboard shortcuts for the task, meanwhile: Alt + Shift + M to mute or unmute the current tab, Alt + Shift + N to mute all tabs except the current one, and Alt + Shift + comma to mute or unmute all tabs (if you are using a Mac, Option replaces Alt).

As with other browsers, Firefox allows you to use the speaker icon on tabs that play audio as a muted toggle switch, and you can also right-click a tab to mute or unmute it (unlike Chrome this affects only the current tab instead of instances (of the same site). Since Firefox is Firefox, you also have a choice of add-ons, including Mute tab (to mute all tabs or any tab except the current one) and Automatic mute (so new tabs are muted by default).

The new Microsoft Edge, which is based on Chromium, works the same as Firefox instead of Chrome, with a speaker icon toggle switch and Mute Tab as an option if you right-click on a tab. Safari also has the same options, while also placing a speaker icon (and mute toggle switch) in the address bar.

This guide was originally posted on 2/2/15 and was updated on 3/27/20 to reflect the changes in how Google Chrome mutes tabs.


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