Controlling Google Chrome’s Auto-play Feature

“What’s making that terrible noise?!”

Sometimes your browser tries to help, but instead does something annoying or counter-productive. One feature of Chrome that fits into that category for me is the auto-playing of multimedia files when I’m browsing the web; it can cost you bandwidth usage, too.

Luckily it’s pretty easy to change this behavior. Click on Chrome’s Settings icon (the one with the three parallel lines) and scroll down to the Show advanced settings link, and click it. Now look for Content settings… in the Privacy section:

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Click image to enlarge

This will open a new dialog for Plug-ins:

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Click image to enlarge

If you select Click to play instead of the default Run automatically, multimedia content items that use browser plug-ins will no longer run when they appear on screen. Instead, you’ll get an image that looks a little like the one that appears when a plug-in has failed, but on closer inspection it invites you to click the image to run the content:

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Click image to enlarge

Please note that this only works for content that’s delivered via plug-ins (such as Flash) – native HTML5 video and audio won’t be affected.