Explained: How to use Google Chrome’s new ‘mute site’ feature or completely stop video autoplays

3 min read

Google is always tweaking the way we interact with the web. From Android to the desktop, the Mountain View giant is our main road to the world wide web. One of their latest alterations to the desktop Chrome experience is the ability to mute audio on specific websites. This is a nice feature for websites that like to play audio automatically or that have audio playing as the site loads. So, I’d like to take a few minutes to walk you through the simple steps to mute a site, as well as how to dig a little deeper and turn off video autoplay completely via Chrome’s flag system.

Mute a website in Chrome

First, you obviously need Chrome open. After that, navigate to a site that you have an issue with autoplay of audio/video. For me, this is ESPN. I like visiting their sites, but I’m not always in an environment where I want to hear the talking heads scream about Lebron James’ wardrobe. Then, simply right-click on the new mute option, which is visible on the tab in Chrome. You will then see the audio speaker icon, like when audio is playing on a tab, but now it is marked out.

Once you’ve used this option on the tab in question, you have muted the entire site moving forward. This means that when you do find something you legitimately¬†want to listen to on the same site, you will have to reverse this process. “Right-click” again and you are presented with an “unmute tab” option to undo your choice. Your icon will return to the speaker with no line through it and audio will fill the room just like normal.

Disable autoplay via Chrome flags

If the new mute feature isn’t quite good enough, and you just want to stop videos from playing at all, then you can resort to Chrome flags. Flags are advanced settings that are not present in the standard Chrome UI. These are accessed by typing “chrome://flags” into the Chrome address bar, minus the quotations. This carries you directly to the flags settings available to be tweaked inside Chrome. The one we are looking for is shown below.


Just copy and paste the provided text into the search/address bar, press enter, and then you’ll be at the setting we wish to change. You should find a drop-down-menu to the right for changing the setting. The one we are looking for is the final one “Document user activation is required.” Once enabled, you should not have any videos play automatically without first clicking on the media first.


Now you should be well-versed in a couple of ways to handle those pesky videos. While the unmute option is pretty painless, and I felt comfortable with recommending the Chrome flag change, I’d also be hesitant on randomly toying around in the flags menu. Many of these are non-user facing or experimental features that are not meant for the average user to change.