You’ve probably been caught off guard by videos that play automatically on Facebook, Twitter, or just across the internet in general. They begin playing as soon as you load a page or (if they’re more deviously implemented) when you start scrolling through a page.
Automatic video play is a feature that, while nice to have when it’s surfacing content that’s related to your interests, can be pretty annoying. Autoplay videos can be harmful, too, exposing you to violent, offensive, or otherwise unwanted content that you shouldn’t have to see by default.
Whether you just want to put an end to autoplay videos on social media platforms or are looking for a more comprehensive fix, we’ve got some tips. Keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust these settings for every device that you use, since your preferences on, say, your phone do not automatically push to your PC.
If you’re using Facebook on your browser, you can turn off autoplay videos this way:
Facebook has similar options available for its iOS and Android apps:
The Instagram app doesn’t allow for autoplay videos to be turned off, so you’ll have to tread carefully here. Videos don’t autoplay if you use Instagram on your browser, but since almost all of the service’s users are using it on mobile devices, there’s currently no way around it.
Reddit, like most sites that host video, autoplays videos by default. However, it’s pretty easy to turn it off.
There are a variety of desktop browsers out there — some of which let you turn off video autoplay and some of which don’t.
If you use Google Chrome and want to turn off video autoplay — you can’t. There used to be an experimental command-line flag that allowed you to turn them off (you can find the flags by typing chrome://flags/ into Chrome’s address field), but it’s disappeared.
Interestingly, Microsoft’s Edge browser, which is also based on the Chromium open-source design, does let you turn off — well, at least, limit — video autoplay:
You can either allow audio and video to play automatically or limit it. According to the instructions, whether autoplay will work or not will depend on “how you’ve visited the page and whether you interacted with media in the past.”
Firefox has a similar feature that lets you turn off autoplay, for the most part.
A drop-down menu will let you allow audio and video, block audio, or block audio and video. You can also specify sites that you want to differ from your defaults — for example, if you block audio and video as a default, but you want to allow it for, say, The Verge.
Safari makes it simple to disable autoplay. In fact, it assumes that you want the feature disabled to begin with. However, if it hasn’t been disabled — or if you want to make some exceptions to the rule — here’s what you do:
As with Firefox, you can whitelist any sites that you want to be an exception to the rule.
Update September 4th, 2020 5:11PM ET: This article was originally published on March 15th, 2019. Most of the entries have been updated.