How to disable autoplay in Firefox

Websites change all the time as new technology allows them to do more and more. Early websites were basic compared to the ones we have now. Unfortunately, not all changes have been for the better. Videos are now common on a lot of websites and many of them autoplay with or without the audio. They’ve become an annoyance which is why browsers have begun to add a feature that will block it. As of its latest update, you can now disable autoplay in Firefox.

Disable autoplay in Firefox

Autoplay is not, as yet, disabled out of the box in Firefox 66.0.3. You need to change two preferences in Firefox to disable autoplay.

Open Firefox and in the URL bar, enter the following;

about:config

This will open the Firefox configuration page however, before that you will see a warning screen telling you to be careful and making changes will void your warranty. Accept the warning to get to the configuration page.

The configuration page has a search bar at the top. Use it to search for the following preference;

media.autoplay.default

Double-click it and enter 1 in the value box that opens. Next, look for the following preference (use the search bar).

media.autoplay.enabled.user-gestures-needed

Once you find it, double-click it to change its value from True to False. That should do the trick. To be on the safe side, close and reopen Firefox. Autoplay will now be disabled.

There’s a setting in the Firefox options page that can disable autoplay and if you have it enabled, chances are the media.autoplay.default preference is already set to 1. The option works for most videos but not for all which is why you need to change the value of the second preference mentioned earlier.

It’s possible that you changed the value of a preference called ‘media.autoplay.enabled’ a few updates ago and it helped disable autoplaying content however, that preference has been removed over the course of several Firefox updates. The preferences mentioned earlier are new ones that were added to replace it. There are a few other preferences that control media as well but as far as disabling autoplay in Firefox goes, the ones mentioned here will do the job.

Disabling autoplay has been a task left to add-ons and extensions for a long time. While they work great, they tend to drag down a browser’s performance. Firefox and its add-ons are actually better at memory management but Chrome has become something of a leech on a system’s resources so any features added by a browser are great.

Read How to disable autoplay in Firefox by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to disable media key control in Chrome

Chrome 73 added a small new feature whereby the media keys on your laptop’s keyboard, or your external keyboard can play/pause media that’s playing in the browser. What this means is that if you have a video playing on YouTube, or you’re watching Netflix in Chrome, the play/pause keys will be able to play/pause the video. This is a good feature but may not be something you find useful. Fortunately, it’s really easy to disable media key control in Chrome.

Disable media key control

This new feature was added in Chroem 73 and will likely be included in all foreseeable updates. The feature is enabled by default. To disable media key control in Chrome, you have to modify a flag.

Open Chrome and paste the following in the URL bar. Tap Enter.

chrome://flags

On the Chrome Flags page, look for a flag called Hardware Media Key Handling. You can use the search bar on the Flags page to find it. Open the dropdown next to it and select Disabled from the menu. After changing the value of the flag, you’re going to have to relaunch Chrome to apply the change.

Use the Relaunch button on the Flags page. When Chrome relaunches, the media keys will no longer be intercepted by Chrome.

The media keys will then control other apps on your OS. Their behavior will differ based on the OS you’re using. If you’re running Windows 10, the volume keys will change the system volume which, even with the flag enabled, were intercepted by the OS. The play/pause button will work with media players that have added support for it e.g., Groove, Movies & TV, Spotify, Netflix, etc.

If you’re looking for a way to get Chrome to intercept the media keys and allow you to control media via your keyboard and enabling the flag isn’t doing the trick, you need to check and make sure a certain service is running on your OS. This service is the “MediaSessionService” as described in the flag’s description. By default, this service should be running but you might have stopped it and forgotten, or a problem might have occurred resulting in the service not running.

On macOs, you can check the services that are running from the Activity Monitor or, if you’re comfortable with it, the Terminal. On Windows 10, you can search for services.msc or use the Run box to open it, and look for the “MediaSessionService” service.

If you’re trying to play/pause media in Chrome via a Bluetooth headset, there’s an extension that will allow you to do just that.

Read How to disable media key control in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to fix “error loading player: no playable sources found” in your browser

Online media players rarely give you trouble. You might run into a media player that’s riddled with ads but there’s little that interferes with video playback once you get past them all. That said, it’s not unheard that users occasionally run into problems with online media players and the ‘error loading player: no playable sources found’ error is one of the more common ones you’ll see. Here’s how you can fix it.

Check stream link

If the video player is playing back a live stream, it is worth checking to see if the stream is working or not. Often, live streams tend to go down or they may not be compatible with the video player that’s been used to stream them. To check if the stream is working, access the web console on the page that has the player and check if VLC player is able to play it. If it fails to play, or even generate a thumbnail, chances are there’s a problem with the stream itself.

If the stream is working, it is possible that the player that’s been used on the website is unable to handle it. In this case, you can try some of the other fixes listed below, or just use VLC player to watch it.

Disable ad blockers

It’s possible that your ad blocker, if you’re using one, is interfering with playback. Some media players, e.g., the one that Hulu uses, will not let you play anything if you have an ad blocker installed. Try disabling the ad blocker or adding the website with the media player to the whitelist and check if that fixes the problem.

Disable VPN and Proxy

A VPN or Proxy may interfere with the content that you’re trying to play. The media player itself might be perfectly fine however, it may not be able to communicate over VPNs and proxies. If you have one running, disable it, refresh the web page, and try playing the content again.

Update browser

Make sure you’re running the latest version of your browser. An outdated version may be detected by the media player and playback may be blocked for security reasons. Normally, if you’re lagging behind one or two versions in the browser, it shouldn’t be a big deal however if you’re one too many versions behind, you should update it.

Disable extensions/add-ons

We’ve highlighted ad-blockers as one type of browser extension that might interfere with video playback on a website however, it is possible you have other extensions that are interfering with playback. To be safe, disable them all and try playing the video again. If the video works, it is likely an extension that’s interfering with it. You can slowly enable them one by one and see which one causes the problem.

Update Flash player

Adobe’s Flash player may have been abandoned by large websites like YouTube but it was exceptionally popular at one time and there are still many, many media players that continue to use it. It is possible that the media player is still using Flash so make sure you’re using the latest version of it that’s available.

Clear browser cache

Clearing the browser cache resolves most problems so try clearing it. The method differs based on which browser you’re using but every browser allows you to do it.

Try a different browser

If all else fails, you can try using a different browser. Try the stock browser on your OS before you try a different one. It might just be a media player that isn’t compatible with the browser you’re trying to play the video on. It’s rare, but it does tend to happen.

Read How to fix “error loading player: no playable sources found” in your browser by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to hide chat pop ups on websites

Online stores tend to have companion Facebook pages. Often, the pages themselves serve as a selling platform or a place where you can get customer service. In theory, this is a good idea but there are now Messenger bots so, often the message you get asking if you need help are auto-generated. A lot of online stores tend to add the Messenger chat pop up to their websites. There are also lots of other third-party solutions that offer more or less the same service. These chat pop ups on websites can be helpful, or they can be annoying. If you don’t like them, you can hide them in Chrome and Firefox with an extension/add-on.

Hide chat pop ups

Down the Hello, Goodbye! – Chat popup blocker Chrome extension, or the Firefox add-on. Installing it is all you have to do. When you visit websites after installing the extension/add-on, you will no longer see the chat pop-up.

This extension won’t just block Facebook Messenger chat pop ups but also those with other chat pop-up services but the list is limited at present. The extension only works on websites so if you visit a Facebook page for a brand, the Messenger chat pop up that’s built-into Facebook will still open. It’s not going to block Messenger on any Facebook domain.

The app doesn’t have a whitelisting feature so on website where you actually benefit from the chat feature, you will have to disable it to use it. If you use web apps that have an on-site chat, you don’t need to worry about this extension blocking it since it only targets select chat pop up services and doesn’t block them all. Any time you need to turn this extension off, you’re going to have to disable it which isn’t the most convenient way to go about it but it’s the only way.

Ad blockers don’t normally tend to target these sort of extra elements that websites add. The chat pop ups are one type of annoyance that you have to deal with. Some websites will add a website generated pop up that will ask if you want to get notifications from the website. These pop ups aren’t generated via the built-in feature that browsers have which means you can’t block them. Every single time you visit the website that’s showing these notifications, you will get them. There’s no turning it off and extensions like this are a handy solution. Unfortunately, you’d end up with a lot of them installed and running just to have a less annoying browsing experience.

Read How to hide chat pop ups on websites by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to use Chrome Picture-in-Picture mode for local videos

Chrome added a neat Picture-in-Picture mode in one of its recent updates. It’s supposed to work on any and all web based video players but for websites it doesn’t work on, Google has an extension you can install to fix the problem. The Chrome Picture-in-Picture mode is great because it allows you to drag a video player outside of Chrome and not many desktop video players let you do that. The good news is, you can use Chrome Picture-in-Picture mode for local videos as well.

Chrome Picture-in-Picture for local videos

Open File Explorer, or Finder if you’re on a Mac, and navigate to the local video you want to watch in Chrome.

What you need to do is copy the complete path to the video. On Windows 10, hold down the Shift key and right-click the video file. From the context menu, select Copy as path.

On macOS, navigate to the file in Finder and right-click it. Once the context menu appears, hold down the Option key and you will see an option to copy [File Name] as path. Select it to copy the file’s complete path to the clipboard.

Open a new Chrome tab and enter the file path in the URL bar. If you’re on Windows 10, the path will include double-quotes around it which you need to remove before you tap Enter.

When you tap Enter, the video will start playing automatically. At the bottom right of the video player, you will see a more options button. Click it and from the menu, select Picture-in-Picture.

As with web media players, you can drag the picture-in-picture player for the local video to any edge of the screen and you can resize it. It also has play/pause controls. If you close the PIP player, it will not close the tab that you had the video open it. The video will return to the tab but will not start playing in it automatically.

Limitations

While this is a neat trick, especially if you need a good app to play video that can be pinned to any part of your screen, it has its limitations. The obvious limitation is video formats. Chrome is a web browser, not a video player so while it may support common video formats like MP4 and MPEG, it may not necessarily support the more obscure ones.

When testing this out, Chrome managed to play an MKV video but this is a tricky format for most video players. If the video playback is choppy for this, or any other format, there’s little you can do about it other than to use a different app.

Read How to use Chrome Picture-in-Picture mode for local videos by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter