YouTube is a great entertainment site and I visit it every day. But the one thing that bugs the hell out of me is when you go to a video page and the video immediately starts playing. Maybe it’s my control freak nature but I don’t like it just starting like that. Especially when it is still buffering. So how do you stop YouTube videos autoplaying and driving you crazy?

There are some good reasons why disabling auto-play is a good idea. The main one being if you have really slow internet, buffering can take forever. Plus you don’t want everyone to know you’re playing Britney Spears. You need time to put your headphones on…

Three Methods To Stop YouTube Videos Autoplaying

Here are the tried and tested methods that I know of. Maybe you know of others you can tell us about in the comments?

Install a Browser Extension

This is always the easiest option of them all. I mean, who out there can’t install an browser extension? However, they aren’t always ideal as too many browser extensions can slow the browser down.

Google Chrome

For Google Chrome, the best is seemingly “Magic Actions For YouTube“. This one got me a little antsy during setup as it tried to install a second extension which is allegedly a “privacy test”. You can avoid this though by clicking “Skip“.

Once installed, clicking the options button in the browser toolbar will give you….well, your options.

Go to the “Options” button on the right, and you will get to where you need to go.

Scroll down until you reach the “Stop Autoplay” option. Tick the box, and decide if it should apply for playlists. I left it unticked as I like my playlists to keep going.

Now go to a YouTube video and watch it buffer but not play, until you press the play button. Magic! Well, not really.

Mozilla Firefox

For Firefox, the one to go for is seemingly YouTube No Buffer No Autoplay.

After installing, just go to a video. Since this extension is a one-trick pony, there are no options to configure. It just works straight out of the box.

Note however that this extension does NOT buffer the video. It merely freezes it with the red play button in the middle of the screen. Just press the button to play.

Sometimes that button doesn’t work though, so you have to press the black play button at the bottom left of the screen.

Tweak The Browser Under The Hood

If extensions aren’t your thing, then you can tweak the settings of the browser.

Google Chrome

Until recently, Google Chrome had a function in their settings called “Click To Play” in their Plugins section. However, that has recently been removed. So now the only way I can find of doing this is to stop the tab from loading until you click over to it. For this, you need to enter the jungle that is Chrome Flags.

Chrome Flags is kind of the same as Firefox’s “about.config”. But Flags is mostly experimental features not ready for primetime, so Google tucks them away in the back. If you want to live dangerously and try any of them, then you can enable them.

In your address bar, type :

chrome:flags

Now do CTRL-F (or CMD-F on a Mac) to bring up the search box. In the box, copy and paste the following two feature titles.

Only Auto-Reload Visible Tabs

Automatic tab discarding

Put them both to “Enabled” and then you will have to restart the browser for the changes to take effect. Now, when you right-click on a YouTube link to open it in a new tab, the page won’t load till you click over there.

I would also recommend you install Force Background Tab, which will stop you from getting bounced over to the new tab when you click on a YouTube link. FBT is one of my most essential Chrome extensions.

Mozilla Firefox

Changing the setting on Firefox is also a cinch.

In the address bar, type :

about:config

You will receive a dire warning about how the world is going to end if you access the settings. Ignore that and click the “I’ll take the risk!” button. Trust me, you’ll be fine. I wrote this in my underground bunker just in case. I’m still here.

When the configuration panel comes up, type in :

media.autoplay.enabled

This brings up one solitary entry.

Simply double-click the option and the “true” value at the end will automatically switch to “false”. Now go to a YouTube video. You’ll see that it won’t play until you press the play button. However, it WILL buffer.

Mute The Tab

OK this one is not exactly stopping the YouTube videos from autoplaying. But if you need to quickly stop the audio on multiple YouTube browser tabs, you can simply click the microphone icon in each tab. Or right-click the tab and choose the mute option.

Conclusion

Seemingly from Chrome version 64 (which is still in beta testing), the browser will by default mute all auto-playing videos. So this will become less of a problem as time goes on.

But for the moment, these are good options if you hate your videos playing before you’re ready for them.

Mark O'Neill
Mark O'Neill
Freelance journalist and editor living in Würzburg, Germany. Former Managing Editor of makeuseof.com (2007-2013), and contributing writer for other sites such as PC World and Quiet Light Brokerage. Specializing in online security and privacy issues.