Sounds played on websites can be really annoying, especially when you’re listening to some music whilst browsing the web.
Website sounds can include Flash adverts and animations, music, games and videos which suddenly start blaring out when you open a new webpage, interrupting your music or startling you out of a peaceful browsing session.
You can easily mute all sound in Windows (via the Volume icon) but that isn’t an option if you want to listen to music on your computer at the same time as browsing the web. The following methods can disable sound in webpages only within IE, Firefox and Chrome.
Note that the first method (for IE) would work in all web browsers, including Safari and Opera etc.
Disable Sound In IE
IE users do not benefit from the variety of addons and extensions enjoyed by more configurable browsers like Firefox and Chrome – so the solution is a little long winded…
Vista and Windows 7 Users:
The best way to disable all sound in IE is to right click on the Volume icon at the bottom right of the screen then ‘Open Volume Mixer’. The Volume Mixer window shows all Applications using sound in Windows – under Internet Explorer, click the mute (speaker) button to disable all sound in IE.
You can use this same method to mute the sound in Firefox, Chrome or any other web browser – just mute that browser instead of IE. To un-mute sound, simply repeat this step to re-enable sound in the browser – you can also move the volume slider up or down to increase/decrease the volume of sounds within the browser.
Whilst it is possible to disable sound in IE via the menu bar (Tools \ Options \ Advanced then untick ‘Play Sounds In Webpages’ under the Multimedia section), this only works for embedded sound – not Flash and other plugin sounds which are the most common distractions on modern webpages. See the Conclusion at the bottom for advice.
Disable Sound In Firefox
Vista and Windows 7 users could of course use the same method as for IE above but there is an easier and neater solution to disable sound in Firefox: Muter.
Muter is a Firefox addon that makes it easier to mute the entire browser – it won’t stop videos and audios playing in Firefox, just mute them. By default, a Muter button will be placed in the Firefox addon bar – just click the button to mute all sound in Firefox and click it again to cancel muting.
This addon is much easier and quicker than using the Windows Volume Mixer in Vista/7 – and of course it works for XP users too.
Muter is available from Mozilla Add-ons here.
Disable Sound In Chrome
Vista and Windows 7 users could also use the same method as for IE above. However, there are a couple of extensions to disable sound in Chrome – they are not as neat as Muter for Firefox because the way Chrome runs plugins is different:
1. MuteTab – This extension provides a menu of sound-related operations that can be applied to a single tab, all tabs, or all tabs but the current one – accessible by clicking a browser extension icon or via a right click context menu. There is an option to automatically mute all background tabs.
Note that MuteTab does not let you play a game muted while listening to background music and reviews are very mixed – so your mileage may vary (the new version 2 coming soon may improve results).
MuteTab is available from Chrome Webstore here.
2. Chrome Toolbox – This extension adds many common productivity features to Chrome (similar to the Tab Mix Plus addon in Firefox) – one of them is an option to Mute All Tabs via an Alt + W hotkey.
It is highly rated but, if you only need to disable sounds in Chrome and don’t care about all the other features, it may be overkill.
Chrome Toolbox is available from Chrome Webstore here.
For users of Vista and Windows 7, the Windows Volume Mixer is an effective, but slow, way to disable sound in any web browser. However, it is quicker to mute sound in Firefox and Chrome via custom addons and extensions.
XP users of Internet Explorer are poorly catered for – they have a long winded method to disable embedded sounds but most common webpage sounds are not embedded.
As the latest IE9 is not available for XP, this is just one more good reason to switch to a more modern browser where you can easily disable all sound in the browser – and enjoy the benefits of faster and safer browsing too.