Additionally, we’ll show you how to disable them from playing completely on all websites, or set them to only play once and then stop.
Why ESC Key No Longer Works
Pressing the ESC key used to stop them from playing but this functionality was removed from Firefox some years ago. IE11 is now the only major browser to still let ESC pause annoying animated GIFs.
The reason for this change was that pressing ESC used to stop all network requests associated with the current tab (not just animated images) even after the page had loaded.
This was considered bad practice because an increasing number of web applications rely on the ESC key for user interaction e.g. closing an inline dialog box without disconnecting the user.
We’ll look first at how to toggle them on or off, and then how to disable them completely if you prefer.
How To Toggle Animated GIFs
There are several add-ons available for the current Firefox Quantum to toggle animated GIFs. The following are 2 we’d recommend – they do slightly different things.
The first uses a toolbar icon to toggle future animated GIFs on/off while the second uses a keyboard shortcut to pause them, very similar to the old ESC key.
Toggle Animated GIF
Install from Mozilla Add-ons here. It adds a Firefox toolbar icon – click it to toggle future animated GIFs off (icon is overlaid with an ‘x’) or click again to turn them back on.
Note that it does not pause GIFs that are already playing. So if you’re already viewing a page with GIFs playing, you’d need to refresh (F5) the page before the toggle takes effect… If you need a toggle which pauses current GIFs, skip to the SuperStop add-on below.
This add-on simply changes the value of the animation mode field in Firefox configuration (about:config). It is useful and saves time if you need to toggle GIFs on/off often and don’t need to pause them.
However, if you want to permanently disable animated GIFs then you don’t need an add-on to do it, see the section lower down on disabling them manually.
Install from Mozilla Add-ons here. It adds a configurable Shift+ESC shortcut to pause background requests, animated GIFs and videos (you can exclude videos in the options) regardless of the state of the Firefox Stop button.
This exactly matches the behavior of the ESC button in old versions of Firefox prior to Firefox 20 – once installed, just hold down the Shift button at the same time as pressing ESC to pause animated GIFs and videos.
Note: just like the old ESC key functionality, this Shift+ESC shortcut pauses animations on the current tab only.
Once installed, you can access the options for this add-on by browsing to about:addons or via Menu / Add-ons. Click on the Options button of SuperStop to change the keyboard shortcut or exclude Videos if you wish as shown below:
Disable Animated GIFs On All Tabs Or Limit Them To Play Once Only
To permanently disable animated GIFs from playing in any tab, follow these steps:
- Open Firefox and type about:config in the address bar then press Enter. Click the “I’ll be careful I Promise” warning button (if it appears) to reveal a long list of Preferences.
- Look for the entry image.animation_mode – its default value is normal. The quickest way to find it is to type part of the preference name e.g. animation into the Filter bar at the top – this automatically reduces the list to show only those Preferences that include the text you typed.
- Double click the image.animation_mode entry and set its value to none to completely disable image animation – animated GIFs will no longer play in any webpage.
To make animated GIFs play only once in any tab – follow the same steps above but this time set the entry’s value to once in the last step.
To revert back to the default behavior of playing animated GIFs in all tabs – follow the same steps above but this time set the entry’s value to normal in the last step.
The SuperStop add-on is an effective replacement for the traditional ESC key to toggle animated GIFs in Firefox.
To automatically stop GIFs playing on all pages the first add-on does a good job but, to disable GIFs permanently, it’s easier to just manually change the entry in Firefox configuration.
Found this article useful? Why not check out our other Firefox articles such as how to browse Google by name for quicker searches in the address bar, search bar or context menu.