Firefox 20 Will Remove ESC Key Ability To Stop Animated GIFs Playing

A fix scheduled for Firefox 20 (due for release April 2nd) is to change the functionality of the ESC key – it will no longer stop animated GIF images from playing in Firefox.

Perhaps not earth shattering news for many users (who may not have known that pressing ESC does this) but, for some, this will be an unwelcome change and puts Firefox into the same boat as Chrome – IE will become the only major browser to still let ESC pause annoying animated GIFs.

Rationale For The Change – The reason for this change (detailed in the 2 year old bug report 614304) is that pressing ESC in Firefox used to stop all network requests associated with the current tab (not just animated images) even after the page had loaded.

This can be 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. The planned fix scheduled for Firefox 20 means that pressing ESC will no longer stop all network requests – which is a good thing. However, it will also no longer pause animated GIFs either…


Annoying or what?

ESC Key Alternative – Those users who want an alternative way to selectively pause animated GIFs in Firefox 20 onwards may be interested in this new add-on:

SuperStop – download from Mozilla Add-ons here (not available until you have upgraded to Firefox 20). This is a simple add-on which just adds a Shift+ESC shortcut to stop background requests and animated GIFs even when the Firefox Stop button is disabled.

This exactly matches the behavior of the ESC button in versions of Firefox prior to Firefox 20 – once installed, just hold down the Shift button at the same time as pressing ESC to stop animated GIFs playing.

Note: just like the current ESC key functionality, the new Shift+ESC shortcut from this add-on will pause animations on the current tab only.

Disable Animated GIFs On All Tabs Or Limit Them To Play Once Only – If you want to permanently stop animated GIFs from playing in any tab (or limit them to only playing once), follow our guide to disable them via about:config in all versions of Firefox, including 20 and beyond. This can save time but, if you choose to completely disable them, you may not be able to tell if a GIF is animated or not so may miss out on some video-like animations that could have been useful.


This fix has been in progress for over 2 years so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if it doesn’t quite make it into Firefox 20 but at the moment it is still on target. If it is implemented, the SuperStop add-on is a very effective replacement for the traditional ESC key.

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2 Responses to: "Firefox 20 Will Remove ESC Key Ability To Stop Animated GIFs Playing"

  1. Sam Ku says:

    Toggle animated GIFs 0.2 No Restart for Firefox

    Press Ctrl+M to enable/disable animation of GIFs in the current tab. Press Shift+M to restart all animations from the first frame.
    Going to about:config and setting image.animation_mode to “none” will keep GIF animations disabled by default.
    Then the above mentioned Ctrl+M to enable/disable animation of GIFs in the current tab WIN WIN!!!

  2. fiz says:

    I’m so sick-n-tired of Firefox Devolving, and also sick-n-tired of ‘fixes’ that can’t be accomplished with some creativity and talent instead of just throwing some wal*mart type solution that ‘fixes’ a problem, but kills 5+ other things. Firefox use to be good, now it just sucks, and…I’m also had it with having to install yet another Add-On. Geeze, you need like 50 add-ons just to keep this browser functioning.

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