How To Stop Animated GIFs Playing In IE, Firefox and Chrome

Love them or loathe them, animated GIFs seem here to stay – transforming over the years from basic cartoon images to video quality animations often found on sites like Reddit and Imgur.

However, there are times when you may want to pause all animated GIFs on a page, or even disable them permanently in your browser. We’ll cover both options for the major browsers: IE, Firefox and Google Chrome.

IE – Pause Or Disable Completely

1. Pause animated GIFs on the current page only – just press the ESC key to pause them. You would need to refresh the page (e.g. press F5) if you want to restart the animations on the current page again.

2. Disable animated GIFs on all pages permanently – click the Tools ‘Cog’ in the top right (or select Tools from the menu bar) and select ‘Internet Options’.

Select the ‘Advanced’ tab and scroll down to the ‘Multimedia’ section. Untick ‘Play animations in webpages’ as shown below:


Press OK to close the Internet Options window then restart IE – animated GIFs will no longer play in any webpage.

Firefox – Pause Or Disable Completely Or Play Once Only

1. Pause animated GIFs on the current page only – just press the ESC key to pause them. You would need to refresh the page (e.g. press F5) if you want to restart the animations on the current page again.

Warning: A fix (due for release April 2nd) will change this functionality – pressing ESC will no longer stop animated GIF images from playing in Firefox 20 onwards. See our article here for an alternative solution.

2. Disable animated GIFs on all pages permanently – open Firefox and type about:config in the address bar then press Enter. Click the “I’ll be careful I Promise” warning button 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 of the config page – this automatically reduces the list to show only those preferences that include the text you typed.

Double click the entry and set its value to none to completely disable image animation – animated GIFs will no longer play in any webpage.

3. Make animated GIFs play only once – follow method 2 above but set the entry’s value to once instead – this makes GIF images animate only once.

Chrome – No Integrated Options. The ESC key trick doesn’t work in Chrome and there is no menu option to disable animations either…

The only option is to install an extension to try to workaround these limitations – but Chrome’s technical restrictions make it difficult for an extension to do a good job. Several extensions available in the Chrome Web Store purport to offer a workaround, with varying degrees of success:

Stop Animations – This takes a novel, but ultimately flawed, approach – pressing ESC stops all on-screen animations (not just GIFs – Flash and Javascript too, which may not be what you want) by layering a screenshot over the current page. Pressing ESC again or clicking on the page restarts animations again.

One problem is that as soon as you scroll up/down the page the animations play once whilst a new screenshot is overlaid which is confusing. Another is that when you click on a link this only has the effect of starting the animations playing again – you have to click the link again in order to follow it to a new page.

It does work to some extent but I find these issues too annoying to recommend it.

GIF Stopper – This stops animated GIFs when the ESC key is pressed and claims to work with Google+ Plus. It also has an option to automatically disable GIF animations so seems to offer the same choices as Firefox and IE – both pause and disable.

So far, so good. However, pressing ESC just makes the GIFs completely disappear, leaving a blank white space which is not ideal. I also found that it blocks the loading of standard (non-animated) images too which is most definitely not ok. I can’t recommend this at all due to the blocking of non-animated images.

Pause!Pause!Pause! – Numerous poor reviews citing unresponsive pages and high CPU usage put me off this extension – I didn’t waste time testing it.

Paused! – A fork of the extension above, this has even worse reviews. In my own tests this is currently not working.

Gif Pauser – this automatically pauses all animated gifs and animates them only when you put your mouse over them. This works well enough but still doesn’t provide an ‘on/off’ switch. Having to hover over a particular gif if you want it to play isn’t ideal.

After reviewing all the above extensions for Chrome there isn’t one which I would recommend as a worthy alternative to the default Pause/Disable options available in IE and Firefox.

Stop Animations kind of works if you’re desperate but would be of no use to epileptics, for example, as it still lets GIFs animate whenever you scroll. GIF Stopper can block normal images as well which is not acceptable whilst Gif Pauser provides a novel yet unsatisfactory way of achieving the aim…


It is straightforward to pause or disable animations in IE and Firefox. However, Chrome has no good alternative that works in a similar fashion – perhaps a result of the stripped down approach that makes Chrome fast, at the expense of missing out on some, albeit less commonly used, features.

If you know of a good alternative for Chrome, do let us know in the comments.

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