How to Mute New Tabs Automatically in Chrome and Firefox

Let’s say you’re trying to be quiet, browsing the internet at home, work, or a public space. You’re secretly filled with dread that anything you click will open a new tab with an autoplay video or blare an obnoxious audio ad. End that fear forever by keeping all your new tabs muted by default.

Nobody likes sudden, unexpected noise when browsing, yet content providers seem to keep adding it. Browser developers might be seeing the writing on the wall, and the feature to mute certain domains will soon be a part of plain ol’ vanilla Chrome. Perhaps, soon, all browsers will have a default “silent mode” or will come muted by default. 

Until then, here’s how to default all new tabs to be silent, so that your browser doesn’t compete with your music or make it obvious you’re browsing websites at work.

If You’re a Chrome User

Chrome can mute by default with an extension. MuteTab is easy to use, and has a “privacy mode” that remains on even after you close Chrome and return. Here’s how to install and use it.
Navigate to MuteTab on the Google Chrome Store. Click Add to Chrome on the right to install.
The permissions warning might look a little spooky, but it has to have access to this in order to mute your tabs.
Chrome will add another icon to the top right of your browser.
Click that icon, and select “Privacy Mode.” From now on, all tabs will be muted by default.
Browse quietly!

If You’re a Firefox User

The easiest way to mute tabs on Firefox is the Mute Tab Add-on for Firefox (no relation to the Chrome extension above). In addition to giving you the ability to mute all tabs at once, it has an easy setting for “mute all new tabs.” Word to the wise: your new windows and initial tab will open with sound, but every additional tab that opens will be quiet by default.
Navigate to the Mute Tab Add-on for Firefox.
Click Add to Firefox and install. Restart Firefox when prompted.
Click Firefox’s menu button in the upper right-hand corner, and press the Add-ons button.
Click “Extensions” below “Get Add-ons.”
Click the Preferences for Mute Tab. You’ll notice that the extension is currently a “legacy” extension, meaning it was developed for older versions of the software. Hopefully it will be updated, but as of this writing, it works for the most recent version of Firefox.
Click the checkbox beside “Auto-mute new tabs.”
Browse quietly!

It’s actually very nice being able to browse without having to worry that your any link you click will by default be silent. Hopefully this will become a default feature in the near future for all major browsers, but until then, there’s always these extensions.