(Credit: Mozilla)

You launch a new web page in Firefox that you want to read. Almost immediately a video or audio starts playing, not only distracting you but forcing you to figure out where it's coming from and how to shut it down. Now, Firefox is joining the effort to combat this type of Web-based annoyance.

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Due in March, Firefox 66 will block website videos and audios from automatically playing unless you give them your permission, according to a blog post from Mozilla software engineer Chris Pearce. Appearing in Firefox for the desktop and Firefox for Android, the autoplay blocking will be the new default setting for the browser.

Surfing the Web can often be a frustrating experience as we encounter popup windows, intrusive ads, autoplaying content and other distractions. The browser makers have tried to make the Web more user friendly by giving us ways to avoid or block some of these annoyances. Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge already include settings that prevent autoplaying content. It's about time Firefox joined the party.

The most frustrating aspect of autoplay videos and audios is that they start up before you have a chance to do anything on the page. But Firefox 66 will specifically detect that type of behavior and nip it in the bud.

"Any playback that happens before the user has interacted with a page via a mouse click, printable key press, or touch event, is deemed to be autoplay and will be blocked if it is potentially audible," Pearce said in his blog post.

When an autoplaying video or audio now appears in Firefox, you have to click the Mute button to silence it. With the next release of Firefox, the opposite will happen. The content will be muted by default, and you'll have to click an Unmute button to listen to it.

What if you want videos or audios to automatically play each time you open a particular web page? No problem. When Firefox blocks autoplay content, an icon will appear in the address bar. Clicking that icon will display a site information panel through which you can change the "Autoplay sound" permission setting from Block to Allow.

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  1. Due in March, the next version of Firefox will prevent autoplaying videos and audios from sounding off in the browser.
  2. With the new release, Firefox will join Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge is giving us a way to block autoplay content.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."