Wouldn't it be nice if the web was designed for human beings? No seriously, as in for actual people like you and me.
Unfortunately this is simply not the case. The web isn't optimized to serve information to people looking for it. The web functions around advertising, with users and their experience taking a distant backseat. The problem is that ads simply leach the joy from the very experiences that we hopped on the web looking for.
Does anyone actually enjoy reading a news article while a distracting ad or meaningless news story plays in the lower right hand corner like a Jack Russell Terrier begging for the smallest scraps of their attention? Do people want to watch yet another celebrity yammer on about Wix before they reach the video tutorial they sought in the first place? Does anyone actually enjoy finding the minuscule X's on ads to close them out? Of course not; no one wants to do any of these things.
Yet we do, because the ad revenue that pays for most sites is based on views, traffic, and clicks. A user visits a website, sees an ad and closes it immediately (big surprise, I know). Still, the site has registered another visit. And even though the user only saw a half second of video they'll never remember, it still counts as a view. The business that bought the ad space assumes they've reached another potential customer and the advertiser gets paid, all within milliseconds. The user goes to another site and closes another ad and the stupid Sisyphean process continues. This writer would personally be happy to pay a monthly subscription for ad-free internet, something that companies like Scroll and Mozilla are working to make a reality.
That said, until publishers find news ways of publishing and monetizing content, pointless ads will likely continue to flood the web and users will be left to deal with the resulting frustration. So let's share a few tricks to help you fight back and reclaim the calm of your browsing experience. We can't get rid of the ads for you, but we can show you how to shut them up. Here are 3 ways to quickly mute annoying sounds in Chrome!
1. Mute Site tool in Chrome
Chrome has a built-in tool that lets you mute an entire website from one tab. Using this option, Chrome will mute all sounds coming from that domain, regardless of what tab that page is sitting on. Simply right click on the tab playing audio, and select Mute Site. Every tab with a page open on that website will also be muted. In the example GIF below, we have several Youtube tabs open. By selecting Mute Site in a single tab, all tabs on Youtube are muted as well.
2. Mute Tab extension for Chrome:
This is the option we recommend! This is a free and easy to use extension that lets you mute tabs selectively. To install Mute Tab, first go to the Chrome Web Store, and search for "Mute Tab". Several options will appear, and we're using the second option below as our example.
Click to install, and you'll see a notification pop-up confirming that Mute Tab has been added to Chrome, like the example below.
To use Mute Tab, navigate to the browser tab you wish to mute, and then hit the icon in your tray of available extensions. Click on it will mute that tab within your browser. To un-mute, click the icon again.
That said, nothing in life was ever going to be perfect, right? The Mute Tab extension icon is black, and so happens to be tougher to spot in our particular browser. In the screenshot below we're also using an extension called Just Black, which darkens the overall appearance of Chrome. See the screencap below for help locating Mute Tab following installation.
3. Keyboard Mute shortcut
Want something even quicker? It's a wholesale solution to a retail problem but it still works. Many of today's PCs and keyboards come with a physical mute button or key. The Surface PC I'm using to write this has a mute button built-in to the keyboard too (example picture below). Look for a similar set of symbols on your own keyboard to see if you have a quick-mute button.
Hit this when you hear an unwanted sound, and while your patience re-percolates you can hunt down the offending tab or window and close it out, with extreme prejudice.
Perhaps, one day, the internet won't run on ad-counters, but it is not this day.
One day we could browse news sites that aren't slicing and dicing every fraction of our attention with pop-ups, but it is not this day. One day we may even savor spam-laced content rather than choke down content-laced spam, but it is not this day. Until that great day comes, use these tips to secure your heard-earned savings of sanity. After all, you're paying by the click.