So you’re surfing the web at work, the library, or at home on your MacBook when you hit one of the thousands of sites that autoplay ads, news, or other videos. You forgot the volume on your laptop or desktop was set for music or gaming mode, and the sound blares throughout the room and immediately sending you into apology mode.

Or you visited your favorite news site hoping to catch the latest news, only to find Safari is blocking the Auto-Play on their videos. You shake your fists at Safari, not knowing you could have set up the browser to avoid that embarrassing situation in the first place by learning how to manage Auto-Play on websites.

This serves two purposes–it can either prevent videos from automatically playing, or allow those videos to automatically play. This can be done either globally or on a per-site basis. You might think, “Why not just use an ad blocker?” I tend to land on the side where websites depend upon that ad revenue (to keep the lights on), so I prefer to allow the ads to play out–however, even I have my limits.

How do you do this on Safari? Let me show you.

Setting up Auto-Play

What I’m about to describe works with Safari 11.0.1 (as used on macOS). Apple has recently made a change to Safari that blocks all Auto-Play. If you’re running the latest iteration, you will not have to set the Auto-Play preferences to Never Auto-Play, as it is already set. However, you will need to whitelist those sites for which you want to enable Auto-Play. Even with this set by default, let’s take a look at where the option is controlled.

What Safari allows is the disabling of Auto-Play, and then the whitelisting of certain sites in case there are sites you’d like to allow Auto-Play to function as per normal. To make sure Auto-Play is set properly, open Safari, click the Safari menu, and then click Preferences. In the resulting window, click on the Auto-Play tab.

In the Auto-Play window (Figure A), click the drop-down in the lower right corner, and select Never Auto-Play. If you want Auto-Play to work globally, select Allow All Auto-Play.

Figure A

Close the Preferences window.

Whitelisting a site

If you have sites for which you want to allow Auto-Play to function, the sites must be whitelisted. To whitelist sites, do the following:

  1. Go to one of the websites in question
  2. Double-click the address bar
  3. Click Settings for This Website
  4. In the popup (Figure B), click Auto-Play
  5. Select Allow All Auto-Play

Figure B

And that’s all there is to it. You now have whitelisted sites that can break through the default Safari behavior of blocking Auto-Play. You will have to repeat these steps for any and all sites you wish to whitelist.

The people spoke

… and Apple listened. The majority of users do not want their productivity or browsing interrupted by Auto-Play video. In all honesty, Apple might have been better served including an Auto-Mute option as well so video could play sans sound. For the most part, the issue people have is the sound, not the video. Even still, Safari users now have the power to black or whitelist Auto-Play for the websites they visit.