One of the absolute worst parts about browsing this dusty ol’ web of ours is when you innocently open up some site — maybe, say, a tech news publication — and a video you didn’t ask for suddenly starts blaring annoying audio into your unexpecting ears. It’s especially obnoxious on a phone, where you’re frequently scrolling on your screen in a semipublic area or whilst someone else slumbers nearby.
We’ve all been there. We all loathe it. And yet, we continue to experience it, with no obvious fix or easy way to avoid the annoyance. (Insert awkward eye-darting here.)
Well, my fellow Android adorer, I’ve got good news for you. Google’s Chrome Android browser actually has an incredibly effective system for sending overly aggressive websites a signal that you don’t appreciate their unprompted audio invasions. In fact, with a single tap of your greasy fingeroo, you can stop a site from making sounds on your phone ever again. And you can take control of all sorts of other site-specific permissions while you’re at it.
Get ready for an illuminating “aha!” moment, ’cause you’re about to meet a convenient Chrome feature that you probably never knew existed.
The on-demand Chrome Android control panel
All right — ready? Here ’tis: Anytime you’re viewing a site within Chrome on Android, you can tap the padlock icon at the top of the screen, to the left of the site’s address, to pop up a power-packed panel that lets you view and adjust all sorts of info about that specific site’s permissions and what it’s able to do.
Now, how much stuff shows up in that panel all depends on what the site in question has attempted to bombard you with so far. If the site hasn’t been playing any audio, for instance, you won’t see the audio permission in that area. But if it has — well, by golly, all you’ve gotta do is tap the corresponding line to uncover a toggle that’ll let you take away that ability in the blink of an eye.
You’ll sometimes see other relevant site-specific settings in that area as well, including a one-tap-away list of exactly how many cookies the site is creating in your Chrome Android engine room.
As a side note, remember: Cookies may get a bad rap these days, but they aren’t inherently always evil. Lots o’ cookies exist for genuinely useful and not at all nefarious reasons, such as keeping you signed into sites, keeping your self-set preferences in place, and providing you with a delicious dairy-free snack. (That last one might be about a different type of cookie, but you get the idea.) And even those that are related to advertising are often far less frightening than they’re made out to be, once you move past the sensational headlines and consider the actual underlying realities.
Still, knowledge matters. And understanding exactly what different sites are doing is a critical part of being a smart and informed internet dweller.
To be clear, these same sorts of controls have always been accessible within the Chrome Android app’s settings. And you can still get to ’em there, if you want. But that area of the browser is pretty out of the way, and the process of adjusting a site’s permissions deep within those musty inner-hallways is significantly less simple:
- First, you’ll need to tap the three-dot menu icon in Chrome’s upper-right corner and select “Settings” in the menu that comes up.
- After that, you’ll scroll down and select “Site settings,” then find and tap whatever category you want to consider — “Notifications,” “Sound,” “Cookies,” “Cinnamon Rolls,” and so on. (All right, so I made that last one up. But if a site were able to provide cinnamon rolls as part of its permissions, you’d better believe I’d be checking that box.)
- Once you tap on a category, you’ll then have to tap an “Add Site Exception” line and manually type in the address of whatever site you want to disallow for that specific permission.
So it can certainly be done. But it’s a heck of a lot more complicated and clunky of a process, especially when you don’t know offhand exactly which permissions different sites might be using.
No matter, though, for now you know the simpler, easier, and more effective way to handle this. Keep that knowledge tucked away in the back of your suspiciously moist mammal-noggin, and you’ll never be annoyed by a site assaulting you with unwanted audio again — never more than once, anyway.
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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.