Google Chrome 100 beta will test tab mute again

Who would have thought that Google would revisit the changes they made to the Chrome browser years ago and bring them back? What happened this time was the tab mute flag that the company removed 3 years ago.

As of now, the experimental feature is available in Chrome 100 Canary, where users can mute media tabs with a single tap on the speaker icon. Google may bring the feature back after running an experiment to test its usage in the stable release.

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When Chrome introduced the tab audio indicator (aka the speaker icon), it also added a flag with the ability to mute a tab with a single click, a practice that happened four years ago before the company removed it in 2018 It, on the grounds that offering mute control is tantamount to saying that Chrome needs to supervise content.

Chrome has since introduced site mute, and since then users can mute tabs of a website rather than individual tabs. To mute a tab, just right-click and select the “mute site” option, and even today when the feature itself doesn’t exist in Chrome, there are extensions that can be used to mute tabs.

While Firefox and the new Microsoft Edge allow you to mute and resume playing audio/video tabs when you tap the volume indicator on the tab. Recently, all of a sudden, the Chromium team changed their minds and reverted the change, saying they were bringing it back. Today, in the Google Chrome 100 Canary, someone spotted this change.

CL reimplemented the tab mute functionality that was previously removed in 2018. The implementation follows the original UX recommendations, turning the existing tab alert indicator into a clickable button, but removing the hover and double-tap behavior.

Still, there’s no guarantee that tab muting will eventually return as a Chrome feature. Google may decide its fate after experimenting with tab-silencing functionality on 1% of stable users. The global media controls also offer a mute option, though that’s also present in the Canary version.

To implement it quickly, you can follow the steps below:

  • Launch Chrome 100 Canary
  • Visit chrome://flags
  • chrome://flags/#enable-tab-audio-muting

Select Enabled from the drop-down menu in the image above and restart your browser. Go to a video hosting site, such as YouTube, and play a video, click the audio indicator on the tab to mute it.

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