We’ve all been to Web pages where animations start auto-playing without permission. It’s a crime against humanity and should be stopped. The upside is that if they’re animated GIFs, they are at least silent. But they’re usually also big downloads, which can be a real drag on your connection while you wait. It’s best to prevent the animations happening without your permission.
It’s not a straight-forward thing like stopping video, since an animated GIF is technically an image file—it just happens to have multiple frames that play in sequence. Here’s how to put a stop to the show, browser by browser. (We even placed an animated GIF on this very page you can use to test things out. We’re just that nice.)
The folks at Mozilla were smart to incorporate an option to turn off auto-play animations in Firefox.
- Type “about:config” in the address bar.
- Click “I’ll be careful, I promise” when it comes up.
- Find “image.animation” using the search box (just type “anim”)
- Double-click “image.animation_mode.”
- In the next box, type ether “once,” so the animated GIFs only get one chance to play, or “none” so they never can.
The downside here is you can’t ever get the file to play later without reverting the settings.
If you prefer a software solution, download the SuperStop extension for Firefox. With a click of Shift+Esc, background animations on a page should cease. (Prior to Firefox 20, you could just hit Esc to stop all GIF animations, but they killed the function. This almost puts it back.)
Google’s browser has no built-in facility to kill animated-GIF playback. You’ll need an extension from the Google Web Store to stop them. Gif Jam (Animation Stopper) will show just the first frame of any GIF that tries to load. Animation Policy lets you set up a policy for how to handle a GIF: let it run once (and only once) or disable auto-play altogether. Gif Stopper lets you stop all the animations on a page with a stroke of the Esc key (leaving a blank white space where the image used to be). Gif Delayer won’t stop them playing but does delay them until all the GIFs on the page are fully loaded, so you’re not waiting around, watching stuttering, half-started animations.
It’s simple to stop animations for good in Opera. In the Settings, under Quick Preferences, uncheck the box next to “Enable Animated Images.” Re-check it to turn them back on. Better yet, under Site Preferences, you can specify Websites where you want the animated GIFs, and sites where you’d rather they die. Right-click any Web page while you’re looking at it to get “Edit Site Preferences” to come up. These actually override Quick Preferences, so if you turn off all the animations, but have already specified a site gets to have animated images, that site’s settings get priority.
Finally, a browser that does it right. (It’s not often you say that about a Microsoft product.) When animated GIFs load in IE, just hit the Esc key and they stop moving. Nothing disappears, they just stop. If it’s a page full of them, you may have to hit Esc more than once, as the button won’t work until the GIF is fully loaded on the page. You have to reload to get the GIFs moving again.
If you want to stop animated GIFs forever:
- Go to Internet Options (via the Tools menu “gear” at the upper right)
- Select the Advanced tab
- Scroll down to Multimedia to uncheck “Play animations in web pages.”
- You’ll need to restart your browser and your computer for this to take effect and go through the whole process to re-start animated images.
You’d think the same things would work for Microsoft Edge in Windows 10. But you’d be wrong. There was no easily identifiable option to shut off GIFs that I could find.
Not a lot of great options to stop the desktop Safari from animating GIFs, though there are an old extension named Deanimator that may do the trick.