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How to locate a noisy tab in Firefox and switch to it instantly

This article isn’t about annoying auto-playing videos. You know that Firefox displays a speaker icon on tabs which are playing audio and that you can mute those easily with a right-click on the tab and the selection of mute tab from the menu, or a click on the audio icon directly.

But, what if you have a lot of tabs open and can’t spot the icon in the current view? It happens that media tabs can become hidden in the background if you happen to open more than a dozen or so tabs.

You could try using an add-on like Auto Mute Plus to silence all the tabs, and then search for the one which played the audio. Or you could hit the mute key on your keyboard too or turn down the volume.

Is that really a solution though?  There is still the problem of finding the tab. Unfortunately, there is no feature for this task in Firefox at the moment, not even one that you could enable from about:config. Add-ons do come to the rescue.

Tip: You can configure Firefox to mute all tabs by default, and mute individual sites as well. Chrome users can check out the complete Chrome muting guide.

How to locate a noisy tab in Firefox and switch to it instantly

Here are 2 extensions which I tried. You can use either one.

Tabhunter

  1. Install Tabhunter and click on its icon in the toolbar.
  2. Click on the check box next to “Audio Only”.
  3. This lists each tab which is playing audio/video. Select the one you want to switch to.
  4. Click on the “Go” button.

It should take you to the tab. There is no need to search for the speaker icon or manually locate the noisy tab anymore but you may still need to activate mute or pause playback.

Tabhunter’s GitHub hasn’t been updated in over a year but the add-on was updated recently.

Switch to audible tab

Switch to audible tab

This is a fairly recent add-on which seems to have been written for that one purpose Switch to audible tab lives up to its name. Once you install the add-on you will see its icon on the toolbar. You can click on it and it will instantly jump to the tab which is playing the audio. You can also use the shortcut key combo Alt + Shift + A to switch to the tab.

In case you have multiple media tabs, using the Switch to audible tab shortcut/button will cycle through all of them.

Closing Words

People use Firefox for streaming music, videos, or podcasts in the background all the time. While this is not an issue that demands immediate attention, it would be nice if it was addressed by Mozilla. Maybe they could add a button on the toolbar which only appears when a tab is playing audio in the background, a bit like the play button that Google tests in Chrome currently.

Here’s what inspired me to write this.

About a week ago, I had set a reminder on a YouTube video (live stream) to write about the launch of a device on another publication. Since the event was scheduled to start in a few hours, I worked on other articles in the meantime. A couple of dozen tabs later, I forgot that the stream’s tab was open (and that it would auto-play).

You can guess what happened: when the stream went live the tab started playing some music. For a second I didn’t have a clue what was happening because the 20+ tabs which were visible on my monitor didn’t have the “speaker icon” on them. The audio wasn’t the issue, locating the tab was. I used TreeStyleTab to scroll the list of tabs to find the noisy tab and switch to it. This took half a minute though, and I wanted a better solution. That’s when I discovered Tabhunter and Switch to audible tab.

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