One of the recent versions of Chrome added something absolutely wonderful to the browser; a sound indicator in the tab that tells you which tab is playing any sort of audio. This feature doesn’t just work for YouTube videos or other embedded media players but also for those annoying video ads that play on their own making it very easy to identify the guilty tab. Mute Inactive Tabs is a Chrome extension that does something equally helpful in this regard; it mutes a tab playing any sound if it is inactive.
You can toggle Mute Inactive Tabs On and Off from its button next to the URL bar. When the extension has been turned Off, the button has an ‘Off’ badge to indicate the inactive state. Any tab that is playing a video/sound is automatically muted as soon as you switch to a different tab.
Mute Inactive Tabs is really an automatic On/Off switch and it does its job well but it does leave us wanting more. Where it will mute say a YouTube video, it won’t pause it. That is obviously not what the extension claims to do but it’s a feature that would make it far more useful.
Mute Inactive Tabs also only works within a window. This means that if you switch to a different window, all tabs that were muted by the extension in the window you were previously working in will begin playing sound again and that is without doubt a major flaw. The extension has a pro version as well, not something that happens with browser extensions, and it allows you to whitelist pages that the extension should not mute. It doesn’t, however, extend the mute functionality to other windows thus making the upgrade/purchase less than what it’s worth.
Personally, I’d love to see the developer fix those little bugs and make it so that the extension can pause videos as well. Mute Inactive Tabs can be exceptionally useful in many cases not least of which is opening and queuing several YouTube videos for watching.