Mozilla Proposes Click To Play Scenarios For Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 13, 2012

Click to play functionality has landed in nightly builds of the Firefox web browser. We have talked about that before, and also looked at other web browsers who were offering that feature. Click to play basically blocks plugins from automatically running on websites when activated. If you visit YouTube, the videos there won't auto-play automatically anymore since Flash is blocked by click to play. The same goes for Flash ads, Java games or Silverlight videos.

Mozilla is currently evaluating different click to play scenarios for the browser that aim to improve a Firefox's users security, a computer's performance or battery life.

How could such a scenario look like?

Lets assume a Firefox users with an outdated version of Flash visits YouTube. Mozilla could now have Firefox block the plugin from loading automatically, and display a message to the user that a) acts as a warning that Flash is not up to date, and b) links to the update page where the latest version can be installed.  The current interactions include an option to bypass the recommendations and load the outdated plugin on the page it is required on.

All scenarios

  • User has an up-to-date version of Flash or another common plugin -> plugin plays automatically (because popular and considered safe)
  • User has an up-to-date version of an uncommon plugin, or one that they have not used in x days -> plugin is click to play to reduce resource consumption and risk of zero-day security exploits
  • User has a vulnerable plugin with a known security issue and no update available -> User can run plugin after scary warning
  • User has a vulnerable plugin with a known security issue, and an update available -> User is promoted to open plugin-check/update page, but can run plugin after scary warning
  • User has activated plugins at least four times in the last 30 days on a site -> Plugin will be automaticallly enabled if the user continues to visit the site and use the plugin on it

These are the proposed actions. Keep in mind that there are other actions that users can select, and that the behavior depends on the click to play configuration in Firefox as well.

Closing Words

Making out of date plugins click to play is similar to how Chromium and Google Chrome are handling the issue. This makes sense from a user perspective, as it makes sure that users become aware of updates, and that they are initially protected when they are visiting sites that want to access those plugins.

Some users may not want the feature to be enabled on their system, for instance if they cannot upgrade to a newer plugin version on their system. As it stands now, users who do not want the feature can disable it in about:config, and maybe later on in the general settings of the browser as well.

What's your take on the proposed click to play in Firefox?



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  1. Hawk said on April 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I wish Firefox had the option to have in Chrome, load YouTube videos in the background, but not this play, called “Stop Autoplay for YouTube.”

    1. Sina said on April 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      YousableTubeFix does this and have many more options for you :-)
      (Require: GreaseMonkey)

      1. Hawk said on July 9, 2012 at 4:48 am

        Thanks. Works fine. :D

  2. David said on April 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Mozilla is again ‘late to the party’ with this one. I believe that most usrs who care about this sort of thing already use add-ons to handle it.

  3. Threshold said on April 14, 2012 at 2:32 am

    WebHybrid when I mentioned that I use userscripts I was actually mainly referring to ‘YouTube Auto Buffer & Auto HD & Remove Ads’ so it’s good that you actually mentioned it and provided the link (I’m a lazy ass I’m afraid :)

    Note that ‘YouTube Auto Buffer & Auto HD & Remove Ads’ has the option to not buffer videos at all which is what I prefer too.
    I do not check the “remove ads” option since Adblock takes care of that and I don’t want to risk them conflicting.

  4. Roman ShaRP said on April 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    If it be capable of blocking flash banners :) lo-lo-lo :)

  5. WebHybrid said on April 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    As Threshold indicated…

    Flashblock is a must-have extension. It has afforded me years and years of peace and quiet. Users should note it has a ‘whitelist’ feature so that certain sites can remain unaffected by it. This just came in handy when I acquired an account at (which stores audio for user playback and uses Flash technology).

    Among the scripts available to stop YouTube’s obnoxious autoplay, I use this one: ‘YouTube Auto Buffer & Auto HD & Remove Ads’ found at

    And there are others that tame YouTube; at least one I had earlier was even more restrictive in that it didn’t allow the buffer process to proceed without my permission either – better if bandwidth is very limited.

  6. Zealot said on April 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Long overdue from an annoyance standpoint as well as helping to control wireless data use by junk you don’t want.

  7. Threshold said on April 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Autoplay is one of the most annoying things on videos.
    I use several userscripts to regulate how videos operate or alternatively Flashblock.

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