Stop animations, background requests in Firefox 20

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 1, 2013
Updated • Apr 7, 2013
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Are you using the ESC key on your keyboard to stop background requests or animations in Firefox? The majority of users probably do not know that it is possible to do so using the ESC key, and chance is, they will never find out about it either as Mozilla just implemented a change in Firefox 20 that changes the behavior.

If you visit a page with an animated gif, like this Wikipedia page you may notice that the animation is repeated indefinitely. If you are using Firefox 19 or earlier, you can simply tap on the Esc key on your keyboard to stop the animation, all of them, on that page. When you open the very same page in Firefox 20, which is currently available in the Nightly channel, you will notice that tapping on Esc does nothing at all. It won't stop the animations on the page and there is no other way to stop the animations from playing on that page.

You find out our version of Firefox by loading about:support. Check under version to see which version of the browser you are running. The change will propagate to the other channels of the browser and eventually reach the stable version of Firefox.

Esc in Firefox 19 and earlier not only stops animations from playing, it also stops network connections which may be useful if you want to quickly block page contents from loading any further, or to stop connections that use bandwidth all the time which may be useful if you pay for your bandwidth for instance.

SuperStop is a new Firefox extension that adds the feature back to the browser. It is only compatible with Firefox 20 and newer, and won't install in older versions of the browser at all. It maps the option to stop animations and background requests to the Shift-Esc key. So, instead of tapping on ESC you now need to activate Shift-Esc for the functionality.
If you are interested in the discussion you find the bug on this Bugzilla page.

The feature has been removed and is now resolved as "won't fix" which means that users who want the functionality back need to install the add-on to do so. The extension has been created as a result of the discussion.


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  1. Snowy said on April 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I can’t believe Mozilla has done something as stupid as this. They are taking away control from the user with each release.
    I personally LOVED that ESC stopped the animations as well as the page from loading any further. I couldn’t give a !@#$ about whether it rendered properly or not, I just want it to STOP.
    Now with FF20 your browser works for the other party and you’re going to cop that pile of steaming javascript they’re serving you, that does who-knows-what.


  2. RODNEY COPELAND said on April 28, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I’ve been using Active Stop Button for ages; still works in FF v20.0.1 like the Stop button did in FF v4.0:

  3. Jimmy said on April 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Pressing ESC has stopped web pages from loading and stopped GIF animations in every browser I’ve ever used since browsers existed…until now. Did the crack Firefox team who removed this core functionality replace it with something else? How can one stop a web page from loading in Firefox 20+? Close the browser and install a different one?

  4. Rod said on January 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Esc is not 100%, especially if an auto-refresh is active. I added Active Stop Button to ‘stop loading the page’ as well as freeze animated GIFs. Options allow you to select right-click/etc. to stop all tabs rather than just the current tab.

  5. gee3hacker said on January 2, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I learned a new feature of Firefox today. Thanks. And shame on you mozdevs for disabling it just when I learned it existed! For shame!

  6. Nebulus said on January 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Why do I get the impression that FF devs are heavily relying on the fact that Firefox supports addons and they just let users do the job for them?

  7. Zlip said on January 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    As far as I think they did this to do compliance with all other browsers and support specs which did say that continue playing animations etc.
    So I support this on Mozilla that they did this to support specs.

  8. Jojo said on January 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I use the ESC functionality all the time. Animations are annoying!

    But sounds like the usual BS over at Firefox Bugzilla about making the FF developers life easier at the expense of FF users.

    They remove stuff w/o any idea or clue as to how many users they are affecting. In this case, they are “guessing” that the number of users who used the ESC functionality was low but they have no numbers to back this up.

    It is sad what a travesty FF has become thanks to the heads up their arse Mozilla management/core developers.

  9. Guest said on January 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Wow, now that is stupidity at it’s finest.

    I don’t understand this, were they removing this for the purpose of replacing it with something more functional ?

    If not then what was the point of removing it in the first place?

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