Click to Play is a technology that is part of most modern web browsers. In most, it needs to be enabled before it becomes available though. In Firefox for example, you type in about:addons, select plugins on the page that opens up, and there Ask to Activate next to the plugin that you want to enable Click to Play for.
Click to Play serves two main purposes. First, it may improve page loading times by blocking plugin contents from being loaded automatically. A basic example is a page with an embedded YouTube video. With Click to Play enabled, that video is not loaded automatically.
The second benefit is security. Websites cannot load plugin contents automatically which in turn means that they cannot exploit vulnerabilities in plugins because of this. Mozilla uses Click to Play for items on its blocklist, so that they are not loaded by default even if you have not configured Click to Play in Firefox.
Click to Play has been criticized lately as well, as Mozilla changed the way it works in recent versions of Firefox. You can only enable plugins on a domain level now, and no longer on a per-element level. What this means is that if you enable Flash on YouTube, you enable it for all pages on the site so that all videos load automatically, and Flash ads as well if they are displayed there.
If you want more control over the process, you need to install click to play per-element which I reviewed on Monday here on Ghacks.
The second issue is that of control. Since Firefox does not make available a whitelist of sites for you to manage, you can only change click to play preferences for whitelisted sites by visiting them.
To do so click on the icon next to the site's address in the browser and select the Block Plugin option here.
If you want more control over your Click to Play whitelist, you can install the Firefox extension Click-to-Play Manager. It provides you with the following two options:
To open the manager, type about:addons in the browser's address bar and hit enter. Locate Click-to-Play Manager on the page and click on the Options button next to it. The first page lists all existing whitelist entries including those that you have configured manually.
A click on Add opens the add domain to whitelist dialog. Here you enter a domain name and select one, some or all plugins installed in your browser.
Note: The five Quicktime plugins listing is an error, as I only have one installed and listed under plugins.
All plugins are listed here, even those that are not enabled. While you can add them to a domain to allow the domain to run them, they won't execute unless you change the plugin's status to "ask to activate".
If you are using Click to Play in Firefox and want more and better controls over the feature, then Click-to-Play Manager is the go to extension that provides you with that.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.