17 January, 2014

How to locate the browser tab that is source of an (annoying) sound

You're going crazy, but you still cannot find where the sounds are coming from!

It's something that probably happened to everyone of us at some point or other. We have lots of tabs opened and in one of them the designer has chosen to add a component that plays some music automatically. Or starts a video. Or has an add that has to talk to us...
Usually if we open the tab, we'll spot the culprit at that time, mute it and be done with it. But it could happen that we will close the browser (or it will crash) and when we re-open it with all the tabs, we won't have any clue where that cursed sound is originating.

So what to do?

There are multiple solutions to this problem. I'll list as many as I can come up with, starting with most complicated ones (and maybe least useful) and going towards simpler ones.

1. Reload the tabs

This option is fairly complicated, because it involves lots of work, depending on the amount of tabs that you have open.Basically you have to go to every tab and reload it (press F5 to speed up the process). When you reach the tab that is the source of the sound, playback will be interrupted while it reloads and you'll know that you have located the guilty party. Apart from having to go through every tab to find the problem, you may reload some pages where you were doing things and inadvertently loose some data. But sanity is more important, eh?

2. Use Volume Mixer control to disable the sound in the web browser

This option is more of a workaround than the solution. It stops you going crazy, but it doesn't really help you finding which tab is the problematic one. It simply mutes all the sound that the web browser generates. Problem with this is that it will also mute the sound in the tabs of that web browser that may actually be useful to you. It's all or nothing.

You can find the Volume mixer, by clicking on the volume icon in your notifications bar and then clicking on the Mixer link.

3. Youtube? No problem.

Youtube has implemented a useful feature a few months ago. If you're watching a video on  Youtube, the tab where the video is playing will display a well known triangle icon that means play. This helps you to quickly determine which of your Youtube tabs is responsible for the noise. This functionality is browser-independent.

Click to view larger

4. Chrome - all is known ;-)
Since Youtube is Google's subsidiary it's probably not surprising that Google took previous feature and integrated it as a generic functionality into the Chrome web browser. Now any pages that generate sound will have a speaker icon in shown in the tab header which will allow you to spot the annoying web page at a glance.
In the example below three out of five tabs are playing video. However one of the three tabs has the video muted, so the speaker icon only shows up on the two active ones.

Click to view larger

Enjoy some good music and don't loose your mind over it,