Some people find them annoying but animated GIFs can be a lot of fun, at least the first few times you see them. After that they tend to lose their appeal, especially when you’re trying to read something right next to them. Most of the major browsers don’t offer a built-in way to control them. For those who care, however, you can take control of animated GIFs on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox through the magic of add-ons and extensions.
Google created its own extension, called Animation Policy, to help Chrome users gain control of GIFs in their browser. Built as an accessibility extension, Animation Policy allows you to choose between allowing animated images, allowing them just a single occurrence, or disabling them altogether.
Once you’ve installed the extension from the Chrome Web Store, click on the lighting-bolt icon that appears to the right of the address bar. Now just choose which option you’d prefer. Personally, I’d go with allowing the animation to run only once. That way you can get the joy of animated GIFs without the annoyance.
Firefox has an even better add-on for stopping animated GIFs, called ESCape From Them GIFs. All you do is install it from Mozilla’s add-on catalog and restart your browser. The next time you’re tired of seeing a GIF on a webpage just hit Esc on your keyboard and the GIF stops. This includes every GIF on a webpage. Even a page filled with animated GIFs, like Giphy, will stop with one key press. Hit Esc again and the GIFs start moving again.
As for Microsoft’s browsers, Internet Explorer users can turn off GIFs completely by going to Internet options > Advanced and unchecking Play animations in webpages. Once you restart your PC, Internet Explorer stops playing GIFs. Edge, Microsoft’s newest browser, currently doesn’t have a way to stop GIFs, but maybe someone will make a browser extension for it in the future.
Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.