Q. When I visit certain webpages, a video starts playing automatically. Is there a way to disable this annoying behavior?


A. The simple answer is yes, there is probably a setting you can adjust to stop most videos from automatically playing.

Where things can get messy is finding the right setting. Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari each have preferences that block video auto-play everywhere, and they can also selectively block auto-play on specific sites. These options can be found in the browser’s preference (settings) screen, under the heading Privacy or Media, depending on the browser.

The story for mobile devices adds another wrinkle. Mobile devices are usually on cellular data plans. Videos, even short ones, can consume your data allowance fast. In addition to the advice above about web browsers, also look for options to prevent loading video while using cellular networks.

Annoying auto-play behavior is not limited to browsers. Apps like Facebook and Instagram can consume tremendous amounts of data by automatically showing video and high-res photos. These kinds of apps usually have settings that let you trim their appetite for data, with the added benefit of stopping most auto-play behavior.

The bottom line is that most videos can be silenced automatically. But it will take some patience to configure the right settings for your device.


Q. I have an older smartphone I no longer use, but it has photos that I would love to see again. Can I copy the images to a new phone?

A. Check out the PhotoStick line of products. They have models that work with computers and smartphones. The smartphone versions are available at getphotostickmobile.io.

The phone cannot be too old. And it has to turn on and hold a charge long enough to copy the photos off it. It also requires a compatible connector, such as iPhone’s lightning port or USB on Android.

If these requirements are met, you can insert a PhotoStick into the phone’s connector and it will make a copy of all the photos on the device.

PhotoStick is reusable, which is handy if you have more than one smartphone.

One mild downside is that PhotoStick will copy every image. So it might sweep up odd images you do not want. It avoids making duplicate copies of the same image, and there is always a chance that an image might be missed.

But overall it is a reasonably easy-to-use tool that can rescue photos from an out-of-date phone.


Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at techtalk@bobdel.com.

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