Breaking the Scroll Chain

We’ve all been there. You open YouTube to watch that one video you’ve been meaning to catch up on, and suddenly, it’s 2 am, and you’re watching a documentary about the migratory patterns of African elephants. “How did I get here?”, you wonder. Well, my friend, welcome to the world of YouTube scrolling addiction. A seemingly innocent pastime, but one that can turn into a pretty hefty personal challenge - just the way they engineered it! Today, I’ll be turning the tables on this productivity zapper by building a Chrome extension that shuts down any tab that navigates to YouTube. Sounds fun? Let’s dive right in!

The Journey Begins

Our quest began with the basic structure of a Chrome extension, which includes two key files: manifest.json (the metadata for the extension) and background.js (where the JavaScript magic happens). With manifest.json, I declared the extension’s name, version, description, and permissions. In background.js, I added a simple script to close the tab if the URL contains ‘’.

I bet you’re thinking, “That’s it? We’re done?” Well, not quite. While I was on the right track, I realized our extension was a tad overzealous. It was closing tabs not just when the domain was ‘’, but even when ‘’ was part of another hostname or elsewhere in the URL. I decided to use the URL API to parse the URL and specifically check the domain, a few tweaks to our background.js, and voila! Our extension was now only closing tabs where the domain was ‘’. All was well, or so I thought…

The Devil is in the Details

Turns out, our extension was a bit of a loose cannon. It was closing tabs even if there was a YouTube video embedded in the page. That’s when (after a lot of Googling) I realized I was using the webNavigation.onCommitted event, which fires when a navigation within the tab is committed, including the main frame navigation and sub-frame navigation.

This was a real “aha!” moment. I needed to switch to the tabs.onUpdated event, which only triggers for the tab itself. This was the silver bullet. A few more tweaks to the code, and the extension was finally behaving just the way I wanted it to!

And just like that, I had built a Chrome extension that closes any tab that navigates to YouTube. It was a rollercoaster ride, with a fair share of twists and turns. But at the end of the day, I had a tool that could help me kick the YouTube scrolling addiction to the curb. It’s like having a stern but loving friend who gently takes your phone away when you’ve had one too many.


    "manifest_version": 3,
    "name": "YouTube Tab Closer",
    "version": "1.1",
    "description": "Closes any tab that navigates to YouTube",
    "permissions": ["tabs", "webNavigation"],
    "background": {
        "service_worker": "background.js"


chrome.tabs.onUpdated.addListener(function(tabId, changeInfo, tab) {
  if (changeInfo.status === 'loading') {
    let url = new URL(tab.url);
    if(url.hostname === '') {

So, the next time you find yourself spiraling down the YouTube rabbit hole, remember, there’s an extension for that! You can see on the Chrome extension store if you want just grab a copy for your Brave/Chrome browser.

Interested in building your own Chrome extension or just curious about the code? Please do get in touch.

Related Posts

Steering projects, plain sailing?

Is steering the heart of project success?

Building a Color Picker App for macOS

Causing a rumpus with Python and Rumps

This might be the reuse tool you're looking for

Understanding reuse potential though simple sentences

Dirk Gently Unraveling the Data Web

Exploring Ochre with the Hawkes Process

Learning Service Layers

What's next for service layers?

Interpreting, the future

Does reuse boil down to translating need?

The timeless way of building

Learning from architecture when delivering third-sector reuse

Time off the grid

Different ways to visualise a calendar

Trust is how management creates culture

Engage & Empower beats Command & Control

Feel the burn(out)

Some thoughts on burn-out and what I do about it