Frequently Asked Questions
Why would I use HuluMute when I can get some browser add-on like AdBlock Plus to stop the ads from loading?
There are several drawbacks to using an “AdBlock Plus”-like method:
- Your favorite television shows and movies don’t receive any revenue. This totally removes the incentive for content providers to put their works online, and affects the future of free digital streaming services.
- Hulu defaults to muuuuch longer commercial breaks (sans actual advertisements) when ads are unable to load. This gives us Hulu-goers a choice between sitting and staring at a Hulu warning message for 5 minutes each break or disabling ad-blocking on Hulu and watching 90 seconds of commercials during those breaks instead.
How does HuluMute work?
HuluMute checks specific pixels in the top-left corner of the screen where Hulu displays information about active advertisements, and compares them to colors that are present at the time of an ad. When these are detected, HuluMute will mute your system volume and/or visually block the advertisements. When the ads are no longer detected, the volume is unmuted and Hulu continues playing as usual.
Is this illegal / immoral and will I get in any trouble for using HuluMute?
Controlling your own personal hardware is not a crime. It’s the same as muting commercials on your TV using your remote, changing the channel, or minimizing the browser window while ads are playing. This just automates your computer to produce a similar effect with less effort from you. This does not prevent ads from loading or playing and Hulu and partners still receive advertising revenue from your views. Because of how this ad blocking is implemented, Hulu really has no way of detecting if you are using this software, aside from the fact that you won’t be answering the occasional survey, which plenty of normal users avoid as well.
HuluMute doesn’t seem to work for me. What do I have to do get HuluMute to work properly?
- Make sure you have installed the latest version of Java.
- Make sure that you are running a supported Windows Operating System.
- This application only works when Hulu is playing in full screen mode.
- Make sure you properly select whether you are viewing Hulu from a browser or Hulu Lab’s Hulu Desktop app.
- This can be done in the program window or by editing the “desktopApp” value within the hulumute.conf file in the program’s directory.
- If you have changed the screen resolution since starting the program, or have changed between Desktop App and Browser viewing, please stop and restart the mute process.
- If you are using a multiple-monitor setup, please make sure the screen you are watching Hulu fullscreen on is set as the main display.
- Confirm that the mute process is started (The system tray icon should be green).
- When using HuluMute in tandem with Hulu Lab’s Desktop app, confirm that you are using a supported screen resolution.
- If you have changed any of HuluMute’s settings, load the default values, save them to the config file, and try running the program again.
- If that does not work, try reinstalling HuluMute using the latest setup version available at the Downloads page.
- If you still can’t figure it out and you can replicate the problem, enable the advanced debug logging and email me the hulumute_log.txt file found in the program’s directory with a description of the problem. I’ll do my best to help you get the program working properly.
Which operating systems are supported?
- This is a Windows-only program, though the source-code may be modifiable for use on other operating systems.
- HuluMute relies on the NirCmd and CMDOW utilities to function properly, and is thus dependent upon their ability to function within specific operating system versions.
- Safe bets are Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, likely Windows 8 as well.
- I have programmed and tested HuluMute almost exclusively using Windows 7 64-bit, Firefox 17 & later with the latest version of Java and Flash. If you are running a different OS version I would love to know how HuluMute is working out for you.
What screen resolutions are supported for ad muting and/or blocking with with Hulu Lab’s Hulu Desktop app?
The latest release supports the following monitor resolutions:
- 1366×768 (Untested)
If you would like to have support added for muting/blocking Hulu Lab’s desktop app at a different screen resolution, please take several screenshots of ads at that resolution with the app in fullscreen mode and email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll see what I can do.
What do all these settings and buttons actually do?
Most are pretty self-explanatory, but for those of you that aren’t sure, here you go:
- Selecting “Browser” or “Desktop App” in the program window or configuring the “desktopApp” value within the config file tells HuluMute which option you are using to watch Hulu. Selecting the wrong option will prevent the program from correctly muting or blocking ads.
- Selecting “Use Log File” in the program window or configuring the “log” value within the config file enables or disables the creation of a hulumute_log.txt in the program executable’s directory. This log file is updated with specific program events or system-related info and is useful for debugging/troubleshooting and other matters. This is on by default.
- Selecting “Advanced Debug” in the program window or configuring the “debug” value within the config file enables or disables advanced debug logging to the log file (if use of the log file is enabled). This is alot of very detailed information and is normally unnecessary unless trying to isolate a problem. As such, it is disabled by default.
- Selecting “Block Ad Visuals” in the program window or configuring the “blockVisuals” value within the config file enables or disables visually blocking Hulu’s ads with a superseding black frame. Parts of the screen that are necessary for determining if an ad is playing cannot be blocked, however. This is on by default.
- Selecting “Check for Updates” in the program window or configuring the “checkUpdate” value within the config file enables or disables update checks on program startup. This merely compares the version of the running program with that of the latest available from this site. When an update is available, you will be asked if you would like to go to the downloads site. This is on by default.
- Altering the “Delay (in milliseconds)” in the program window or configuring the “delay” value within the config file changes the rate at which the program searches for ads. When this is changed in the program window, be sure to hit “OK” to apply the change. This value is 150ms by default.
- “Mute Command” in the program window or “muteCommand” in the config file is the command that will be executed whenever an advertisement is detected. This should not really be changed, but can be altered for other purposes if you so desire. (i.e. decrease the volume instead of muting it entirely, or run a batch script or other cmd line utility when a commercial is shown) When this is changed in the program window, be sure to hit “OK” to apply the change.
- Likewise, “Unmute Command” in the program window or “unmuteCommand” in the config file is the command executed whenever a commercial is no longer detected. This should not really be changed unless you know what you are doing. When this is changed in the program window, be sure to hit “OK” to apply the change.
- The “Load Defaults” button loads and activates all of the default values for each field in case you should ever need to restore the values. These default values are not saved to the config file, however, until you should click the button below.
- The “Save to Config File” button saves any changes that may have been made to the programs configuration. Pretty straightforward.
- The “Start Muting” or “Stop Muting” button toggles whether the muting/blocking process is active. When enabled, the program will search the screen for evidence of commercials and the system tray icon will be green. When disabled this process is not active and the system tray icon is red. This start or stop feature is also available by Middle-clicking or CTRL-left clicking the tray icon or selecting start/stop from the tray icon menu.
- The top right “close” button of the program window does not quit the program but instead minimizes the program window to the system tray.
- To exit the HuluMute program and stop any related processes, select “Quit” from the program window or tray icon’s pop-up menu. At this point, if you have made any changes to HuluMute’s settings, you will be prompted to save them to the config file so they will load automatically on HuluMute’s next startup.