How to block ads on Mac

Ads are the cornerstone of the digital economy. That’s why blocking them becomes more difficult each year. And, sadly, ad blockers cannot eliminate all pop ups that keep showing up on your screen. In this article, we’ll teach you a few methods of reducing ad pop ups and take a look at some of the top Mac ad blocking options.

Today, digital advertisements are literally everywhere. Seems like it’s much easier to protect our Macs from harmful viruses than from ads, adware, pop ups, and cookies. This makes advertisers sort of hackers. The difference is, they do not steal your information but rather your attention, targeting you with tons of ads daily.

So what can be the sources of those pop ups?

  • Extensions & plugins
  • In-app notifications
  • Google Display Network
  • Browser hijackers

Why remove ads and other pop ups?

Blocking ads and pop ups don't just improve your browsing experience. It shelters your Mac from malware and other viruses that often are bundled with those ads. These are typical signs telling you that your Mac was infected:

  • The number of pop ups is higher than you would normally expect when browsing the web.
  • Unexpected redirects from web pages you’re visiting.
  • ‘Recommended updates’ and other indicators persuading you to download or use some odd software.

As you probably heard, cybercriminals are getting smarter. They keep figuring out new ways to steal sensitive data like payment details or passwords. So it’s s worth installing anti-virus to add another layer of protection to your Mac. But before that, learn how to block pop ups on Mac by clearing your browsers.

How to stop pop ups on Mac based on your browser?

Follow the instructions below to get rid of annoying ads from your Mac.

How to stop pop ups in Google Chrome?

Google Chrome is the most popular browser among users worldwide. It has a native pop-up blocker feature you can use to manage ads and pop ups. Just follow the steps below.

  1. Open Google Chrome menu > Settings
  2. Choose Privacy and security from the left sidebar menu > Site settings
  3. Scroll down to “Pop-ups and redirects”
  4. Switch the pop-ups off

Always make sure you are using an up-to-date version of Google Chrome. Security update prevents viruses and cyber threats, making it worthwhile to say "yes" to an update.

Now, let's check your extensions and make sure there are no adware-related ones.

  1. Launch the Chrome browser.
  2. Enter this line into the address bar: chrome://extensionsor go to Settings > Extensions. 

If you find any extension you either don't need or don't recognize, click the Remove button.

Now, we'll reset settings to refresh your Chrome:

  • Click Chrome > Preferences... (in the top menu).
  • Click on Advanced > Reset settings.

Done! Everything that was causing unwanted pop ups and ads to appear, including but not limited to phishing software and browser extensions, should be successfully removed from your Mac. 

Destroying hidden adware extensions

Some extensions behave more covertly than the ones we've talked about earlier. As an example, there're entities called launch agents that play a supporting role to other apps on your Mac. Usually, after deleting the app, its launch agents could still be bombarding you with notifications.

To find such hidden extensions on your Mac, try using a free version of CleanMyMac X.

  1. Install the CleanMyMac X and open it.
  2. Open Extensions tab.
  3. Find all suspicious items and click Remove.
Spotlight plugins in Extensions module of CMMX

Look through the tabs under Internet Plugins and Preference Panes. Be vigilant: adware may have perfectly innocent names.

Common adware extensions

Some of the most common include VSearch, Conduit, Genieo, GoPhoto, Jollywallet, Savekeep, MacShop, Yontoo, Shopper Helper Pro, Slick Savings, PallMall, and Awesome Screenshot. These malicious pieces of tech are bundled into other seemingly legitimate downloads, email attachments, social media images & videos. Once you've clicked accept, most anti-virus programs believe the Mac user approves them.

How to stop pop ups in Safari?

    Safari users have huge control over pop ups in this browser. Safari lets you manage the list of websites allowed to show pop ups and then blocks pop-up windows on those particular sites. To set up restrictions, use this guide:

    1. Go to Safari Preferences, and choose the Websites tab.
    2. Block pop ups on websites that are currently opened.

    Safari does all it can to prevent pop ups and any fraudulent website warnings. These are ads using phishing techniques to force users to download something from Apple or other legitimate software companies. Keep reading to find out how to remove these nasty pieces of software. But for first, try this:

    Another way to remove pop ups in Safari is to check Extensions. Go again to Safari preferences and click Extensions. Then one by one remove any browser extensions that you don't want or need. 

    How to stop pop ups in Firefox?

    Make sure you are using the latest version of Firefox. Preventing cyber threats is the number one reason software companies insist on updates.

    To make sure pop ups are disabled in Firefox, enter about:preferences in the browser address bar or go to Settings > Privacy & Security. Here, check the box next to "Block pop-up windows." 

    To check for malicious extensions in Firefox, use the instructions below.

    1. Launch Firefox.
    2. Enter about:addonsinto the address bar and press Enter.
    3. This will take you to the Add-ons Manager page. In the left-side panel find Extensions. Click the three-dot icon and select Remove. 
    4. To reset Firefox, go to Help and select Troubleshooting Information.
    5. On this page, click Refresh Firefox.

    With that done, all add-ons and extensions will be automatically removed together with unwanted ads and pop-ups.

    Remove ads from Mac completely

    So far, we've been talking about the browser's built-in security tools. But to be honest, to eliminate ads and pop ups once and for all you need a specialized ad cleaner. 

    Try CleanMyMac X, a tool notarized by Apple that is designed to:

    • Delete browser extensions (even the hidden ones)
    • Uninstall apps that could contain ads
    • Detect malware and viruses

    According to "Objective by the Sea" (a security conference), 20% of Macs contain PUPs or potentially unwanted applications. This type of malware is exactly what CleanMyMac X detects. It also checks for hidden cryptocurrency miners, spyware, and worms that are also found on Macs. 

    adware found with malware removal module of CleanMyMacX

    1. Launch CleanMyMac X.
    2. Choose Malware Removal in the sidebar. 

    While you are in CleanMyMac X, choose Uninstaller in the sidebar. It will dig out all software that is installed on your Mac. This includes hidden and unused apps.

    And lastly, we also recommend downloading ad-blocking software. Below are a few for you to try.

    Proven Ad blockers for your Mac

    1. AdBlock Plus (ABP) is a popular option to block ads in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. It comes with custom filters, including a “non-intrusive advertising” whitelist, so you can keep helping media and websites you like while not seeing ads and pop-ups you don’t.

    2. AdBlock - not related to ABP - has Safari, Chrome, and Opera options. Ads are blocked from known ad servers, and you can add others to your blacklist while maintaining a whitelist, similar to ABP.

    3. AdBlocker Ultimate comes with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and is proud to have taken no money from media companies and blocks everything it possibly can. AdBlocker Ultimate also blocks known malware, adware, and tracking domains.

    There are, of course, dozens of other ways how to stop ads and pop ups on Mac. Safe to say, your browser should be an ad, pop up, and malware-free if you take the steps outlined in this article.

    Frequently asked questions

    How to find out what app is causing pop-ups?

    It’s not often apparent what app is showing pop-ups on your Mac. The best way to detect malicious app or programs is to scan your Mac with antivirus software. For example, you can run a malware scan with CleanMyMac X. It identifies the malicious agents and offers immediate removal.

    How to get rid of Google ads?

    Google ads are usually displayed on various websites, and unfortunately, you can’t completely close or control them manually. However, you could use some of the ad blockers we listed above. They block all pop-ups and banners that appear on most websites.

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