If you’re sick of seeing ads while browsing the web, you can turn them off with an ad blocker. But ad blockers don’t just remove annoying ads, they will also make your browsing experience safer. Many of the ads you see while browsing the web can track your online activity. Some of them even contain malware and spyware, which can compromise your privacy and security. So, the next time you’re online, consider installing one of the best ad blockers for your desktop or mobile browsers.
Best Ad Blockers for Chrome
Ghostery (Free | Ghostery Plus at $2/month)
Ghostery promises a cleaner, faster, and safer browsing experience by letting you block ads and trackers. Their Smart Blocking technology automatically blocks trackers that cause your websites to load slower. And their Enhanced anti-tracking feature keeps your browsing activities anonymous by removing data points that websites use to identify you.
Ghostery has a simple view that lets you see how many trackers were blocked, requests modified, and the page load time. You can also quickly trust a site, restrict it, or pause Ghostery from this menu. There is also a detailed view that shows you information about the individual trackers, and lets you set rules for each of them.
The free version gives users four options for blocking ads: block default, block nothing, block everything, or choose from a list. With Ghostery Plus, you can view your blocking history and statistics, change your Ghostery themes and colors, and get priority support.
Available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edge, iOS, and Android.
AdBlock is an open-source ad and pop-up blocker. Aside from traditional pop-up ads, it will also block pop-unders, or an ad that hides under your browser and only reveals itself when you leave the site. It also lets you subscribe to pre-made lists, so you won’t have to set blocking rules for yourself.
You can block Facebook ads, sidebar ads, banner ads, and unskippable YouTube video ads, so you can watch funny cat videos without interruption. AdBlock also comes with protection against malicious software (malware), from adware to viruses. Installing this ad blocker will automatically stop your browser from downloading any malicious ads. Plus, you’ll automatically be opted-in to the Malware Protection filter list.
Available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, iOS, and Android.
AdBlocker Ultimate (Free)
With the AdBlocker Ultimate extension, you can browse the web without any text ads, banner ads, pop-ups, pop-unders, overlay ads, interstitial page ads, video ads, webmail ads, and Facebook ads. Once installed, clicking on the AdBlocker Ultimate icon lets you see how many ads the extension has blocked across Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
Like most ad blockers, you can subscribe to a filter list, add your own filters, or whitelist specific domains. But what sets them apart is that they have a strict policy of blocking all ads. They have a “no acceptable ads” policy, which means they won’t let any ads slip through, even from whitelisted websites. You even have the option to block any selected element on a webpage.
Available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.
Best Ad Blockers for Safari
AdBlock Plus (Free)
AdBlock Plus is a browser extension that lets you remove all kinds of trackers, and add trusted sites to a whitelist. The advanced customization options also allow you to block certain elements of a website manually.
AdBlock Plus has an Acceptable Ads program, which allows ads that meet certain criteria on placement, distinction, size, and other standards.
Available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Edge, Opera, iOS, and Android.
AdGuard claims to have more than 10,000 rules on their filter list, which helps users block all kinds of trackers on the web. They also claim to have a database with more than 2 million harmful websites that are known to have malware, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware.
Using Stealth Mode, you can hide your search queries, set a time limit for third-party cookies so they don’t keep your information for more than the time you specify, and so much more. What makes AdGuard so user-friendly is that you can simply right-click on any part of a website to access the blocking and filtering options.
Available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, and Yandex Browser.
Best Ad Blocker for Firefox
uBlock Origin (Free)
uBlock Origin is a lightweight, open-source content filtering browser extension. It features a simple user interface that allows you to turn on uBlock for certain sites by clicking on the big blue button.
With its element picker and element zapper mode, you can select parts of a website that you want to block, instead of setting up complicated filter rules. You can also choose to block all pop-ups or stop large media elements from playing on any site.
Best Ad Blockers for iPhone
Purify is a mobile content blocker that claims to load pages up to four times faster and let users save up to 50% of their data usage. Aside from being able to enable or disable ads, trackers, social buttons, and comments, Purify also lets you block images, scripts, and fonts. You can also whitelist sites, which will be synced with other devices through iCloud.
Purify doesn’t block ads right away when installed, though. You would have to go to Settings > Safari > Content Blockers. In the Allow These Content Blockers section, toggle on the button to enable the Purify app.
Available for iOS devices only.
Like their competitor, Crystal also claims to load webpages four times faster, which they say will save users 53% on their data. Once you install it, you can click a button in the app that takes you straight into the content blocker settings of your iPhone for you to enable the Crystal app.
If you’re still seeing ads or a website isn’t working, you can report the site, and it will be reviewed within 7 days. Then the app’s list of blacklisted sites will be updated. Crystal does have an Acceptable Ads policy, but this can be disabled from the main menu by setting the app to block all ads.
Available for iOS devices.
Firefox Focus (Free)
Available on iOS and Android.
Best Ad Blockers for Android
AdAway is an open-source Android ad blocker that uses a host file instead of filtering rules to block ads. Aside from blocking ads, it prevents full-screen or banner ads from playing in an app.
AdAway works by routing all ad requests to a non-existent modified host file. To use the app, your phone would need to be rooted, or have access to Android software codes. The app is available for download on F-Droid, Android’s version of the Google Play Store.
Block This (Free)
Block This is another open-source Android app that blocks browser and in-app ads. This app also has antivirus features that stop malware from damaging your device. It works by matching Domain Name Server (DNS) requests to whitelisted and blacklisted websites. If a site has been blacklisted, Block This sends the DNS request to a local loop back address, which stops rendering ads and shows a blank screen instead. The app handles traffic through a local virtual private network (VPN) as a workaround to Android rules on handling DNS requests.
Aside from downloading ad blockers, there are simple steps you can take to remove intrusive ads. Check out our previous article on what causes pop-up what causes pop-up ads and how to remove them to find out more.