Stop the Pop

Is there any way to completely block pop-up ads?


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Q: Bill writes: Is there any way to completely block pop-up ads while running Chrome or Internet Explorer? I have to wonder what's the point of blocking pop-ups when so many get through anyway, slowing down the page loading to the point that it reminds me of being on dial-up.

A: It's been so long since I have dealt with a pop up, that I had forgotten Chrome and IE even had settings to block pop-ups. To turn on the pop-up blocker in Chrome click the button at the top right of the screen that has three horizontal lines. Then click on settings, and search for "pop-ups" in the search box. In Internet Explorer click on Tools, and then go to Internet Options. There you can find the setting under the Privacy tab. Recent versions of Firefox have this option too, and you can find it under the Firefox settings.

But Bill says this setting doesn't work, or at least not all the time. You have to understand that pop-up blocking is like an arms race. Every time there's some new advance in pop-up blocker technology, the people making the pop up ads just get smarter.

To make things more complicated, browser-makers can't simply ban all pop-ups. There are lots of legitimate uses for pop-ups. Half the websites on the internet would stop working.

Now, the other way to deal with pop-up ads is with what Firefox calls 'extensions'. Extensions are small programs you can download which add features to your browser, including more effective pop-up blocking.

Extensions also work for Chrome and Internet Explorer, where they're known as 'plug-ins' and 'add-ons', respectively. One of the most popular extensions or plug-ins is Ad Block Plus. You can download this for both Firefox and Chrome. It's an industrial strength popup killer and I've found it effectively blocks most pop-ups. Another good plug-in I've found for Chrome is called Better Pop-Up Blocker.

You can find either one of these by just searching for it in Google. Try keywords like "chrome pop up blocker" and you should get some very helpful results.

Your options are more limited on IE, but there's an add on called Smart Pop-up Blocker that will block most pop-ups. It's not 100%, but it's the best that we could find.

Regardless of what your favorite browser is, if you're getting fed-up with annoying ads on the websites you frequent, there are tools out there that can make your web-browsing experience a little smoother.

Now, let me give you a friendly little PSA about pop-up blocking: many of your favorite free websites are ad supported. When you visit one of those sites and you've got a pop-up blocker running, you may avoid seeing that annoying pop-up ad, but you've also cost that site some ad revenue. So be sure to deploy your pop-up blocker judiciously.

Yeah. This is such a big issue that the ever-popular Ad Block Plus actually has a setting called "Allow non-intrusive advertising" which is on by default. As the name suggest, this allows many of the less annoying ads through.

But those annoying ads may be real money makers for small, independent websites. Ad Block Plus gives you the option to allow pop-ups for certain websites. Other pop-up blockers should, at minimum, allow you to turn them on and off.

Please pop-up block responsibly! Ads may be annoying, but they help keep the web free.

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