Companies are paying attention to our desire for privacy when browsing the internet. Apple introduced the ability to stop certain mobile apps from tracking you with the iOS 14.5 update. Other privacy boosters will be available with iOS 15, which is currently in beta. Android 12, which is in beta but close to its final release, also takes privacy seriously.
- Best antivirus software: Protect yourself against malware and viruses
- The best identity protection services
- Get the best VPN to protect your privacy
These actions, while crucial, are only half the battle. It’s important to look at privacy-minded apps, as well as best ad blockers that protect your browsing activity from prying eyes.
Even the best adblockers have their flaws. You can lose revenue from sites that support ads, such as this one. There are plenty of extensions that let you surf the web on your mobile device, or from your computer.
We have divided our guide into four sections. Our top picks for ad blocking are based on how you browse the web. We have a selection of the best privacy extensions for browsers, mobile apps, and standalone apps that block ads.
Adblock Plus can be used on desktop browsers as much as it is on Android and iOS. Ghostery and AdBlock both work well with most browsers.
AdGuard and AdLock, the best ad blocking tools among standalone apps are AdGuard or AdLock. For mobile users, AdAway is available for Android. 1Blocker X is for iOS. Privacy Badger, Opera’s web browser, and Privacy Badger are other tools available to privacy-minded users.
Adblock Plus (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Android, iOS)
Adblock Plus, (ABP), is one of the most widely used ad blockers. There are extensions for Firefox and Opera, Chrome, Safari Edge, Edge, Edge, Opera, Edge, Edge, Edge, Safari, Edge, and Opera.
ABP has a simple setup and loads a preset filter list that allows users to block most ads. They also offer the option to filter for malware and social buttons.
For increased ad revenue, smart users can choose additional block lists and also set custom filters. Adblock Plus offers “noninvasive advertising” via filters. Some users may find this annoying, but it is possible to disable this feature in settings.
On Android, the AdBlock Browser blocks incoming advertising using a Firefox browser. While on iOS, AdBlock Plus integrates easily with the content blocker system to seamlessly stop advertising on Safari.
Adblock Plus Firefox Chrome Safari Safari Opera Edge
AdBlock (Chrome Firefox Safari Edge Safari Chrome, Firefox Safari Safari, and Safari)
AdBlock (not related to AdBlock Plus), is the other browser extension that blocks ads. Available for Chrome, Firefox Edge, and Safari. AdBlock utilizes a set of filters to block ads coming from known ad service providers and servers. Users can subscribe to additional blocks, stick with the default list or create their own.
AdBlock is one of the most trusted extensions for Safari and Chrome.
Download AdBlock Chrome Firefox Safari Edge Safari Chrome.
Poper Blocker (Chrome)
Poper Blocker (aka Pop Up Blocker For Chrome) is not designed to be an all-in-one blocking solution.
Poper Blocker, in this instance, blocks pop-ups, pop-unders, overlays as well as pop-ups. It also blocks timed and scroll popups. When pop-ups are blocked, you will get small notifications. You can view your blocking statistics, but you can usually keep Poper Blocker running in the background with little impact.
Download Poper Blocker: Chrome
Stands Fair AdBlocker (Chrome)
Chrome users can turn Stands Fair AdBlocker for a quick and easy adblocking plugin. The extension does exactly what its name implies. It blocks pop-ups, ads, and popups from cluttering up the browser. It also prevents tracking.
Stand’s Fair AdBlocker gives control over which ads you block. You can choose to block autoplay video ads or YouTube ads. Expanding ads are also available. It can also block Facebook ads.
AdBlocker’s Fair part allows you to allow certain types or whitelist sites that support ads. You don’t want to lose revenue. This ad-blocker is not a scorched earth tool.
UBlock Origin – Chrome, Firefox
Ublock Origin blocks ads in browsers using a browser. It is simple and effective with minimal overhead. The extension includes several filter lists for known sources of malware and advertisement, as well as the ability to create and read your own filters from the host’s file.
Download Ublock Origin Firefox
Ghostery (Chrome Firefox Opera Edge Opera, Chrome)
Ghostery is able to remove ads from web pages, much like the other extensions we have reviewed. This allows you to focus on content, and make your browsing easier. Ghostery’s privacy-protecting features are the real draw. Ghostery lets you view trackers. It allows you to see which people are trying to collect your data. Ghostery can stop tracking from ever taking place. Ghostery’s Enhance Anti Tracking can help you protect your privacy.
Ghostery is available as a free download and provides basic web security. You can get more protection starting at $4.99 per month. The $11.99 per month tier has a built-in VPN. Ghostery is also compatible with iOS as well as Android.
Ghostery: Chrome Firefox Opera Edge Opera
The best ad blocker stand-alone applications
AdGuard (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS)
If you are looking for a more powerful experience, AdGuard is a subscription-based service that offers mobile and desktop options to help reduce the number of advertisements you see while browsing the web.
AdGuard Windows/Mac covers all popular browsers. There are many options for content, ads, and tracker blocking. Additionally, AdGuard offers parental controls that restrict the content of adult material. AdGuard Android is a no-root ad-blocker that blocks advertising on games and apps. You’ll need to install it via AdGuard’s site, not Google Play. AdGuard iOS integrates with Safari to block ads in the default browser.
Download AdGuard: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
AdLock: Windows, $22 per Year; Android, $11 Per Year
AdLock bypasses the browser-based route and runs as an independent program. This allows AdLock to block not just browser-based ads but also advertising in programs like Skype and games.
The app runs in the background. It uses filters that block ads, popups, or autoplaying videos. It speeds up loading times and applies Safe Browsing functions to automatically block dangerous sites.
It is not possible to download the mobile version from the Google Play Store. This means that you will have to sideload AdLock to your Android device.
Download AdLock: Windows, Chrome, Android
Wiper for iOS, macOS, $1.99
Wipe could be the best ad blocker to your iPhone or Mac, especially if Safari is your favorite browser. The app can be downloaded for iOS or macOS for $1.99. It works with Safari as well and will display web pages in Safari.
The wiper is a complete web browser that blocks not only trackers and applications but also cryptocurrency miners, EU cookie notices, and GDPR notices. Its blocklist is updated once a week. The wiper requires little configuration. Instead, you can just load Wiper and let it do its job.
The wiper should make Safari loads faster. This will be especially helpful if you surf from an iPhone.
Download Wiper: iOS, macOS
Apps for blocking ads on mobile phones
Android users who are rooted can access AdAway. This is a free, open-source ad blocker that works at the host’s level. So, when an application or webpage requests a particular ad service provider, it goes to a blank URL (127.0.0.1). This will save bandwidth and keep you from being scammed.
AdAway gives you the ability to use hosts files sourced from various sources, or one that you create. There are options to whitelist or blacklist particular addresses and even add your own redirects.
AdAway isn’t in the Google Play store so you will need to install third-party apps.
Download AdAway: Android
1Blocker, one of the best ad-blockers available on iOS was released by Apple when it opened that functionality to iPhones/iPads. 1BlockerX has been optimized for Safari.
The app prevents popups, trackers, ads, and other online junk by making browsing more efficient and secure. 1Blocker doesn’t block the content of downloaded pages. It uses Safari’s content blocking API to tell Safari in advance what to block, which saves you time and resources.
1BlockerX offers more than 115,000 blocker rules, customized regional adblocking options, and easy-to-use custom rules settings. The app can be downloaded for free, but premium features are available through in-app purchases.
Download 1Blocker X: iOS
Firefox Focus (Android, iOS)
Firefox Focus adds another browser to Mozilla’s Firefox suite. This Firefox Focus is a privacy-oriented Firefox browser that combines antitracking and ad blocker into a simple and useful package. Firefox Focus blocks ads to speed up browsing while also offering privacy-friendly features such as automatic history clearing and cookie clearing.
Users can choose to block ads, content, and social trackers using simple toggles. You can also activate a “stealth” mode, set a default engine, and turn on an analytics and content filter.
The best Android browsers have more information on all versions of Firefox.
Download Firefox Focus: Android, iOS
Other privacy-focused extensions & apps
Decentraleyes (Chrome Firefox)
Sometimes, blocking ads can block websites from downloading third-party libraries or resources, causing web pages to be broken. Decentraleyes works as a local delivery network emulator and serves the files needed by websites. This extension can be used to stop websites from sending requests for files to Google Hosted Libraries.
Decentraleyes should be considered as an extension to adblockers. Decentraleyes can actually work with AdBlock Plus and uBlock Origin, which we highly recommend.
Download Decentraleyes: Chrome or Firefox
Opera (Desktop, Android, iOS)
Opera browser integrates ad blockers into its browser without the need to add an additional extension. However, it also provides privacy-friendly tools, such as unlimited VPN service, anonymity mode, fraud and Malware warnings for suspicious websites and pages, and incognito. Opera is also customizable with many extensions.
Mobile users shouldn’t be worried, since the Android version of Opera has almost the same functionality as the desktop version. However, it is designed for touch-screen interfaces. Opera Touch for iOS is the name of Opera’s mobile version.
Opera for Mac or Windows, Android or iOS
Privacy Badger (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)
Privacy Badger is an extension for the Firefox browser that was created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It was inspired by concerns about the business models and pricing of privacy tools and ad-blockers.
Privacy Badger functions in the same way that extensions like AdBlock Plus, which monitor third-party tracking tools and selectively block them from execution. Built-in algorithms for learning adapt to your visits and take into account any new tracking methods.
Privacy Badger can block advertising, although it isn’t explicitly an ad blocker. It depends on how aggressively they track you across different websites.
Chrome, Firefox, Opera: Download Privacy Badger
Tor Browser (Desktop, Android)
The Tor network anonymizes your internet activity. It bounces the data you send or receive through a distributed anonymous router network to foil a widespread online surveillance technique called traffic analytics. This can reveal which sites you visit, and with whom you communicate.
The Tor browser is an all-in-one package that provides everything you need to surf through Tor networks. It includes a modified Firefox browser with privacy tools such as NoScript and an auto-setup aid that makes connecting to Tor circuits easy.
On the desktop, you can find a Tor Browser version for Windows or macOS. Tor Browser is available for Android as well. It replaces OrBot + OrFox, which was recommended for Tor browsing via Android.
Download Tor Browser: Desktop, Android
Onion Browser, iOS
iOS users have plenty of options when browsing the Tor anonymizer network.
Onion Browser, which was previously a premium application, has now moved to a donation model. It is available to anyone who wishes to download it but without compromising security and features. You should be aware that browsing Tor will slow down the web experience and prevent you from accessing some features such as video streams and video files.
Download Onion Browser: iOS
Many of the most effective ad blockers can be downloaded as standalone or extension apps. However, AdLock is one example. It is up to you to decide whether the paid apps or extensions provide enough ad blockers to meet your needs. A browser extension may be able to help you block ads, but it is worth evaluating whether or not you want more privacy features in your browser.
You can narrow your search for ad blockers by choosing what you need from an extension or app. Are you looking to reduce annoying pop-up ads? Or would you like to have full control over ad tracking and privacy? You can get the ad-blocking tool that meets all your needs.
Adblock Plus includes filters and the ability for advertisers to allow in non-obtrusive ads. AdBlocker Ultimate and others take a more aggressive approach. Choose which one is most suitable for your needs and comfort.
John Corpuz changed between computer science and creative writing courses during school. He’s happy to be a contributor to Tom’s Guide writing about mobile gaming, apps, and other geekery.