Best Useful Safari Ad Blockers for Mac.
On Mac, third-party ad-blocking extensions (or content blockers) can complement the anti-tracking features already built into Safari. They can also help ensure distraction-free web browsing by blocking intrusive ads. However, finding a decent adblocker in Safari can be tricky.
Starting with Safari 13, Apple changed how ad blocking extensions work. They no longer play an active role, but instead, provide “rules” that the browser then uses to block ads and trackers.
From a security point of view, this is ideal as content blockers cannot see your online activity. But they are not as versatile as they used to be.
To make matters worse, most modern ad blockers on the Mac App Store require prepayment or come with in-app purchases for basic content blocking functionality, which is unacceptable.
After scanning the Mac App Store and testing over a dozen content blockers, we ended up compiling a list of three Safari ad blocker extensions that are open source and completely free to use.
They performed well on sites like Can You Block It and AdBlock Tester, and blocked almost all ads with regular use. These are the following:
- Ghostery Lite
- AdGuard for Safari
Whitelist the sites you support
If you choose to use the Safari ad blocker, whitelist sites like ours that you find useful. Working with ads can often be annoying. But they also help us keep the lights on. We will always try our best not to display ads in a way that interferes with your viewing.
1. Ghostery Lite
As the name suggests, Ghostery Lite is a lightweight adblocker. But it can also be customized. For starters, the extension comes with three separate filter lists instead of one, giving Safari more ad and tracker blocking rules than a regular content blocker.
The Ghostery Lite menu, which you can bring up on the right side of Safari’s address bar, shows how fast the site loads. Optionally, you can select the Pause icon and reload the tab to check the difference in speed without using the extension.
There is also a Trust Site button in the Ghostery menu that you can select to whitelist any website you view immediately. It also allows you to toggle between two modes of setting up content blocking: Default protection and Custom protection.
The Default Protection setting uses a standard set of rules that block most advertisements and trackers without disrupting sites. On the other hand, the Custom Protection parameter allows you to specify the exact types of content that you want to block.
You can manage your custom security settings by opening the Ghostery Lite control panel (select three dots in the Ghostery Lite menu) and switching to the Settings tab. For example, you can leave social media content unchanged but block everything else.
If you want to manage your whitelisting, go to the Trusted sites tab. Then you can add or remove websites directly.
2. AdGuard for Safari
AdGuard for Safari works a bit like a traditional ad-blocking extension with many customization options. It also has up to six separate filters, each targeting specific types of content like ads, site trackers, social media, and more.
This is more than twice the number of filters compared to Ghostery Lite, although when testing the extension, we did not notice a significant difference in the number of ads blocked.
The AdGuard menu in the Safari toolbar makes it easy to whitelist websites by unchecking the Enabled on this website checkbox. It also provides the ability to lock an item. Select it and you can select any element on the site (even if it’s not an advertisement) and the extension will automatically create a custom rule for it. Thus, you will block everything that bothers you on the site!
The AdGuard settings panel allows you to customize the extension. You can get to it by selecting the Settings icon in the AdGuard menu. The General tab allows you to manage various aspects such as notifications and refresh intervals, while the Filters tab allows you to toggle multiple filter lists that AdGuard uses.
You can also use the Allowlist and User Rules tabs to manage the whitelist and custom site rules, respectively. If you are familiar with CSS or HTML, you can also enter your own rules without relying on AdGuard’s item picker.
AdGuard initially runs in the background, so you will see the AdGuard icon in the Mac menu bar. You can use it to close an extension, check for updates in filter lists, or quickly go to the AdGuard settings panel.
3. Ka Block!
If you want a simple Safari ad blocker that you can just set up and forget, Ka-Block!
should do its job normally. Install it and you’re done! There are no menus or additional menus to go through. Even Ka-Blok! the expansion window is just one colossal splash screen.
Compared to Ghostery Lite and AdGuard for Safari, Ka-Block! did a decent job of blocking ads. However, we found a strange ad banner or pop-up window that you can crawl through. Ka-Blok! has only one filter list, which is probably reason enough to explain why.
Ka-Blok! doesn’t have a built-in whitelist, but you can use Safari’s own exclusion list to block content instead. Whenever you want to exclude a website, select the Website Preferences icon in the Safari toolbar and uncheck the box next to Enable Content Blockers.
If you want to manage your list of content blocker exclusions, select Safari from the menu bar, select Preferences, go to the Sites tab and select Content Blocker.
Make your selection
Each of the above Safari ad blockers has its own unique feature. If you prefer a decent level of customization, choose AdGuard for Safari, Ka-Block! for pure convenience, or Ghostery Lite if you want a balance of both. Regardless of your choice, you will be able to avoid many annoying ads popping up when you browse the web.