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We’ll focus on Adblock Plus (ABP from here on out) because it is one of the most popular and widely used ad blocking tools. There are certainly other options out there so if you aren’t happy with ABP, feel free to look into other options. Besides, who wouldn’t root for a company happy to take on Facebook?
At a high level, ABP works by detecting code in webpages, which tell your browser where to place specific ads. By blocking these code snippets from loading, you can make the site easier to read and use less data making it faster to load.
ABP offers support for most of the popular web browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and several others.
To install ABP, simply navigate to the Adblock Plus website and click the big button labeled “Install for Chrome" (or whichever browser you are using). In Chrome, ABP runs as an extension so you will see a pop-up asking if you allow installation (Figure 1). Click Add Extension and you should be set to go.
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In the upper-right hand side of the browser, you will see a small stop sign with a white hand in the middle – this is the ABP extension. Once you install the extension, it will automatically start blocking advertisements.
The little ABP icon will show you the number of blocked ads on each page after it loads. It’s amazing to see how many ads are plastered on some of today’s most popular webpages. As an example, take the New York Post – as you can see in Figure 2, I enabled ads.
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The top 1/3 of the screen is taken up by a huge ad. Right below it is another large ad. With ads enabled, I can only see three stories to click on. If I disable ads on this page (Figure 3), ABP frees up valuable screen estate and I’d have access to about ten stories without the need to scroll. Pretty drastic difference.
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The handiest are the “Pause,” “Don’t run on this page” and “Don’t run on pages on this domain” options. As you can probably guess, these options allow ads to run.
The Pause option allows you to suspend ABP from blocking ads temporarily. Once you are ready to start blocking ads again, you can unpause.
If you visit smaller sites that you really like and want to show your support, you may want to consider whitelisting their site. You can do this by using the “Don’t run on pages on this domain” option.
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ABP Nuts and Bolts
ABP has a huge number of options available to give you control over what ads you see, if any. Keep in mind that ABP’s philosophy is that not all ads are bad. Just the bad ones are… For example, the huge ad taking up 1/3 of my screen? That’s a bad ad. According to ABP, small un-obtrusive ads are fine so long as they don’t interrupt the flow of reading and so on. For this reason, ABP by default allows some non-intrusive ads. If you are completely against ads, ABP allows you to change this in the Options -> General tab.
ABP also offers filter lists, which are lists compiled and maintained by ABP and the ABP community, which allow for “acceptable ads" and other type of filters (Figure 5).
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Some options you may wish to turn on include the “Fanboy’s Annoyances” filter which blocks in-page pop ups and social media widgets. You may also consider turning on the Malware protection filter. These can be found under Options -> Filter Lists.
Lastly, if you wish to see which domains or pages you’ve whitelisted, you can go to Options -> Customize. The bottom section will show you a list of pages and domains that you’ve whitelisted allowing all ads on those sites.
Keep in mind businesses don’t use ads to perturb you – they are doing it to make money so they can keep creating content. Please consider supporting the sites you really like by whitelisting them!