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How to block ads from web pages in Internet Explorer and Firefox
Ads are placed on web pages in a variety of ways ranging from simple text links to more technically complicated Flash movies and ActiveX controls.
You can block most ads by turning off (in your browser) the methods web pages use for displaying them.
Other ads can be blocked by prohibiting your browser from fetching them from the third-party ad-serving websites they come from.
Following are methods for preventing the display of advertising. Some are also worthwhile for separate security reasons.
If you're new to Internet Explorer or Firefox and have never explored their security and privacy options dialog boxes, this article tells you where they are. Everyone should try to develop some familiarity with these browser options. The default settings that come with the browser are often not the best ones because they are not as secure as they should be.
There are two methods to block ads:
How to block ad-serving technologies
Or, for best security, (at ...Security > Internet), just set the slider for the Internet Zone to High. This turns Active Scripting off, but be aware that it turns off many other insecure features, as well, which may affect the functionality of websites you visit. (See the IE7 security article link at the bottom of this page for more information.)
Block popup windows
Popup blocker in IE7
Popup blocker in Firefox
Disable Shockwave Flash
Flash objects can carry content that is not just annoying if you dislike advertising, but can also be a danger to your PC. It is a good idea to disable Flash by default and only enable it on sites that you trust and where it's needed to do something useful.
One way to disable Flash in both browsers is to not install it in the first place, or to uninstall it.
Disable Flash in IE7
Because you enable and disable Flash in Manage Add-ons, you cannot manage Flash with the Internet Explorer "Security Zones" the way you can with many other settings. Instead, leave Flash disabled most of the time and enable it manually when you need it.
Disable Flash in Firefox
There are at least two Firefox add-ons for blocking Flash:
ActiveX has even greater abuse potential than Flash, and should be disabled by default, except on sites that you trust and where it's needed.
Disable ActiveX in IE7
Disable ActiveX in Firefox
By default, Firefox has no ability to run ActiveX, which is a primary reason it used to be called a "safer" browser than Internet Explorer.
If there are plug-ins that allow Firefox to run ActiveX, simply don't install them.
Disable image display
This is really overkill, but if the only thing you want to see on web pages is the text, this will do the job. On dial-up internet access, pages will load much faster.
Disable images in IE7
Disable images in Firefox
That covers the "technologies" you can disable in order to block ads. The next section shows ways to block ads based on their origin.
How to block ad-serving networks
You can tell your browser not to fetch any content (the ads) from specific advertising networks that serve them. Both of the following methods require entering the web addresses of the networks to block. The cookies article linked at the bottom of this page has the names of some networks.
These methods block ads that are in iframes.
IE7 Content Advisor (works for IE7 only)
Content Advisor is usually thought of as a way to prevent children from navigating directly to websites, but you can also use it to block third-party advertising on sites.
Subsequently, when you load a web page, there is just blank space in the slot where the ad would be, and Content Advisor pops up a notification that the content was blocked, giving you the option of showing it if you enter the password.
One serious disadvantage of using Content Advisor (for anything) is that while it's enabled, the normal IE7 right-click option "Save Target As..." and others are disabled and grayed out, with no way to enable them, so you are blocking more than just ads.
Internet Security Suite website access controls (any browser)
Trend Micro Internet Security has a feature called Web Site Access Controls. To block an advertising network, open the program's Main Console and go to:
Subsequently, when you load a web page, the slot where the ad would be contains a notification that the content was blocked. It's ugly, but it does the trick.
Other internet security suites probably offer a similar feature.
Plain text links
I don't know of any way to block text link ads, although commercial or plug-in ad blocking software might be able to do it, by stripping out the hyperlink attached to the text before the page is displayed.
Questions and comments are welcome in the forum.
Copyright ©2012 Steven Whitney. Last modified Sun 07/29/2012 10:55:46 -0700.