Best ad blocker for Safari on the Mac

Most of the web is free to use, but advertising revenue makes it work. Even this very site relies on advertising. But… sometimes it’s a bit much, and it overwhelms the content. That’s when you need an ad blocker. The one you want for Safari on the Mac is Wipr. It’s the one I use, and yes I bought it with my own money.

Note: Wipr is Safari-only. It doesn’t work with Firefox, Chrome, or any other browser.

Note 2: Wipr is also available for the iPhone and iPad! I bought it, I use it, and it’s just as good there as it is on the Mac. In fact I think it’s even more useful as the iPhone’s small screen can easily be covered with an ad. So much nicer to have as much of the limited screen real estate available for the content you care about.

Why I like Wipr

Why do I like Wipr? Let me count the ways:

  1. It works
  2. It doesn’t track anything I do on the web
  3. It makes web pages load more quickly (because there’s less to load)
  4. There’s zero configuration
  5. It’s only $1.99, a one-time purchase
  6. It updates itself automatically

Before and After

Let’s see Wipr in action. Check out these before and after screenshots.

Before Wipr. Lots of ads and distractions.
Web page showing ads
Web page with Wipr ad blocker
Same web page with Wipr installed

Downloading and rendering ads on a web page takes time, so blocking them has a “speeding things up” effect. That’s a bonus benefit.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute– doesn’t Safari’s Reader View take care of ads?” You’re right, Reader View does… but it also changes the page’s layout, and sometimes leaves out links and videos and other parts of a web page. Wipr takes out the ads and preserves the layout and links etc. You can experiment and see:

Reader View is still great, especially for longer articles, but it’s not the right choice all the time. You’ll benefit from ad blocking in almost every case (see below for what to do if it’s not a benefit), so get Wipr.

Get Wipr from the Mac app store

Click the picture below to go to Wipr on the Mac App Store. Or go to the store and search.

Wipr at the Mac App Store
Wipr at the Mac App Store

Setting up Wipr

Wipr is super easy to set up, and it has a automatic setter-upper. All you do is turn it on (in Safari’s Preferences) and optionally tell it to automatically update (I recommend you do that).

Setting up Wipr
Wipr– just turn on Parts 1, 2, and 3

(I have two other Safari Extensions active: Honey, which looks for discount codes, and 1Password, which keeps track of my various website log-ins.)

Wipr's settings
Automatic refresh: yes!

That’s all there is to it. There’s no “configuration,” no “settings,” no decisions about which ads to allow– no nothing. Just turn it on and enjoy.

If it doesn’t work…

Wipr taps into Safari’s built-in Content Blocking API. As such, you can use Safari’s built-in features to temporarily, or permanently, turn off Wipr on a given page.

Why might you want to turn off Wipr? Well, some websites won’t work at all if content blockers are on– the website won’t function properly. Other websites will pop up a window saying something like “Hey now– we see you’re blocking ads. But ads are what makes this website free to you! So turn them back on.”

Turning Wipr (and other content blockers off) on the fly

Here’s how you temporarily turn off content blockers (not just Wipr, but all content blockers) for a given web page:

Click and hold the Refresh button in the address bar to reveal "Reload without Content Blockers."
Click and hold the Refresh button to reveal “Reload Without Content Blockers.”

If the web page works better, or looks better, when you turn off Content Blockers, and it’s a page you plan on visiting again, you may want to have Wipr (and other Content Blockers) turned off automatically when you return. That’s easy to set up (and it’s one of the really nice features of Safari).

Turning Wipr (and other content blockers) off permanently for a given website

Start by going to the Safari menu and choosing “Settings for This Website…”

Mac Safari "Settings for This Website"
Choosing “Settings for This Website…”

Then make your adjustments:

Making adjustments to the Settings for This Website
Settings for This Website

In this case, I needed to uncheck the box that says “Enable content blockers.” So I did. And Safari remembers, so every time I come to this particular page, content blockers are turned off. But otherwise, they’re on.

Here’s an example. This page won’t load properly with Content Blockers on. Note that the error message is in itself erroneous.

Web page that didn't load properly-- with erroneous error message.
Webpage with Wipr on– content isn’t loading

Here’s how it should look, and how it does look if I click and hold on the Refresh button and choose “Reload without Content Blockers.”

Same web page with content blockers turned off.
Here’s how the website looks with Content Blockers off

I visit that particular site frequently, so it makes sense that I take a couple of seconds and visit “Settings for This Website…” and indicate that I do not want content blockers on, not on that site I don’t. And from then on, I don’t have to think about it. It’s all automatic.

Note: this very website is supported by ads. If you use Wipr and turn them off, that’s OK with me. In fact, it’s a great place to experiment with turning content blockers on and off. If you end up changing your settings for this webpage to disable content blockers (that is, to allow ads), that is ok with me as well.

In Conclusion

Remember, Wipr is Safari-only, because only Safari has the built-in Content Blocking APIs that give an app like Wipr a way to do the work. If you’ve been using Firefox or Chrome, maybe it’s time to give Safari another look. Other ad blockers exist, not just for Safari but for Chrome and Firefox too, but nothing works better than Wipr. You should check it out.


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