Lately, news websites and blogs have got very ‘creative’ about how they get our attention.

Browsing the web means having to put up with endless pop-up email newsletter subscribe forms, requests to enable notifications, and autoplaying videos. I hate these things with a passion.

In this post, I’m going to show how to turn these things off in Google Chrome.

Turn Off Autoplaying Videos

News websites like CNN and the Daily Mail have recently started adding auto-playing videos to their site. This is no doubt so they can tell advertisers how popular their video content is, despite the fact that very few of us are paying any attention to it at all. For me, there is nothing more annoying than trying to read a news article whilst hearing a reporter yammering away in the background, so I’d prefer to turn these things off.

The best way to turn off autoplaying videos in Chrome is with the HTML5 Video Autoplay plugin for Chrome and Firefox.

  1. Go to the ‘HTML5 Video Autoplay’ extension in the Chrome and Firefox Extension stores
  2. Enable the extension

This extension does have the effect of blocking some things you might prefer to see (it blocks videos / GIFs on Twitter, for instance). If that’s the case, you can enable videos on a per-site basis by clicking on the extension in the top right of the screen and clicking enable.

Turn Off Notification Requests

Chrome recently added a feature where websites could ask you to be sent a notification when they publish new content. Not only are these super annoying, I’ve sometimes ended up subscribing to notifications by accident just to get rid of the dialog box. I can’t see personally why anyone would want this feature, so I disable it as soon as I install Chrome on a new computer.

  1. Type chrome://settings/ into the Address bar
  2. Click on ‘Advanced’
  3. Click on ‘Content Settings’
  4. Click on ‘Notifications’
  5. Change the toggle to ‘Blocked’

Turn Off Location Requests

For some reason, websites have now also started asking for your location. While I can understand how this might have its uses for some websites (so Google Maps can use your current location for directions), it’s simply not a piece of information that most websites need to know. As with Notification Requests, it’s also something that you may end up enabling by accident just to get rid of the notification.

Disabling location requests is simple:

  1. Type chrome://settings/ into the Address bar
  2. Click on ‘Advanced’
  3. Click on ‘Content Settings’
  4. Click on ‘Location’
  5. Change the toggle to ‘Blocked’

Block Popup ‘Email Subscribe’ Modals

Popup ‘Email subscribe forms’ are probably my least favourite thing on the Internet. I’ve never subscribed to someone’s email from them, and I almost certainly don’t want the crappy ‘eBook’ that comes with it. They’re increasingly hard to close down as well.

Blocking email subscribe modals is (unfortunately) not quite foolproof, as they all work in a slightly different way. The best thing I’ve found, however (and I’ve tried a few), is the Poper Blocker extension for Chrome.

  1. Go to Poperblocker.com
  2. Click on the big button to enable the extension.

Poper Blocker automatically removes all ad pop ups, pop unders, and overlays, and works by far the best of any I’ve tried.

Install AdBlock

While strictly not a type of notification, site can sometimes load literally hundreds of ad trackers while you are using them, slowing down your browsing experience and draining your battery.

I prefer to nuke advertising trackers from orbit, so install two trackers, uBlock Origin and Ghostery. I don’t use AdBlock Plus as I’ve found that it slows down my machine, and ABP also has a ‘Acceptable Ads’ program that allows people who pay them money to let their ads through the firewall.

How to Install Ghostery Adblock

  1. Go to the ‘Ghostery’ extension in the Chrome and Firefox Extension stores
  2. Enable the extension

How to Install uBlock Origin Adblock

  1. Go to the ‘uBlock Origin’ extension in the Chrome and Firefox Extension stores
  2. Enable the extension

Block Fake News Sites

While you’re at it, you may wish to go ahead and block Fake News websites too.

Fake News Blocker uses a crowdsourced list of so-called ‘fake news’ websites that publish falsified news with either monetary intent or the intent to spread misinformation.

If you happen upon one of these sites with the Fake News Blocker plugin installed you’ll get a notification alerting you that the current page has been known to publish fake news.

How to Install Fake News Blocker

  1. Go to the ‘Fake News Blocker’ extension in the Chrome and Firefox Extension stores
  2. Enable the extension

How to Install B.S. Detector (also works in social media feeds)

Seen as Facebook doesn’t seem to want to carry out a Fake News flag itself, B.S. Detector is a useful detector of Fake News and conspiracy sites that also works in social media feeds.

  1. Go to the ‘B.S. Detector’ extension in the Chrome store.
  2. Enable the extension

Block Politics From Social Media

Over the last year, our social media feeds have become overloaded with politics, depressing stories and negativity.

While this is okay in moderation, there’s a lot of research now to suggest that social media actually makes us sad and might not actually be all that good for us.

The very useful SadBlock extension helps cut down on these kinds of stories by blocking posts that include common key phrases associated with politics and negativity on Twitter, Reddit and Facebook.

Best of all, you can toggle SadBlock off if you want a dose of the real world again.It runs entirely in the background, and you’re not even aware it’s running.

How to Install SadBlock

  1. Go to the ‘SadBlock’ extension in the Chrome store (sadly there doesn’t seem to be an equal for Firefox)
  2. Enable the extension

Which Tools Do You Use?

It’s sad that it now takes as many as five browser extensions to make actually browsing the web tolerable.

This should be a wake up call to websites to clean up their act, really.No doubt there are other annoyances that I haven’t covered here. Which extensions are your favourites?

 

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