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How to block unwanted ads on your Android phone or tablet

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Advertisements are good when they help you get a killer deal on a snazzy new Chromebook. Unwanted ads, however, can be annoying and distracting.

Intrusive ads can make your phone slow to a crawl, drain its battery, and generally create a miserable user experience. This guide will show you various ways to block or minimize ads on your Android phone or tablet.


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Google Chrome: Block ads, pop-ups, and redirects

Google Chrome has a built-in pop-up and ad blocker to deactivate intrusive or misleading ads. Follow the steps below to activate them on your phone.

  1. Open Google Chrome on your Android phone.
  2. Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner and open Settings.
  3. Scroll to Site settings.
  4. Scroll down and, under the Content section, open Pop-ups and redirects.
  5. Turn off the Pop-ups and redirects toggle from the following menu.
  6. Go back to the Site settings page and select Intrusive ads.
  7. Turn off the Intrusive ads toggle.

If you want to remove ads during web browsing, use a third-party web browser on Android. Chrome doesn’t support an ad-blocker extension on mobile. Samsung Internet and Firefox are two popular Chrome alternatives that offer ad-blocker extensions on Android.

Samsung Internet offers a built-in extension store to download ad blockers. Brave is another ad-blocker browser on Android that offers an ad-free browsing experience.

Check Google Chrome site notifications

Allowing every website to send real-time notifications to your Android phone or tablet is not a good idea. Apart from sending useful alerts, some websites may spam your device’s notification center with irrelevant partner content.

Here’s how to turn off notifications for unnecessary websites:

  1. Long press the Google Chrome app icon and tap the i button.
  2. Open Notifications.
  3. Scroll to All Sites notifications.
  4. Check the allowed sites list and the number of alerts each website sends in a week.
  5. Turn off notification permission for unknown websites from the list.

Block ads on the home screen

Ads on the home screen are worse than ads in a web browser or notification center. These full banner ads appear over any app on your phone or tablet. Android allows app developers to ask for Display over other apps permission to function normally.

Apps like Facebook Messenger and Truecaller require such permissions to show bubble chat heads and identify incoming callers. However, some sketchy apps try to trick you into allowing permission and keep sending ads on the home screen. When you receive such ads, look for the app name that sent them on the home screen. After identifying those apps, follow the steps below to turn off the permission.

  1. Long tap the app icon and open the app info menu.
  2. Scroll to Display over other apps.
  3. Turn off the Allow display over other apps toggle.

If you no longer need the app, uninstall it from the same app info menu.

Deactivate wallpaper services on the lock screen

To improve your device’s lock screen experience, wallpaper services like Glance show app recommendations, news, and partner content on the lock screen. It’s available on low-end and mid-range devices from Samsung and Xiaomi. Go through the steps below to turn off wallpaper services on your Android tablet or phone.

We use a Samsung Galaxy A52 running One UI 4.1 in the screenshots below.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Lock screen.
  3. Open Wallpaper services.
  4. Tap the radio button beside None.

Block ads with a DNS service

A DNS service is one of the easiest ways to block ads on most websites. AdGuard offers two free ad-blocking DNS addresses. One is family-oriented and blocks websites with adult content, family.adguard-dns.com. The other only blocks ads, dns.adguard-dns.com.

When using a DNS service, most websites work as usual but could load slower. The places where advertising typically appears show a blank area, meaning you’ll scroll past this space to see more content. Some pop-up ads might be visible, depending on the website. Also, some websites might not work when using a DNS-based ad blocker.

To set up DNS ad blocking with AdGuard, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android phone.
  2. Tap Connections.
  3. Select More connection settings.
  4. Open Private DNS options.
  5. Choose the Private DNS provider hostname option, then type your preferred DNS service, such as family.adguard-dns.com.
  6. Tap Save to activate AdGuard.

Not all ads are bad

Advertising serves a purpose and can help you as much as it helps advertisers. An ad can inform you of a sale on a game you’re interested in or introduce a new restaurant that serves your favorite food. Android Police will keep you updated on the latest Android phones, best Android tablets, and most useful Android apps, but there’s more to life than mobile devices and apps. Good advertisements can alert you to incredible products and services you haven’t considered.

Ads also make many services free. Imagine paying to read news, use Google Search, or keep up with friends on social media. If we all block every type of advertising, these free, ad-supported services will be forced to charge a subscription fee.

Purchase premium app subscriptions

Developers rely on ads to support app development. Some app developers offer a one-time purchase, while others provide monthly or yearly subscriptions to remove ads and unlock new features. For instance, you’ll get unskippable ads on streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify until you purchase the premium subscription.

What about Android tablets?

Since your kids frequently stream videos and play games on a large screen, be careful when dealing with ads on an Android tablet. A simple misstep may affect your tablet with bogus files and unnecessary app installations. Although we use screenshots from an Android phone throughout this post, you can follow the same steps to block ads on your Android tablet.

Be careful with app installation

It’s best not to fill your Android phone or tablet with unnecessary flashlight apps, third-party app launchers, or apps with one-star or two-star ratings. Your Android device doesn’t require an antivirus app, either. Before installing an app, read the app reviews. If others complain about the number of ads, stay away from those apps or look for better alternatives.

Google offers Google Play Protect. It stops malicious apps from appearing on the Play Store. The company doesn’t have control over ads appearing in other apps.

You can also root your Android phone and install a system-wide ad blocker to block ads. Be careful while rooting your phone. A misstep during the process may leave you with a bricked device and void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Eliminate ads on your Android phone

Increasingly aggressive ads from abusive websites and apps might tempt you to switch from Android to iOS. Still, Apple devices are not immune to this problem. Before settling for a below-average experience, use the tricks above to block the websites and apps that caused the problem, stamping out the problem at its source.

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