I’m kind of a web browser fanatic. I’m always testing out different browsers and utilities. Today I want to talk about the current ad blockers available for Safari and which ones I think are worth using. Which one is the best ad blocker for Safari? I’ll give you my thoughts.
Updated 12/09/2016 (uBlock Origin has been ported to Safari! Anyone using the old uBlock for Safari should abandon it and switch to Origin ASAP)
For a long time, Safari didn’t even have extensions or the ability to use them. Apple kept Safari locked down until version 5 hit in 2010. Since then, Apple has slowly opened up to allow developers to write extensions for it. It’s not 100% on par with Firefox or Chrome’s extension abilities, but getting there.
There are more ad blockers popping every day now, but there are three main ones I want to talk about:
This is probably one of the grandfathers of ad blockers. It’s the most famous one and the one I used the longest when I was using Firefox. It’s solid and lets you subscribe to different filtering lists. It’s regularly updated for Safari too! Can’t go wrong with this one, but the performance is not great these days.
A recent newcomer to the adblocking world, uBlock showed up out of nowhere and stole the show on Firefox and Chrome. The shining feature of uBlock is it doesn’t use as much memory as other blockers like Adblock Plus and can keep your browser lighter using less memory.
However, I cannot recommend uBlock for Safari. Why? Simply because it’s not regularly updated.
The original developer for uBlock made his extension for Firefox and Chrome, but there was no Safari version until another person came along and offered to make a Safari port. This person took over the uBlock project and has neglected it along with some dishonest conduct. Meanwhile the ORIGINAL developer has gone on to continually update his blocker and renamed it “uBlock Origin”, but it’s only available for Firefox and Chrome.
Long story short:
uBlock Origin=Good and updated.
uBlock=No updates from a dishonest developer that piggy backed on the original developer’s great work.
uBlock Origin (New!)
The best ad blocker for Firefox and Chrome has finally been ported to Safari! It’s the same as the current stable versions for other browsers and it already miles ahead of the languishing uBlock extension for Safari. It’s currently undergoing testing, but it’s already very fast and stable. There’s currently no way to install it from the Safari Extension page, so you’ll have to download the file and install it yourself. Directions are posted on the page.
If you’re looking for something simple that just works with no fuss, Wipr is a really great ad blocker. It uses the EasyList and EasyList Privacy rules, which are updated fairly regularly. I like this one a lot and it is my second favorite for Safari. However, the lack of a whitelist is what hurts it. The developer has gone on to state that he has no intention of adding this feature due to his philosophy of making things really simple. While I can respect his decision, not being able to add sites to a white list and having to manually toggle off Wipr when I want to turn it off on sites is a bit tiresome.
Adamant is very similar to Wipr, but after looking all over the developer’s site, I couldn’t find any information on what blockers/lists it uses. The developer seems to really want to focus on his iOS version and hardly mentions the Mac one. I’m hesitant to use a blocker if I don’t know what sort of base it’s using for blocking ads. Why should I use this blocker if the developer isn’t proud enough to feature it on his website?
The current overall best ad blocker for Safari:
When Apple released Safari 9 for Mac OS X and iOS 9, it added a content blocking ability right into the browser. Adguard (as well as Wipr/Adamant) takes advantage of this feature and blocks ads faster than the others.
Adguard has its own filters and you can turn on and off the ones you like. I couldn’t believe the difference in speed when I switched from Adblock Plus to this one. The company behind Adguard keeps its browser extension free but offers a paid suite software that can go beyond. I think most people won’t need that, so I highly recommend their free browser extension.
12-09-2016 Update: I still recommend Adguard, but with the release of uBlock Origin for Safari things might change. I’m currently waiting for the versions to become more stable and then I will most likely recommend uBlock Origin over Adguard.
Best ad blocker for Safari – Final Thoughts
Safari hasn’t always had a lot of exciting extension action compared to other browsers, but I’ve been really happy since native content blocking became possible. I can really see a difference in page rendering speed and overall Safari feels a lot snappier.
Are you a Safari user? Are you using an ad blocker that I didn’t mention? Feel free to let me know in the comments what you use for blocking ads in Safari. I’m always interested in alternatives and better solutions.