The Best Ad Blocker for Safari

best ad blocker safariI’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:

ad block plus logo
Adblock Plus

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.

ad blocker ublockuBlock

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.

Backstory time:
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-icon

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.

wiprWipr

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.

adamantAdamant

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:

ad blocker adguardAdGuard

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.

Basically, other ad blockers are a kind of javascript that intercept ads and block them. Imagine this process on top of the normal Safari browser. Before Safari can render the page, it has to go through the ad blocker.

However, with the new content blocking system built into Safari, you can block ads natively without a performance hit of a typical javascript-based ad blocker.

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.

Your turn!

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.

10 thoughts on “The Best Ad Blocker for Safari”

  1. Thanks, but you failed to mention several of the top-rated blockers – Wipr, 1Blocker and Adamant.
    It’s premature and the title of Best is undeserved when you haven’t tried them all.

    Also, what about using AdGuard DNS instead of their extension?

    Reply
    • Hello Bob. Thanks for being so passionate about ad blockers and taking me to task for not including some of the others.

      Wipr: I tried it but don’t remember the results. I’ll have to do it again and update the post.

      1blocker: At the time I originally wrote and posted this article, 1blocker was not available for OS X. It’s a paid app, so I can’t review it unless the developer wants to send me a promo code to evaluate it.

      Adguard DNS: I’m sure this is an effective form of ad blocking, but I would consider this a different category from extension ad blockers. Similar to other forms such as host file lists, etc. 🙂

      However, you totally got me for not writing about Adamant and Wipr. I’ll check them out and update this post. Cheers!

      Reply
  2. I tried AdGuard, then learned it was based in the Ukraine. Pardon my prejudice, but that country is famous for
    big scams and I pulled out of it right away, thinking it would hack my computer. I know people love it, but isn’t is a little risky to trust it???

    Reply
    • Hello Jane, thanks for commenting.

      I can understand the need to be careful about what you’re installing on your smartphone/computer. We all have to trust apps and extensions we install if we can’t verify that they’re working 100% as described. However, I would say AdGuard is all right to use for a few reasons:

      They offer a paid product for multiple platforms, so it’s in the company’s best interest to not trick its customers. I don’t use AdGuard’s paid products, but only the free Safari extension. The AdGuard forums are always very active with both users and developers chiming in on bugs/feedback.

      Another big reason is the AdGuard extension is open source, which means anyone can download and look at the code, making sure it doesn’t do anything malicious or suspicious.
      https://github.com/AdguardTeam/AdguardBrowserExtension/releases

      If you still feel uneasy about using the extension, you could always try one of the alternatives such as Wipr.

      Reply
  3. I have found AdBlock Plus to slow Safari down to a ridiculous crawl. It makes it unusable. I would not ever recommend it and AdGuard is definitely the best. Thanks for letting me know!

    Reply
    • James, thanks for letting me know your experience. I’ve been using AdGuard for a while and I’m also convinced it’s the best content blocking solution for Safari on the Mac. Minimalists might go for Wipr, though.

      Reply
  4. Over the years, I’ve found the same things you have. Started with Adblock Plus, then discovered the superiority of uBlock, then It’s “problems”. With the new Safari content blocking I moved over to Wipr primarily, but played around with Ka-Block, Adamant, and some others that have since largely disappeared.

    And finally, I’ve ended up with AdGuard because it uses Safari’s content blocking ability, is very open and flexible, well maintained and has a very similar version for iOS – I also use Ghostery on the Mac, because it’s very transparent on what’s going on and highly adjustable as well. But I still have a soft spot for Wipr, which is easily the fastest and still very good at adblocking, etc., but often breaks websites.

    Be warned about AdGuard, however. There have been a number of months where AdGuard has basically been broken and “kind of?” doesn’t work. For instance, you have to “reload” a page to get it to fully block content. Not good.

    They have finally released fixes this week. But it is surprising how long it took for them to fix the problems.

    I’m also looking forward to uBlock Origins. Ill be watching for it now that I hear its coming to Safari.

    I found the best combination of adblockers for Safari on Mac in a test of websites and related cookies, cashes, etc. dumped on your computer where Adguard with Ghostery. That was a test with around six websites. I found adding Wipr helped a “little” more, but not enough for its habit of breaking websites. And that adding Adamant and/or Ka-Black added nothing that was not resolved by the previous mentioned combination.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience! It seems like you’ve tested out a lot of different blockers and have come to similar conclusions I have. Good to know about Ghostery. I’ll have to check it out. For now, when I use Safari I’m using the beta uBlock Origin which is pretty smooth.

      Reply

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