How to Block Ads or Unwanted Content Missed by Filters


Does something on one of your favorite websites get past your ad blockers? Or, maybe, you just want to personalize your Internet experience. Whatever the case, Firefox users can block specific site content with the Adblock Plus add-on.

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Blocking ads on the Internet is very popular and there are many free tools for it. Some people use HOST filters (say from MVPS Hosts or hpHosts), some use Privoxy, and some use use add-ons or features of web browsers.

However, one of the easiest ad blocking solutions is Firefox's wildly popular Adblock Plus add-on (see here for screenshots). Adblock Plus has many ready made filter lists, such as EasyList or EasyPrivacy + EasyList. Subscription to these is incredibly easy. You can also subscribe to some of its additional filters for ad blocking rules, privacy, malware, etc. It works with Firefox 3.0.12, Firefox Mobile (Fennec) 1.0, Thunderbird 3.0, SeaMonkey 2.0, Songbird 1.2, Prism 1.0 Beta 1, and there's a K-Meleon version.

Do you still find things on the Internet you'd like to filter? See, website designers know about ad blocking. They probably use it themselves (when they are not out investigating their competition). And probably they will always find a way to get around general filter lists.

In fact, every technique above employs general filter lists to kill ads. But another approach is to manually create filters for leftover content you don't want. The web browser Opera has a built-in content blocking feature to filter content of your choice. But this is tedious on its own. You have to do too much work to get the plethora of ads eliminated. Though if you combine filter lists and Opera's content blocking, you get a powerful combination.

The Adblock Plus add-on in Firefox is another option, but it has both methods built-in. It uses effective filter lists to block the bulk of unwanted content and it also allows you to block specific content. You can manually block specific content most easily with the Adblock Plus Element Hiding Helper, but otherwise here is the basic idea:

Let us do a simple example. Some people love the Google banner. It changes to celebrate the holidays, Google does contests and picks the best design, and everybody has a great time -- while I sit there and wait forever for it to load! If you have a slow Internet connection you might want to block all their fun! Or you may get into moments of high stress where time is of the essence in which you will love having a quick content killer.

Even if you love the Google banner, here is how to block specific content with Adblock Plus:

Step 1. Assuming you have Firefox and Adblock Plus installed, go to the site with the unwanted content -- in this case Google;

Step 2. Right-click on the huge GOOGLE;

Step 3. Move down to "Adblock image..." and click it;

Step 4. Select your filter -- in this case probably "".

Done. Gone. Now you can have the best of both worlds -- an automatically updated filter to block the bulk of ads and some extra blocking of unwanted content particular to your desires.

Heck, if for some crazy reason you don't like the Gizmo Freeware banner at the top of our website -- get some more practice and blast it away. But be sure to do a right-click on the Adblock icon, enter into its preferences, and uncheck the filtering of our lovely image!

An alternative method with a little extra power is to list all blockable items. Right-click on the Adblock Plus icon and select "Open blockable items" or use Ctrl + Shift + V. It shows you all the things on a page you can block. Just double-click on an item to create a new filter.

All items currently blocked are also highlighted in red, such as the Google banner (if blocked for practice). You can right-click on any of the red items to disable the filter. The item will reappear after you reload the web page.

Finally, why go through all this work if you don't save it? Once you get a good list of custom filters, you can export your custom list as a text file and save it for future use, say, to import it when you get a new computer and have to re-install Firefox and its add-ons. To do this, right-click on the Adblock Plus icon, click "Preferences," click on the "Filters" menu, and click "export custom filters".

This process is even easier with the Element Hiding Helper addon. You click "Select element to hide" or Ctrl+Shift+K and select an element. It creates the filter for you.


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