How to Block Popup Ads on Android

Popup ads are frustrating enough on desktop, but they’re even worse on a mobile device with limited screen size. If you’re sick of popups ruining your phone experience, we’ll explain how to stop popup ads on Android.

Popup ads generally come in one of three forms:

  1. When you’re browsing the web
  2. Fullscreen ads in apps
  3. Notification area ads

Let’s discuss each of these in turn to help you defeat Android popup ads.

1. How to Stop Android Popups in Your Browser

If the sites you visit serve popup ads regularly, you can turn them off or disable them with a few methods.

Chrome’s Built-In Popup Blocker Options

Since Chrome is the default Android browser and you probably use it often, it makes sense to disable popups there first. Tweaking a quick setting will completely disable popups. To locate it, open Chrome and touch the three-dot Menu button. Select Settings, then navigate to Site settings.

In this menu, you’ll see a list of properties that affect how websites can interact with your device. Tap the Pop-ups and redirects entry and make sure the slider is set to the off (gray) position. Chrome will prevent popups, as well as sites redirecting you to places you don’t want to go.

While you’re here, you may also want to tap the Ads entry. Inside, make sure you have this slider turned off as well. This lets Chrome block intrusive or misleading ads on known spam sites.

If this doesn’t solve your problem for some reason, another step you can take is enabling Chrome’s data saver mode. While its primary intention is reducing the amount of mobile data you use to view websites, turning this on also strips some unnecessary elements from pages. To enable it, visit Menu > Settings > Data Saver and flip the slider On.

Popups aren’t vital to viewing a page’s content, of course. Enabling this setting may cause some websites to look strange, but you can decide whether that’s worth the better experience.

Try Another Android Browser

If you can’t get rid of popups in Chrome, you might consider using another browser. You’ll find many options on the Play Store designed for blocking malicious popups and providing an interface free of annoyances.

Take a look at some lightweight Android browsers built for performance. Many of them pack features similar to Chrome’s data saver that strip unnecessary elements like popups from pages.

If you still see popups after using these settings and trying other browsers, you may want to reconsider the sites you visit. Shady websites with explicit content or pirated material are often loaded with intrusive ads that can still get around popup blockers.

2. How to Block Full-Screen Popup Ads on Android

We’ve figured out how to stop popups from appearing in your browser. But what about ads popping up on your phone when you’re using other apps or just navigating around your home screen?

Popups in a Particular App

If you see popups when you’re using a certain game or app, chances are that the current app is the culprit. In those cases, you have to decide whether the app is still worth using despite the ads. Ads help developers make money from free apps, but you might not want to put up with intrusive popups.

To stop popups ads inside an app, you can often purchase the Pro or ad-free versions of the app. You’ll usually find these as an in-app purchase, though they’re occasionally a separate download on Google Play. Unfortunately, not every developer offers these.

Aside from rooting your device, the only way to block popups inside an app is to stop using it. You can put your phone in airplane mode to stop ads in any app or game, but that won’t work if it requires internet access to play.

Popups From Unknown Sources

Popups that appear even when you’re using a different app are awful. With this problem, half the battle is figuring out what Android app is displaying popups.

To start, if the popups are a recent development, review any apps you’ve just installed. Perhaps one of them is malicious and causing the popups.

Some categories of apps, like system cleaners, wallpaper collections, and flashlights, are often filled with ads and could be your problem. Check the recent reviews for apps you’re not sure about and see if other users have complained of popups. Uninstall any problematic apps and see if the popups persist.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, the next step is checking which apps have the permission to appear over other apps. Visit Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Display over other apps. Here, you’ll see all installed apps that you’ve given permission to show up even when you’re not using them.

Look through the list here and see if anything looks suspect. Some apps have legitimate reason to draw over others. For example, your SMS app may have a Quick Reply box, or you might use a password manager that fills other apps. But if you see anything here that shouldn’t have the permission, tap it and set the Allow display over other apps to Off.

This is why being careful about app permissions is so important. If you don’t give an app permission to do something dangerous in the first place, it greatly reduces your risk.

Scan for Android Malware

If you still have a problem with popups after removing shady apps and taking away permission to display over other apps, you should run a scan for infections. This is especially important if you’ve installed apps from outside Google Play. Downloading apps from dubious sources can more easily lead to problems.

You really don’t need an antivirus app installed on your phone permanently. But if you’ve reached this point and are still suffering from popups, it’s worth installing one just to run a scan. Malwarebytes for Android is a reputable choice; give it a download and run a scan to check for infection. You don’t need to pay for the premium service.

If Malwarebytes doesn’t find anything, try our guide to removing Android malware. Should that advice fail to stop the popups, your best course of action is probably a factory reset. You’ve already removed apps that are potentially causing the issue, checked permissions, and tried an anti-malware scanner.

3. How to Stop Popups in the Notification Shade

While not technically popups, notification ads are still a problem and just as annoying. If you see spam notifications up in your notification area, a quick flip of a switch can shut them down for good. These instructions will differ slightly depending on which version of Android you use.

Pull down from the top of your screen to open your notification area and long-press on the notification in question. You should see the name of the app responsible for it. Tap the i in the circle icon to bring up that app’s info.

On any recent version of Android, you can also visit Settings > Apps & notifications > See all X apps and tap an app’s name to open those settings.

Once there, tap the Notifications entry to change settings for that app’s notifications. On Android Oreo and later, you might be able to disable certain kinds of notifications. On every Android version, you can disable all notifications for an app by turning off the slider.

If you don’t want to hide every notification from an app, but don’t have the fine-grained options in Settings, you’ll have to dive into the app’s specific settings. Look for a gear icon or a three-dot menu with a Settings entry. A Notifications header might hold an option to disable some kinds of notifications but not others.

For instance, to disable the IMDb app’s annoying trailer notifications, you have to tap the person icon in the top-right corner, then tap the three-dot menu followed by Settings. Choose Notifications Settings, and you can disable the trailer ads.

Stop Popups on Android for Good

We’ve covered how to stop three major types of popups on Android. No matter where these popups rear their ugly heads on your device, you’ll know how to combat them.

It’s worth noting that ads allow online publishers and app developers to offer their content at no initial cost and still make money. Without ads, we’d have to pay for a lot of media we take for granted. So while blocking offensive popups is certainly important, remember that non-intrusive ads power the web and mobile apps.

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