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From blocking ads to blocking anything – how to master the uBlock Origin configuration

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UBlock_Origin privacy

The topic of blocking ads with uBlock Origin is timely, given the recent announcement from Google on how it’s going to prevent uBlock and other ad blocker extensions from working correctly in Chrome, starting June 2024 onwards.

While Firefox users will not be affected, most of us still run uBlock with its default configuration. So it seems like now is a good time to talk about customising this configuration and level up our content blocking game, for maximum privacy.

Clicking on the extension itself and clicking on the cogs icon opens up a Settings menu.

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Here we can navigate to Default behavior and tick all the options seen below. It will primarily disable JavaScript but also will prevent media above a certain size from loading, as well as disable remote fonts. The advantages of this include faster, more responsive websites and generally more privacy. The downsides however can be significant – there are many sites nowadays that use JavaScript, so turning it off will result in not being able to load them correctly.

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Next on the right is the Filter lists, where you can customise various different filters, including the native uBlock ones that are enabled by default. Filters can be updated if needed and you can also Purge all caches, which means forcing an update of every single filter list.

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Since the onset of GDPR, many websites plague their visitors with accept or reject cookies notices. These and other irritating pop ups can be blocked by selecting EasyList and ticking all the Annoyances to turn on their blocking.

Similarly, you can choose to enable local blocklists based on Regions and languages. This will activate country-specific adblock lists with rules tailor made for whatever region and language you pick.

Malicious domains and phishing websites can be automatically blocked as well:

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One of the most useful features for privacy enthusiasts is the ability to add and create customs lists. Below are some examples of battle-tested lists, each with its own use case:

You can mark sites you visit as trusted and disable the uBlock plugin while browsing them, as well as allow them to load content such as pop-up windows or JavaScript. This is useful especially for e-learning platforms. All the whitelisted sites will appear under the Trusted sites tab.

uBlock Origin tips and tricks

  • You can block YouTube ads with uBlock by selecting “Purge all caches” in the Filter lists menu – then refresh the YouTube tab. Note that this does not always work though and you might be required to repeat the operation and then select Update now.
  • When visiting any site, you can enforce temporary rules while browsing by removing certain website elements with Element Zapper. You can activate it by clicking the lightning icon on the extension drop down menu and then by clicking on the offending parts of the site that you want to disable.
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  • Right next to the Element Zapper is the Element Picker. You can use this to permanently disable website elements so that they are not there when you return to it another time.
  • Any and all changes that become excessive or negatively impact the browsing experience can be reverted by selecting Reset to default settings.

PS. If you want to geek out on all possible settings and options that uBlock has to offer, on the most granular level, make sure to check out this wiki page by gorhill. If you want to focus on the advanced settings only, check out this part here.

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