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Best ad blockers for Mac in 2023


Unfortunately, ads are pervasive, ubiquitous, and don’t discriminate between different devices. Your Mac OS needs an ad blocker, too.

Besides blocking intrusive ads, quality Mac ad blockers also protect from other online dangers. Flashing pop-ups announcing that you won the newest iPhone usually leads to malware and other nasty things, and advertisers on websites like to use trackers to record and sell your data. An ad blocker will protect you from all these things, and further enhance your privacy and safety online.

However, finding a reliable and trustworthy ad blocker compatible with Mac devices can be challenging For that reason, we went ahead and put together a comprehensive list of the best ad blockers for Mac in 2023.

Top 5 best ad blockers for Mac in 2023

  1. NordVPN Threat Protection – the best ad blocker for Mac in 2023
  2. Total Adblock – advanced and capable Mac ad blocker
  3. Surfshark CleanWeb – affordable Mac and browser ad blocker
  4. Atlas VPN SafeBrowse – efficient ad and malicious site blocker
  5. ProtonVPN NetShield – customizable ad blocker for Mac

What to look for in the best ad blocker for macOS?

Ad blockers are a tricky bunch, and not all of them actually work. That’s why it’s important to really take several things into account when looking for a macOS ad blocker:

  • Excellent ad and tracker blocking capabilities. Not all ad blockers are able to block ads effectively. Some only block banner ads but not pop-ups, and others block everything except for YouTube ads and Facebook trackers. Ideally, you want a tool that blocks everything there is to block.
  • Whitelisting. This feature allows you to choose on which websites you want to see ads, and on which ones you don’t. YouTube video ads might be annoying, but ads on your favorite blogger’s page might help them with business, so you’d like to keep the ads visible to support them.
  • Platform and browser compatibility. Some ad blockers work only on some browsers, and some have varying degrees of blocking ability on different platforms. You want to get an ad blocker that works perfectly on Mac and whichever browser you prefer, be it Safari, Chrome, or anything else.
  • Additional features. While ad and tracker blocking is important, it’s not everything. The fewer tools you need to use for protection, the better. Thus, it might be good to consider an ad blocker that is part of an antivirus suite or a VPN. That way, you’ll get maximum protection for your device, data, and online activities.

The best Mac ad blockers - our detailed list:

We tested a lot of ad blockers to find the ones that do the best job. We looked into how well they block different types of ads and trackers, as well as reviewed some features. Assessing compatibility and performance on different platforms was also an important part of testing. And finally, we also considered the price. Thus, without further ado, here are brief overviews of the best ad blockers for Mac:

1. NordVPN Threat Protection – the overall best ad blocker for macOS

NordVPN threat protection banner
Free version:Yes (free trial)
YouTube ad blocking:Yes
Supported platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Opera, and Edge
Current deal:Get NordVPN Threat Protection, now 50% OFF!

A part of the world-renowned NordVPN, its Threat Protection is the best ad blocker for Mac. It showed excellent ad blocking results during testing and offers a lot of extra useful features to keep you safe and secure online.

Features: first and foremost, the features of Threat Protection include advanced malware and malicious website blocking, as well as a scanner for harmful downloads. There is also a URL trimmer, which removes tracking parameters from website links and increases privacy. If you want to see what’s been done, there is a 7-day summary of all blocked threats. You can also customize what features to turn on/off. However, Threat Protection doesn’t have a whitelister.

Test results: NordVPN Threat Protection passed all our testing exceptionally well. It blocks YouTube ads, removes invisible trackers, blocks malicious and insecure websites, as well as prevents harmful file downloads.

Compatibility: Threat Protection is available on all NordVPN apps, which include apps for Mac. You can also find it on browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Unfortunately, NordVPN doesn’t have a Safari extension, but the macOS app does the job for Safari perfectly well.

Pricing: Threat Protection is included in all NordVPN plans – the monthly and the yearly, for all tiers. The price starts at $2.49/month, and there is also a 7-day free trial.

To learn more about the Threat Protection feature, check out our NordVPN Threat Protection review.

2. Total Adblock – advanced ad and malware blocking

Total Adblock banner
Free version:Yes (free trial)
YouTube ad blocking:Yes
Supported platforms:Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge
Current deal:Get 75% OFF Total Adblock!

Total Adblock is a product of TotalAV, the antivirus provider, and is an excellent ad blocker for Mac. You can either get it together with the TotalAV Internet security antivirus package or as a separate tool. It has many features, excellent ad-blocking capabilities, and good compatibility with various browsers.

Features: Total Adblock uses script blocking to filter and block ads before the websites load. There is a whitelisting feature called Acceptable Ads, which allows you to choose what kind of ads on which websites you want to block. The control panel of the tool also shows a summary of how many ads and trackers have been blocked, as well as statistics about page loading times and data saving.

Test results: during our testing, Total Adblock showed excellent results – it blocked all types of as and trackers, save for error monitoring. Even YouTube and Facebook ads were nowhere to be seen.

Compatibility: Total Adblock is an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera browsers. Unfortunately, the ad blocker is not available for Safari.

Pricing: you can try Total Adblock for free for a week. After that, the price is $2.42/month for the ad blocker alone. However, if you’d also like to get a whole antivirus suite, the price will be from $19.00/year with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For more information about the full service package, visit our TotalAV review.

3. Surfshark CleanWeb – excellent ad blocker browser extension

Surfshark cleanweb banner
Free version:Yes (free trial)
YouTube ad blocking:Yes
Supported platforms:Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, FireTV, Android TV
Current deal:84% OFF Surfshark CleanWeb 2.0 + 2 months FREE!

The CleanWeb is a feature of Surfshark VPN, and is one of the best ad blocker choices for Mac and various browsers. It shows good blocking results in testing, is easy to use, and comes with a great VPN for improved browsing privacy and overall online security.

Features: the CleanWeb feature is available on the dedicated Surfshark app for Mac. The upgraded CleanWeb 2.0 is for the upgraded browser extensions. Both versions successfully block various ads and trackers. However, only CleanWeb 2.0 includes a summary of blocked ads, as well as a whitelisting feature, cookie pop-up blocker, and website breach alert.

Test results: CleanWeb showed overall very good results across all browsers. With some, it worked a little better in blocking video ads and pop-ups, though.

Compatibility: CleanWeb is available on all Surfshark apps and works with all browsers, but lacks certain features. CleanWeb 2.0 is on the Surfshark browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge.

Pricing: CleanWeb is a part of all Surfshark VPN plans, and the prices start at $2.05/month. There is also a 7-day free trial, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can learn more about this service in our Surfshark review.

4. Atlas VPN SafeBrowse – functional ad blocker for YouTube ads

Atlas VPN SafeBrowse banner 1
Free version:No (only VPN has a free version)
YouTube ad blocking:Yes
Supported platforms:Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows
Current deal:81% OFF Atlas VPN SafeBrowse!

SafeBrowse of Atlas VPN is an adequate ad blocker option for Mac. Equipped with basic ad and malware-blocking features, it provides an overall smoother browsing experience. The accompanying VPN ensures more privacy and security when online.

Features: SafeBrowse is an ad blocker that deals not only with ads but also malware and malicious websites. It also displays an overview of what has been blocked – ads, trackers, harmful websites, and other online threats. There is no whitelister, unfortunately, and for the ad blocker to work at all, you must be connected to the VPN.

Test results: SafeBrowse showed very good results both in the Can You Block It tests and the AdBlock Tester. However, there were some ads that it wasn’t able to block, and it also left some trackers running. Nevertheless, the tool blocks YouTube ads like a charm.

Compatibility: SafeBrowse is a part of the Atlas VPN, and is available as a feature on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Unfortunately, it doesn’t function as a browser extension.

Pricing: Since the SafeBrowse ad blocker belongs to the paid version of Atlas VPN, you can get it from $2.05/month. Unfortunately, there is no free trial, and the free VPN version doesn’t include this feature. Nevertheless, you can always use the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Learn more about the full service package in our Atlas VPN review.

5. ProtonVPN NetShield – customizable ad and malicious site blocker

Proton VPN ad blocker
Free version:No (only VPN has a free version)
YouTube ad blocking:Yes
Supported platforms:Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows
Current deal:Get up to 50% OFF Proton VPN NetShield!

Among the best ad blockers for Mac is also NetShield, the safe browsing feature of ProtonVPN. Working on the DNS level, it is an ad blocker with some customization options.

Features: as an ad blocker, NetShield is perfect for customizing the blocking extent. You can choose to block only malicious websites, not block anything at all, or block everything including malware, ads, and trackers. Unfortunately, the NetShield ad blocker doesn’t include a whitelister and shows no statistics on what or how many ads were dealt with.

Test results: the NetShield blocker is best at dealing with invisible trackers and regular ads. It struggles to block video ads on YouTube on some browsers and also leaves some more persistent ads visible.

Compatibility: the NetShield browser is available as a paid ProtonVPN feature. The app can be downloaded on most devices including Mac.

Pricing: the prices for NetShield as part of ProtonVPN start at $4.99/month. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, the free ProtonVPN version doesn’t include the ad blocker.

To learn more about Proton VPN features, head over to our Proton VPN review.

How we selected and tested these macOS ad blockers

Testing any cybersecurity tool is a process that involves many steps. Here are just some of the factors we took into account when selecting Mac ad blockers for our list:

  • Ad and tracker blocking tests. We tested all the ad blockers using the Can You Block It and the AdBlock Test to see how well they block various types of ads and trackers. All ad blockers on our list showed excellent results.
  • Compatibility with Mac devices. Some ad blockers on our list function as browser extensions, but some are included in other apps, such as VPNs and antiviruses. We tested the overall functionality of these apps on macOS and made sure they work on both the device and browser levels.
  • Supported browsers. No matter which browser you use, you should be able to have an ad blocker on it. We looked into how well each ad blocker on our list works with different browsers.
  • Additional features. Extras such as whitelisting, malicious site blocking, and data breach alerts are just some of the features that an ad blocker could have. The more online protection, the better, so we made sure that our suggested providers offer a little more than just basic ad blocking.

Why do you need to block ads on your Mac device?

Ads are something that’s been with us forever, so it may not occur to some people that there is a possibility of not seeing them anymore. As for the reasons why you should consider getting rid of ads, here are some:

  • Get rid of intrusive ads. There are ads that peacefully idle at the corner of your screen and don’t do much more. But there are also ads that pop up at the most unexpected times, block the whole screen, and have the exit button hidden in the most invisible place. An ad blocker will keep those – and any other – kinds of ads at bay.
  • Speed up webpage loading. Ads eat up a surprising amount of bandwidth, which makes increases the site loading time. Not having ads at all will help improve loading speeds and have a smoother browsing experience.
  • Prevent tracking and cookies. A surprising number of websites use trackers to monitor visitor behavior for targeted advertising and other purposes. Advanced ad blockers will prevent the trackers from following you around everywhere.
  • Avoid scams. Some ads, such as the “You won an iPhone” pop-ups are just scams, and it’s usually pretty easy to recognize them. However, others are trickier to spot, and you can find yourself downloading harmful software in no time at all. Having an ad blocker will remove all risks of scammy ads and pop-ups.

Best macOS ad blockers based on your browser

Safari is the default browser for all macOS devices, however, a lot of people rely on other browsers to access the internet. So here are our ad blocker recommendations for whichever browser you prefer.

Ad blockerSupported browsers
NordVPN Threat ProtectionChrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Opera, and Edge
Total AdblockChrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge
Surfshark Clean WebChrome, Firefox, and Edge

For more options, you can also take a look at our recommendations for the best ad blockers for Safari and Chrome.

Are free ad blockers for Mac safe?

We don’t recommend using a completely free ad blocker on your Mac. Like with a lot of services, something being free usually means that the service collects and sells user data or profits from in-app advertising.

When it comes to ad blockers specifically, it is even more important to be wary of free tools. There have been a few instances of ad blockers being used for distributing malware. Therefore, we suggest staying far away from free ad blockers.

However, if you really don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are a few reputable providers that have free versions or free trials, such as NordVPN Threat Protection and Total Adblock. You can try them out without any risks, and upgrade to a paid version if you wish for more advanced blocking.

Conclusion

Having an ad blocker for Mac can save you a lot of trouble and nerves when navigating the internet. No more intrusive, content-blocking ads, no more scammy pop-ups or invisible trackers on every page you visit. Not only an ad blocker will improve your browsing experience but it will also provide additional protection from malware and other online threats.

According to our list and test results, NordVPN’s Threat Protection is the best ad blocker for macOS devices. It blocks all sorts of malicious websites, ads, and trackers exceptionally well, as well as provides a concise summary of blocked threats. Threat Protection also scans all your downloaded files for malware and other threats.

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