Mac Tips: Stop Web Ad Banners and AOL Popup Ads

Because corporate interests control the law and defy common sense, it's legal for companies (online and off) to add your private info to their marketing lists without your permission. The responsibility falls upon you, the consumer, to take the time to "opt-out." Repeat this mantra: "OPT OUT." The law SHOULD require them to ask your permission first, and thus be "opt-in," but it doesn't. Funny how voting for President of the USA is "opt-in," but spam is "opt-out." Hello?? hel-LO?!?!?

So, here are a few ways to keep your net connection speedier and to keep your sanity...

How to block ads from all web browsers (PC or Mac)

There are a few applications which block ads for you, available for PC and Mac: NetBarrier by Intego and the free WebWasher. Or, try the free "hosts file" method outlined at SunStar Media. For many more, see Silent Way's Privacy and Ad-Busting links..

Web ad blockers work effectively and invisibly by keeping any graphics from loading which match a long list of criteria (including many popular ad servers).

One Mac shareware control panel for OS 9 is called WebFree. But WebFree breaks under Mac OS 9.2, and it has not been updated since 1997! Still, this is a good example of how all of these blockers work. WebFree works with any web browser (Explorer, Netscape or AOL), and can also block cookies. You can also control-click on any remaining ad to add it to the list. Dialup modems in particular will enjoy faster page loading. It's fantastic, cheap and easy! Outta my face, ads.

Once you have installed it and restarted, check out the settings. The default is to block cookies, but this will prevent many web services from working. I'm not scared of cookies, so I uncheck that box. I added a few extra tags to the list: "doubleclick", "adholder", "adforce", "admonitor", "netcentives" etc. Now any graphic image whose URL contains listed text will be blocked. I've blocked seventeen THOUSAND ads so far. Sweet!

If you find that a webpage does not load correctly, try disabling WebFree's "Block the following tags" function. Then reload the page. Sometimes it will block a part of the page that you need for navigation or for the page to load correctly. Turn the function back on after you leave that site.

How to keep your America Online email address private and block AOL "pop-up" ads (PC or Mac):

Your version of the AOL client might be slightly different. Users of all versions should try these other keywords too: "marketing preferences" "popup control" "spam".

  1. In the AOL menu bar, click on "Keyword".
  2. Type "preferences" and hit return.
  3. Click on "Marketing".
  4. There are 5-6 items to choose from. Select the one for members-only pop-up ads.
  5. Click "Continue".
  6. Select "No, I do not want to receive special AOL members-only pop-up offers" by clicking in the little circle next to it.
  7. Do the same for all the other options in the "Marketing" window. There's no reason for you to receive SPAM from AOL or other companies by phone, US mail or email.
  8. Close all these windows.

It might take a few days to take effect. You can also move the "Welcome" window and its ads off-screen, then select "Window-->Remember Placement". But if they are loading off-screen they will still slow down your connection.

If you use a free email account from Yahoo or Hotmail, your privacy preferences options changed for the worse in 2002. If you use these services, visit these opt-out pages: YahooMail and MSN's Hotmail. To remove your e-mail address from the Internet infospace/MSN White Pages, go here. According to MSN Hotmail, " may remove your information from the Hotmail Directory by clicking on the "Options" button on the navigation bar, and then clicking on the "Personal" icon."