Is there anything more annoying than pop-ups? If you’re among the 71% of people using the Google Chrome browser to access the web, these disruptive windows can appear unexpectedly and become a real pain. The good news is that they can be prevented.
Read on to learn how to stop pop-up ads in Chrome the next time you’re online - and why some pop-ups aren’t quite what they seem.
How to stop Google Chrome pop-ups
If you’re tired of seeing these windows opening without your permission, Google Chrome browser
has made it easy to put an end to pop-ups from within Chrome settings. Follow these steps to keep them from appearing when you browse.
- On a desktop browser, click the three dots in the upper-right corner of your screen to access the Google Chrome menu.
- Click Settings from the drop-down menu.
- From the Settings screen, look for the Advanced option in the list on the left side of the screen.
- Select Privacy and Security.
- Click on Site Settings: Control what information websites can use and what content they can show you.
- Choose Pop-ups and Redirects.
- Toggle the top button from Allowed to Blocked.
This will block all website pop-ups, with no distinction between malicious pop-ups and those you may need for certain web activities.
How to get rid of pop-up ads on individual sites
Pop-ups aren’t all bad. Some aren’t even ads. What if you want to allow pop-ups on some sites and block them on others? This is common. Some shopping sites and payment processors like PayPal may open a new window for you to authenticate your login information and complete a transaction. If pop-ups aren’t allowed, this new window won’t open, and you won’t be able to shop.
Fortunately, the fix is simple. The next time you visit a website where a pop-up appears, check the browser address bar for a notification symbol that the pop-up has been blocked. This can be a message, a red X over a window icon, or another indicator.
Click on it, and select the "allow pop-ups for this site" option. You’ll need to revisit the site and restart the process, but this time, the pop-up should appear. You may need to do this for every site that you want to permit a pop-up.
To see if you have added a site to the list of allowed sites for pop-ups, use steps 1 through 5 in our list above, then look at the sites under the "Allow" section. They’re in alphabetical order.
To modify or remove a site from the allowed list, click the three dots to the right of the individual site, then choose edit or remove. You can also choose to block a site completely in this menu.
Restoring original pop-ups settings
What if you change your mind about allowing or blocking pop-up ads? Restore your original settings by toggling the “Allowed” button in your privacy settings to “Blocked.” This will keep all websites from causing pop-ups and will require you to approve them again on an individual basis.
Why keeping pops ups may be necessary
As we said earlier, pop-ups aren't always a bad thing. In addition to needing pop-up windows to conduct some business transactions, some sites require you to allow pop-ups and even disable adblockers to view content. It's ultimately up to you whether you want to make this trade.
While it's true that pop-ups may be part of how a website makes money, many people are willing to bypass a site that requires anything like this. Use your best judgment to decide if it's worth it.
If you change your mind after allowing pop-ups on a site as a condition of use, you can make an adjustment. Just follow the tips for How to get rid of pop-up ads on individual sites, selecting Remove in the options menu.
Use malware and virus software to stop pop-up ads
Some pop-ups are bad. They can be a source of malware or a virus and use up precious computer and internet resources to perform tasks in the background of your operating system. Others install ransomware, bloatware, or fast-replicating trojanware.
If you take your computer security seriously, you'll pay attention to any concerning pop-up that seems out of character or that doesn't respond to your Google Chrome settings for a site.
These types of viruses may not have anything to do with Google Chrome. They can live in other places on your computer and show up with any browser you use. You can use Chrome to stop pop-ups, however, by following the steps in our next section.
Update your Chrome browser
- From your Google Chrome window, click on the three dots in the upper right side of the screen and select Settings from the drop-down menu.
- Find About Chrome at the bottom left menu and click it.
- If you are connected to the internet, Chrome should automatically search for any updated version of its software. If it’s out of date, it will show the update progress as a percentage at the top of the page.
- When the update is done, look for instructions on how to proceed. You may be asked to Relaunch. Before doing this, save your work, such as partially filled forms or drafted social media updates.
- When your browser restarts, you should have a more secure Google Chrome experience.
Install and run an antivirus program
- Use your Google Chrome browser to visit the website of a reputable antivirus company, such as Malwarebytes, Norton, or McAfee.
- Download the latest version of the software that best fits your needs. Not sure what works best? Consider a trial of one to see if you like it.
- Install the software and restart your computer. Be sure to activate any web-browsing features that come separate from the main antivirus product.
- Run a full system scan of your computer, preferably in safe mode.
It may take hours for the full scan to finish, so be patient.
Security best practices
There are some additional steps you can take to make your browsing extra safe. Use these best practices when using Google Chrome, or any browser for that matter, to protect your data from bad actors.
- Only submit information to sites that have a secure site connection: These usually start with “https” in the web address. Google Chrome browser will display a lock icon to the left of the web address to help you know if it's safe or not. If you see an “information” icon or a red “x” instead, any information you submit may not be secure.
- Keep your browser updated by regularly checking the About tab in your Google Chrome settings for software updates.
- Don’t reuse passwords: Ask that Google Chrome automatically generate a secure password each time you create a new registration. Don’t allow Chrome to save this password in your settings.
- Delete autofill in Chrome to prevent hackers from accessing your personal information.
- Consider using a VPN service when traveling or accessing unsecured wireless networks, such as in hotels and airports.
- Read privacy policies for new sites before giving out information, signing up for mailing lists, or making purchases.
Finally, it’s smart to regularly delete your browsing history, cookies, and cache from within the Chrome Browser, especially if you’re using a public or shared computer.
Remove problem software
What if you’ve done all of the steps above and still have annoying pop-ups? It may be software-related. Legitimate software services, including some freeware versions, can cause pop-ups to appear. If you aren’t sure which software is causing the issues, use your Task Manager the next time the pop-ups happen to find out.
- Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and choose Task Manager from the list. You must be logged in as an administrator to perform this task.
- Look to see what programs are running by clicking on the Applications tab. You should see familiar programs, but if something looks odd or you don’t remember downloading a program, you’ll want to investigate it.
If you find a program hiding among your running applications that seems suspicious, it may be the cause of your pop-up problems. Create a System Restore point
before continuing, then use the next steps to remove the questionable program from your computer system.
- Access your Windows Control Panel by clicking on the Start Menu, then Settings, then Apps and Features.
- Select Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features.
- Scroll through the list of programs you see. Does anything look out of place? Create a list of suspicious programs, making special note of any programs that showed up in your Task Manager Applications list the last time you saw a pop-up ad.
- Once you are certain that a program is the source of the issue, remove it by clicking on it and then choosing Uninstall.
It may take a few minutes for the program to uninstall completely. Expect your computer to restart at least once during this process. Check your Task Manager again to see if the program is there. If it is, you may have a more serious virus on your hands and will want to check the help resources that came with your antivirus software for more information on how to proceed.
Did you remove a program by mistake?
Hopefully, you were certain only to remove non-essential programs that won't affect your Windows experience. Since you created a system restore point, however, you’ll be covered.
Use Google Chrome to remove software
Chrome has a nifty feature where it will try to find problem software for you as well. To use it, do the following.
- On a desktop browser, click the three dots in the upper right corner of your screen to access the Google Chrome menu.
- Click Settings from the drop-down menu.
- From the Settings screen, click to open the Advanced menu on the left side of the screen.
- Scroll down to the bottom and select Reset and clean up.
- Click Clean up computer from the options in the middle of the screen.
- Click the Find button and wait for Chrome to search your system. It will display “Checking for harmful software” while it works in the background.
- If Chrome finds something of concern, it will alert you to take the next steps. Otherwise, "No harmful software was found" will display.
Are pop-ups actually bad?
It’s reasonable to want to stop pop-up ads. They use up memory and internet bandwidth, as well as distract you from what you’re trying to do. Many ads also contain tracking cookies, which tell the websites things about you that you may not want them to know, including your shopping habits and location.
Generally speaking, it’s in your best interest to use the pop-up blocker in Chrome. It doesn’t take much extra work, and you can always revert back to your original settings for any website.
Signs that you may have something seriously wrong include:
- Pop-up ads that won’t go away
- New tabs opening without you doing anything
- Being redirected to new sites when you visit familiar ones
- New Chrome extensions appearing that you didn’t approve
- A change in your homepage or search bar
Remember that some very valid software features and shopping websites will use pop-up windows to work efficiently. That doesn't mean that they are dangerous. Use your best judgment when deciding if a pop-up is necessary.
You can always block a site until you decide if it's safe. When sites or pop-ups seem suspicious, make sure to refer to your antivirus provider’s help tools for further information about anything that doesn’t seem safe.
About the Author
Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.