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A shortlist of 10 ad blockers for Safari

Dmitry Yedin

Dmitry Yedin is an analyst and author, a part of the “multimedia” crew of ThinkMobiles. Don’t even start with him on games, graphics, video content or messengers.

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There is a huge number of ad blockers nowadays, but how to choose a really functional one? Is it possible to find a quality product among the free options? In this article we will test 10 most effective ad blockers for Safari browser on MacOS. Testing will be conducted on YouTube primarily, to see how it blocks various types of advertising. As secondary sources, we’ll also be visiting Facebook, Amazon, DailyMail, Buzzfeed, USAToday and CNN websites.

For page loading speed tests and web traffic we will use Web Inspector Developer Tool in Safari. Tip: to run Web Inspector open Preferences, go to the Advanced tab, tick the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” checkbox, and there click “Show Web Inspector”. Also, we’ve initially selected two dozens of extensions, and then narrowed it down to ten, based on performance.

Top-10 ad blockers for Safari browser

Let’s start with naming these 10 ad blockers for Safari along with basic facts summary, e.g. current version, macOS compatibility, size, browser memory consumption, number of interface languages.

Developer Version Compatibility Size (Mb) Memory  (Mb) Languages
AdBlock Max Lvxin Liao 1.8 macOS 10.12 or later 14.2 47.1 40
AdBlock Betafish Inc. 1.22.0 macOS 10.12.6 or later 11.2 17.1 16
Magic Lasso BentoCorp 2.0 macOS 10.12 or later 7.4 22.1 1
AdGuard Adguard Software Ltd. 1.6.4 macOS 10.12 or later 76.7 71.2 51
Ka-Block! Negative Code 3.2 macOS 10.13 or later 3.9 12.7 1
uBlock uBlock 1.3 macOS 10.12 or later 11.4 49.3 1
Ad and Stuff Blocker LPSCI Software Inc. 3.12.0 OS X 10.11 or later 0.8 8.0 1
Adblock Plus Eyeo GmbH 2.1.1 macOS 10.12.6 or later 17.3 6.5 10
Ghostery Lite Ghostery Inc. 1.1.0 macOS 10.13 or later 7.4 4.1 14
AdLock Hankuper s.r.o. 1.0.4 macOS 10.12 or later 4.0 70.6 12
01 of 10

AdBlock Max

Version: 1.8 | Licence: free | Size: 14 mb | Memory: 47 mb

AdBlock Max for Safari

AdBlock Max is a free Safari extension, which, according to the developers, blocks ads on YouTube, Facebook and other sites, protects privacy and increases the site load speed. The app loads RAM a little, but it’s not critical. In practice, this app has proven to be an average among ad blockers for Safari, blocking almost all visible advertising on sites that are familiar to most users.

To test the impact on webpage loading speed, we’ve visited several major websites, e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, and made measurements with AdBlock Max on and off to compare. We’ve done the same for all extensions on the list.   

Reduces traffic by (average): 22%. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 2,929
Facebook.com 0,836 0,965
Amazon.com 0,835 0,908
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 3,249
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 3,711
USAToday.com 2,273 2,066
CNN.com 4,067 3,042

Version: 1.22.0 | Licence: free | Size: 11 mb | Memory: 17 mb

best ad blockers for Safari

AdBlock for Safari is practically equal to the previous extension: same workflow, similar test results. The only difference is less RAM load, in this case it is 17.1 MB. If you need an ad blocker for an older Mac, this option is perfect. There’s the Pause option, whitelist (to allow ads on certain websites), and an option to allow non-intrusive ads (Google ads, for example). Page load tests indicate that AdBlock reduces traffic by 20% on average. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 3,043
Facebook.com 0,836 0,927
Amazon.com 0,835 0,963
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 3,064
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 3,811
USAToday.com 2,273 1,989
CNN.com 4,067 3,437

03 of 10

Magic Lasso

Version: 2.0 | Licence: free / subscribe | Size: 7 mb | Memory: 22 mb

magic lasso ad blocker safari

Magic Lasso Adblock for Safari has shown mixed results. On one hand, it does not block ads on YouTube at all (the only one out of ten). On the other hand, it blocks major categories of advertising, meaning that even a free version blocks most types of ads. But will this be relevant for users who want to hide ads on YouTube? What’s good, is that Magic Lasso’s support is free, so you can ask them anything via feedback (at) magiclasso (dot) co. Subscription for Pro version is billed annually at $15. 

Reduces traffic by (average): 20%. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 N/A
Facebook.com 0,836 0,889
Amazon.com 0,835 0,943
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 2,959
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 2,996
USAToday.com 2,273 1,215
CNN.com 4,067 3,437
04 of 10

AdGuard

Version: 1.6.4 | Licence: free | Size: 76 mb | Memory: 71 mb

adguard extension safari

AdGuard for Safari takes up quite a lot of space and consumes a lot of RAM as for a browser extension. However, that is why it shows the highest points in our tests for ads by category, as well as  blocks absolutely all advertising on YouTube. In the web surfing mode it performs well and does not let annoying ads though too. The advantage of this Safari ad block extension is the choice of 8 filters. Generally, this is a good blocker, but if a user has a limited amount of RAM resources, it could be an issue. Yet 70 Mb of RAM should cause trouble on a Mac, right?

Reduces traffic by (average): 35%. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 2,786
Facebook.com 0,836 1,03
Amazon.com 0,835 1,104
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 2,39
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 2,626
USAToday.com 2,273 0,762
CNN.com 4,067 2,416

05 of 10

Ka-Block!

Version: 3.2 | Licence: free | Size: 4 mb | Memory: 13 mb

how to block ads in safari

Judging by the 3.2 product version, it would seem a product has gained sophistication, and in fact it has. Ka-Block does not show any ads on YouTube, it scores highly in the test by advertising variety, it also proves effective in web surfing mode. The size of the application and the use of RAM are minimal. Sometimes, for a truly quality product, one doesn’t have to make a mainstream interface with many filters and plethora of functionality. Efficiency is what makes it one of the top ad blockers for Safari.

Reduces traffic by (average): 35%. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 3,07
Facebook.com 0,836 0,875
Amazon.com 0,835 0,746
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 2,963
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 2,56
USAToday.com 2,273 0,432
CNN.com 4,067 1,61
06 of 10

uBlock

Version: 1.3 | Licence: free | Size: 11 mb | Memory: 49 mb

ublock safari

uBlock shows average results, it successfully blocks YouTube ads, but does not block important advertising categories. It is hard to see a significant difference from other extensions in web surfing mode, operation and site download speed. However, despite the small size, the amount of RAM used is almost 4.5 times the size of the application itself, which is weird at least.

Reduces traffic by (average): 26%.

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 2,903
Facebook.com 0,836 0,894
Amazon.com 0,835 1,213
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 3,28
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 3,249
USAToday.com 2,273 2,163
CNN.com 4,067 2,726

Version: 3.12.0 | Licence: free | Size: 1 mb | Memory: 8 mb

ad block safari list

Although Ad and Stuff Blocker does not look like a credible app and has no reviews at all on the App Store (perhaps, because of a rather strange logo), it has performed well. It successfully blocks ads on YouTube and different types of adverts. In web surfing mode there are no noticeable differences from other ad blockers for Safari browser. All in all, it is a decent product. The only nuance we’ve encountered is that, apparently, in MacOS Task Manager the program gets a different name and is hard to find among hundreds of other processes.

Reduces traffic by (average): 38%.

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 3,983
Facebook.com 0,836 1,002
Amazon.com 0,835 1,171
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 4,016
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 3,153
USAToday.com 2,273 0,569
CNN.com 4,067 2,393

Version: 2.1.1 | Licence: free | Size: 17 mb | Memory: 6 mb

AdBlock Plus Safari free

The developer claims Adblock Plus for Safari is completely free and reliable blocker. We’ve conducted a number of tests and found out that it really can handle tasks on the average level. It stops constant YouTube ads, and shows good results among other extensions in testing by advertising categories. A low use of RAM resources is also a nice factor.

Reduces traffic by (average): 35%. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 3,393
Facebook.com 0,836 1,173
Amazon.com 0,835 1,077
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 4,163
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 3,86
USAToday.com 2,273 2,063
CNN.com 4,067 3

Version: 1.1.0 | Licence: free | Size: 7 mb | Memory: 4 mb

ghostery app store

It is very strange that this app does not have any reviews in the App Store, because it has demonstrated the best test results. This may be due to its release date – January 10, 2020 which is recent. The “Lite” version title suggests there should be a Premium too, but neither description nor the app itself does not contain any info on it.

Due to low browser RAM consumption, you should be able to use it on laptops of practically any age or performance level. However, the MacOS version should be at least 10.13. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the program is the page load timer, and judging by its indicators, pages load on average 0.5 seconds faster. A slight difference, but it is very nice that the developer took care of such a trifle.

Reduces traffic by (average): 37%. Read the full Ghostery review

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 3,116
Facebook.com 0,836 0,999
Amazon.com 0,835 1,124
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 3,113
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 2,826
USAToday.com 2,273 1,075
CNN.com 4,067 1,95
10 of 10

AdLock

Version: 1.0.4 | Licence: free | Size: 4 mb | Memory: 70 mb

AdLock for Mac

The first thing to ask is why is such a small program using so much memory? In general, AdLock  proved to be good, blocking ads on YouTube, of course, and scoring good points in testing. It hides all forms of ads, be it banners and pop-ups, or autoplay videos, animation, etc. Extra points for additional features, such as anti-spyware and anti-malware protection, whitelist, social media filter (removes Like buttons). 

Reduces traffic by (average): 40%. 

Off (page load, seconds) On (page load, seconds)
YouTube.com 3,327 4,166
Facebook.com 0,836 1,056
Amazon.com 0,835 1,426
DailyMail.co.uk 3,109 3,8
Buzzfeed.com 3,552 3,15
USAToday.com 2,273 0,65
CNN.com 4,067 2,003

Summary

Before drawing conclusions, let’s calculate the points based on handling various types of advertising and services. We’ll simply add up points for the following:

  • Contextual advertising: Google AdSense, Yandex Direct. 
  • Analytics services: Google Analytics, Hotjar, Yandex Metric. 
  • Banner ads: flash ads, gifs and still images. 
  • Error collection services: Sentry, Bugsnag. 

Thus, our scale below is 0 to 8 range. And although there have been reports (e.g. ZDNet) about Apple limiting the potency of ad blockers for Safari, most of the ones on our list did a decent job. 

Name Contextual advertising (Max 2) Analytics services (Max 3) Banner advertising (Max 3) Error collection services (Max 2) Total
AdBlock Max 1 1 0 0 2
AdBlock 1 1 0 0 2
Magic Lasso 2 2 0 0 4
AdGuard 1 3 1 0 5
Ka-Block! 2 3 1 0 6
uBlock 1 1 0 0 2
Ad and Stuff Blocker 1 2 0 0 3
Adblock Plus 1 1 0 0 2
Ghostery Lite 2 3 0 1 6
AdLock 2 3 0 0 5

The best performance, as we see, is by the least popular in the App Store Ghostery Lite and Ka-Block!. AdLock, AdGuard and Magic Lasso follow with a bit lower points. Yet, we should mention, that while all extensions block ads on YouTube, Magic Lasso does not.

Typically, users only use these extensions for one purpose – blocking ads on YouTube. Any modern blocker should handle this task a priori. But sometimes there comes a time when the user changes priorities and needs a more efficient app, with a certain set of functions and capabilities. Finally, we would like to add that the only drawback of any ad blocker out there is that ads integrated into videos still cannot be blocked. And that’s impossible so far.

Read next: Best ad blockers for Chrome.

About author

Dmitry Yedin
Dmitry Yedin

Dmitry Yedin is an analyst and author, a part of the “multimedia” crew of ThinkMobiles. Don’t even start with him on games, graphics, video content or messengers.

Dmitry Yedin is a self-motivated and goal-oriented guy, a technology geek throughout his life, interested in computers, music, photography, and tech trends. Through diligence, analysis and care for detail he assists people in picking the best available options.