How to block ads and trackers in Safari for iOS

June 2, 2020

Ads on the web are annoying and most trackers betray our privacy by giving third-parties information about the sites we visit and the topics we are interested in. These third-parties can then track us around the internet to sell us more ads, distort our search results, and give our browsing history to governments. When we block ads and trackers, websites are easier to read and faster to load, so we save time and bandwidth (data).

Blocking ads and trackers is easy on desktop browsers thanks to extensions like uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. These extensions are not available on iOS, but we can still block ads and trackers in Safari by downloading additional apps and enabling them in the Settings.

The installation process is the same for each app. After installing the app from the App Store, visit Settings > Safari > Content Blockers and enable them. In the Settings, you may information about content blockers:

Content blockers affect what content is loaded while using Safari. They cannot send any information about what was blocked back to the app.

The following apps seem to be reliable content blockers for Safari:

‎Firefox Focus: Privacy browser
‎Better Blocker
‎AdBlock Pro for Safari

Firefox Focus is free and open-source and is also available on Android. The source code for the Android and iOS apps are available on GitHub.

Better Blocker is also free and open-source. Its source code is available on GitLab.

Adblock Pro is not open-source, but it does not require account registration and it does not require any special permissions. Their privacy policy states that the "App does not collect any personal information" and that the "App uses Apple's native Content Blocking API - it only supplies blocking rules to Safari, without having any access to your browsing data."

You can use each of these apps on their own or all together to maximize the number of trackers blocked. Better Blocker is the simplest to use, but Adblock Pro provides the most customization.

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