AdGuard provides a range of software products that block ads and trackers on different platforms. One of the most popular AdGuard products is a free extension that is accessible for five popular browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Yandex.Browser. Browser extensions include basic ad blocking features but cannot be compared with full-featured desktop programs such as AdGuard for Windows and AdGuard for Mac.
In this article we’ll reveal to you all its useful options. If you're looking for some specific information, navigate directly to the appropriate item or read the entire article to learn more about the product.
The AdGuard Browser extension is accessible for most major browsers. You can easily find it in your browser’s online store or on our official website.
We have a standalone extension for Safari because since the release of Safari 13 most of the ad blocking extensions have experienced huge issues and many of them simply stopped working. We had to develop a separate extension for Safari that has some differences in comparison with the extension described in this article.
Do not forget that the functionality of each extension is strictly limited by browser’s capabilities. So if you want to get a full-fledged protection, you'd better turn your gaze towards a standalone program for your computer. And we’ll explain why.
Blocking ads is clearly the key functionality of any ad blocker, and AdGuard is not an exception. The extension will successfully block ads on any page in your browser. At the base of ad blocking lie so-called filter lists, or simply filters, that can be enabled or disabled in the AdGuard settings. You can adjust ad blocking according to your needs by activating specific filters.
In essence, filter lists are sets of rules written in a special language, and your ad blocker is an interpreter of these rules who then implements them. As a result, you stop seeing ads on your webpages and life gets a lot better.
All filters are grouped according to their role. For example, there are categories for ad blocking filters, privacy protection filters, social media-related filters, etc. You can enable either individual filters or the entire group at once.
While the features of other filter groups are more or less predictable, there is a group called Custom that may raise additional questions.
In this tab you can add filters that are not present in the extension by default. There are plenty of publicly available filters on the Internet. Moreover, you can create and add your own filters. In fact, you can build any set of filters and customize ad blocking the way you like.
To add a filter, just click the Add custom filter button and then enter the URL or the file path of the filter you want to be added, and then click the Next button.
User rules is another tool that helps you personalize protection by adjusting it in a preferable way.
In this tab it is possible to create your own filtering rules. There are several ways to add new rules. The most straightforward is to just type a rule in, but it requires some knowledge of the rule syntax.
Then, it's possible to import a ready-to-use filter list from a text file. Make sure that different rules are separated by line breaks. Besides, you can export filtering rules created by you. But first and foremost, this option is for transferring your list of rules between browsers or devices, while for importing ready-to-use filters it is better to use Custom filters.
If you want to exclude certain websites from filtering, the Allowlist option will be of help. Here you can add particular websites to the list of exceptions, it will disable blocking for those trusted domains. Just put the websites you want to exclude into the Allowlist and the ad blocking rules won’t be applied to them.
The Allowlist can be inverted, too — you can unblock ads everywhere except the sites that you added to this list. Just activate the Invert Allowlist option.
Also, you can either import or export already existing lists of exclusions if needed. It is especially useful when you want to apply the same list of sites on other devices and you don’t want to spend time on its creation. The Allowlist can be configured just in a couple of clicks.
The Stealth Mode module aims to ensure the protection of sensitive personal information from online trackers and other fraudsters.
Stealth Mode can be flexibly adjusted — you can prohibit a website to receive the search requests you used to find it on the Internet, automatically delete both third-party and website’s own cookies, and so on. A separate article is devoted to all these features.
Note that some of the Stealth Mode options available in full-fledged apps are not present in the browser extensions due to technical restrictions.
Apart from the large key modules of AdGuard Browser extension there are several more specific but no less useful features that can be configured in the General and Miscellaneous sections of the extension settings. They'll help you customize the extension according to your individual needs.
In the General settings you can allow search ads and the self-promotion of websites, enable/disable the automatic activation of the most appropriate filters and indicate the filters update interval, etc.
Besides, here you can enable Phishing and malware protection (read more about how it works).
In case you want to keep your settings configuration, you can use the Export settings option to save it as a file. And vice versa, use the Import settings button to upload settings from a previously stored settings file. You can even use it to quickly switch between different settings profiles or even to transfer settings configurations between different browsers.
The Miscellaneous settings section contains a range of various settings that are related to the ad blocking process and application usability.
From this settings tab you can activate optimized filters, enable notifications about extension updates, open the Filtering log, see the most recent Changelog, and reset blocked ads statistics by clicking the Reset statistics button.
Besides, you can opt to help us in the development of filters by sending some anonymized information. Naturally, all data is sent strictly anonymously, and it is crucial for us to obtain statistics on rules — which ones are triggered, on which websites and how often — because we use this data to optimize our filters. By agreeing to share this data, you will help us improve filtering, and eventually you will also help yourself, because the filters in the extension will become better. But don't worry, no data will be sent without your consent, this option is disabled by default.
Now let's get back to the very beginning and have a look at the interface of the extension itself. You can summon it at any time by clicking on the extension's icon on any web page.
It provides several options. You can hide any element on any page manually (corresponding rule will be added to User rules), open Filtering log to view the comlete information about your browser's traffic, or look at a website’s security report. Besides, you can submit a complaint about any website (for example, if there are missed ads on the page — our filter engineers will review the report and fix the problem) and see the statistics on blocked ads.
All web requests made by the browser are displayed in the Filtering log, along with detailed information about each request. The Filtering log makes it easy, for example, to monitor requests blocked by the AdGuard Browser extension. Besides, it allows you to block any request or add a previously blocked request to allowlist in two clicks. The Filtering log also offers you a wide variety of options for sorting web requests, which can be extremely helpful when creating your own filtering rules.
You can open the Filtering log by selecting the corresponding item in the main menu, or from the settings page (in the "Miscellaneous" tab).
By clicking the icons in the top right corner of the screen you can open extension settings or stop protection by clicking the respective button.
The main advantage of AdGuard standalone programs over browser extensions is that they can block ads in every browser and in almost all apps. You may use different browsers at the same time, the app will filter ads and online threats in all of them equally well.
The second significant difference is that the possibilities of extension-based ad blockers are strictly limited by what browsers allow and don't allow them to do. They are also intrinsically less powerful as they, for example, don't support some types of filtering rules that are available to standalone apps. Some browsers have policies that restrict ad blocking, and AdGuard for Windows or Mac couldn't care less about that. The apps are not limited by anything — when you choose the app, you choose the better filtering quality.
AdGuard Browser extension has its advantages: it's absolutely free, you don’t have to spend time and money on its installation, and once installed, it will filter ads and fight online threats as effectively as possible in your browser. Yet, compared to full-fledged apps for Mac and Windows, the extension has its disadvantages. We gathered them all together in the comparative table below to demonstrate the differences between AdGuard Browser extension and our standalone program.
1 – within browser restrictions and only in the browser where it is installed;
2 – the extension is unable to detect requests from other extensions. So if some other, malicious or tracking extension wants to send a request to its server to show you ads or track your activity, AdGuard Browser extension will not be able to block that request;
3 – not all types of ads and threats can be blocked by browser extensions because of certain browser restrictions. It means that some elements may get to the page and slow down the loading process. Besides, unlike browser ad blockers, AdGuard app blocks ads before they are loaded to the browser. This saves traffic and speeds up page loading.