Popup ads are extremely frustrating on desktop, but they’re sometimes a problem on mobile devices, too. If you’re sick of popups ruining your experience on Android, we’ll explain how you can put a stop to them.
Popup ads generally come in one of three forms:
- When you’re browsing the web
- Fullscreen ads in apps
- Notification area ads
Let’s discuss each of these in turn to help you defeat Android popups.
Stop Popups in Your Browser
If the sites you visit serve you popup ads regularly, or worse yet their ads use dark patterns to trick you into clicking on them, you can turn them off or disable them with a few methods.
Chrome’s Built-In Options
Since Chrome is the default Android browser and you probably use it often, it makes sense to disable popups there first. Tweaking a quick setting will completely disable popups. To change it, open Chrome and touch the three-dot Menu button. Select Settings. Then, navigate to Site settings.
In this menu, you’ll see a list of properties that affect how websites interact with your device. Tap the Popups entry and make sure the slider is set to Block sites from showing popups. That’s all there is to it.
Another step you can take to stop popups in Chrome is enabling Chrome’s data saver mode. While its primary intention is reducing the amount of mobile data you use to view websites, turning this on also strips some unnecessary elements from web sites. To enable it, visit Menu > Settings > Data Saver and flip the slider On.
Popups aren’t vital to viewing a page’s content, of course. Enabling this setting may cause some websites to look strange, but you can decide whether that’s worth the cleaner experience.
If you aren’t committed to Chrome, trying another browser is a great option for blocking popups. One of your best choices is Opera, which automatically blocks popups and other pesky content as you browse. Opera is a solid browser anyway, so you have nothing to lose by trying it.
You have two choices for using Opera on Android. The standard Opera browser offers the most features, while Opera Mini is a slimmer package. It takes up far less space on your phone and compresses web pages to save data. Both block popups, so give them both a try to see which you like better.
Blocking Fullscreen Popups
We’ve figured out how to stop popups from appearing in your browser, but what about popups that occur when you’re using other apps or just browsing your home screen?
Popups in a Particular App
If you see popups when you’re playing a certain game or using an app, chances are that the current app is the culprit. In those cases, you have to decide whether the app is still worth using despite the ads. Ads help developers make money from free apps, but you might not want to put up with intrusive popups.
To stop popups ads inside an app, you can purchase the Pro or ad-free versions of the app. You’ll usually find these either as a separate download on Google Play or as an in-app purchase. Unfortunately, not every developer offers these.
Aside from rooting your device, the only way to block popups inside an app is to stop using it. You can put your phone in airplane mode to stop ads in any app or game, but that won’t do much if it requires internet access.
Popups From Unknown Sources
Popups that appear when you’re using another app are awful and annoying. With this problem, half the battle is figuring out what app is displaying popups.
To start, if the popups are a recent development, review any apps you’ve just installed. Perhaps one of them is malicious and causing the popups. Make sure none of the Android apps you should never install are on your device.
Dime-a-dozen apps like system cleaners and wallpaper collections are often filled with ads and could be your problem. Check recent reviews for apps you’re not sure about and see if other users have complained of popups. Uninstall any problematic apps and see if the popups persist.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, the next step is checking which apps have the permission to appear over other apps. Visit Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Display over other apps. Here, you’ll see all installed apps that you’ve given permission to show up even when you’re not using them.
Look through the list here and see if anything looks suspect. Some apps have legitimate reason to draw over others. For example, your SMS app may have a Quick Reply box, or you might use a password manager that fills other apps. But if you see anything here that shouldn’t have the permission, tap it and set the Allow display over other apps to Off.
This is why being careful about app permissions is so important. If you never give an app permission to do something dangerous, it greatly reduces your risk.
Scan for Malware
If you still have a problem with popups after removing problematic apps and taking away permission to display over other apps, you should run a scan for infections. This is especially important if you’ve installed apps from outside Google Play. Downloading apps from shady sources can lead to problems that you don’t have on apps covered by Play Protect.
You really don’t need an antivirus app installed on your phone. But if you’ve reached this point and still suffer from popups, it’s worth installing one just to run a scan. Malwarebytes for Android is a reputable choice — give it a download and run a scan to check for infection. You don’t need to pay for the premium service.
If Malwarebytes doesn’t find anything, try our guide to removing Android malware without resetting. Should that advice fail to solve the popup epidemic, your best course of action is probably a factory reset. You’ve already removed apps that are potentially causing the issue, checked permissions, and tried an anti-malware scanner.
Control Notification Area Ads
While not technically popups, notification ads are still a problem and just as annoying. If you see spam notifications up in your notification area, a quick flip of a switch can shut them down for good. These instructions will differ slightly depending on which version of Android you use.
Pull down from the top of your screen to open your notification area. Long-press on the notification in question. You should see the name of the app responsible for it.
Depending on what version of Android your device runs, you can tap a button here to jump to that app’s notification settings. On any recent version of Android, you can also visit Settings > Apps and tap an app’s name to open those settings.
In Android 7.0 Oreo, select the App notifications option to change specific notification preferences. On Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you’ll have to tap the Notifications entry and then select Block all to stop notifications. Android 5.0 Lollipop users can simply uncheck the Show notifications box.
If you don’t want to hide every notification from an app, you’ll have to dive into its specific settings. Look for a gear icon or a three-dot menu with a Settings entry. A Notifications header might hold an option to disable some kinds of notifications but not others.
For instance, to disable the IMDb app’s new annoying trailer notifications, you have to tap the person icon in the top-right corner, then tap the three-dot menu followed by Settings. Choose Notification Settings, and you can disable the trailer ads.
Android Popups, Defeated!
We’ve covered how to stop the three major types of popups on Android. No matter where these ads rear their ugly heads on your device, you’ll know how to combat them.
It’s worth noting that ads allow online publishers and app developers to offer their content at no cost and still make money. Without ads, you’d have to pay for a lot of media we take for granted. So while blocking offensive popups is certainly important, remember that non-intrusive ads power the web and mobile apps.