Special Considerations When Using Adblock with Internet Explorer

Gavin Phillips 11-05-2015

A lot of us use Adblock without thinking It's About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die A simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq – and is ruining the Internet. Read More of the consequences, without thinking about how the Internet is powered. I’m not going to expand on this debate now, as my colleagues at MakeUseOf have already done so Publishers Need to Stop Whining About Adblock Ad-blocking seems like a natural option for any consumer because of a simple reason: it's an easy way to get rid of an annoyance. Read More , far more eloquently than I, and their arguments are right on the money. So rather than lecture you further, I thought we’d explore the options for those people wishing to use Adblock with Internet Explorer and see if there are any additional considerations to make if you’re in the IE camp.


I personally have a very love/hate relationship with Adblock, and any other software or browser app designed to block advertising. This relationship is sliding toward the camp of hatred more and more, after all, my wages have to come from somewhere. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing about technology, and if someone wants to line my pockets because of it, I’m totally game. I still use Adblock for certain sites, but I’m proactive in white-listing my regular Internet haunts.

We All Have Choices

And the users of Internet Explorer and Adblock are no different. Adblock has been functional for quite some time, amassing some 300 million cross-browser installs.

However, for a while Adblock didn’t work with Internet Explorer 11 Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Remember Internet Explorer 6? Well, Internet Explorer isn't horrible anymore. Whether you like IE or not, you can't deny that it has improved dramatically and is now worthy of taking its place alongside other modern... Read More – at least not in the same easy-to-manage plugin style associated with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome – but Microsoft had an inbuilt advertisement blocking solution already configured within the browser itself.

The Internet Explorer Gallery What's the Internet Explorer Gallery All About? If Internet Explorer is your primary browser, at some point you're going to need to come into contact with the Internet Explorer Gallery. Read More first appeared with Internet Explorer 9 and once activated enables you use of Microsoft Tracking Protection Lists – a very similar service to the mainstream alternatives.

Tracking Protection Lists

Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs) is the jolly phrase Microsoft uses to describe adblocking. Tracking Protection is designed to protect your privacy whilst maintaining a white-list of ad-accepted sites. Using the predefined Microsoft lists works well, and you can increase the number of trackers/advertisements you hide by adding more secure lists to your browser.


Turn on Tracking Protection

Tracking Protection prevents third-party content providers from showing you their adverts, with Internet Explorer blocking or allowing third-party URIs based upon the rules set by the Tracking Protection List.

Once you’ve added some Tracking Protection Lists to IE, you can easily edit them via Manage Add-ons, found by selecting the cog in the top right corner of your IE browser window, or you can add your own custom lists using the Your Personalized List function.

Add a Tracking Protection List


The Tracking Protection Lists work well, effectively blocking all adverts across a massive range of sites. However, if you feel bad about blocking some sites’ only source of income, you’ll note the blue “stop” sign has appeared in your address box. Clicking this gives you the option to manually allow individual sites through whichever TPLs you have enabled — we’d suggest letting MakeUseOf through Please Whitelist MakeUseOf In Adblock: A Plea From a Former Adblock Filter Developer It’s no secret that we’re not huge fans of Adblock here at MakeUseOf. But we know that some of you won’t let go of Adblock until it’s pried out of your cold, dead hands. If... Read More , kind, generous, beautiful reader…

Unblock MakeUseOf

…though Microsoft have done a robust job of curtailing ads without having to introduce an extra element to your browser. It is a lighter, quieter Internet Explorer.

Do Not Track

Alongside the Tracking Protection Lists, Internet Explorer features a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism. DNT is present in the communicative header field when requesting information from a website, requesting the site recognize one of three values:

  • (1): User does not want to be tracked
  • (0): User consents to tracking
  • (null): No header sent; user hasn’t specified a preference.

Microsoft caused quite a stir with the release of Internet Explorer 10. DNT was enabled by default. This lead many prominent advertising agencies to suggest a violation of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s agreement to honor such as setting – so long as the feature wasn’t enabled by default. Microsoft responded well, stating its belief that users want an out-of-box browser that actually protects their privacy Three Desktop Browsers Designed To Protect Your Privacy Read More , rather than blasting their credentials across the airwaves.

Do Not Track

However, this year Microsoft announced that following the upcoming Windows 10 release, DNT would no install as default browser feature – rather, Microsoft would provide “clear information on how to turn this feature on.”

Will Spartan Change Things?

In some ways, yes, Spartan will alter our relationship with Internet Explorer Is Internet Explorer Making A Big Return In 2015? Microsoft no longer has to offer EU Windows users a choice of browsers. Moreover, Microsoft is working on a new browser. Nevertheless, we'll show you how to install your favorite browser without touching IE. Read More . Our memories of ghastly Internet experiences will gradually dissipate into the ether, with the warming, integrated embrace of Spartan replacing all bad feeling.


Joking aside, Spartan will feature extensions and add-ons, so the likelihood of Adblock making the leap is pretty high. Spartan is currently available Project Spartan: a Lean and Unfinished Browser for the Modern Web Spartan picks up the fight with browser competitors like Chrome and Firefox. Will it live up to the ideals of Spartan soldiers? We've put this first version to the test and were not impressed. Read More as part of Windows 10 Technical Preview 10049, and will feature in each build up to the release date, so you can test these features as they arrive – but as yet, no extensions, leaving Spartan feeling very…well…Spartan.

If Spartan does change things for the better, so be it. Microsoft have given us tools to protect ourselves from rampant advertising, so let’s use them. More users > more development > better service > more users – and so on. That’s a positive feedback loop if I’ve ever seen one.

Spartan Interface

That said, we shouldn’t blithely signup for the preordained Tracking Protection Lists without considering exactly who were are blocking, or if you use a trusted URL list, exactly what companies you are allowing through the barriers.

For example, the current TRUSTe Tracking Protection List allows a number of third-party advertising companies to track your online credentials. They might not all be malicious, or bombarding us with awful adverts, but this is exactly the type of behavior these lists are meant to prevent, and flies in the face of privacy that you are actively seeking Adblock Everywhere: The Raspberry Pi-Hole Way Turn a cheap Raspberry Pi into a network-wide ad blocker. If you're tired of AdBlock Plus slowing your browser down, this DNS-based option is a great alternative that works on any device. Read More – so be careful!

Looking forward to Spartan? Do you use Adblock for IE, or the Tracking Protection Lists? What works for you? Let us know below!

Image Credits: Do Not Track via Wikimedia Commons

Related topics: Ad-Blockers, Internet Explorer.

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  1. bluey
    May 3, 2016 at 9:23 am

    why dont sites just put still adds incorporated in the web page like the images that are on this page.

  2. Cassie Russo
    May 26, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Ok.. I think everyone knows that there ain't no free lunch... and ads pay for the site; BUT, and it's a big BUT, why do the ads have to be endless. Busy day, logged into site.. ad popped up (required), left desk, got a cup of coffee, scanned a magazine, came back and bloody ad was still running. You want the public to accept these ads, want us to buy the product, appreciate the company, and not be annoyed... make the ads short and sweet (emphasis on short).

  3. Anonymous
    May 13, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Truely agreed ! Adblock is the way to go ! Don't mislead people here....

    • Gavin
      May 13, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I'm not misleading people. If people want to use adblock, then fine, but they should at least be proactive in white-listing sites they enjoy. Like MUO.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Jon Merlin
        December 7, 2016 at 6:55 am

        You write clickbait for ads. Your opinion simply doesn't matter. Get a real job and stop being a parasite.

  4. Link
    May 12, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I personally see advertising on the open web as theft from the consumer. If you require money to run a website, which those that do...well do, charge a reasonable price or be more creative. It has been proven time and again that advertising in the typical manner does not work. It's a waste of money, it's abrasive, it typically employs methods that are fairly shady (such as tracking cookies and targeted ads). It's time for ads to go. NOBODY wants them, except those that make money off of them. I haven't seen an ad online for a very long time. I block them system wide on Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. I also help every computer user I "touch" to do just the same, and I will continue to do so. You are misreading the market my friend. The consumer sets the bar, NOT the corporation.

    • Gavin
      May 13, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Every single website requires some money to run: hosting, maintainence, content, updates, security to name but a few. Once a site reaches a certain size it can become very costly. Ads pay for this.

      All the "free" services you likely enjoy, even down to browsers such as Chrome, are funded by ads. The website we are debating this on is funded by ads. So really, you're stealing from us, from me, each time you arrive at this site, read our work.

      The consumer has the option to block the ads - but that doesn't mean it is okay. Noisy, screen-filling, offensive ads are one thing, but not all ad displays are like this.

      Finally, if you say "should charge a price" would you be happy to pay a monthly subscription to MUO? Or how about Reddit, or RPS, or Engadget, or anyone of the countless tech-jouno sites you've probably visited? How do you propose big sites pay their way?

  5. Deere
    May 11, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    > I personally have a very love/hate relationship with Adblock, and any other software or browser app designed to block advertising.

    It's not about blocking everything.

    It's about having a choice to do so.

    Therefore there's no sane argument for disliking blocking extensions and apps. They won't magically invade your browser and prevent you from seeing all those ads you think you should see. You've chosen to install it and therefore it's you who is the culprit/benefactor here.

    Simple as that.

    • likefunbuntot
      May 11, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      One advantage of Adblock Plus on IE vs. using TPLs is that the current release of ABP supports all shipping versions of IE released since Windows XP. This is keenly important since XP can't be upgraded to IE9 and since I frequently encounter Vista machines that have never had IE9 installed.

      Ad Blocking is malware blocking, something that is fundamental to computer security. The only sites on the web that can be assumed to be safe from malware are sites that host and audit the code for all of their own ads; those ads would not be blocked by an ad blocker in the first place. Given that, there's no reason to do any amount of hand-wringing about blocking ads or not. Ads need to be treated as hostile and should be blocked as a default safety policy.

    • Gavin
      May 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      I agree it is about choice. That's why I proactively white list sites I frequent. But I feel conflicted about the existence of ad-blocking tools as my income is, at least from MUO, directly related to the success of our advertisements in relation to site viewership.