More than ever before, people are moving their everyday computing and productivity tasks onto their smartphones. Considering the power that’s now being packed into these relatively small devices, this is an understandable move. It’s only likely to continue, too, now that practically everyone in the U.S. is packing a smartphone in their pocket. However, along with that increased smartphone productivity has come the need for added utility. If you’re browsing online, for example, there are probably numerous websites that you’d prefer to outright block, be it for advertisements or the threat of malicious code. In the following article, we’re going to show you how to do just that, whether you’re using an Android device, an iPhone, Google Chrome, Safari, or any combination thereof.
Keep in mind that software similarities between computers and smartphones will allow you to perform the same tasks on Macs and Windows PCs with relatively the same steps! Read on, to find out how!
When it comes down to terminology, “blocking” something online can mean different things to different people. Most blocking that users reference on a regular basis is ad-blocking. Though this is technically possible on a smartphone, what we’re actually talking about in this article is the practice of blocking some sites outright, so that you won’t ever have to contend with them on your mobile device.
The thing is, the actual process of “blocking” sites has more to do with the browser software that you’re using than your choice of smartphone handset. The market has become awfully homogenized, but not necessarily in a bad way. Google Chrome, for example, is a great web browser that you can use on practically any modern device, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
For our intents and purposes, we’re going to focus on two of the most popular mobile browsers that people are using–the two respective to the most popular mobile operating systems currently in use: Google Chrome and Apple Safari. Both offer avenues by which you can block certain sites, and we’ll walk you through the ways that you can implement these tricks in each.
It should be noted, before we proceed, that Google Chrome can be used practically anywhere. It’s a testament to the good type of software homogenization, especially since it tends to perform great no matter what you’re using. Apple Safari, on the other hand, is limited to Apple’s own hardware and operating systems. It’s relatively the same browser in iOS as the one that you’d use in Mac OS X, but there’s currently no way to use it with, for example, an Android handset.
Android and iOS
The two operating system camps might be comprised of different types of users, but thanks to trends in software development, they have access to many of the same software applications. The Google software family, for example, works great in both iOS and Android, and the latter doesn’t even offer that much more functionality, in spite of it actually being a Google-developed operating system.
Major Differences Between Operating Systems
Though the differences are many between iOS and Android, the largest has to do with restrictions to the operating systems. Android is wide open, and iOS is relatively closed off.
What does this mean, when it comes to blocking sites? Mostly, it affects the degree of control that the user is given by the operating system itself. Android is going to allow people to wield greater control over what’s viewable on their devices, especially when browsing the internet. iOS, on the other hand, will still offer some very effective blocking solutions. They just won’t be as malleable or customizable as what you’d find on Android.
As you’ll see, many of the benefits that the Android OS enjoys due to its greater flexibility don’t necessary serve it well when it comes to blocking websites. And the tighter control that Apple maintains over iOS actually manages to be beneficial to the process.
There are quite a few reasons that a user might want to block a website. Maybe they have kids who frequently use their iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Similarly, a person might just want to prevent certain content from every appearing in their web browser of choice.
No matter the reasoning, each operating system makes it a relatively easy task to manage. On top of that, certain browser software also supports website blocking features that can prevent certain sites from being reachable.
How to Block Websites in iOS
One of the things that users tend to appreciate about iOS, especially, is its ease of use. It might be restricted in quite a few ways that Android isn’t, but those features made available by Apple’s mobile operating system are easy to find and utilize for any type of user.
It’s something of a double-edged sword, in iOS. You might have less overall flexibility with how to use the operating system, but the straightforward settings and options allow you to have greater control, in many ways.
The first way that we’re going to block websites on your iOS device is actually through the iOS settings menu, rather than that of any particular web browsing software.
- From the Home screen, tap on the Settings application.
- In the list of available Settings options, tap on General.
- Next, tap Restrictions.
- If restrictions are already enabled, skip ahead a few steps. However, if you’ve yet to enable your device’s restrictions, we’ll do so now.
- Enter a 4-digit password that will be easy for you to remember. Enter it once more to confirm.
- Under the Allowed Content heading, tap on Websites.
- Tap on Limit Adult Content. (Note that you can limit any website; your choices do not have to be limited to adult content.)
- Under the Never Allow heading, tap on Add a Website.
- Type the URL of the website you wish to block, and then tap Done.
- Repeat the above two steps for each website that you’d like to block!
The above process is the most effective way of blocking web content in iOS. These steps are going to be most effective when using Safari, Apple’s own browsing software. However, many users like to opt for browsers like Opera, Firefox, or Google Chrome even while using their iPhones.
Each of these browsers has a built in “Safe Search” function that can be activated in the settings. However, none of them allow you to block specific websites as you’ve done in the process above. Still, if the end goal is to limit the amount of adult content that shows up on your iOS device, Safe Search settings within a particular browser can often suffice.
How to Block Websites in Android
The simplicity of iOS gets to shine a little bit when we look to Android. Though Google’s mobile operating system is remarkably in many ways, blocking websites is not as easy or simple as we’ve seen in iOS. It’s going to require some legwork, and your best bet may still be to use a third-party app solution to do it.
In Android, you’re almost exclusively limited to “Safe Search” automated restrictions built into the software that you’re using. Google Chrome’s is particularly effective, but any browser that you install is very likely to have it available.
Additionally, Android OS features many Antivirus applications, similar to what you’d find on a Windows or Mac computer. This software tends to have safe searching restrictions that you can enable, as well. None of it allows you to be quite as specific as iOS manages to, but it still works if you want to keep adult content away from your Android device.
If you don’t mind a bit of extra work (and a chance to flex some technical prowess) it’s possible to modify the “hosts file” on your device in order to effectively block certain websites from ever appearing on it. However, you’re going to need both a text editor and a file manager, neither of which are included in Android OS. At least, not in the capacity required for this task.
More elaborate instructions are available here, but we’ll give you the quick and dirty process of steps to follow.
- Once you have a File Explorer app (such as ES File Explorer) installed on your Android device, enter the system file registry.
- Find the “Hosts” file and then view it in text format.
- Using your text editor app (also required!) you’ll need to make a few easy changes to the Host file.
- Start a new line of text within the host file. Type 127.0.0.1 www.blockedwebsite.com. Obviously, you will be replacing the URL in our example with the URL that you want to block access to.
- Perform this process for each website that you want to block, and then restart your Android device.
The above method should only be performed if you’re confident in your ability to make accurate changes in the correct place, or you could potentially damage your operating system. However, performed correctly, it will allow you to block certain sites from ever showing up on your Android device!
We hope that the above article has helped you to understand a little bit more about how to block websites in Android and iOS. If you’re concerned about how to do so in Windows and Mac OS X, know that many of the same methods we used here can be performed with a little bit of tweaking! If you have any remaining questions on the subject, let us know in the comments, below!