Change These uBlock Origin Settings for Even More Privacy

Change These uBlock Origin Settings for Even More Privacy
Photo: monticello, Shutterstock

uBlock Origin is among the best browser extensions for protecting your privacy on the internet. Its default settings are great for most people, but with some adjustments, it can be even more effective. Before you make these changes, though, remember that the more blocking options you enable, the higher the risk of breaking webpages. Ideally, you should make these tweaks one at a time and see if the sites you use most often still function as expected.

Here are the best uBlock Origin features you should enable for maximum privacy.

Hide annoying cookie banners

Lots of websites are legally mandated to tell you that they use cookies and to allow you to reject non-essential cookies. You can either use a separate extension to automatically reject these cookie notices or use uBlock Origin to hide them altogether.

Click the uBlock Origin icon in your browser’s toolbar and select the three gears icon. This will open uBlock Origin’s dashboard. To hide cookie notices, go to Filter lists and under Annoyances, enable EasyList Cookie.

Enable region-specific blocklists

uBlock Origin’s default blocklists will serve you well as long as you visit international websites. However, trackers may still slip past these blocks if you frequent regional websites. That’s why you should consider using region-specific blocklists. Go to uBlock Origin dashboard > Filter lists > Regions, languages, and select the blocklist for your region.

Block domains known to contain malware

Plenty of websites exist to spread viruses and malware and uBlock Origin can block most of them. You can enable these filters by going to uBlock Origin dashboard > Filter lists > Malware domains, and enable Online Malicious URL blocklist, Phishing URL Blocklist (blocks domains used by scammers), and PUP Domains Blocklist (potentially unwanted programs).

Remove tracking from URL

If you click a URL on almost any website, you’ll end up with an obnoxiously long string of characters in the browser’s address bar. This happens because websites use URLs to track your activity. There are multiple ways within uBlock Origin to remove tracking information from URLs and you can use any one of these.

The simplest way to block tracking URLs is to go to uBlock Origin dashboard > Filter lists > Privacy and enable AdGuard URL Tracking Protection.

If you’re comfortable tinkering with blocklists and your own blocking rules, go to uBlock Origin dashboard > Filter lists > My filters and add this line of code:

*$removeparam=/^utm_/

This will remove tracking information that uses the utm parameter from URLs. You can check out uBlock Origin’s documentation for the removeparam syntax to understand it better and to create effective filters.

You can also import a custom list that removes tracking from URLs. To do this, go to uBlock Origin dashboard > Filter lists > Custom, and select Import. Paste the following URL in the form below the Import button:

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/DandelionSprout/adfilt/master/LegitimateURLShortener.txt

Stop remote fonts and JavaScript

uBlock Origin allows you to block JavaScript and loading remote fonts. This can allow you to load some websites faster, get past certain paywalls, and reduce tracking. However, it can also break lots of websites as almost every modern site uses JavaScript, so exercise caution before enabling this.

Go to uBlock Origin dashboard > Settings > Default behaviour, and enable Block remote fonts and Disable JavaScript.

Explore advanced blocking modes

For more advanced users, uBlock Origin has documented its advanced blocking modes on GitHub if that’s something you want to try. The law of diminishing returns applies here, though: You should be aware that you’ll be significantly increasing the risk of breaking websites to remove a few additional trackers, which isn’t worth the hassle for most people.

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