Am I comparing apples to oranges?

A view of the same site - one in Safari and one in Firefox. Firefox settings on Strict and Safari is Content Blockers enabled. Arent these 2 setting suppose to do the same thing? If so, clearly Firefox does a better job. Is there a way to get the Firefox like performace (no ads) in Safari (w/o a third party blocker)?

Firefox version is 89.0.2 and Safari is Version 14.1.1 (15611., 15611)

Catalina 10.15.7

Safari Browser


Firefox Browser


  • Are you using the same extension in Safari and Firefox configured with the same block lists? I’ve edited the title to clarify this is about ad blocking performance specifically.
    – grg
    Jul 12 at 21:18
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    ive installed no extensions or block lists. All stock.
    – Stumped
    Jul 12 at 21:21
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    I recommend Wipr - but there are alternatives. They take common block lists and provide them to Safari. They cannot see what you browse. "Wipr does not have permission to read or transmit content from any web pages" Jul 13 at 2:04
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    https:/adguard.com is a really good and popular free adblocker for Safari that isn't shady. But Firefox + uBlock Origin extension provides the best adfree and anti-tracking privacy protection on any platform.
    – sfxedit
    Jul 13 at 10:36

Safari’s content blocking functionality provides an API for third-party apps to provide block lists. Safari provides various functionality for blocking cookies and preserving privacy, but does not perform ad blocking by itself.

Get an extension for Safari (such as from the App Store or elsewhere online) that provides a content blocking extension and configure the Safari extension to block ads.

Apps tell Safari in advance what kinds of content to block. Because Safari doesn't have to consult with the app during loading, and because Xcode compiles content blockers into bytecode, this model runs efficiently. Additionally, content blockers have no knowledge of users' history or the websites they visit.

  • by using a third party app - doesnt this give them access to my information - potentially?
    – Stumped
    Jul 12 at 21:30
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    @Stumped No, the app just provides the block list to Safari and then closes. See quote I've edited in.
    – grg
    Jul 12 at 21:38
  • ok, the app store wouldnt let me download xcode because im still on os 10.15.7 and it said i needed 11 or later. i was hoping not to use a third party app (in question). ill have to look to see if i can find an older version. id like to keep using safari. tks
    – Stumped
    Jul 12 at 21:54
  • @Stumped You don’t need to download Xcode unless you want to make an app yourself. Just download one of the content blocking apps from the App Store.
    – grg
    Jul 12 at 21:56
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    @Stumped when you don't want to use a third party app, why are you using Firefox?
    – X_841
    Jul 13 at 6:32

An alternative to using Safari's content blocking, is to use AdGuard for Mac. This runs as a separate process and intercepts network traffic from any app (you specify which apps). I have mine configured to block ads (and trackers) in all browsers, News Explorer (my news reader) and DEVONthink.

By design the app is watching all browsing and all components in a web page. So you have to trust AdGuard to maintain your privacy, but there has been no suggestion of AdGuard breaching that trust. But you are already trusting Apple and Mozilla.

For me, the benefits of a system-wide ad and tracking blocker outweigh any risks around trust.


You can achieve this result using, for example, PiHole. You use it as DNS server for your home connection and all devices connecting to the internet via your home network will have ads removed. This is the result I get for the site you have shown:

image showing the canonrumors forums without any ads

This is not Mac or Safari specific, works with any computer and any browser. It also gives a nice dashboard to check which devices connect to your networks and how much dns requests were blocked as ads.

  • I do this but by modifying my /etc/hosts file. A bit of an extra step if you have a lot of devices and you can't do this easily on iPhones and iPads but it is serverless and is a built-in functionality that your Mac (and indeed all modern OSes) have
    – slebetman
    Jul 13 at 13:43
  • @slebetman IMHO the biggest value of PiHole is that it comes with blacklists containing hundred of thousands of ad servers and by default it automaticaly updates the blacklists every week. Moreover it is a network-wide solution, contrary to modifying /etc/hosts which only works for that one device.
    – GACy20
    Jul 13 at 15:39
  • Yes, I use the same blacklist. PiHole just does the same thing to their /etc/hosts file as I do to my computers
    – slebetman
    Jul 14 at 2:33
  • thank you both. i like the idea of pihole, but im not a network guru/coder. i understand the basics but 1st thing i notice in looking at os supported in pihole docs - mac not listed. says they cant list all os, but im afraid id need detailed instructions. i have simple cox internet and no static ip for instance. extended network with 2 apple airport extremes. lots of info here to think about now.
    – Stumped
    Jul 14 at 3:06

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