How To: Stop Pop-Ups

Pop-ups those advertising windows that pop up over or under other windows while we use the Internet have become more and more ubiquitous as the Web has grown. For Macintosh computers, the Safari browser has pop-up blocking capability already included. But Internet Explorer, the most popular browser, does not yet include pop-up blocking, though Microsoft has recently said it will be included in its next Internet Explorer service pack. Many people believe the problem of pop-ups will disappear if pop-up blocking becomes a default component of Web browsers. Meanwhile, however, those little windows can remain a real annoyance.

Here are some options for dealing with pop-ups.

Commercial Products: Software can be purchased to block pop-ups. Products such as Pop-Up Stopper (www.panicware.com/product_psprofessional.html), Ad-aware Plus (www.lavasoftusa.com), and PopUpCop (www.popupcop.com) offer pop-up blocking, in addition to other abilities. Ad-aware Plus, for example, checks your computer for spyware, and Pop-Up Stopper provides browser cleaning to erase your surfing history, browser history, cache, and cookies.

Toolbars: The free Google and Yahoo! Companion toolbars, which can be added on to Internet Explorer for search functionality, also provide optional pop-up blocking. These are easy to turn on, and if you'd like to track how many pop-ups have been blocked, they include a counter on the toolbar.

ISP-Provided Pop-Up Blocking: Some Internet service providers, such as AOL and Earthlink, have added pop-up blocking to their software. In addition to blocking pop-ups, Earthlink offers additional functionality for your money by giving you the option of viewing thumbnail versions of blocked pop-up windows and blocking Flash and Shockwave content.

Freeware and Shareware: Check your favorite shareware site (such as shareware.com) to download pop-up blocking products such as Pop-Up Stopper Free and Pop-Up Defender.

The Downside of Blocking Pop-Ups: Some Web sites use pop-ups to provide you with additional information. For example, some sites use pop-ups to show a table of contents, and on one school district's site, a pop-up was used to inform the public about an upcoming school board election.

Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and regular columnist for Technology & Learning.

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