The Best Website Blocker for Mac and How to Use It

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Rosa Reyes
February 04, 2024 Preview 13.3K Preview 1
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Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to share and access information. However, unrestricted access to the Internet isn’t always a good thing. For example, it’s possible for children with Internet access to be exposed to inappropriate content. Another example is that people can be easily distracted by social media websites during work hours.

Luckily, it’s possible to block access to unwanted websites. This article talks about five great website blockers for Mac. You can choose the one that works best for you.

 

A brief comparison

A website blocker is a tool to help people prevent access to websites. There are three common types.

  • Website blocking apps
  • Website blocking browser extensions
  • The website blocking function as part of certain (e.g. operating system or Internet) settings, not available independently

This article covers all these types. Below is a brief comparison of the five tools talked about in the article.

  Compatibility Supported browsers Effectiveness Ease of use
Cisdem AppCrypt macOS 10.12 or later

* Safari, Chrome, Edge, Opera, Brave

Hard to bypass Great
Screen Time macOS 10.15 or later Safari * Hard to bypass Great
SelfControl macOS 10.10 or later All browsers Easy to bypass Good
BlockSite All macOS versions Chrome, Firefox, Edge Easy to bypass Good
Terminal All macOS versions All browsers Easy to bypass Fair

Note 1: Cisdem AppCrypt allows you to lock unsupported browsers.

Note 2: If you use Screen Time to block websites for a child, the blocking can be hard to bypass. If you use it for yourself, the blocking can be easy to bypass.

 

Top 5 websites blockers for Mac

#1 Cisdem AppCrypt

Compatibility: macOS Sierra 10.12 or later

Pros

  1. Let you block specific websites and specific webpages
  2. Let you block URLs containing any word specified by you
  3. Let you block websites by category
  4. Let you block all websites except the ones specified by you
  5. Protect the blocking with a password
  6. Support Safari, Chrome, Edge, Opera, and Brave
  7. Let you lock unsupported browsers with a password
  8. Let you scheduling the blocking
  9. Easy to use for everyone

Cons

  1. None

Cisdem AppCrypt makes it very easy to add websites to the block list. Another great thing is that its General Schedule feature and Custom Schedule feature provide great flexibility. The password protection makes the blocking hard to bypass.

This tool supports both the administrator account (like your own account) and the standard user account (like your child’s account). On a Mac with multiple accounts, if you want, you can set up AppCrypt separately for each account.

How to use the website blocker for Mac to block websites

1. Download and install AppCrypt.

Free Download

2. Set a password. (It’s recommended to select the Launch at System Startup checkbox.)

a dialog asking users to set a password

3. Click the lock icon in the menu bar. Choose Open Main Window.

clicking the lock icon in the menu bar bringing up the Open Main Window option

4. Enter the password to access the main window of AppCrypt.

a screen asking for password

5. In the main window, click the Web Block tab.

the Web Block tab is open

6. Do any or all of the following things.

the Web Block tab showing that several websites have been added to the block list

  • In the URL field, enter a specific website, page or word. Click Add.
  • Click the Import dropdown menu and choose a category. This will automatically add all popular websites of the chosen category to the block list.
  • Click the Import dropdown menu, choose TXT file, and import your own list of unwanted websites.

Now, the websites on the block list are blocked on all the supported browsers on your Mac. The blocking applies to both normal browsing mode and private/incognito browsing mode.

By default, the blocking is permanent as long as AppCrypt is running. If you want more flexibility, you can use the Schedule feature.

the Schedule feature

There are four ways to temporarily or permanently unblock a website, such as quitting AppCrypt or removing the website from the block list. But any of the four ways requires the password.

 

#2 Screen Time

Compatibility: macOS Catalina 10.15 or later

Pros

  1. Automatically restrict access to adult websites
  2. Let you manually add websites to block
  3. Let you block all websites except allowed ones
  4. Let you block websites permanently or temporarily
  5. Free to use
  6. Included in macOS
  7. Easy to use for everyone

Cons

  1. Only support Safari
  2. Not available in macOS Mojave 10.14 or later

Screen Time is a set of settings. You can find it in System Settings (in macOS Ventura 13 or later) or System Preferences (in macOS Monterey 12). Two features in Screen Time can help you restrict websites.

  • Content & Privacy: This feature provides two options. One option automatically limits access to adult websites and also allows you to specific sites to the block list. Another option allows you to block all websites except the ones allowed by you.the Content & Privacy feature
  • App Limits: Despite the name, this feature allows you to set time limits on specific websites. Once you reach the daily limit on a website, the website will be blocked for the rest of the day.the App Limits feature

Screen Time is available for both the administrator account and the standard user account. On a standard account but not an administrator account, you are allowed to set a Screen Time passcode to prevent websites from being unblocked by changing Screen Time settings.

 

#3 SelfControl

Compatibility: macOS Yosemite 10.10 or later

Pros

  1. Let you temporarily block specific websites
  2. Let you temporarily block all websites except a few
  3. Let you add certain common distracting websites to the block list with a click
  4. Support all browsers
  5. Easy to use
  6. Free to use

Cons

  1. Can’t block websites when a VPN is used
  2. Might damage system files

SelfControl is a free website blocker for Mac. It’s designed to help users stay focused by temporarily blocking distracting websites. If you are a parent who wants to always prevent your children from accessing inappropriate websites, this tool is not a good choice.

This tool provides two modes: Blocklist (default) and Allowlist. You can manually add specific websites to the Blocklist. It also provides two lists of websites (a few social media websites and news websites) for you to import to the Blocklist. You can use the Allowlist mode to block all websites except the ones specified by you.

Select an amount of time and click Start, and this tool will block websites during this period of time. The minimum amount of time allowed is 1 minute and the maximum is 24 hours. Once the blocking starts, you can’t undo it, not even by restarting your Mac or uninstalling SelfControl. However, the blocking can be effortlessly bypassed by using a VPN.

the SelfControl window showing that a period of 15 minutes is selected

It’s worth mentioning that SelfControl works via certain system files in macOS. There’s a possibility that it might damage these files.

 

#4 BlockSite

Compatibility: All macOS versions

Pros

  1. Block specific websites
  2. Block webpages that contain any user-specified word in the URL or title
  3. Let you block 6 categories of websites
  4. Let you schedule the blocking
  5. Easy to use

Cons

  1. Easy to bypass
  2. Not available for Safari

BlockSite is a website blocker extension available for Chrome, Firefox and Edge. It isn’t available for Safari, the most popular web browser for Mac.

It allows you to add specific websites to the block list. It can also block websites by keyword or category. By default, BlockSite permanently blocks the items on the block list (as long as BlockSite is not disabled or uninstalled). Thanks to the Schedule feature, you can also block websites only at certain times.

the BlockSite options page showing the Block List, the Schedule feature, and more

In addition, this extension has a Focus Mode feature, allowing you to set a Pomodoro timer. When you use the Focus Mode, websites will be blocked during Focus time and unblocked during Break time.

This extension is easy to use and offers great flexibility. However, despite its Password Protection feature (which lets you set a password to prevent the extension’s settings from being changed), it’s easy to unblock websites by uninstalling the extension.

 

#5 Terminal

Compatibility: All macOS versions

Pros

  1. Block specific sites
  2. Support all browsers
  3. Included in macOS
  4. Free to use

Cons

  1. Take a little time and effort to block/unblock websites
  2. Require you to change a system file
  3. Can’t block websites when a VPN is used

It’s possible to block website access on a Mac by using Terminal to edit the hosts file, which to some degree makes Terminal a site blocker. But don’t try it if you are not familiar or confident with a command-line interface.

The hosts file on your Mac is a network-related system file. The file can be edited in Terminal, a command-line interface included with macOS. By editing the hosts file in a certain way, you can block any unwanted website.

In Terminal, type “sudo pico /etc/hosts” and enter the administrator password, which allows you to edit the hosts file. Start a new line in Terminal. In the new line, type 127.0.0.1 and then type the domain of an unwanted website. Save the edited hosts file.

a Terminal window showing that a website is added to block

However, note that websites can’t be blocked when a VPN is being used.

 

Conclusion

They say that the Internet can be a double-edged sword. There are good (but distracting) and bad websites. We can benefit a lot from blocking certain websites on Mac. If you are seeking the best website blocker for Mac, I hope this article is helpful. The reviews can help you learn about the pros and cons of the most popular tools for website blocking.

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Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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  • Hedda Naatz

    Thank you Rosa, I want to improve myself and I just blocked the inappropriate websites on my Mac.

    2 months ago commonReply

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