The Best Website Blocker for Mac and How to Use It

Rosa Reyes
time May 30, 2022 Preview 9.2K
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Nowadays, we can’t do without computers, smartphones and the Internet in work and life in general. They make things easier and more efficient. However, digital distractions such as distracting websites make us less focused at work or school. Thanks to website blockers, it’s possible and easy to block distracting and other unwanted websites.

This article will talk about the best website blocker for Mac and how to use it to easily block access to websites.

 

How to pick a website blocker

What is a website blocker? It’s a piece of software or tool to help people prevent access to websites. There are 3 types of them.

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

You may want to use a website blocker to block access to distracting sites, inappropriate sites or other unwanted sites, permanently or just for certain hours of the day.

When you choose a tool to block website access, you can ask the following questions.

  • Safety: Is it safe?
  • Capability: Does it meet my needs?
  • Effectiveness: Is it hard to bypass?
  • Ease of use: Is it easy to use?

With these criteria in mind, below is a list of the best tools to block websites on a Mac.

Top 5 website blockers for Mac

#1 Cisdem AppCrypt

To block access to websites on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini or Mac Pro, you can use Cisdem AppCrypt, the best website blocker and app locker for macOS.

Pros

  1. Offer 2 modes: Block list (default) and Allow list
  2. Block websites and pages with Chrome, Safari, etc. with password
  3. Also block categories of websites
  4. Let you allow only certain websites
  5. Block websites permanently or during certain hours
  6. Lock applications with password
  7. Safe to use without touching or altering any system files or settings
  8. Easy to use
  9. Hard to get past
  10. Help with productivity, parental controls, privacy protection, etc.
  11. Support macOS 10.12 or later

Cons

  1. None

How to use a website blocker for Mac to block websites

1. Download the site blocker and install it on your Mac.

Free Download

2. When you open it for the first time, set a password.

set a password

3. From the menu bar at the top of your screen, click the icon and choose Open Main Window. Enter the password when asked.

the menu bar

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

the main window

5. To block a specific website, enter the website URL and click the Add button. You can continue adding more unwanted websites to the Block list.

add websites to block

To block a category of websites, click the category. Also, you can import a list of websites to block.

Now the websites are blocked and not accessible on browsers such as Safari and Chrome on your Mac. The blocking applies to both the normal and incognito or private browsing modes. When you try to visit a blocked site, the site won’t open, and you will see the following message.

message

To unblock a blocked site (and do any other changes), one needs to access AppCrypt’s main window, which requires the password. Also, AppCrypt itself can’t be quit or deleted without password.

You can use this powerful app to easily block inappropriate websites permanently and block distracting or addictive websites during school hours or work hours etc.

Free Download

#2 Freedom

Are you looking for a Mac website blocker for studying? The Freedom app may be worth considering.

Pros

  1. Block websites during user-created sessions
  2. Block access to apps as well
  3. Allow users to customize preset blocklists and create new ones
  4. Provide a Locked Mode to help enforce the blocking
  5. Provide an option to block the Internet
  6. Help users improve focus by offering various ambient sounds

Cons

  1. Not working occasionally
  2. A bit expensive

Developed to help users get rid of digital distractions and improve productivity, the Freedom app blocks websites (and apps) based on user-created sessions.

You can create and schedule one-time sessions and recurring sessions. There’s a lot of flexibility. You can specify the times of the day and days of the week. It all depends on your needs.

sessions

When creating a session, you need to select at least one blocklist. The websites on the list(s) are to be blocked during the session. There are preset blocklists, which you can customize by removing or adding websites. You can also create your own blocklists.

blocklists

To make it easy to edit and create blocklists, the Freedom app lists popular websites and common website categories (such as Gambling and Games).

During a session, your Mac is almost distraction free because distracting websites are blocked and unavailable. As a result, you can better focus on your work or study.

#3 SelfControl

Those who are in search for a free website blocker for Mac can check out an app called SelfControl. It’s free and open source.

Pros

  1. Free to use
  2. Provide 2 blocking modes: Blocklist and Allowlist
  3. Come with a preset list of common distracting sites
  4. Not easy to bypass
  5. Easy to configure with a very simple interface

Cons

  1. Not working occasionally
  2. Could lead to damaged system files
  3. Not flexible enough

Like the Freedom app, SelfControl is also designed to help users reduce distractions and increase focus. It blocks certain websites during the one-time sessions that users create.

You need to add the specific websites you want to block to the app’s Domain Blocklist. There is a customizable preset list of Common Distracting Sites containing YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and more. There is also an Allowlist mode. You can block all websites excluding approved ones by enabling the Allowlist mode and manually adding sites to approve.

Create a session and start it, and this website blocker with timer will block the blacklisted websites on all browsers on your Mac until the session ends. The minimum session duration is 15 minutes, and the maximum duration 24 hours. Once a session starts, you can’t undo it, not even by restarting your Mac or uninstalling SelfControl.

create a session

SelfControl blocks websites by interfering with system files such as the hosts file. Once you start using it, changes will be made. Even removing the app can’t undo the changes. But this may not be a drawback for computer-savvy users.

#4 BlockSite

Now let’s talk about the second type of website blocking tools. Site blocking extensions are available for most Mac web browsers that support extensions, such as Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

BlockSite is a widely used and highly rated website blocker extension for Mac.

Pros

  1. Easily available and installable
  2. Block websites permanently or on schedule
  3. Come with a blacklist mode and whitelist mode
  4. Let you export and import the list of blocked sites
  5. Also offer a pomodoro timer

Cons

  1. Can be bypassed by removing the extension
  2. A bit expensive

Available for Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge, BlockSite is feature rich and versatile. But as with any browser extension, it can be easily uninstalled. Therefore, your child or yourself can get around blocked sites by removing the extension.

There are two easy ways to add unwanted websites to block. Open a site, click the extension’s icon in your browser’s toolbar and click Block this site. Or, manually add a site by entering its URL such as youtube.com. To also block websites in incognito mode, just allow the extension in incognito mode.

manually add a site

It allows you to block individual websites permanently or based on a schedule. Or, you can use the Focus Mode feature to set focus sessions. If so, the blocking will be applied during each focus session only. It’s a great way to create a distraction-free work or study environment.

Note: Safari users can check out an extension called about:blank.

#5 Screen Time

Let’s talk about the third type of macOS website blockers. Screen Time is one of them. Part of macOS System Preferences, Screen Time is a set of tools to help users monitor and limit device usage.

Pros

  1. Built in to your Mac computer
  2. Free to use
  3. Automatically restrict access to adult websites
  4. Let you manually add websites to block
  5. Also come with a whitelist feature

Cons

  1. Only available on macOS Catalina and later
  2. Sometimes automatically block certain normal useful websites and webpages
  3. Occasionally not working properly or working at all

If your Mac desktop or laptop is running macOS 10.15 or later, you should be able to find Screen Time in System Preferences.

In Screen Time, go to Content & Privacy, and you will find a number of options to help prevent web content. By default, you have unrestricted access to websites on your Mac. To turn on the website blocking function, you need to enable the option Limit Adult Websites. This is usually not enough.

Clicking the Customize button will give you full access to this built-in site blocker. Now you can manually add any distracting, bad or other unwanted websites to the Restricted list.

the Restricted list

It’s highly recommended to go to Screen Time’s Options to set a passcode. This way, only people who know the correct passcode (such as parents) can access Screen Time settings. And it’s impossible for children to remove the blocking.

Note: Screen Time is only available on macOS 10.15 Catalina or later. If your Mac is running macOS 10.14 Mojave or later, please use Mac’s Parental Controls (can be found in System Preferences).

#6 Terminal

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

Pros

  1. Block specific sites
  2. Block sites on all browsers installed
  3. Apply blocking to both regular and private browsing modes

Cons

  1. Take a little time and effort to block/unblock websites
  2. Require you to change a system file
  3. Not for everyone

The hosts file on your Mac is an 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. Now start a new line in Terminal. In the new line, type 127.0.0.1 and then type the domain of the website that you want to block. Save the edited hosts file.

typing a website to block in Terminal

Comparison of the best macOS website blockers

Site Blocker Safety Capability Effectiveness Ease of Use
AppCrypt Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Freedom Excellent Excellent Good Good
SelfControl Fair Fair Good Excellent
BlockSite Excellent Excellent Good Excellent
Screen Time Excellent Excellent Good Good
Terminal Fair Fair Fair Fair

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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