How to Block Websites on Mac Easily: 5 Proven Ways

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Rosa Reyes
February 26, 2024 Preview 59.7K Preview 7
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To get distracted is human. When you use your Mac for work or school, there are always things that prevent you from focusing. You just can’t stop watching YouTube videos or browsing social media. Blocking distracting websites can help you become more focused and productive.

With a Mac and an internet connection, anyone (including children) can easily and unrestrictedly access any website (including inappropriate ones). Blocking certain websites can help protect you or your children from bad web content.

This article shows you how to block websites on Mac in different ways. It covers all web browsers and talks about how to do the blocking permanently or during certain times. Whether you want to block websites for yourself or for a child, this article can help.

 

Method 1. How to block websites on Mac with AppCrypt

Applies to: macOS Sierra 10.12 or later

This method uses Cisdem AppCrypt, a website blocker and app lock rolled into one. When working as a website blocking tool, it can do the following things.

  • Let you add specific websites and pages to the block list
  • Let you add all popular sites of a certain category to the block list with a click
  • Block all URLs containing any user-specified word
  • Also let you block all websites except specified ones
  • Let you schedule the blocking
  • Protect the blocking with a password
  • Support Safari, Chrome, Edge, Opera and Brave
  • Let you lock unsupported browsers with a password

(AppCrypt is also available for Windows. AppCrypt for Windows also supports Firefox.)

Follow the steps below to effortlessly block unwanted websites.

1. Download and install AppCrypt.

Free Download macOS 10.12 or later

2. When you first open it, 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 and 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 dialog asking for password

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

the Web Block tab in the main window

6. Do any or all of the following things.

the Web Block tab showing a URL field, an Add button, an Import dropdown menu, and that several websites are added to the block list

  • To block a website on Mac, enter its domain name (e.g. facebook.com) in the URL field, and click Add.
  • To block all URLs containing a certain word, enter this word in the URL field, and click Add.
  • Click the Import dropdown menu and choose a category, which will automatically add all popular websites of this category to the block list.
  • Click the Import dropdown menu, choose TXT file, and import your own list of unwanted sites.

Now the specified websites are blocked on all the supported browsers (like Chrome and Safari) on your Mac. And the blocking applies to both normal browsing mode and incognito/private browsing mode.

a message saying that the access is blocked

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

Tip 1. Ask someone else to set the password if needed

If you need to block websites for yourself (instead of for a child), you can ask someone else, like a family member, to set the password for you in step 2. Without knowing the password, you can’t unblock websites.

Tip 2. Block certain websites only at certain times

By default, any website on the block list will be blocked permanently as long as AppCrypt is running. However, you probably don’t want to make certain websites (like YouTube) inaccessible on your Mac forever.

Here’s the solution. Under the Web Block tab, click the website of your choice. Click the clock icon that appears, which will bring up the Custom Schedule dialog. In the dialog, turn on Custom Schedule first. Click the existing (default) schedule to edit it. Specify the times of the day (e.g. work hours) and days of the week (e.g. workweek). You can add schedules if needed.

the Custom Schedule dialog

 

Method 2. How to restrict access to websites on Mac with Screen Time

Applies to: macOS Catalina 10.15 or later

Screen Time is a set of features included in macOS Catalina or later. Two of its features (Limit Adult Websites and App Limits) can help you to block websites on Safari for free. The disadvantage is that Screen Time on Mac doesn’t support any non-Safari browser.

(In macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, Screen Time is not available, but a similar set of features called Parental Controls is available.)

Note: In Method 1, the blocking is hard to bypass due to the password. How about this method? Screen Time allows you to set a passcode for a standard user account (which is likely to be the account a child uses). The passcode can prevent websites from being unblocked. But it doesn’t allow you to set a passcode for an administrator user account (which is likely to be the account you use). Therefore, this method may not be an effective way to prevent you yourself from accessing certain websites.

Below is how to use the two features respectively.

Use the Limit Adult Websites feature

If you want to always block certain websites, use this feature.

1. Go to System Settings. Go to System Preferences if your Mac is running macOS Monterey 12 or earlier.

2. Click Screen Time. Turn it on.

the System Settings window showing that Screen Time is turned on

3. This step is optional. If you are allowed to set a passcode, turn on Use Screen Time Passcode and set a passcode.

4. Click Content & Privacy. Turn it on.

5. Click Content Restrictions.

6. In Web Content, click the pop-up menu and choose Limit Adult Websites.

7. Click the Customize button that appears.

8. Click the Add button in the Restricted section.

clicking the Customize button bringing up a dialog with a Restricted section

9. Enter the specific website that you want to block. Click Done.

10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 to add other unwanted sites to the Restricted list.

11. Click Done.

The websites added to the Restricted list will be blocked all the time on Safari on this Mac as long as you don’t change the Screen Time settings that can affect the blocking. In addition, Safari will automatically block many inappropriate websites. Also, the private browsing mode in Safari will become unavailable.

Additionally, there’s an option called Allowed Websites Only. If you choose this option and add websites to the Allowed list, Safari will only allow you to access sites on the Allowed list and block all the rest.

Use the App Limits feature

If you only want to make certain websites inaccessible during certain hours, use this feature.

1. In Screen Time, click App Limits. Turn in on.

the System Settings window showing that the App Limits feature in Screen Time is turned on

2. Click Add Limit.

3. In the Create a new app limit window that appears, scroll down until you see Websites.

4. Click Websites. Click the Add button that appears.

5. Enter a website. Select the checkbox next to it.

the Create a new app limit window

6. Select Every Day or Custom and set the time limit.

If the time limit on a website is reached, Safari will block access to the site for the rest of the day.

It’s worth mentioning again that it’s easy to unblock websites if there isn’t a passcode.

 

Method 3. How to block websites at the browser level with extensions on a Mac

Applies to: All macOS versions

By installing and setting up a website blocking extension on a browser on your Mac, you can limit access to certain websites on this very browser. Almost all popular browsers available for macOS, like Safari, Chrome and Firefox, allow you to install such extensions.

The advantage of this method is that it’s very easy to install and set up such an extension. The big disadvantage is that there’s no way to prevent an extension from being uninstalled. Uninstalling the extension will unblock websites. Another disadvantage is that you need to install such an extension on every browser if there’re multiple browsers on your Mac.

Below is how to install and set up an extension BlockSite, which is available for Chrome, Firefox and Edge. If you choose a different extension, you can still find the steps below helpful.

1. Go to Chrome Web Store.

2. Use the search field to find BlockSite.

3. Click Add to Chrome. Click Add extension in the message that appears.

4. Go to the extension’s options page.

5. In the sidebar on the left, click Block Sites.

the options page of BlockSite showing Block Sites and more in the sidebar on the left

6. Click Add to Block List. Do any or all of the following things.

the Add to Block List screen displaying three tabs and the Websites tab being chosen

  • Click the Websites tab, type an unwanted site, and click the Add button that appears on the right of this site.
  • To block all the URLs that contain a specific word, click the Keywords tab, type the word in the field, and click the Add button that appears on the right side of the word.
  • Click the Categories tab. Click the Add button on the right side of the category of websites that you want to limit access to.

7. Go to chrome://extensions/. Find BlockSite. Click Details. Turn on Allow in incognito.

This extension provides a Password Protection feature, which allows you to set a password to prevent websites from being removed from the block list. However, the password can’t prevent the extension itself to be removed.

Such extensions are available for Safari, but they don’t do a better job than Screen Time. Therefore I’d recommend Screen Time rather than a Safari extension.

 

Method 4. How to block a website on Mac by using Terminal to edit the hosts file

Applies to: All macOS versions

The advantage of this method is that it allows you to block specific websites on all browsers on a Mac for free. The disadvantage is that it’s not that efficient to add websites to or remove websites from the block list. Another disadvantage is that this method won’t work at all when a VPN is used. Also, this method is not an effective choice if you need to prevent yourself from visiting certain websites.

Note: If you are not comfortable or confident with the command line interface, this method may be not for you.

This method requires you to use Terminal to edit the hosts file on your Mac. Included in macOS, Terminal is an app that allows you to use a command line interface to perform different tasks. The hosts file is an operating system file.

Below are the steps.

1. Open Finder on your Mac. Go to Applications > Utilities.

2. In the Utilities folder, double-click Terminal to open it.

3. Enter “sudo nano /etc/hosts”. Press the Return key.

4. Enter your administrator password. Press the Return key.

5. Use the Down Arrow key to go down. Now you can add a website to block. Suppose you want to block YouTube. In a new line, enter “127.0.0.1 youtube.com”. In the next line, enter “127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com”.

the hosts file being opened in Terminal

6. Continue adding other unwanted websites.

7. Once you finish adding, press Control-O and then press the Return key to save your editing.

8. Press Control-X to exit.

9. Enter “sudo dscacheutil –flushcatch” to remove the existing catch on the host database.

How do you unblock a website that is blocked by using this method? If you want to make a specific website accessible again, there are two ways. In Terminal, get the hosts file ready for editing, and then insert a number sign # respectively in front of the two lines containing the site. Or, just delete the two lines. If your children are tech-savvy, they may know how to get around the blocked sites.

 

Method 5. How to block websites on a Mac by configuring a router

Applies to: All macOS versions

This method may or may not work for you. If you administer the Wi-Fi network (like your home network) your Mac is connected to, this method may be available for you. If you don’t administrator the network (like a school or office network), this method is not available for you.

To be able to use this method, also make sure that your Wi-Fi router has a feature like parental controls or web content filter.

This method requires you to configure your router settings. Different routers can have different settings. It’s impossible to cover all routers in this article. In the steps below, I use the TP-Link BE19000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 router. The steps can give you a general clue of how to do the configuration.

1. On your Mac, open a web browser.

2. Visit http://192.168.0.1 or http://tplinkwifi.net.

3. Log in with the username and password or password alone. Now you have access to the router settings.

4. Click HomeShield at the top of the page.

5. On the left, click Parental Controls.

6. Click Add to add a profile.

7. In the Create Profile dialog that appears, click the Basic Info tab. Do the following two things and then click Next.

the Create Profile dialog showing three tabs, including Basic Info, Content Filter and more

  • Create a profile name.
  • Click Add Devices. On the left, select the Mac computer on which you want to restrict websites. Click Add.

8. Click the Content Filter tab. Do any or all of the following things.

the Content Filter tab showing two sections

  • In the Select Categories section, select the categories of websites that you want to prevent access to. Note that selecting a category will block many but not all sites of this category.
  • Scroll down to find the Blocked Websites section. Enter an unwanted website in the URL field and click Add.

9. After you finish configuring, click Next and then click Save.

When your Mac is connected to this network, the websites you’ve specified will be blocked on all browsers on your Mac. When your Mac is connected to a different network that hasn’t been configured like this, all websites will become accessible.

 

Conclusion

If you are a parent with a child or teen who owns a MacBook or iMac, you can restrict access to non-age-appropriate websites and websites with potential dangers on his or her device. If you spend too much time on certain websites or are addicted to online gambling or porn, blocking access to such websites can help with the situation.

This article talks about how to block websites on Mac in five different ways, providing step-by-step instructions and possibly useful details. I hope it’s helpful.

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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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Comments (7) Leave a Reply

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  • monkey

    Only Safari respects Screen Time blocks.

    0 months ago commonReply

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  • Martin Keiper

    Although mac has its built in features to block sites, i think they're time-consuming. I choose to use third-party tool directly. It saved me lots of time and is easy to use. The app recommended in this post is very effective at cutting down the screen time on my mac. Thanks!

    1 years ago commonReply

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  • Richard Bright

    What I dislike about Parental Controls is that you can't set them up for an administrator account. Screen Time is much better in that regard. But Screen Time's Limit Adult Websites blocks certain normal sites and pages that I need. The first method is better. It does no automatic blocking.

    2 years ago commonReply

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  • Darren

    I loved your post!!! exactly what I wanted. This will be useful to help my son get rid of the addiction from Internet. My son can't inadvertently click on any of these sites now.

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • William

    Hello, thank you for posting this, it's been really helpful so far! I was just wondering, does anyone know of a way to block specific google searches and not google entirely?

    8 years ago commonReply

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    • Susan

      There is no way to block specific google searches I think.

      8 years ago
  • Gina

    With these methods recommended in this article, I can block any websites I want to be blocked, and the app recommended to lock apps is really wonderful

    8 years ago commonReply

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