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Has your productivity ever been hijacked by an irresistible urge to check Instagram or scroll through Reddit when you should be working? If so, learning how to block websites on Chrome might be the perfect remedy to reclaim your focus.
Equally, as a parent, you may worry about the types of content your child might stumble upon during their digital adventures. By blocking specific websites, you can ensure they have a safe and wholesome online experience.
Understanding how to block websites on Chrome is an essential part of the toolkit for navigating the modern, digital world. From setting up website-blocking tools to restrict access to distracting sites to utilizing handy Google Chrome extensions, there are many different ways to take back control of your digital experience.
In the following sections, we will look at 8 different methods available in 2023 to block time-consuming or dangerous websites in the Chrome browser.
8 ways to block websites on Google Chrome
1. Block specific websites with a Chrome extension
Chrome Web Store offers a ton of different extensions for website blocking. These extensions serve as gatekeepers, preventing access to specific websites that you deem distracting or inappropriate.
I tried quite a few of the Chrome extensions when I was looking for ways to manage my distractions, and here are the only two I keep using to this day.
One is lesser-known but super simple to set up, and it creates a cute digital animal shield between you and a restricted website. Another one is more sophisticated, designed specifically for productivity, and is one of my favorite apps due to its effectiveness.
Simple Chrome extension – PawBlock
PawBlock is a free minimalist Chrome extension that sets itself apart with its simplicity and user-friendly interface. The beauty of PawBlock is in its straightforward functionality, where you only need to list the websites you wish to block, and the extension takes care of the rest.
It’s an ideal tool for those who want to quickly eliminate access to specific sites without diving into complex settings or configurations.
And… it’s super cute!
Here is how to block a website with a simple Chrome extension:
- Navigate to the PawBlock extension page.
- Click “Add to Chrome.”
- After installation, click on the PawBlock extension icon and choose “Edit Your Options.”
You’ll see that the only two buttons are the On/Off toggle and the settings.
Super simple! You can just turn it off when you are not working like I do, or keep it on for however long you want.
If you are looking for a way to block websites on Chrome that is not as easy to turn off, such as when you don’t have self-discipline or need to protect someone else, choose one of the other methods below.
- When in settings, scroll to the Blocked Websites section and add the websites you want to block one by one. As soon as you add one, PawBlock starts blocking it.
You can also use regular expressions if you want to only block a specific part of a website, or block all websites with a specific word in the URL.
Now, if you try to access one of the websites from this list, PawBlock will not let you.
It will even show you a cute animal begging you not to attempt to visit that site.
2. Block websites during focus sessions
For many people, PawBlock will be enough to block websites. But if you are serious about your productivity, for example, have an important project to work on, or are trying to build a healthy routine, you might want to use a focus-oriented app instead.
The one I use and like is called Freedom, and it helps you work in focused sessions, taking care of all the distractions while you work.
To start using it, you first need to create an account at Freedom.to, download an app on your device(s), and then install an extension.
Freedom supports Windows and Mac on desktop, as well as iOS and Android on mobile. It will sync your focus sessions between devices to make sure you are not cheating (say, scrolling Twitter on your phone while it’s blocked on your laptop).
Freedom is not a free tool. It costs about $3 a month if you pay annually like I do (30% off with my code JULIETY30). You’ll need to install an app first in order to use an extension, but it’s worth it since it has focus sessions and other features like focus music to help you be more productive.
In case you were wondering why Freedom extension has such a low rating, it’s mainly because of all the annoyed people who didn’t realize it’s not a free tool.
Out of all apps I used, Freedom is the best Chrome website-blocking extension for productivity. It has lots of predefined filters that cover all the common distractions, so you hardly need to do any setup at all.
Other than popular social media groups, Freedom has some theme-specific groups, such as Time Wasters (which includes Reddit, Quora, and more), Dating websites, Gambling, or Adult.
Each of us has our own ways of getting distracted and sabotaging goals, and I’m sure you know exactly what kind of websites you need to block in order to focus.
If you want to, you can add a specific website manually, but chances are, it’s already there in one of their predefined groups.
Just pick the types of websites you know are distracting you from your goals, and start a focus session in Freedom.
There is even an option to block the entire Internet! This might be useful when you have a tight deadline and don’t need the Internet for a particular task.
After you started a session, it shows you how much time is left. You can also see this information in your system’s toolbar.
That’s it! All the distracting websites are blocked for the duration of your session.
And if you attempt to access one of the restricted websites, Freedom will gently stop you.
(Use code JULIETY30 for 30% off)
3. Stop mindless browsing in Chrome
Pause is a free extension by Freedom that takes a gentler approach to website blocking. Rather than outright denying access, Pause implements a mindful delay before you’re allowed to visit the listed websites.
This strategy encourages a moment of reflection, making you more conscious of your online habits. It’s a compassionate nudge, reminding you to stay focused and productive.
Steps to delay website access with Pause:
- Visit the Chrome Web Store and search for “Pause” (or go directly to the Pause extension page here).
- Click “Add to Chrome.”
- After installation, click the Pause extension icon and choose “Open settings.”
- Choose the desired pause duration in seconds.
- Add the websites you wish to delay or remove those you don’t.
- Now, whenever you try to access these sites, Pause will introduce a short delay to remind you of your intent.
You can use this time to stop and think whether or not you actually want to visit that website right now. We often have automatic bad habits and don’t even realize we are wasting time until we find ourselves scrolling mindlessly for half an hour.
When the pause ends, a button appears to let you visit the website.
There is also an option to stop pausing a particular site for 24 hours, for example, if you need it for a current work assignment.
While the Pause extension doesn’t block websites completely, it allows you to become more present and get rid of some bad digital habits.
4. Block distracting websites automatically when working
RescueTime offers a comprehensive approach to digital productivity, combining time tracking and website blocking in one package.
This productivity tool allows you to define your work hours and automatically blocks the websites it categorizes as “distracting” during these times. By automating the blocking process, RescueTime ensures that your workflow remains uninterrupted and focused.
If you just use an extension, you’ll only have access to time-tracking features. You’ll need to purchase and install a RescueTime assistant app to get access to focus sessions and automatic website blocking.
How to block websites automatically when you work:
- Go to the RescueTime website.
- Create an account and follow the tutorial steps to download and set up the assistant app.
- Click on the assistant icon in the toolbar to see the dashboard.
- Click on the blue button at the bottom right corner to start a focus session.
- Follow the steps, one of which is whether or not you want to block websites during this session.
- Start your focus session.
RescueTime will show you how many of their users are in a focused session at the same time as you are, which is an extra step to keep you accountable.
Voila! RescueTime will automatically block these websites during your work hours if you chose to.
Here is how it looks when you are trying to access a distracting website during your focus session with RescueTime:
At the end of a session, it shows you a report of how well you did and how many times you tried to get distracted.
I created a 15-minute session just to show you an example, I usually work in 25 or 50-minute Pomodoro intervals. (If you aren’t familiar with the Pomodoro method, it’s one of the most effective productivity techniques.)
Now, you might be wondering: how does RescueTime know which websites to block?
By default, it uses an intelligent algorithm that categorizes activities based on years of usage patterns of their user database.
You can always change these settings in your profile at the RescueTime website:
For example, I moved my website juliety.com into the Focus Work column and Quora into the personal activities column. Everything that’s categorized as personal activities will be blocked during a focused work session.
Here is how the RescueTime extension looks in Chrome. You can see that it sees I’m at juliety.com, and it’s a “very productive” activity for me. If I open it when I’m on Reddit, this label will say “very distracting” in red.
5. Block a website manually through hosts
If you’re comfortable with a more hands-on approach and wish to block websites on Chrome without the use of extensions, then modifying the hosts file on your computer may be a good choice for you.
The hosts file method works on Mac, Windows, and Linux, offering a surefire way to block specific websites across all browsers on your computer.
How to block a website through hosts file:
- Open the hosts file in a text editor (as an administrator).
- On Windows, it’s located in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts
- On Mac and Linux, it’s located in /etc/hosts
- At the bottom of the file, add “127.0.0.1” followed by the website you want to block.
- Save and close the file. The specified websites will now be blocked on all browsers.
That’s it! Here is what you’ll see if you try to access the website.
The hosts file method for blocking websites doesn’t work as well as it used to in 2023. Many websites are smarter now and use cloud-based setups that bypass these kinds of restrictions. If you aren’t tech-savvy or don’t want to waste time troubleshooting, I would recommend using one of the previous methods instead, i.e. blocking websites through a Chrome extension or an app.
6. Block dangerous websites in Chrome settings
Chrome browser has built-in security settings that allow you to block potentially dangerous or harmful websites automatically. This feature is part of Chrome’s commitment to providing a safe browsing experience for its users.
By navigating to Chrome’s “Privacy and Security” settings, you can activate “Standard” or “Enhanced protection,” which will help safeguard against websites known for distributing harmful content.
How to block harmful websites automatically in Google Chrome:
- In Chrome browser, go to Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Security.
- In the Safe Browsing section, choose either Standard protection or Enhanced protection.
- This will automatically block websites known for harmful content.
This setting is available in Google Chrome on both desktop and mobile.
7. Block social feeds on Chrome
Social media can be a major source of online distraction. While these platforms can provide value, their continuous feeds often lead to mindless scrolling, wasting your precious time.
Thankfully, there are several Chrome extensions that enable you to block social feeds, allowing you to enjoy social media on your terms without falling into the endless scrolling trap.
You can remove specific elements of social websites that are most distracting and don’t really add value to your work process.
For example, you could turn off the Facebook feed and still have access to messages if you need to keep in touch with clients.
To give you a real-life example, here is what my Youtube feed looks like:
As you can see, I can still access my playlists and subscriptions, but Youtube can’t grab my attention with random entertaining stuff anymore.
8. Block websites from appearing on Google Search
Sometimes, blocking a website isn’t enough, especially when its content continues to appear in your Google Search results. This is where the uBlacklist extension comes into play.
This Chrome extension allows you to prevent specific websites from appearing in your Google Search results, providing a cleaner, more relevant browsing experience.
This is especially useful if you want to protect your kids from inappropriate websites or avoid temptations yourself.
How to block a website from Google search results:
- Visit the uBlacklist extension page in Chrome Web Store.
- Click “Add to Chrome.”
- When on the website you want to be blocked from search, click the uBlacklist extension icon.
- Press “Block.”
This will remove the website in question from the search results completely. Even if you search its name specifically (in this case, Reddit), it will not show up.
Alternatively, you can block the websites directly from search results without even visiting them: just click on the “Block this site” link that uBlacklist adds to the search.
Bonus: avoid tempting websites with accountability apps
There’s no denying that the Internet is a place brimming with temptations, making it challenging to maintain discipline and focus.
However, with the right productivity tools, we can flip the script and turn the virtual world into a platform for positive habit formation!
In the arena of online self-control, various accountability apps are gaining recognition as extremely useful tools for keeping us in check.
For example, an app like that can notify your designated accountability partner if you end up venturing onto a website you’ve marked as off-limits. This brings a human element into the picture, leveraging the power of social accountability to help you resist digital temptations.
With your partner receiving real-time notifications about your online habits, you’re less likely to yield to momentary urges and more likely to stick to your commitment to avoid specific websites.
Some accountability apps offer collaborative focus sessions with other people, others can act as your personal habit coach, making it significantly easier to cultivate good habits and discard the unproductive ones.
Finding an accountability partner is a proven method to commit to a goal and stick to it until you actually achieve it. You can use my accountability partner checklist as guidance for choosing your own.
In combination with blocking distracting websites, finding someone who understands your goals, respects your boundaries, and is genuinely invested in your progress is a surefire way to make your journey much smoother and more enjoyable.
Why block websites at all?
As we increasingly rely on the digital world for work, entertainment, and socializing, the issue of managing our online habits has come to the forefront. We have to be mindful of the websites we frequent and how they impact our daily lives.
For various reasons, it becomes necessary to block certain websites to regain control of our time and energy. Here are some key reasons why one might decide to block websites:
- Boost productivity: Some websites, especially social media and forums, can be significant time wasters, siphoning off minutes, if not hours, from our day. By making a choice to block websites for productivity, you ensure that distractions do not interrupt your focus, leading to more efficient workdays.
- Parental control: The Internet is a vast space with all kinds of content, not all of which is suitable for young viewers. As a parent, you may choose to block specific websites to provide a safe and age-appropriate online environment for your children.
- Avoid harmful content: Certain websites may contain malware, phishing schemes, online scams, or explicit material. Blocking these sites ensures your digital wellbeing and protects your devices.
- Combat shopping addiction: Online shopping can turn into a compulsive habit, leading to financial strain and hours of wasted time every day. Blocking e-commerce websites can be a powerful step in battling shopping addiction.
- Prevent procrastination: We all have those websites that we instinctively visit when we’re procrastinating. Blocking these sites can help us break the cycle of procrastination and stay on task.
In essence, blocking websites gives us the power to curate our own online experiences, keeping the beneficial aspects of the Internet while minimizing the potential downsides.
How to unblock websites on Google Chrome?
Sometimes you might block a website that you didn’t realize you need for work, or accidentally block something for a year instead of an hour (yeah, it happens, especially because not all website-blocking tools have a very intuitive interface).
Unblocking a website on Google Chrome is typically a straightforward process, but the steps depend on how the website was initially blocked.
If you are reading this because you are bailing on your commitment, don’t read any further! You owe it to yourself to do your best, and this is not your best.
If you are sure you need to unblock a website, here are a few ways to do it:
- If you’ve blocked a website using a Chrome extension, you’ll need to navigate to the extension’s settings to unblock the site. Open the extension, locate your list of blocked websites, find the website you want to unblock, and remove it from the list or uncheck the block option. Alternatively, go to Chrome settings and turn off the blocking extension.
- If the website is automatically blocked during a focus session, you’ll need to either cancel the session or wait for it to end and then change the blocker settings to prevent this website from blocking in the future.
- In case you blocked a site using the hosts file, you’ll need to revert the changes. Open your hosts file again, locate the line where you’ve listed the website to be blocked, and delete it. Don’t forget to save your changes.
- If you’ve used a mobile app to block websites, you’ll need to open the app and go to the blocked websites list. Locate the website you wish to unblock and remove it from the list.
The specific steps to unblock websites can vary based on the tool or method you used to block them. When in doubt, refer to the instructions or support materials provided by the tool for accurate guidance.
Final thoughts on website blocking in Chrome
Blocking distracting or inappropriate websites in Google Chrome puts you in the driver’s seat of your digital life. From boosting productivity to ensuring online safety, the methods we’ve explored offer practical solutions to various Internet challenges.
The key takeaway is that you have control over your online experience. Don’t let the digital world dictate your time and focus; instead, take the reins and create a browsing environment that supports your goals.