Managing Pop-Ups with Google Chrome

Chances are, many of you block pop-ups in your web browser. After all, many are intrusive and interfere with reading. However, sometimes you need pop-ups such as for regulatory notices. This happened to me when I was going through an online course. Fortunately, Google has ways to both allow pop ups in Chrome or block pop-ups.

Blocked Exams

The problem started when I went to take an online JavaScript test. This course offers a written component and an online test area. Sure enough, when I went to the exam page, I saw the error below. Something was blocking popups and preventing the module from opening.

Chrome blocked pop-up warning dialog.
Chrome indicating the pop-up is blocked

As a user, you can control what to display or block. For example, you can block a website, but this is outside of the browser. However, Chrome allows you to block notifications and popups. When it came to popups, I figured there were two possibilities for this alert.

I ruled out the Chrome extensions, which left my Chrome settings. As it turns out, blocking pop-ups is the recommended setting in Chrome.

How to Check Chrome’s Pop-Up Blocker Settings

  1. In Chrome’s address bar type:
chrome://settings/content/popups
  1. This is a shortcut that is faster than navigating the Chrome menu and drop-down menu settings.
  2. A new dialog appears with 3 main settings.
Pop-up panel with sections itemized
Google Chrome Pop-ups and redirects panel

[1] Global toggle that either allows or blocks all pop-ups. Think of this as an “all or nothing switch” going forward. It will not affect any exception sites.

[2] A section where you can block specific sites. Typically, you would use this section if you allowed all pop-ups but wanted to manage exceptions. If you’ve added any sites, they will show underneath.

[3] A section where you can allow specific sites to display pop-ups. In this example, I previously added the Hubspot.com domain.

Note: If you have Google Chrome set up to Sync everything in your settings, your changes will be copied to other shared devices.

How to Allow Pop Ups for the Current Site

The good news is that the process to allow a specific popup is easy if you’re on the web page. Although I was prompted by the vendor, my Chrome browser also provided a clue in the address bar.

Example of blocked pop-up indicator on browser toolbar.
Blocked popup notification

You’ll see a small red square with an X overlaid on the icon’s lower right corner in the screen snap above. That red mark indicates Chrome is blocking something. And for a brief moment, the browser would show “pop up blocked.”

  1. If you click that browser icon you’ll get a small window with more details.
Chrome blocked pop-up dialog.
Pop-up details with domain and options
  1. I can create an exception for this domain If I select the radio button to Always allow pop-ups and click the Done button.
  2. Under the Allow section, you’ll see the new domain listed. Chrome will automatically append a colon and port number to the URL. Port 80 pages use HTTP, whereas HTTPS pages use port 443.
two allowed pop-up exceptions
Domain and port number
  1. If you just wanted to see the blocked pop-up again without changing your settings, you could click the blue hyperlink. However, if you see a reference to about:blank, you’ll probably not see the original item but a placeholder.
Highlight showing url of blocked item.
Option to see blocked pop-up

How to Block Popups for Specific Site

The process for blocking pop-ups using an exception list takes a couple of extra steps but is still easy. It’s very similar to managing Chrome notifications. The main difference is you have to know the web domains to block, such as unitedwidgets.com. You would use this process if your global setting allowed all popups.

  1. In Chrome’s address bar type:
chrome://settings/content/popups
  1. . This is a shortcut to bypass some advanced settings and get you to the correct browser settings faster.
Adding a new blocked domain.
Button to add a blocked domain
  1. Click the Add button. A small window appears prefilled with an entry for example.com. The [*.] before the site or domain name is to declare a wildcard. This saves you from defining protocols (HTTP/HTTPS) or subdomains.
Add a site text box.
Add a site with wilcard example
  1. Replace the example entry with the one you wish to block. For example, [*.]unitedwidgets.com.

If you’re unsure what to enter, I’d suggest blocking all sites and going to the site in question. Chrome should block the pop-up, and you can use the method outlined in How to Allow Pop Ups for the Current Site. Once the site is added, go back and change your global setting to allow pop-ups again.

How to Change a Site’s Setting

Sometimes, mistakes happen, and you might need to make a change to a previous setting. For example, you might have selected to allow a popup when you wanted to block it.

  1. In Chrome’s address bar type:
chrome://settings/content/popups
  1. Scroll down to the desired section such as Block or Allow.
Drop-down menu showing site options.
Additional domain options
  1. Click the 3 vertical dots to the right of the entry.
  2. From the menu, make your new selection.

What to Do if Pop Ups Still Appear

If the Chrome pop up blocker is not working, there are three scenarios to explore:

  1. Try to determine if the issue is for one site or all sites. If it’s for one site, you most likely mistyped the domain when adding it to your exceptions list, or maybe you set it using an Incognito session. If it’s all sites, then perhaps your global setting got reset.
  2. If you’re using Microsoft Windows and Google Chrome is having multiple problems in addition to pop-ups, try Google’s Chrome Cleanup Tool
  3. You might have malware. If you suspect this, I would also check to see which apps have access to your Google account.

The bottom line is whether you want to show pop-ups or block specific sites, Google Chrome has several ways to assist you.