XDA Basics: How to block websites on Google Chrome (and other browsers)
The internet is the source of all kinds of knowledge, information, and entertainment these days. It allows you to be here right now, reading this article, so it’s a pretty big deal. But there’s a time and place for everything, and you’ve probably noticed that it’s all too easy to get distracted on the internet. And if you have children, you may also know how easy it can be for them to look at things they shouldn’t. That means it may be time to block some websites on your browser, such as Google Chrome, and we’re here to show you how.
There are quite a few ways you can block sites using parental control apps or by heading into your router’s settings. And those may be more effective in many ways, but it’s not always easy to set those blocks up, especially because they vary depending on what router or parental control service you have. We’ll show you how to block websites on Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers because it’s a method that’s accessible and understandable by everyone.
How to block websites on Chrome with an extension
It may be a bit surprising, but most browsers, including Chrome, don’t give you an option to block websites right out of the box. If you’re in an enterprise setting, there are tools to block websites in your company, but as a personal user, you’re going to need a Chrome extension. The good news is most browsers these days are based on Chromium, so Chrome extensions also work on Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, and others. A notable exception is Mozilla Firefox, though.
If you want a free and full-featured extension, my recommendation is StayFocusd. The most popular tool seems to be Block Site, but that one has some features locked behind a paywall. The first thing you need to do is download StayFocusd and add it to Chrome (or other browser). Once it’s installed, you can access it from your browser’s toolbar, and it gives you a big button to block the website you’re on right now.
If you want to be pre-emptive, you can click Settings from the extension’s menu. Here, you can change everything related to what websites you want to block. What you’re most interested in here is probably the Blocked sites tab. Moving over to that tab, you have a text box where you can enter all the sites you want to block. It also supports wildcards, so you can block all sites on a specific domain or sites with a specific word in them.
There are other things worth checking out here, though. The Max Time Allowed tab lets you choose how long you can spend on a blocked website before it’s turned off completely, while the Active Days and Active Hours tabs let you choose what times you need to focus on work, which is when the restrictions are applied.
If you can’t trust yourself, there’s also the tab called The Nuclear Option, which allows you to block sites during a set period of time with no way to disable the setting until the timer is up.
This isn’t a perfect solution, since children can try to disable or uninstall the extension, but you can try to block the Chrome extensions page itself, too. Plus, you can set the StayFocusd settings to be locked behind a challenge where the user has to enter a string of text without a single typo to change the settings.
Another workaround a kid may find is using a different browser, but since most browsers these days are Chromium-based, you can always install the extension on multiple browsers. Regardless, it’ll never be a perfect solution.
If you want something a bit more effective, but more involved, there are other ways you can block websites on a computer. For example, you can use Microsoft’s Family Safety services to block access to websites, apps, and games. This requires creating a Microsoft family group and add a child account for the person you want to regulate. You can then set content filters, but your child will have to be using the Edge browser for it to work.
If you know how to access your router’s settings, you can also block certain websites for your entire home network, which may be harder to work around. But it’s also harder to create those blocks and it varies depending on your router.
In enterprise settings, Google Chrome can use the Windows Group Policy Editor to set block and allow lists with up to 1,000 URLs of your choosing. Open the Group Policy Editor, find Google Chrome, and use the Block access to a list of URLs policy to block the websites you want. You can also use the Allow access to a list of URLs to create exceptions for certain pages in a domain.
That’s about it for what you need to know about blocking websites on Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers. Outside of corporate environments, there isn’t a perfect solution, but using an extension can greatly help. Paired with some amount of restraint, it might be what you need to keep you focused on work without distractions.