Support

We’re always happy to hear from you by email at hello@small-tech.org, on our Mastodon, and on Twitter at @betterblocker.

What is Better?

Better is a privacy tool for Safari on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It protects you from behavioural ads and companies that track you on the web. You can download the Better apps from the App Store and Mac App Store.

Better will not block ads in Chrome, Firefox, or other third-party browsers on iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Can my device run Better?

Better works on any iOS device with a 64-bit processor running iOS 11 and above. Better for Mac will run on any Mac with a 64-bit processor running macOS 10.11 or later.

The oldest devices that Better will run on are the iPhone 5S, iPod touch 6, iPad Air, and iPad mini 2.

Better will not run on the iPhone 5 or the iPad Mini 1 which were the last of their line to have 32-bit processors.

How can I get the Better apps?

The easy way: download Better on the App Store and download Better for Mac on the Mac App Store.

Or: if you have the technical knowledge and want to play: clone the source repository, run the install script, and build it for yourself.

How does Better work?

Better is a native content blocker. It works in Safari and in apps that use the new Safari component to display web content.

Better uses our own list of blocking rules, curated and maintained by Small Technology Foundation. We use the principles of Ethical Design to decide what should be blocked. This is our only blocking criteria, advertisers cannot pay us to compromise our integrity and unblock them.

Better does not block respectful ads. Respectful ads respect human rights, human effort, and human experience. For an example of respectful ads, see The Deck network, winner of our first Cloud of Fame award.

I’ve downloaded Better. How do I enable it?

On iPhone and iPad

  1. Open Settings app
  2. Go to Safari >
  3. Go to Content Blockers >
  4. Switch the Better content blocker on
  5. Return to the Better app and it will confirm that it’s been activated

On Mac

  1. Open Safari
  2. Go to Safari menubar Preferences
  3. Select the Extensions tab
  4. Check the box next to the Better extension

Both apps provide instructions on how to enable Better when you first open them.

How do I know if Better is working?

Some people have said they only notice how well Better works when they switch it off! The majority of the trackers that Better blocks do not have a visible presence on a web page, though Better will make web pages load faster.

The quickest way see if Better is working, go to macworld.com. If you see a large advert below the navigation (see below) then Better is disabled. If you don’t see a large advert, then Better is working.

When Better is disabled on macworld.com, the ad below the navigation is visible, and its tracking can track you

macworld.com with Better disabled

When Better is enabled on macworld.com, the ad below the navigation (and its tracking) is blocked

macworld.com with Better enabled

You can see if Better is blocking trackers on a particular site using Safari’s Developer tools. See How do I know if Better is blocking trackers on a particular site? for details.

How do I get Better’s latest blocking rules?

The blocking rules are frequently updated, and you only need to open the app to get them. This is why we recommend that people using the Mac app set the app to open at login, keep it open in the background while they’re using their Mac.

You do not need to update the app to get the latest blocking rules, but we include the latest blocking rules with every app update.

How does Better’s Do Not Block list work?

Domains (URLs) can be added to Better’s Do Not Block list to disable Better when you’re visiting that domain in Safari. If you use Better on multiple devices across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, your Do Not Block list will be synced between all your devices.

Disabling Better on a domain will leave you vulnerable to being tracked by third-parties on that site. If you were asked to disable Better by a website, or if a site breaks with Better, please let us know so we can fix it for everyone.

Does Better work with VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)?

Yes. Better will work with a VPN. Better’s blocking rules work on the browser (Safari level), whereas the VPN works on the network level.

A VPN could (and sometimes does) have its own blocking rules alongside Better’s rules. A malicious VPN could probably work around Better’s blocking rules, as they have a higher level of access and control. But this is very unlikely.

Does Better work with Safari’s Private Browsing Mode?

Yes. Better will work when private browsing is enabled in Safari.

Apple’s site has more information about how private browsing differs from standard browsing: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH21413?locale=en_GB

How’s Better different?

We built Better because we’re tired of the deceptive practices of other “ad blockers.”

To find out more about how Better differs from other blockers, please read our introductory blog post.

Troubleshooting

What should I do if a site seems broken when I’m using Better?

If a site breaks with Better, or you were asked to disable Better by a website, let us know and we will fix it for everyone. For an immediate fix you can do the following:

How do I know if Better is blocking trackers on a particular site?

To see if Better is blocking trackers on a particular site in real time, first enable Safari’s Developer tools:

  1. Go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced
  2. Select the checkbox labelled “Show Develop menu in menu bar”
  3. Close Preferences, return to the web page
  4. From Safari’s top menu, select Develop > Show JavaScript Console
  5. Anything blocked by a content blocker will be shown here as information in the Error Console, like this:
Screenshot of Error Console showing multiple instances of content blocker preventing a resource being loaded

The Safari Error Console showing Better blocking trackers.

The Error Console messages follow the format: [Info] Content blocker prevented frame displaying [web page URL] from loading a resource from [tracker URL] ([tracker called from this file], line 8)

Why does the Better extension say it does not have permission to read or transmit content?

Better doesn’t need to read or transmit content from your webpages. It doesn’t need to see any of your traffic, and that is by design. Better just passes Better’s block list on to Safari so Safari knows what to block for you. We can’t see any of your traffic, and we don’t want to!

Why can’t I uninstall the Better Safari Extension?

The Better Safari Extension comes bundled with Better for Mac. This means you can’t uninstall it without uninstalling the app itself.

I updated the Better app… why hasn’t the Safari Extension updated on macOS?

This is a macOS bug. Restart your computer to update the Safari Extension to the latest version.

About Better’s migration from Ind.ie to Small Technology Foundation

Good News! In Better 2020.1, we informed you that that version would be the last update to Better under the Ind.ie account as we are moving to Small Technology Foundation. Since then, Apple has stepped in and answered our call for help so we can keep updating the app from our current account.

What this means for you:

Laura and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who expressed your support during this period and donated to our not-for-profit organisation to help us during this difficult time.

If you have any questions or want to get in touch with us, please email us at hello@small-tech.org.

Will you make Better for other platforms?

We have plans to make Better for other platforms and browsers, but we don’t have the resources to do so at the moment. However, Better is free and open source and all Better’s content is under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license. So anyone who wants to port the code or content to other platforms can do so.

We will not make Better for Android. Google is the biggest tracker out there and so it banned content blockers from its Play store. We are a tiny, independent, bootstrapped two-person team, and we must concentrate our energies on where we can have the most impact. However, others are welcome to port the code or content to Android for the F-Droid store, for sideloading, or as part of a third-party browser.

If you want to experience the Better web for yourself, download Better from the App Store or build it from source.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by email at hello@small-tech.org, on our Mastodon and on Twitter at @betterblocker.