How to control pop-up ads while surfing the web.

Question: How can I avoid all those nasty pop-up windows when surfing the Internet? — G.D.G.

Answer: There are a couple of ways to suppress pop-up web windows – which are also known as “interstitials” or “daughter windows” (but most people just call them “pop-ups”). The problem is each solution comes with a downside.

Let’s start with a clarification of what a pop-up window is. A website will sometimes automatically open another window on top of the main web browser window you are using. The secondary, usually smaller, window can contain any content the site owner wants.

Often, it’s used as an advertising vehicle, but sometimes it can ask a surfer to fill out a survey, or will provide alert information. Web sites containing adult content are frequent abusers of popup window technology.

Pop-ups are triggered by programming code embedded inside a web page using a web scripting language called JavaScript, VBScript, or some other in-line web language.

To kill off the windows, hit your space bar, because otherwise your browser may crash. The web site host company,, also uses pop-up windows to display advertising.

The first line of defense against this marketing technology is to disable scripting in your browser. This isn’t practical, though, because scripting languages enable useful web functions like buttons that change when you mouse over them and the ability to remember log-in information on some membership-based websites.

What you might consider instead is one of a series of software programs that are dedicated to killing pop-ups on the fly, as they are triggered.

There are a few products you might consider. Here’s a couple we like:

Ironically, a web advertising company spokesman said pop-ups are popular with web surfers. Christopher Parente, VP corporate communications, at, said the ads “get very high click-through rates. Customers are ambivalent. They might say they don’t like them but they click on them.”
( pays web publishers a fee when their readers click on ads displayed on their site.)