How to block a website

Who needs the whole internet at their fingertips? Here's how to block some of it

how to block a website image
kmiragaya/123RF

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at your desk at work, fiddling with some spreadsheets or documents online when you get a sudden urge to take a peek at Facebook. A harmless mistake, sure. But you’re not feeling so productive once an hour rolls by, and you’ve gotten absolutely nothing done. That’s a problem.

And what about those kids of yours? Staying up all night perusing Facebook, YouTube, and whatever else certainly might not be conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to block access to certain time-consuming or explicit websites, whether you want to restrict access altogether or only during specified hours of the day.

Method #1: Using parental controls

Both Windows and MacOS have built-in parental controls that you can use, making it easy to block what you don’t want to be accessible on your system. If you find that you want more features, we’ve outlined the best free parental control software here.

Parental Controls in Windows 10

Step 1: You must first set up a child account. To do so, go to the Windows 10 settings menu by searching for it, or clicking the cog icon in the Start menu.

Step 2: Click “Accounts.”

Step 3: Click on the “Family & other people tab” and click the button labeled “Add a family member.”

Step 4: Click “Add a child” and enter the required information to set up your child’s profile.

Step 5: Go to your Microsoft account page. Select the “Web browsing” tab and check the box labeled “Only see websites on the allowed list.”

Step 6: Here, you will see sections for “Always allow these and “Always block these.” Enter URLs for any sites you want to block in the appropriate section, and click the “Block” button to the right.

Using parental controls in MacOS

Windows isn’t the only operating system that allows you to monitor your child’s activities online. You can use the Parental Controls feature in MacOS to block websites, which is particularly helpful if you want to keep your kids off of certain websites, without restricting the access of other users.

Step 1: Open “System Preferences” and click the button labeled “Parental Controls.”

Step 2: Your Mac will ask if you want to Create a new profile with parental controls, or add them to your current profile. Assuming you want to block websites for when your kids use the computer — while keeping them open for you — select “Create a new user account with parental controls.”

Step 3: If your current profile is password-protected, you will need to enter your password. Once you’ve created the profile, select it in Parental Controls and click the “Web” tab.

Step 4: If you’re feeling particularly draconian, you can also allow access to only specific websites. If not, simply click the “Customize” button.

In the resulting pop-up window, there will be a section to add websites that are always allowed, and a lower section for websites that are never allowed.

Step 5: To add a website that you want to block, click the addition sign under the “Never allow” heading, and enter the address of the site you want to block. Now, enter as many websites as you want to block, one per line.

Step 6: When you’re finished, click “OK” in the bottom-right corner.

Method #2: Altering host files

Block using Windows hosts file

Blocking specific websites in Windows is child’s play — and usually child-proof. It’s completely free, doesn’t require any additional software, and just takes a few quick alterations to the Windows hosts file on your computer. The hosts file, a plain text file your operating system utilizes for mapping IP addresses and hostnames, can be used to redirect a domain name back to the local computer, essentially blocking the desired website. It’s a great way to restrict users from seeing content you don’t want them to see, regardless the browser and the time of day.

Keep in mind, however, that you must have administrator privileges in order to change the file and it can be a little technical. You can always undo the change if need be, but the process is a little more hands-on than the Windows/MacOS parental controls.

Step 1: Using Windows Explorer, navigate through to the “hosts” file by going through: C: > Windows > System32 > drivers > etc.

how to block a website hosts01
Step 2: Double-click “hosts” and select Notepad when prompted to choose a program to open the file with. Alternatively, you can launch Notepad and navigate to the host file by choosing File > Open, and locating the file through that window.

how to block a website hosts02
Step 3: In Notepad, you will see several lines of text used for mapping purposes. Underneath the last line of text — it should say something regarding a local host — enter “127.0.0.1” and press the spacebar. Next, type the IP address of the website you want to block on the same line. For example, type “127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com” to block all traffic from the popular video-sharing site.

how to block a website hosts03

Step 4: Continue to add websites you wish to block in this manner, each beginning with”127.0.0.1.” followed by a space and the appropriate website. Make sure to only use “www” and avoid adding “http,” unless you want to render the entry invalid. Do not alter any other text in the hosts file.

Step 5: Once you’ve added the sites you want to block, click the “File” option in the upper-left corner, choose “Save” do not change the name or save location — and ignore any warnings regarding editing the hosts file. Then, close Notepad when finished.

Step 6: Open your favorite browser and test the results! You should automatically get a blank page whenever you attempt to access any of the sites on your blocked list. You may have to restart your browser and wait several minutes for the changes to take effect.

Using MacOS hosts file

Blocking websites using MacOS works in a similar fashion to blocking them using Windows. The process is free, relatively quick, and requires altering your Mac’s hosts file to redirect a specified domain name. It’s a simple process that will prevent users from seeing content you deem block-worthy across browsers, but one that can be reversed if you want to grant access to the sites in the future.

Step 1: Launch Terminal by accessing the main applications folder, clicking “Utilities,” and selecting the program from the resulting list. You can also do so by searching for the program in Spotlight.

how to block a website terminal 23

Step 2: Now it’s time to make a copy of the hosts file just in case something goes awry. Type “sudo /bin/cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts-original” on the Terminal command line to make a backup of the file in question. Hit “Enter” and type in your administrative password when prompted. It may appear as though the keystrokes aren’t being registered properly — i.e., your cursor won’t move — but rest assured that they are.

how to block a website terminal 23

Step 3: Type “sudo nano /etc/hosts” and hit Enter on the Terminal command line to open up your hosts file in a nano box. Then, enter your administrative password when prompted.

Step 4: Once the hosts file is opened, you will see several lines of text used for mapping purposes. Underneath the last line of text — it should say something regarding a local host — enter “127.0.0.1” and press the spacebar. Next, type the IP address of the website you want to block on the same line. For example, type “127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com” to block all traffic from the popular video-sharing site.

how to block a website terminal2

Step 5: Continue to add websites you wish to block in this manner, each beginning with “127.0.0.1.” followed by a space and the appropriate website. Make sure to only use “www” and avoid adding “http”, unless you want to render the entry invalid, and do not alter any other text in the hosts file.

Step 6: When finished, hold down the “Control” key and press “O” to save the changes. Then, hold down the Control key and press “X” to exit the hosts file.

Step 7: Next, type “sudo dscacheutil -flushcache” and press Enter again to flush your existing cache and put the changes into effect. Alternatively, you can restart your computer.

Once you’re back up and running, open your favorite browser and test the results! You should automatically get a blank page whenever you attempt to access any of the sites on your blocked list.

Method #3: Using your router settings

Blocking all users, at all times, on all browsers can take some time using the above methods. Fortunately, your router doesn’t require any external software and is another fantastic tool that will grant you network-wide control over the blocking process. Although we cannot guarantee your router is capable of blocking specified websites, most routers are equipped with some sort of parental controls for restricting website access completely, during certain days of the week, or even during defined hours.

Step 1: Open your router’s web interface. Most routers can be accessed by entering “192.168.1.1” in your browser’s address bar and typing in a username and password. The defaults do vary from router to router, however, so be sure to check the instructional manual included with your router for the default IP address, username, and password. If unavailable, try looking up the router’s defaults at routerpasswords.com, or cirt.net.

Step 2: Navigate to the router security panel or tab that features the blocking controls. The security options are typically housed under something like “Access Restrictions” or “Content Filtering.”

Step 3: Once you’ve discovered the correct location, enter the websites you want to block and any other content restrictions you want to put in place. Save and apply the new settings when finished.

Computing

Tired of all that white? Here's how to change the Google background image

Did you know that you can change how your Google search home page looks? It's a simple process to pick a new theme: We'll show you how to change your Google background, what to look for in themes, and how to download your own pictures for a…
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Computing

From hot rods to budget sleepers, our favorite desktops can handle anything

Are laptops overrated? Experience the power offered by the best desktop computers on the market today, whether you're in need of a budget solution or a fire-breathing, $4,000 premium gaming rig.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Product Review

HP’s gem-cut Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 you can buy

HP’s 2019 Spectre x360 15 brings this massive 2-in-1 up to speed, literally. It now equips the same six-core Intel CPU as the rest of the 15-inch field, along with a real GPU for some 1080p gaming.
Computing

Man pleads guilty to scamming Facebook and Google out of more than $100M

One of the men behind an elaborate fraud that saw Facebook and Google each hand over tens of millions of dollars has admitted to his part in the scheme. Lithuanian Evaldas Rimasauskas faces up to 30 years in a U.S. jail.
Computing

Ditch the background from your photos with these handy editing tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence, we'll show you how.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.
Computing

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.
Deals

These big, beautiful BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on Amazon right now

All gamers know that a good monitor is just as important as PC hardware to fully enjoy what today's games have to offer. BenQ makes some of the best (including some of our favorites), and three top-rated BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on…
Deals

The best Raspberry Pi 3 kits for coders, gamers, and DIY projects

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a low-budget computing platform capable of doing just about anything. We rounded up a handful of the best Raspberry Pi 3 bundles to get you started on a variety of DIY projects.
Computing

Need a portable workstation? One of these two 15-inch laptop might do the trick

HP's Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 around, but it faces stiff large-laptop competition. Can it beat out powerful clamshells like well-built Apple MacBook Pro 15?