Have you been getting a lot of annoying pop-ups lately asking you to “Sign in with Google”? Google used to actually wait for you to click the “Login” button before offering this option, but in recent months they’ve gotten a lot more pushy. This annoying message is now showing up every time you visit a website that offers the service (if you’re not already logged in to that site). In this article, I’ll tell you how to block Google popups for good – and really just about any annoying website feature! (Be sure to check out my de-Google article series to learn how to reduce your Google data footprint.)
Oversharing with Google
First of all, let’s quickly talk about why you don’t want to do this. Google and Facebook both offer the option to “sign in with” their services instead of creating a new account (that is, using an email address and password). The idea is to simplify creating an account. Who wants yet another password to remember? No one. Basically, Google and Facebook are offering to vouch for you.
However, when you use this feature, you are also allowing Google or Facebook to track you on this website. You are probably also allowing the website to access information that Google and Facebook have on you. I wrote a whole article about this, which you can read here. But the bottom line is that you should avoid using “Sign in with Google” and “Sign in with Facebook”. (Note that “Sign in with Apple” is much better, in terms of privacy.)
But do you need to sign in at all? Probably not. And that’s what I find most annoying about these new pop-ups. You’re not even asking to sign in. Most of these sites do not require an account at all. They’ll tell you that there are many benefits to creating an account, including “personalizing your experience” or allowing you to save stuff for later. But in reality, it’s about tracking you, collecting data about you, and potentially selling it to others. So unless you truly need an account, don’t let these prompts trick or coax you into creating one.
Disabling Google Popup Using Settings
Google has an account setting to stop these “sign in with” popups, though it’s hard to find (shocking). If you turn it off, then these sites running the Google code will know not to offer the Google sign-in option. To disable this option, go to your Google account’s security settings, scroll down to the “Signing in to other sites” area, click the “Signing in with Google” section, and then toggle the option to “off” (see below).
I’ve read that this setting will only be honored if you’re signed into Google somewhere, and that’s probably true. But I’ve also read that you won’t even get this popup if you’re not signed into Google, and in my testing this was not true (I got them even if I deleted all my Google cookies). So… not sure. But there are other ways to block these popups that are more effective.
Third Party Tools for Blocking Popups
If you install the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension, it will now block this Google popup by default. You can also install the DuckDuckGo browser app on iOS and Android, if you’re willing to switch to a new browser. For iPhone, you can try the 1Blocker extension. I couldn’t find a good a good solution for Android (which is made by Google) to kill this popup, but if I do, I’ll update this article.
But my preferred solution for desktop browsers is to install the uBlock Origin plugin. Not only can it block these Google popups, but it can also block a ton of other stuff that can track and/or annoy you. Unfortunately, this Google sign-in popup isn’t blocked by default, so you’ll have to tweak the uBlock Origin settings.
The easiest (and most fun) way to do this is to use the Element Picker tool. Once your install the uBlock Origin extension in your browser and you land on a website that pops up this Google window (such as medium.com), click the uBlock Origin icon at the upper area of your browser (a little red shield). Then select the “element picker” tool (eye dropper):
Now, here’s the somewhat tricky part. Once you click the pop up, there will be a uBlock origin filter rule creation window at the lower right corner of your browser window. (You may have to hover your mouse pointer over this area to make it visible.) In this case, you want to click on the line that says “accounts.google.com/gsi/iframe/select” which will add it to the area at the top:
If you want to test it first, click the “Preview” button – the pop up should disappear. (If not, you then you need to try again by clicking the “Pick” button – you somehow selected the wrong element.) When satisfied that you have it right, click “Create”. This will permanently block this Google pop-up on this browser.
If you have trouble with this method, you can manually add this filter rule in uBlock Origin settings. Again, open the uBlock Origin menu, but this time select the little gears icon to the right of the eye dropper. Then click the “My filters” tab at the top. In the area at the bottom, manually paste the text:
and click “Apply changes”. It should look like the picture below.
Try going back to the website – the pop up should no longer appear.
Zapping Other Elements
Note that you can also use this technique to remove those annoying overlays that tell you that you have to login to read the article or sign up for the newsletter or whatever. The article is still there… it’s just covered by the popup window. You can simply zap the popup to get it out of your way. Again, you may have to do this repeatedly if there are multiple layers.
If you only want to do this temporarily, use the “zap element” tool (lightning bolt) instead of the “element picker” (eye dropper). These effects only last till you reload the page or visit the site again.
Need practical security tips?
Sign up to receive Carey's favorite security tips + the first chapter of his book, Firewalls Don't Stop Dragons.
Don't get caught with your drawbridge down!