OS X and iOS: Get Rid of Safari Scam Pop-Ups

| TMO Quick Tip

Tons of people lately have contacted me when they’ve gotten evil-looking pop-ups in Safari that they can’t seem to dismiss. Here’s an example:

Information has been redacted to protect the guilty.

In this case, it didn’t matter whether the recipient clicked “Stay on Page” or “Leave Page”—the pop-up would reappear, seemingly taking over the browser. And since a lot of people use the “resume” feature in OS X, even quitting Safari and reopening it may not do any good, which scares the pants off of people (and rightfully so). Heck, one user who contacted me had an audio alert as well, so I could hear his Mac shouting the equivalent of “Danger, Will Robinson!” at top volume in the background. I have to say that I really, really hate the buttheads who try to take advantage of folks in this way. 

Yeah, “buttheads.” That’s the word I mean.

So in any case, it’s simple to force Safari to temporarily stop picking up where it left off, at least if you know how. What you’ll do is quit the program (or force-quit it using Command-Option-Escape if it’s locked up so badly that you can’t even quit it normally). Then hold down the Shift key and click on its icon in the Dock.

That’ll make Safari discard the windows and tabs it had open, which means you’ll be free of the terrible pop-up. Whew.

Under iOS, you may have to mess around just a bit more to find the easiest way to stop any pop-ups that won’t go away. First, try double-clicking the Home button to bring up the multitasking view, and then you can swipe Safari up and off the screen to close it.

If that doesn’t work, try closing the misbehaving tab. Do so by touching the Tab button within Safari. 

Then swipe the page in question to the left or tap its “x” in the corner:

Finally, if all else fails, you can reset Safari by going to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

This should be your last resort, as doing that means you’ll lose your Web history, and you’ll have to log in again to any sites you’ve set to remember you. Unfortunately, though, this may be what has to happen if all else fails. Now, does anyone want to grab pitchforks and go after whoever is trying to hook users with these scams? I’ll bring the tar and feathers.

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James Katt

Get the Safari Extension called WasteNoTime.

Use it to immediately block access to the website that carries the undismissable pop-up dialog box. 

This way, when you visit a website that has advertisement that pops up a background window to these websites, the window will be blocked.

The problem for Ad Blockers and Ghostery is that they cannot block these ads.

So WasteNoTime is a great tool to protect you from them.


Lee Dronick

Get the Safari Extension called WasteNoTime.

James, I couldn’t find that extension in Apple’s extension store.

Lee Dronick

Mellisa, would turing off Javascript stop the popups?

Melissa Holt

Hey Lee,

It totally would, which is an awesome idea, especially for iOS (as I’d bet you could turn it off in Settings, close the tab, and then turn it back on). Another astute reader just suggested the same thing to me on Twitter. Thanks for asking! I sure wish I’d thought of that. wink


TJ Luoma

You should be able to fix this without deleting your history and cookies on iOS.

Go into Safari’s settings and scroll all the way down to the bottom to Advanced.

In the Advanced menu, disable JavaScript. All of these alerts are JavaScript based.

Go back into Safari and you should be able to close the page. If it still shows up, press the home button to get out of Safari and then force quit it.

That should fix it. Once you get the tab closed, go back and re-enable JavaScript.

Melissa Holt

Thank you, TJ. I really appreciate you coming over and commenting! grin


Turning off javascript is an option, but you will break most modern websites

Lee Dronick

JustCause, yes, not slideshows and such. I was thinking turning it off only to escape the clutches of the rogue website.


Melissa i have already used several of your tips. They have helped me immeasurably with my macbook, iMac, iPad and iPhone.

Thank you very much

Larry Croft


in Mac OS X I’ve been doing
Option-click on Safari (Force quit)
Shift-click on Safari until open
for years

Melissa Holt

Thanks, Larry! I’m happy to help, and I appreciate you reading. grin


Lee Dronick

Now if we can gets stop those nagging “Download our app” popups.


I consider it a serious browser (Safari) bug that a web page can open a modal dialog that cannot be dismissed by simply closing the tab.  Safari should render these as window-modal: you can’t interact with the window contents while the modal dialog is up, but you can simply close the window.

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