Wipr FAQ.

Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about Wipr. This page will be updated with new questions in the future if the need arises.

General Questions

How Do I Report Issues?

Use Send Feedback. On macOS: launch the Wipr app, and you’ll find it in the menubar under Help. On iOS: launch the Wipr app and you’ll find it in the About Wipr screen. This includes debug information that I need in order to assist you. If you try to contact me otherwise, I will ask you to do this instead. If you absolutely cannot do this, please at least let me know.

If your issue is with the app itself (not a web page), and it’s not answered by the FAQ, this is all you need to know! Otherwise, read on.

Before contacting me, please make sure the issue persists with the most recent blocklist. Select Automatic Refresh in the app and it will let you know if it’s up to date.

Please also make sure that Content Blockers are enabled for the site and as a global default. On iOS: tap the aA button, select Website Settings, and make sure Use Content Blockers is on; then in the Settings app select Safari, then Content Blockers under SETTINGS FOR WEBSITES and make sure the switch next to All Websites or Other Websites is on. On macOS: select Safari from the menu bar, then Settings for This Website… and make sure that Enable content blockers is on; then in Safari’s Preferences, under Websites, Content Blockers, make sure that When visiting other websites is set to On.

Please be specific about what the issue is, and include a link to the page where you have encountered it. Screenshots are welcome!

Note that Wipr does not work inside other apps, only on web pages opened in Safari – so it will definitely not block any ads in, say, a YouTube app.

I don’t offer support for the old Extension Gallery version.

So to recap:

So help me, if you don’t include a link to a page where the issue occurs.

I probably won’t reply unless I need more info. Saying hi to everybody has been nice, but I’ve realized it’s an unsustainable time sink. If you get no reply, rest assured: I read every single report!

Why Are There Three Checkboxes/Switches in Safari’s Preferences/the Settings App?

Simply put, there’s a limit to how many rules can be in a single list, and Wipr’s very extensive blocklist doesn’t fit in one.

Note that the way I decide what goes in which list is purely technical and would make no sense to a user. It’s not like list 2 is “trackers”, for example. The app only functions properly if all three are enabled. So please don’t disable a subset of them.

How Do I Temporarily Disable Wipr on a Page?

On macOS: click and hold the reload button, then select Reload Without Content Blockers.

On iOS 13 and above: tap the aA button in Safari’s address bar, and select Turn off Content Blockers.

On older iOS versions: long press the reload button and select Reload Without Content Blockers.

How Do I Permanently Whitelist Stuff?

On macOS: select Safari from the menu bar (or right click the Smart Search field), then Settings for This Website…, and uncheck Enable Content Blockers.

On iOS 13 and above: tap the aA button in Safari’s address bar, select Website Settings, and uncheck Use Content Blockers.

On older iOS versions: you can’t, sorry.

What Lists Is Wipr Based On?

That is answered by the Acknowledgements page.

How Do Language-Specific Blocklists Work?

Starting with version 1.8, Wipr will switch to a language-specific version of its blocklist if the device’s list of Preferred languages (which you can find in the Language & Region section of its settings) contains one of the supported languages. These new blocklists should provide better coverage (i.e. block more stuff) on websites in those languages. Note that all blocklists provide coverage for the English language.

The up-to-date list of supported languages can be found in the app’s description.

If a language-specific blocklist will be used on a device, its name will appear next to Wipr’s version number. This is found in the About Wipr window on macOS, and in the About Wipr screen on iOS, after clicking/tapping the app name.

If your language is supported but Wipr isn’t selecting a language-specific blocklist, you can add said language to the Preferred languages list. Adding it to the end of this list won’t change your device’s language.

Does Wipr Help With Email Spam?

No.

I’ve Purchased Wipr Once, Do I Have to Pay for It Again to Install It on a Different Device?

It depends!

If you’ve purchased it on the App Store (i.e. on an iPhone or iPad), you’ll be able to install it on all the iPhone and iPads where you use the same Apple ID.

If you’ve purchased it on the Mac App Store (i.e. on a Mac), you’ll be able to install it on all the Macs where you use the same Apple ID.

Purchases are not shareable between the two stores, so if you e.g. have purchased Wipr on the Mac App Store, you won’t be able to install it for free on your iPhone.

Note that this is just how the App Stores work, and it applies to all apps (not just Wipr). I couldn’t make Wipr a single purchase across both stores even if I wanted to.

Does Wipr use the Content Blocking Extensions API?

Yes, in all of its incarnations.

How Do I Make Sure That Wipr Is Working/Installed/Setup Correctly?

Use the Test Page.

On macOS: open Wipr, select the Help menu, then Show Test Page....

On iOS: open Wipr and tap the big compass button (it appears after the first successful refresh).

If the page detects an issue, it will offer instructions on how to fix it.

I Installed Wipr but Nothing Is Being Blocked, What Do I Do?

If you haven’t done so already, please run the app and have it do a refresh at least once. The app will say “Enjoy a cleaner web.” when this is done.

Please also check that Content Blockers are enabled on the page you are visiting and as a global default.

On macOS: first select Safari (or right click the Smart Search field), then Settings for This Website… and make sure Enable Content Blockers is checked. Then select Safari, Preferences…, Websites, Content Blockers and make sure When visiting other websites: is set to On.

On iOS: first tap the aA button in Safari’s address bar, tap Website Settings, and make sure that Use Content Blockers is enabled. Then, in the Settings app, select Safari, then under SETTINGS FOR WEBSITES select Content Blockers and make sure Other Websites is enabled.

Will You Add a Feature That Lets Me Add Custom Filters/Block Page Elements?

No — when I say Wipr has no configuration, I mean it :)

More likely (yet very unlikely) is that I release a separate app that only does custom blocking.

Note that you’re free to use any number of Content Blockers simultaneously, so you can use Wipr and have another app/extension for your custom rules.

As for why, I don’t think this feature would improve the product, even for the nerdiest of nerds. The pain of managing your custom filters would almost certainly outweigh their benefit. I speak from personal experience!

Not to mention that only a tiny fraction of users will ever use such a feature. I mean, I created a Content Blocker and I barely understand regular expressions.

Will You Develop a Version of Wipr for Windows/Linux/Android/Firefox/Chrome/Etc.?

Sorry, no. Wipr is built upon a technology (the Content Blocking Extensions API) that is specific to Safari. So I’d have to start from scratch, and I’d still end up with an inferior version. That makes no money. What a strategy!

Will You Add a Feature That Shows Me What Is Blocked on a Page/Add Blocking Stats?

Nope! In order to know what is blocked and where, Wipr would have to know what pages you visit. This would not only be bad for performance — it would mean I lied when I said that Wipr “cannot, nor wants to, know what you do on the web”.

Any info on what’s being blocked can only be provided by Safari itself. As far as I know, the only info it provides is a log line in Web Inspector’s Console for each resource that is blocked on the inspected page, in the form “Content blocker prevented frame displaying X from loading a resource from Y”.

Safari Already Blocks Trackers, Does Wipr Do It Differently?

Recent versions of Safari have Intelligent Tracking Prevention, which is a cool but relatively conservative way to limit tracking. Wipr is ruthless.

Can You Put Me in Contact With the Team Member Who Handles X?

I am all of the team and I handle all of the Xs.

Does Wipr Use a VPN?

No.

Does Wipr Remove Tracking Tokens (UTM Tokens, Etc.) From URLs?

No. Wipr doesn’t even know what URLs you load, so it couldn’t possibly alter them.

This Site Is Asking Me to Pay to Use It, Can You Do Something About It?

No! Wipr doesn’t do piracy.

I Saw an Ad Once, Your App Sucks!

That’s not a question. And Wipr isn’t magical, so it can’t perfectly block everything on the craziest, messiest information distribution system mankind has ever created.

macOS Questions

The Mac App Store version restores tracker blocking, is able to refresh even if Safari is closed, is supported, and looks/feels nicer!

In other words, this version is pretty much identical to the iOS version.

Yes.

Why Does Wipr Show Me a “Couldn’t Load the Blacklist in Safari” Error Message?

If the error message is Couldn't communicate with a helper application and you have Safari Technology Preview installed, uninstalling it should fix the issue. I don’t currently know of a fix that allows you to keep using Safari Technology Preview, but I do know that the bug is either in Safari or macOS, not in Wipr.

If the error message is SFErrorDomain error 1, doing this should help:

This error basically translates to “Safari can’t find Wipr”, which should never happen as long as Wipr’s installation is intact. But it does happen, and usually after a macOS update or similar, which leads me to believe Safari caches some info about Wipr which then becomes invalid. The procedure above forces Safari to rebuild this hypothetical cache. If this error persists, please contact Apple about it.

If the error message is WKErrorDomain error 2, please disable any antivirus software, network monitor, etc. you might be using (these things would not be from the App Store). They might interfere with Wipr’s communication with Safari. F-secure XFENCE is known to cause this issue, but there might be others. Also make sure that your user’s account name matches your home directory exactly. If none of this works, please contact me – I might’ve messed up!

Why Can’t I Check Wipr’s Checkboxes in Safari’s Preferences?

I’ve received a few reports of this issue, but was never able to reproduce it. Users seem to report that the issue “fixes itself”, usually after a restart or macOS upgrade. It happens with any extensions, so it’s not specific to Wipr. It also appears to be a problem with Safari’s user interface, and not some kind of underlying permissions issue.

Here’s a few community workarounds that reportedly enable the checkboxes:

Thanks to Jonatan van der Horst for bringing these to my attention!

What Happened to Wipr’s Toolbar Icon in the Mac App Store Version?

It’s gone! Some of its features now reside in the app, others are provided by Safari.

Safari Says Wipr “Does Not Have Permission to Read or Transmit Content From Any Webpages”, How Do I Fix This?

This message does not indicate a problem, everything’s fine, it’s just bad wording on Apple’s part. Safari is just telling you that Wipr cannot invade your privacy.

Wipr doesn’t need to read or transmit content from webpages: it just teaches Safari what to block and how, and then Safari does the blocking all by itself. This way Wipr does not get to know where you go on the web.

I don’t even want to have potential and/or accidental access to your browsing data, so I chose the most restrictive level of access control for Wipr: no access at all.

Do I Need to Keep Wipr Running (in the Dock)?

No. That would suck!

Wipr can do all of its blocking while closed.

If you have Automatic Refresh enabled, Wipr will also be able to refresh without being open in the Dock.

Command+Q to your heart’s content!

Wipr Won’t Launch, What Gives?

Wipr depends on a Login Item for all of its operation. If you have software on your Mac that blocks or disables Login Items, Wipr won’t even be able to show its window.

iOS/iPadOS Questions

Wipr Isn’t Refreshing Automatically, What Do I Do?

Don’t “kill”/”close” apps by swiping up in multitasking. If you do that to Wipr, it won’t be able to refresh until you manually launch it again.

Additionally, Wipr will only be able to refresh in the background if you have Background App Refresh enabled in the Settings app, both globally and for Wipr specifically.

Automatic Refresh might also not run or fail if, when a new blocklist is published:

Does Wipr Block Ads Inside Other Apps?

No. No app can do this while complying with App Store regulations.

However! If an app displays websites using Safari View Controller, Wipr will be able to block stuff in those websites. Safari View Controller is basically a Safari “screen” that apps can use to show a website without kicking you over to Safari. Since this screen is managed by Safari and not the app, Wipr can be active there. If you want to see what it looks like, Tweetbot and other social networking apps open web links in it by default.

The Switches to Enable Wipr in the Settings App Are Greyed Out, Why?

Content Blockers like Wipr cannot be enabled or disabled if Web Content restrictions are in effect on the device. To lift them, in the Settings app select Screen Time, then Content & Privacy Restrictions, Content Restrictions, Web Content, and finally change the setting to Unrestricted Access.

Why is this restriction stuff under Screen Time? Why does it disable Content Blocker settings? No idea!