The Opera browser is known for its customizable interface and unique features, such built-in messenger apps, media players, and even a free VPN. On top of these features, it also has its own ad blocker.

I recently installed the browser, and before adding my go-to ad and tracker blocker extension, uBlock Origin, I wanted to test out Opera’s blocker. I ran a quick Google search for cruises, and to my surprise, even though I had activated the ad blocker within settings, plenty of ads for vacations popped up on the results page.

Initially I thought maybe the filter lists needed to be updated since it was recently activated, so I went to Browser Settings.

Privacy Protection Settings Panel
Privacy Protection Settings Panel

Unlike uBlock Origin, Opera’s Privacy Protection section only has a few options — “Manage Exceptions” and “Manage Lists.” I clicked on Manage Exceptions, and a list showed up with:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Bing
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Baidu
  • Yandex
Block Ads Exceptions List Panel
Block Ads Exceptions List Panel

So basically you’ll still get ads on all of these sites, even with Opera’s Ad Blocker activated. I know, doesn’t make sense.

One explanation could be that the parent company of Opera receives incentives from these search engines to include their exceptions — perhaps similar to how Mozilla receives funding from Alphabet to set Google as Firefox’s default search engine. I don’t have any sources to cite on this; it’s just my own speculation.

Once I removed all of the exceptions and ran a Google search again, no ads appeared, as expected.

In sum

If you use Opera with its ad blocker activated, be sure to remove the exceptions so it behaves as expected. Better yet, though, just install uBlock Origin. It’s considered among the best available ad/tracker blockers, and the extension is available for Chrome, Opera, Edge and Firefox.

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