Content Blockers, Mail Markup and News App

At the November SEAL meeting, held on Friday the 13th, Dave gave a presentation on using Content Blockers to remove ads and improve browsing performance on iPhones and iPads. Ben then showed the useful markup feature in Apple Mail on Mac and Dave gave some tips on the new News app.

Content Blockers

Content Blockers are a new feature of Safari in iOS 9 and Mac OS El Capitan. DaveK explained how they work to block web page content before it is loaded and the advantages it can give in removing annoying adverts, speeding page load times and reducing power consumption. They are particularly useful on iOS where data connections tend to be slower and battery life is at a premium. Dave went through how Content Blockers are installed by downloading an app which includes them. There are many content blocking apps, Dave recommended the following iOS apps as a good place to start (use one at a time):

  • 1Blocker – gives the greatest speed improvement and is highly configurable but complex to setup.
  • Adamant – Slightly less speed improvement but works out of the box without any setup.
  • Purify – a good middle ground, more configurable than Adamant, less complex than 1Blocker.

Dave based his recommendations on a four part report by Ben Brooks of the Brooks Review, check it out for more details.

On Mac Dave recommended these Safari extensions (also best used one at a time):

  • Adamant – to block ads.
  • Ghostery – to show, and optionally block, website tracking.

Mail Markup

Ben then demonstrated the markup feature of Apple Mail on Mac, this allows you to add notation such as text comments, arrows and circles to images and PDFs attached to e-mail messages. A particularly useful feature is that you can markup an attachment when you reply to an e-mail, this means you can add comments to an image or PDF you are sent when replying (use the Forward option so that the attachment is retained when you reply). In addition to text, lines and shapes, markup can also be used to add your signature. Ben showed how Mac captures your signature using the Facetime camera which makes this process very quick and easy. Once a signature is captured, Mail stores it so you can add your signature to a scanned or PDF document in a couple of clicks.

News app

Dave then gave us a quick demo of the new News App for iPhone and iPad which came to the UK with iOS 9.1 recently. He pointed out a number of tips which are not immediately obvious:

  • Scroll straight to the newest stories in For You by tapping “For You” at the top of the app.
  • Stop a channel’s stories from appearing in For You by tapping and holding on a story from that channel and then selecting Mute Channel from the pop-up menu (the channel will remain in your favourites).
  • The above also works if you’re getting stories from a channel you don’t like via a topic.
  • Tap the bookmark icon on a story to save it for later reading even if you’re off-line.
  • If you’d like to Sync News across your iOS devices turn it on in the iCloud section of the Settings app.


In our Apple news discussion we talked about: