What Are Pop Ups, Popup Windows, and Pop Up Blockers?

July 28, 2009

in Internet,privacy & security

by David Hakala

You go to a Web site and start reading it. But immediately, another browser window opens and displays something you probably didn’t want to see, hiding what you came to see. That second window is a pop up window, also called a popup or pop-up.

A pop-up may be an advertisement trying to grab your attention. It may be what was intended as a helpful feature a programmer deliberately built into a Web site. My bank’s online service, for example, exhorts me every time I log on to “enable popup windows to enhance your banking experience.” I ignore it.

You can click on the X button in the upper right corner of a pop-up window to close it. But sometimes that doesn’t work; the thing just pops right back up. Worse, you may find yourself trapped in an endless series of pop-ups, each opening a new window onto another advertisement you can live without. If that happens, kill your Windows browser by calling up the Task Manager and terminating the browser.

Press Ctl-Alt-Del simultaneously to open Task Manager

In the Applications tab, select your browser and click End Task

You may have to end several browser tasks, or closing one may close them all.

If the pop-ups start all over again when you re-open your browser, you may have caught a bit of malware from that Web site. Close all browser windows and run anti-malware software such as Avast! Antivirus to disinfect your machine.

A pop-up blocker is built into Internet Explorer, Firefox, and any Web browser worth installing. In Firefox, the pop-up blocker on/off toggle is on the Tools > Options > Content tab. In IE 7, the pop-up blocker switch is right on the Tools dropdown menu. In both browsers, you can exempt certain sites (like my bank’s, if I was so inclined) from the blocking action while blocking pop-ups on all other sites.

Not all pop-ups are blocked by browsers’ built-in blockers. If your pop-up blocker is enabled and you see pop-ups anyhow, the site you are visiting has gone to extreme lengths to display the pop-up.

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at

{ 1 comment }

ePost 08.01.09 at 10:08 pm

You wouldn’t happen to know of any ad-blocker that could stop the pop-up from this site? You know: “sorry to interrupt, this will just take a second”?

Sooner or later I’ll delete this bookmark an forget all about you if that harassment pop-up doesn’t stop…

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