Close annoying website overlays in Chrome and Firefox - gHacks Tech News

Close annoying website overlays in Chrome and Firefox

BehindTheOverlay is a browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers to close annoying website overlays.

HTML5 Overlays are the new popups, they have been for quite some time now. They are used on a lot of sites to throw newsletter signup forms or special offers on the screen.

What makes them problematic is that they block access to the underlying page. Most come with close buttons in one form or another, but some make it mandatory to interact with the overlay, usually by entering an email address or other information, before the page can be accessed.

Most popup blockers, those integrated in web browsers and those offered as browser extensions, don't block these overlays.

BehindTheOverlay

close website overlays

BehindTheOverlay is not an automated solution, but it is the next best thing. It adds an option to Chrome that allows you to close overlays that are displayed on the screen with a click on its icon, or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-X.

The extension works similarly to Overlay Blocker, a Chrome extension that is available as a free and paid version.

A quick test on a dozen or so sites that throw these annoying website overlays at you showed that BehindTheOverlay managed to identify and remove them all.

I cannot vouch that it will do so for all incarnations of these overlays, but it has a great track record on the system I tried it on.

The browser add-on is available for Firefox and Chrome. The Firefox version is not yet a WebExtension, and it is unclear whether it will be made into one. This could mean that the extension will stop working when Firefox 57 gets released.

Update: A fork, called Behind the Overlay Revival, has been created which is a WebExtension and will work in Firefox 57 and newer versions.

It would not be too difficult however to port the Chrome WebExtension to the Firefox web browser to add the functionality again to it. The Chrome extension itself works in Firefox already. You need to use Chrome Store Foxified to download the Chrome extension and install it in the Firefox web browser. It works exactly like the Firefox legacy add-on from this point forward.

Closing Words

BehindTheOverlay is a useful browser add-on, especially if you happen to visit sites regularly that throw these overlay popups at you when you visit them. While automation would be more useful, it is not too difficult to click on the extension icon or use the shortcut to close the overlay. Again, this may not work on some website overlays, but it should work on most right now.

Downside is that the add-on is from 2014, and that it has not been updated since. This means that it may not be able to deal with new overlay technologies that were introduced after the release.

Extensions like uBlock Origin may assist you in dealing with overlays permanently. You can check out our guide on removing elements on websites permanently in uBlock Origin to find out how that is done.

Now You: Do you encounter website overlays regularly? How do you deal with them?

Summary
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Software Name
BehindTheOverlay
Software Category
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Comments

  1. Robert said on May 25, 2017 at 8:25 am
    Reply

    A little trick that I use is to disable JavaScript with the QuickJava extension and refresh the page on stubborn sites with overlays. Once I am done reading the article and leave the site I will re enable JavaScript.

  2. Castor/Pollux said on May 25, 2017 at 9:49 am
    Reply

    There is a Firefox extension “Behind The Overlay Revival”:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/behind-the-overlay-revival/

    and it’s compatible with FF 57+.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 25, 2017 at 10:06 am
      Reply

      Cool, I add that to the article. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. stilofilos said on May 25, 2017 at 11:20 am
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    The few such overlays that I encountered so far could be removed in CSS.
    But only a few days ago, I’ve seen something that seems to act similarly, but appears to be injected by some of those dirty adware sites instead of by the site itself. They also keep you out of the site you wanted to visit and try to make you download a few pieces of software first. An immediate scan with my security tools reveals no infection at my side. I locked them out in my firewall. Ghostery did not block them, and further on I do not allow any cookies except by a few trusted sites, and all LSO’s are killed within one second, so they can not be the source. I’ve only seen it on a very few sites (co-operative ? or infected ?), but if such behaviour becomes a new trend as well…
    If their names matter for someone : http:// peletle dot com and http://www dot tradeadexchange dot com

    1. Tom Hawack said on May 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm
      Reply

      Your peletle link leads here to Google’s Adwords and tradeadexchange is blocked by several regiments of my 1st Army Division, HOSTS to start with (good soldiers!), so I cannot test those pages.

      1. stilofilos said on May 25, 2017 at 4:07 pm
        Reply

        Tom, that peletle was the first in a whole bunch of rapidly forwarded sites. Maybe Adwords was among them, but I did not see it as they were flashing really fast.
        The bunch ended with tradeadexchange that actually delivered the overlays. uBlock Origin indeed blocks this last one (not the first) on my good old and faithful XP (where I, too have my Army Headquarters), which I normally use for surfing. But apparently I must have forgotten to install it on the Windows7, which is normally never online although equally armoured (the windows10 saga, you know), except really short times and for two or three highly trusted sites and only when I am working there and too lazy to switch over again.
        Any way, no harm nor damage was done this time, but it’s becoming really disgusting on that www – like in our cities…

    2. Tom Hawack said on May 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm
      Reply

      I just searched for info concerning peletle.com and, if Sucuri Sitecheck is correct, the site appears to be blacklisted :

      “Blacklisted (10 Blacklists Checked): Indicates that a major security company (such as Google, McAfee, Norton, etc) is blocking access to your website for security reasons. Please see our recommendation below to fix this issue and restore your traffic.”

      Which explains I guess why I feel on Adwords when following your link to peletle.com. The place is hacked :
      https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/results/peletle.com

      We’re far from the article’s topic but I guess the info is worth being mentioned. Sorry & thanks, Martin.

      1. stilofilos said on May 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm
        Reply

        Thanks for that info too, Tom.
        BTW, I wouldn’t think we are that far from the article’s topic as it still seems to me that the hacker uses the same overlay technique. In one occurence I managed to circumvent the overlay and got to the intended website, but in an other occurence overlays kept being replaced, each touting an other piece of software, until I quit.

  4. Q said on May 25, 2017 at 11:30 am
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    “Do you encounter website overlays regularly? How do you deal with them?”

    I do encounter such overlay. I believe these are called modal overlays.

    To get around them, I block them with Adblock Plus or one of its forks. I use the extension “Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus” to extend the options of Adblock Plus to allow easy selection of an element to hide, such as the modal overlay. Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus can also be used on much than modal overlays and is also provided by the same author as Adblock Plus.

    The Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus extension description page is located at:
    https://adblockplus.org/elemhidehelper

    The Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus GitHub page is located at:
    https://github.com/adblockplus/elemhidehelper
    for releases:
    https://github.com/adblockplus/elemhidehelper/releases

    The Mozilla Add-On Repository page for the extension is located at:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/elemhidehelper/

  5. chesscanoe said on May 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm
    Reply

    I use µBlock Origin in Chrome to block this type of thing which I do not see that often. If it becomes a more frequent problem, I’ll consider adding another more efficient extension to circumvent the problem, I like to keep the number of extensions to a minimum as a general practice.

  6. Peter said on May 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm
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    For Pale Moon I use “Remove it Permanently” It’s a pure element hider, unlike Ublock or ABP. Works fine.

  7. Jeff-FL said on May 25, 2017 at 2:28 pm
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    “Extensions like uBlock Origin may assist you in dealing with overlays permanently.”

    Martin, I know many of your readers would appreciate an article on how to do this in Ublock. I certainly would. thanks.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm
      Reply
  8. Vrai said on May 25, 2017 at 2:47 pm
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    I use the Firefox browser with the NoScript extension and uBlock Origin. I keep JavaScript blocked until I know I want it for a particular site. I don’t very often run into the ‘overlays’ but when I do I either leave the website and never return or I block the overlay with uBlock. A few times sites stopped working after blocking the overlay so I just left and never came back. Meh, it’s their loss.

    This ‘overlay’ crap will drive more and more people to use ‘blockers’.

  9. Tom Hawack said on May 25, 2017 at 3:05 pm
    Reply

    uBlock Origin handles some of them with the lists I use, otherwise I create a new rule for the site. Also, when in a hurry or just discovering a site, rather than creating when applicable a dedicated uBO rule to remove the overlay and its content, there is the trick — which often works, not always — to use uBO’s inline scripts blocker for that site. When it works it’s a fast solution and can be kept as a rule for that site given the blocked inline scripts doesn’t block any other essential element of the page/site.

    After the infamous pop-ups, now those damned overlays. This is counter-productive because it annoys the user at the very start of his visit. Be it for an honest site information, be it for advertisement (which I don’t encounter myself with uBlock Origin). Sometimes I wonder with what deciders decide, brains so obviously left aside.

    1. Chris said on May 25, 2017 at 7:45 pm
      Reply

      If you submit your filters/rules to a major repository, others will benefit as well.

      1. Tom Hawack said on May 25, 2017 at 8:26 pm
        Reply

        Quite true.

  10. pHROZEN gHOST said on May 25, 2017 at 3:36 pm
    Reply

    A good hosts file helps by blocking access to ad servers in the case where they use that approach.

    Here’s an article for those who don’t understand how to do this …

    https://www.bestvpn.com/blog/41159/use-your-hosts-file-to-block-ads-and-malware/

    I use the MVPs.org Hosts file

    BTW, this site throws up a pop-up. But they have a “no thanks” button.

    You can also “give the dog a bone” by using a temporary email address or a legitimate looking fake one.

    1. Jeff-FL said on May 25, 2017 at 8:37 pm
      Reply

      >You can also “give the dog a bone” by using a temporary email address or a legitimate looking fake one.

      This is often what I do, especially on sites I like, such as Bundlestars, which does the overlay begging for an email address.

      I use AutoHotkey and have several email addresses that I can auto-type with a short keyword (e.g. abc1 to type out my main email). When a site begs for an email and I know this will silence the overlays once the site is satisfied, I’ll feed it my throwaway/spamcatcher email.

  11. flyli5411 said on May 26, 2017 at 12:22 am
    Reply
  12. mma173 said on May 26, 2017 at 4:18 am
    Reply

    I use page clean-up tools such as Nuke Anything Enhanced

  13. Jozsef said on May 26, 2017 at 5:06 am
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    I find overlays to be a huge annoyance, and this is with Ublock Origin installed. I just start reading an article and then, BANG, it dims and a stupid dialog is in my face. Navigating to a toolbar button isn’t a lot easier than just dismissing it with its own button and a three key combination is also not ideal but it is workable. Blocking each one on a per site basis isn’t practical for me since they’re not sites I visit regularly. An extension that is preconfigured or automated would be wonderful thing.

  14. Rick A. said on May 26, 2017 at 5:40 am
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    As soon as i read the first line i went to my bookmarks and copied the “Behind The Overlay Revival” URL to paste here and comment about it and it even being a web extension, then i went to finish reading the article and *Update*, lol.

    Also, i don’t know about the old outdated Behind The Overlay, but with the new web extension Behind The Overlay Revival you can not only dismiss the annoying overlay with either the toolbar button or move it to the hamburger menu and just right click on the web page and select “Remove the overlay from this page”.

    Also you can use it to mess up a YouTube page or use it on https://www.playstation.com/en-us/ to get rid of the annoying background ad bs. i sign into it sometimes and if you click anywhere it an add your clicking on, remove the overlay and no more accidental click bs. There’s other things this works on, you’ll have to experiment for yourselves.

  15. T(h)or said on June 7, 2017 at 12:18 am
    Reply

    martin,
    either delete this post or write another titled: “block annoying 90% off Ghacks posts in Chrome and Firefox”.
    list building is the only sustainable business model for 99% of internet based businesses.
    blocking ads is one thing, but blocking list building?
    the only sustainable, long-term business model?
    remember how last google update dropped your traffic? the reason you were forced to rethink your income strategy?
    maybe one will make a 1-page niche site to do just that :)
    let’s SEO it a bit >>
    how to block annoying ‘90% off’ posts on Ghacks.com in Chrome and Firefox

    lol, sorry. like your other posts. keep it up!
    thank you.

  16. Lee the Rednose said on November 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm
    Reply

    Ya’ll seen it. But can you remove it?
    are these the first uMatrix/uBlock cracks in the armor?
    ahh if only I would eat their cookies

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