Disable AMP in Firefox and Chrome with the Redirect AMP to HTML extension
For some, AMP is one of the worst things to happen to the internet. Google launched its cached lazy loading tech for the web about 2 years ago stating that AMP's intention was to make the Web faster. Opponents of AMP fear that Google is using AMP to get even more control of the Internet than it already has.
AMP is an open project but just like Chromium, it is heavily controlled by Google. More and more sites started to adopt AMP because it is beneficial when it comes to a site's representation in Google Search. Other search engines have started to display AMP links as well on mobile devices.
AMP was designed to make pages load faster on phones which are on mobile data networks by minimizing the amount of code that is used; a bare-bones version of the site is the result similar to sites that were processed with readability services but with ads and some other scripts supported.
While AMP works on mobile devices, there is an unfortunate side effect. Links which are AMP (accelerated mobile pages) enabled, open the mobile version of the page even when you access them on the computer. AMP links may be shared via email, chat and published on the Internet, and it will become more common that desktop users run into these links.
AMP pages look horrible on most computers especially if you have a large monitor. And you're visiting the version of the page that is hosted by Google not the publisher's website which is a privacy concern for some.
Sometimes media content (videos or images) may not load correctly. Need another reason?Â I have even seen some RSS Feeds use AMP links.
If you're familiar with SEO terms like responsive design, you should know that a website should scale correctly to the aspect ratio and resolution of the display that it is accessed from. A page's rank in Search may be influenced by this; if it does not display correctly on mobile devices or the desktop, its rank in the search engine may be impacted negatively by it.
Of course, Google never really played by its own rules when it comes to its own properties. Should not AMP pages redirect automatically to the "real" page when a user using a desktop device opens them?
Redirect AMP to HTML
Since this is not the case currently, it is necessary to fix this using third-party tools. Redirect AMP to HTML is an install-and-forget sort of add-on which un-AMPs pages to deliver the actual URL, i.e., the article hosted by the publisher website. It is a web-extension which works on PC and mobile (Firefox only as Chrome mobile does not support extensions) It is open source and the latest commit was made a few months ago.
The add-on is available for Firefox and Chrome.
Does the add-on work flawlessly?
It worked perfectly on the links I tried. I ran searches on my mobile device and shared the AMP links so that I could access them on the computer. You can share using email, instant messaging, or any other share option that gives you access on your computer.
Note: The add-on will create a Cloudflare cookie. This is an "opt-out" cookie that is used for websites which support the Cloudflare viewer. It tells the website not to load the page in AMP, even before the add-on comes into play.
Can't I just delete "amp" from the URL?
Sure that works, but not all websites use amp at the end of the URL like example.com/amp. Some websites use amp as a prefix instead of WWW (amp.example.com), others may have amp somewhere in the middle of the URL. It may take a few extra seconds to spot the amp tag, especially it is particularly lengthy.
There is currently no way to disable AMP completely using about:config in Firefox or other methods. It isn't a protocol that can be toggled, it's a framework that is implemented by webmasters on their websites. And like I explained above, each admin may implement it using a different method. Don't forget to check Martin's article about disabling AMP on mobile devices.
Google search results aren't the only way you will come across AMP links. Any shared link may be an AMP link; in fact, some links posted to sites like Reddit are AMP links. About 30-50% of the links I get from friends/work contacts are either mobile versions (for e.g. m.example.com) or AMP links (mostly news websites).
I believe that a lot of mobile apps that use Chrome's WebView component for their built-in browser use AMP as well. Telegram has its own Instant View which works better since it is restricted to the app. AMP on the other hand is independent and hence universal. Earlier this year, Google announced that it is testing AMP pages which are hosted on the publisher's domain. But this has been restricted to Chrome.
Hopefully one day we will be able to block AMP completely.
Thanks Ashwin, a most useful article indeed. I was not aware of AMP and its typical Google nefariousness.
1- I’ve never encountered any amp link here on my PC. On Martin’s article about disabling AMP on mobile devices mentioned in the article,
ThaiWalker had said, “Strangeâ€¦ I have never seen ANY â€œAMPâ€ link. Is your post interesting only for north-American chrome users? Honestly wondering where is the flaw.”
Martin Brinkmann had replied, “You only see AMP links on mobile, and only in browsers like Chrome. Not sure if any other browser shows them.”
2- The article here mentions “While AMP works on mobile devices, there is an unfortunate side effect. Links which are AMP (accelerated mobile pages) enabled, open the mobile version of the page even when you access them on the computer.”
I don’t understand how a PC user may encounter AMP crafted pages, may such pages be displayed without any reference to amp in the url? I just don’t get it. Any examples would be welcomed, because I don’t understand the scheme, scenario, process.
You may encounter these links if they get shared, e.g. by email, or posted on sites, e.g. on Reddit. See this example: https://www.reddit.com/r/bottest/comments/byv0uo/amp_link/
Thanks, Martin, now I understand and am able to correlate with Ashwin’s statement that “[…] not all websites use amp at the end of the URL like example.com/amp. Some websites use amp as a prefix instead of WWW (amp.example.com), others may have amp somewhere in the middle of the URL. It may take a few extra seconds to spot the amp tag, especially it is particularly lengthy.”
Basically I shouldn’t encounter AMP links on search engines as I understand it; also ‘amp’ will always appear somewhere in the url when applicable.
@Tom Hawack: how often do you look at the URL? I never do unless the page I am after does not load. Other than that, I am not interested.
@Klaas Vaak, it was just to know, otherwise I seldom look at the url and up to now never to check for an amp occurrence. I’ve installed the extension, but I like to know the environment or at least try to understand the basics of a scheme, of an extension.
I’m not Tom, obviously, but I’ll chime in anyway — I almost always look that at the urls before clicking a link. I used to only do that if I was suspicious of the link for some reason, but I’ve been encountering AMP links with increasing frequency and so I check them much, much more often now.
@John Fenderson: thanks for chiming in John, your valued opinion always welcome :-)
When I asked Tom about looking at the URLs, I meant those in the address bar because that’s where the danger lies, if I understand it correctly.
I also look at links on a web page before I click, although that depends on the trustworthiness of the site.
I have been encounter AMP urls with increasing frequency on my desktop. It used to be that I’d only get them if someone emailed a link, but then the DDG news tab started serving them up (which is why I don’t really use the DDG news tab anymore). Since then, I’ve started encountering them more and more.
@John Fenderson: out of interest: what sort of sites do you find them on? I do not mean for you to divulge the actual sites you visit, but are they e.g. news sites, sports sites, music sites, …. ?
Aside from links posted or emailed by people (who are just copying an AMP link they’ve used), I have exclusively been encountering these in search results and news aggregators. Not often in search results, but with increasing frequency.
@John Fenderson: good to know. I use a news aggregator – Liferea on Linux Mint – so with the extension installed I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
“It used to be that Iâ€™d only get them if someone emailed a link, but then the DDG news tab started serving them up […]. Since then, Iâ€™ve started encountering them more and more.”
Now that’s interesting. If I expressed ignorance concerning the deployment of AMP urls it is because I’ve never encountered an AMP-built page which does not mean as I’ve understood it later that the page hadn’t been redirected via an AMP url. I found examples at : https://searchengineland.com/amp-links-large-281987
I thought up to now that an AMP-url would always land on an AMP-built page; because of that, having never landed on an AMP-page made me believe I had never encountered AMP, which is a wrong assertion.
So if an AMP-url may be redirected with this ‘Redirect AMP to HTML’ extension then it’s valuable.
I’ll nevertheless look more often at urls provided by search engines because if the trend is positive that would mean another behind-the-scene Google tracking (not only Google, but mainly).
It’d be welcomed that all of us avoid passing to friends or sharing AMP-urls in order to avoid propagation of the disease, because I call that a disease : the fact of relying on a man in the middle to accelerate the rendering of a page.
Just ignore such Web sites. If Web site owners cannot deliver a smooth user experience, their Web sites are not worth a click.
Because AMP can be evil on mobile as well as desktop,
I released an app for Android that can be used to un-AMP a URL:
I notice that for some websites, if one’s online connection (eg. ADSL) is deemed not sufficiently high-speed, one is automatically fed the mobile version of the webpage, even when using a desktop browser to click on a desktop URL. (I’ve never seen any AMP links from search engine results on a desktop browser.)
The page that is served is obviously the mobile version, because it looks horrendous on a desktop — complete with super-pixellated images, lack of side menus, the need to keep clicking “More” (instead of scrolling down) to see the rest of the page, etc.
However, the URL of the mobile version is identical to the desktop URL — it doesn’t contain “AMP”, “mobile”, “m”, “responsive”, or similar strings. So I guess the featured “Redirect AMP to HTML” addon is not of any use.
Reloading the page won’t load the desktop version, so one is stuck with horrible-looking & user-unfriendly webpages — unless the connection speed is upgraded. (Nowadays, web designers seem to assume desktop wired ADSL = 2.5 G mobile wireless.)
And the most annoying thing is: The default desktop version of the same websites (no change in design, features, etc.) used to load almost instantaneously on the same desktop wired connection, before the Mobile-is-KING web craze started.
I actually opened this discussion to understand how to block ads on those news pages. My phone recently started showing me those news. They pages are fast, but I am not used to so many ads. :-(