uBlock Origin's icon now tells you if it's ready to block ads at browser launch
uBlock Origin has been updated to version 1.48. The open source content blocker, renowned for its ad-blocking capabilities, now changes its button's color to indicate its readiness at the browser's launch.
Why is uBlock Origin's icon showing a yellow badge?
It's like this, when you open your browser, you expect it to work perfectly right away, in this case you don't want to see ads on web pages. What you need to know is that the extension needs a few seconds after the browser has been opened, to load its filters, in order to use them to block requests, i.e. to prevent ads.
Unfortunately, it isn't that simple, at least with Chromium browsers, especially since version 110 that was released in February this year. What happens is, the browser gives preference to load web pages that were open in the previous session, even before add-ons such as uBlock Origin are ready. As a result of this, you will see ads on web pages.
Most users would blame it on the extension failing to do its job, while the browser is actually the one causing the issue. This isn't a new problem per se, uBlock Origin has been combating Chrome's ever-evolving shenanigans for a couple of years, particularly when it comes to YouTube ads that played at the browser's startup. Version 1.40 of the add-on addressed this way back in 2021 by introducing a new setting to suspend tabs upon launch.
But, Chromium has continued to evolve in complex ways over time, and more users have started noticing ads on the browser's launch. The uBlock Origin 1.48 update brings an important change related to this.
Users who update to the latest version will notice that the extension's icon color may be different. If the entire button is yellow, it indicates that the plugin is currently loading the filter lists into memory, i.e., uBlock Origin is not ready for use yet. It only takes a few seconds for it to turn to its usual color, maroon.
The add-on's icon may also display an exclamation mark in a yellow badge with a yellow background, this means that uBlock Origin is getting ready (loading its filters), and that network requests made by the browser at launch were not processed by the extension on web pages that were loaded. If the button's background is maroon, but has the yellow badge on it, that shows the add-on is ready for use, but the current web page has not been filtered properly, i.e. you need to reload the page.
This can be annoying if several tabs were loaded. The good news is, you don't necessarily have to refresh the pages on Chromium-based browsers, if you enable a setting which was introduced in version 1.41. The option is enabled by default in Firefox.
For those of you using Chrome, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi or Opera, here's how to toggle the feature. Click on the uBlock Origin button, and then on the Settings icon. Switch to the filter lists tab. Click the checkbox next to the option that says Suspend network activity until all filter lists are loaded.
Warning: Enabling the option could negatively impact page loading performance at the browser's launch. This issue only affects Chromium-based browsers.
The uBlock Origin 1.48 update is currently live on the Microsoft Edge add-ons store. The update has been submitted for review at Mozilla's add-on repository. The extensions Chrome web store and Opera add-ons will be submitted a week after the extension is available for Firefox users.
uBlock Origin's change log says that this feature was introduced to reduce the number of reports from users who were asking for help regarding the issue. I think the new color-coded system is a great way to educate users why they are still getting ads.