How to block any website on iPhone and iPad

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Block websites on iPhone and iPad
Stay OUT!
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There are probably good reasons to block a website on your own iPhone or iPad, but really, why not just avoid typing its URL? It’s far more likely that you’ll want to block a website on somebody else’s device, probably a child’s. Or perhaps you don’t want your kids to accidentally hit all your bookmarks to porn and gambling sites when they use your iPhone.

Whatever your reasons, here’s how to block any website on your iPhone or iPad.

Block websites on iPhone and iPad

Here's where you enable content restrictions in iOS 12.
Here’s where you enable content restrictions in iOS 12.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

To block domains, we’re going to use Safari’s parental control feature. This is found in the Settings app, under General > Restrictions in iOS 11, and under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions in iOS 12. Today we’ll look at the iOS 12 version, but you can follow along in iOS 11.

First, toggle the switch to Enable restrictions. You may be asked to authenticate with your passcode. If so, go ahead. Then scroll down to Content Restrictions in the first panel on this screen. Tap to access the settings, then scroll down again until you find the Web Content section. Tap that.

Restricting web content on iPad and iPhone

Manually add URLs to block websites on iPhone and iPad.
Manually add URLs to block websites on iPhone and iPad.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The default is to allow access to all websites, as you’d expect. And the easiest way to quickly block a lot of the internet is to tap Limit Adult Websites in this panel. This will disable access to whatever Apple deems to be porn.

But you can go one better. If there’s a particular site you want to block — perhaps its some site with really, really annoying songs that your child just won’t stop listening to — you can add it here. Still in the Adult section, tap Add Website in the Never Allow section. Then, type or paste in the URL of any site you want to block, and tap Done. You can keep adding sites until you’ve blocked everything you want. (Just make sure you add the URLs to the Never Allow section, not the Always Allow section, like I tried to do.)

Block everything

And that’s it. Now, those websites will be blocked in Safari. You can also go at this from the other direction, choosing to disable the entire web except for sites you specifically whitelist. This is a better option for kids’ devices, because if you enable it on your own iPhone then you won’t be able to see anything but CBeebies and Disney.

The "block all" option has some whitelisted sites to get you started.
The “block all” option recommends some whitelisted sites to get you started.
Photo: Cult of Mac

If you choose this option, several sites are already listed to get you started. Just add more sites to the list, as we did when blocking sites, above. To remove sites from the list, just swipe to delete. You may choose not to let your kids visit Disney on the web, for example, unless you are specifically teaching them about abuses of copyright law, appropriation of public-domain properties and the reinforcement of gender stereotypes.

Access limits are very useful, if you have kids anyway. Or at least I assume they are. How would I know? I’m the kind of uncle who still thinks it’s amusing to buy his nieces drum kits and trumpets for their birthdays.