Block Porn

How to Block Porn on Safari

Effectively block porn on Apple devices that use Safari. Learn how to handle common conflicts that bypass content filtering.

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Tech Lockdown Team
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Updated July 1, 2024

If you've wanted to enable proper restrictions for blocking adult content on Apple devices, chances are you've tried to filter content in the Safari browser. Safari is the default browser on most Apple devices, and unfortunately, it can be confusing as to how you would effectively block content. Luckily, it is possible to block porn in Safari, but you'll likely need to combine a approaches together.

When it comes to a topic like how to effectively block porn , you have to consider all of the challenges that come with blocking addictive content. At Tech Lockdown, we focus heavily on each of these points when we provide guidance to our readers:

  1. People can be highly motivated to bypass blockers, even if they are strongly committed. In a moment of weakness, they might change their mind and try to bypass content filtering.
  2. If you are trying to build better habits for yourself, you need to set up a blocking system that you can self-manage and can't be easily bypassed.
  3. Comprehensively blocking this kind of content can be challenging since it's so widely available online. Furthermore, some websites aren't classified as "adult" in nature, but some sections of the website show that kind of content. 

With this in mind, we recommend using a multi-layered approach and to focus on creating a blocking system rather than depending on a one-click solution. Here's what we'll cover in this guide and we'll tailor our advice to Apple devices where the Safari browser is used:

  1. Enable restrictions on all browsers, not just Safari. For example, there are universal porn blocking techniques that work regardless of the browser or Apple device you are using.
  2. Use browser extensions and third-party apps downloaded from the App Store to restrict adult content in the Safari browser.
  3. Leverage Apple's built-in parental controls for an extra layer of restrictions. Apple even provides a "supervised device" mode that is much more restrictive compared to their Screen Time feature.

Another question that we want to address in this guide is handling common conflicts when it comes to blocking porn in Safari. It's relatively common that you set up content restrictions, but discover that these restrictions don't work reliably within the Safari browser. We'll address this in the following ways:

  1. Disable private browsing (Safari's version of incognito mode)
  2. Use multiple blocking techniques that work reliably with Safari
  3. Restrict access to Safari entirely and use a different browser

There are a bunch of terms above that might not be familiar to you, so we'll define them as we get to each point. Since the steps for different devices are also different, we'll also explain how to address the two main categories of Apple devices: iPhones and Macs. 

Limit Content on All Browsers with a DNS Content Policy

Chances are, you don't want to block adult content on Safari alone. Trying to enable different restrictions for each browser or device type isn't always the best option. Fortunately, you can use a DNS Content Policy to enforce restrictions on most devices, including iPhones and Mac computers.

A Content Policy allows you to create rules for specific kinds of content. This can mean websites, apps, or even specific features within websites. For example, if you want to block websites with adult content, you can enable a block rule that applies to that website category:

With web browser, it is also possible to enable (and enforce) Safesearch on all search engines, regardless of which web browser you use:

You can also create scheduled rules that only apply to specific times of the day. This is a great option if you want to cut out mixed content websites not affected by Safesearch, like social media .

A schedule rule can apply to a specific app, website, or website category:

Or even all content (for example, if you want to turn off the internet at night ):

We still strongly recommend taking a multi-layered approach to blocking porn, so depending on which device you have, there are additional restrictions that you should enable. These restrictions won't interfere with your Content Policy - in face, they can work to help prevent bypass of content filtering .

Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Blocking Porn in MacOS Safari

In addition to the DNS Content Policy universal porn-blocking technique, there are additional blocking layers that work great alongside it.

MacOS has a few available blocking techniques.

On Mac computers, there are several ways that you can further limit how Safari is used and what web content can be accessed. In addition to a DNS Content Policy, you can also:

  1. Consider Screen Time restrictions for Web Content.
  2. Block websites or enforce SafeSearch with the Hosts file.
  3. Install browser extensions that allow you to refine which web pages you have access to.

Each of these methods can work together to greatly increase the effort required to disable you own restrictions, which is perfect for those of us self-managing.

Get the Guide to Managing MacOS Devices at Home
Get the Guide to Managing MacOS Devices at Home
Become a Tech Lockdown member to access step-by-step guides.

Universal Blocking Techniques for MacOS Safari

One free way to block adult content in all browsers on MacOS, not just Safari, is to use the Mac's hosts file.

The hosts file is used to control how websites behave and includes the ability to block certain websites. You can add website blocklists to your Mac's hosts file to quickly block thousands of explicit sites in Safari.

Additionally, you can enforce Google Safesearch  to filter out explicit results on Google. 

We cover how to modify the Hosts file to block websites in a separate guide.

In addition to the hosts file, you can install extensions in Safari and in other web browsers that can block porn.

There are several good options that we've tested and reviewed:

  • Cold Turkey : A highly configurable application and extension that works on most web browsers. It has a generous free option and has strong bypass prevention features.
  • Freedom Blocker : If you want tools to help you focus and not easily disable your restrictions, Freedom Blocker is the option for you. You can set up sessions that block out distractions, although we don't recommend relying on Freedom if you're goal is to block adult content. 

We include more information in our guide for blocking keywords in URLs , if you interested to learn more.

MacOS Built-in Content Filtering

Screen Time includes several features that are perfect for the Safari browser specifically, and can be used to address some of its notable weaknesses:

  1. You can disable private browsing in Safari .
  2. You can ensure that Safesearch is enabled on any search engine you use within Safari.

If you open Screen Time on your Mac device, go to Content & Privacy. From here, set Web Content to Limit Adult Sites.

In addition to blocking most adult sites, you will also disable private browsing and have the option to Customize which websites are blocked.

Restrictions for Safari on iPhones and iPads

Just like on Mac devices, Screen Time is a highly viable option on iOS. If you have both an iPhone and Mac device, then Screen Time settings can be synchronized between your devices.

However, iPhone devices can also easily be connected to a DNS Content Policy, meaning that it remains as the most effective option regardless of which browser you use. However, Safari has some pretty powerful options that you can configure out of box.

Built-in Blocking Techniques for iOS Safari

All iOS devices (like iPhone and iPads) include Safari as the default option. Depending on how strict of a setup you're looking for on your device, you might approach the problem in a few different ways:

  1. Disable or Hide the Safari app.
  2. Enable Web Content Restrictions with Screen Time.
  3. Enforce Web Content Restrictions with Apple's more effective alternative to Screen Time. 

If you're interested in enabling the greatest number of restrictions on your iPhone device, we have a guide that explains how to convert your iPhone into a dumb phone (a smartphone with most distracting features removed).


If you're trying to get the most restrictive setup, then you can very easily hide Safari behind a Passcode.

From here, you should see a comprehensive list of apps on your device, including Safari.

If you choose not to hide the Safari app, then you can still limit what content it has access to using Screen Time.

You can add websites that you don't want to visit to the Never Allow list.

I can't find the Never Allow list
This option only appears when you have selected Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites only. It doesn't appear if you have selected Unrestricted Access, which is the default option.

While very powerful, Screen Time has one notable weakness: it's usually not that difficult to remember a four-digit PIN. This can be a problem if you are trying to prevent yourself from easily disabling these settings later on.

Apple has an option called supervised mode that's much more effective if you are self-managing. It allows you to set restrictions similar to Screen Time but locked with a separate device.

If you're interested in learning more about how this works, we recommend reading out blogpost about Apple's alternative to Screen Time . We also have recently released a new guide that talks about supervised mode for iPhone devices specifically.

Configured Supervised Mode on iOS
Configured Supervised Mode on iOS
Become a member to access step-by-step guides.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent screen time from being bypassed?

Enforcing screen time can be challenging, especially if you are self-managing a blocking system. 

You can try setting up a second Apple ID to use with Screen Time and lock it with a passcode after selecting the "This is My Child's Device" option:

Alternatively, you can use Apple's alternative to screen time to enforce content filtering in a more restrictive way.

How would I prevent myself from making changes to my Content Policy?

You can use the lock profile feature to prevent making changes to your content policy that would reduce restrictions. You can still add to restriction while a profile is locked.

How can I block explicit content within websites like Reddit?

Most adult content filters will block categories of content. However, if a website hosts a variety of content, it can be difficult to block. Instead, we recommend blocking websites by keyword .

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