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How to get rid of spam notifications and rogue ads on your Android phone or tablet


shane
(@shane)
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Advertisements are an unavoidable facet of modern life, but thankfully, most of the ones we're subjected to on a daily basis are subject to certain rules. Unfortunately, anyone with a mobile phone knows that some rogue ads still find a way to bend those rules, but there are ways to mitigate against the threat of malicious apps and websites serving us content they're not supposed to.

If you've encountered full-screen pop-up advertisements or spam notifications on your Android phone, we should be able to help you get rid of them. We'll show you how to pinpoint the source of the nefarious ads or spam so you can uninstall misbehaving apps. And if the notifications are coming from your web browser, we can help with that too.

 

Full-screen ads

Some malicious apps display full-screen advertisements, even if you have another application open. Thankfully, it is incredibly easy to figure out where these come from. Whenever they appear, just open the Recents/multi-tasking view (the screen that shows all the apps currently running) and you'll see which app is at the front of the queue and serving you the ad.

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The real app name or icon is supposed to appear at the top, but some apps change this to make it harder to tell where the ad came from. All you have to do is hold down on the app name or icon and select 'App info' from the menu, which will take you to the info screen for the application sending those ads. You can uninstall the app from there and it won't be able to bother you again.

Notification ads

Push notifications containing ads are pretty common, but thankfully, they're usually easy to get rid of. On any phone running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, just long-press the notification to see which app it came from. Most of the time, the app name is already visible at the top of the alert, but some apps hide that detail.

You'll probably want to uninstall the offending app, and you can do so by tapping the settings cog and then the app icon to get to the 'App info' screen. From there you can uninstall it from your phone altogether. If you want to keep it, you can choose to just hide the notifications instead. The 'Notifications' screen will allow you to turn off all alerts from the app or just those in the offending channel (category). In the example below, I can turn off all Slack notifications or scroll down to turn off individual notification channels.

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Long-press notifications to see more information and options.

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You can then turn off notifications or uninstall the app.

The above screens are roughly the same on Android 11 and 12. Depending on your version of Android, there may be an info button instead of a settings cog (which will take you to the app options), a button that says 'Block all notifications,' or a simple switch.

Notification ads from Samsung

If you have a Samsung phone, you might have seen advertisements from the company in your notification tray (even for the very device you're currently using). One example was in August 2019, when the company sent out multiple alerts about the then-new Note10.

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As if it wasn't bad enough to be pushed annoying alerts by your own phone's maker, some of them can't be turned off by holding down on the notification tray — Samsung makes you find each of the toggles in its apps that turn off notification ads. Here's how to find them.

Samsung Pay

  1. Open Samsung Pay on your phone
  2. Open the side menu and tap 'Settings'
  3. Under 'General', switch 'Marketing and promotions' to off.

Bixby

  1. Open Bixby on your phone
  2. Tap the menu button at the top right, and select 'Settings'
  3. Under 'General,' switch 'Marketing notifications' to off.

Samsung Push Service

Another culprit is called Samsung Push Service, but luckily that can be turned off in the usual manner:

 
  1. Open 'Settings' and then 'Apps'
  2. Search for 'Samsung Push Service'
  3. Tap 'Notifications'
  4. Toggle 'Marketing' off.

When setting up your Samsung device, there may also be a toggle for turning off advertisements across the OS. In Europe, turning this off seems to stop any ads from ever showing (potentially in order to be GDPR compliant). In other regions, your mileage may vary.

Notification ads from a web browser

If you get a notification ad from a web browser, it's probably not the browser itself sending those — it's a website you granted notification access to at some point. You may have done it accidentally, or you may have only noticed when the site started sending more and more alerts. Whatever the reason may be, you can easily cut off notifications from specific sites.

Google Chrome

If you see an unwanted notification from Chrome, tap 'Site settings,' and then 'Notifications.' From there, you'll be able to turn off the notification channel for the site that's sending the alert.

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Alternatively, you can long-press the notification and then tap 'Turn off notifications' in the bottom left. You'll be able to toggle off the site's notification channel on the next screen (see below).

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On older versions of Android, you may get a simple Block/Allow popup instead.

You can also turn off notifications from a site at any time from Chrome's settings. Open Chrome, tap the menu button at the top-right (three dots), select 'Site settings,' then tap 'Notifications.'

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There, you'll see every website that has ever sent notifications to your phone. To block alerts from a site, select it from the list and tap 'Notifications.'

Samsung Internet Browser

Samsung's web browser handles notifications almost exactly like Chrome. When a site sends you an alert, you can tap the 'Site Settings' button and you'll be taken directly to the site settings page for all sites. The one that's sent you the notification will be in the Allowed list, and from there you can toggle it off.

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You can get to this same menu via the app's settings — just head to Settings > Sites and downloads > Notifications > tap the three-dot menu ⋮ > Allow or block sites.With any luck, this guide will have helped you track down and get rid of irritating ads and notifications on your Android phone or tablet. If a nuisance app was to blame, it's worth heading to the Google Play Store and giving it a 1-star review and/or reporting it so others can be warned about its devious ways.

Firefox

Firefox doesn't support Android notification channels, and it doesn't have a general list of all sites you have granted notification permissions to. As a result, blocking notifications from a specific site is done a little differently since there is no 'Site settings' button.

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When you get a notification, the site it came from is visible at the top. You have to go to that site in Firefox and tap the lock icon in the address bar next to the URL...

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Then tap the 'Allowed' button next to Notification and it will change to 'Blocked'...

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It's a little more convoluted, but at least the result is the same and you will no longer receive spam notifications from the website in question.

With any luck, this guide will have helped you track down and get rid of irritating ads and notifications on your Android phone or tablet. If a nuisance app was to blame, it's worth heading to the Google Play Store and giving it a 1-star review and/or reporting it so others can be warned about its devious ways.


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