Review: Magic Adblock for iPad Classrooms

adblock for ipad

Magic Adblock, for iPad or iPhone, is a free ad blocking app that can eliminate ads from your iOS browsing experience. For teachers in the classroom, this can be a great way to reduce distractions and help reduce confusion online. However, blocking ads is just one of the things it does to protect your online privacy. So, here’s how it works and how you can take advantage of an ad blocking app on your iPads at home or at school.

Why Use an Ad Blocking App for iPads and iPhones?

Ad blockers have been around for a long time on desktop machines, but they have only recently been made available for iOS users. Why should you use one? The developers of these apps tout many advantages for the end user. They include:

  • A cleaner online browsing experience
  • The elimination of tracking and malware scripts
  • Faster browsing (because you are not waiting for ads to load)
  • Less cellular data usage
  • Better battery life
  • Blocking adult websites

What You Need to Know Before You Install the App

From the outset, you should know that ad blockers only work on iOS devices that are running iOS 9 and later. So, make sure your iPad software is up to date before trying to use any kind of ad blocking apps, (Settings > General > Software Update).

You should also know that ad blocking apps only work in Safari because this is all that Apple has allowed. If you use Chrome for iPad or another application that has ads built-in, then apps like Magic Adblock for iPad will have no effect. However, if you do a lot of web browsing or research in Safari, then you can absolutely take advantage of ad blocking software.

How to Set Up an Ad Blocking App on the iPad & iPhone

  1. Open your Settings app
  2. Scroll down and tap on Safari
  3. On the right-hand side of the screen, tap on Content Blockers
  4. Toggle the switch next to Magic Adblock for iPad to make it green
  5. Return to Safari and test it on a website of your choice

Adblock settings in iOS

What To Do If Webpages Don’t Load Properly

It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally you will come across a website that doesn’t render very well when you have Magic Adblock installed.  However, there is a very quick fix for this. All you have to do is press and hold on the refresh arrow in the address bar of Safari. This lets you choose to reload the current page without your ad blocker. This won’t turn off ad blocking in your Settings, but it will temporarily disable it so that you can view this specific website with all ads enabled.

Reload Website Without Content Blockers

Are Ad Blockers Legal?

Legal? Yes. Ethical? It depends on who you talk to. The majority of the Internet that we all know and love is really only accessible for free because of the revenue that is generated by online ads. If everyone used an ad blocker on all their devices, and at all times, then it is almost certain that we would have to pay for a lot more of the web than we might want to. Companies like Google make a lot of their revenue from selling ads online. Many other companies do too. If this concerns you, there is the option in the Settings of Magic Adblock for iPad to whitelist sites that you still want to show ads on. This is a good way you can support the sites that you appreciate the most.

Why Should You Use Magic Adblock for iPad?

I have been using Magic for a while now and have been impressed by how well it performs. It loads sites very quickly and blocks a very high percentage of online ads. It gives websites a cleaner format that makes them easier to read, and there are far less distractions or unsuitable content displayed on the screen when using iPads with students. Best of all, Magic is 100% free! There are no in-app purchases.

There are, of course, a variety of other ad blocking apps for iOS available in the App Store. Crystal is a decent alternative. I used it for a while when it first came out. It costs you 99c and has very much the same feature set as Magic. However, I have found Magic was far more reliable. Crystal did not block as many ads for me, and some sites like Amazon did not always load when it was enabled in Safari.

1Blocker is another app you could consider. It is free, with the option of an in-app purchase, and differs from Magic because it has a much more granular approach. It gives you greater control over what you block and what you don’t. For many people this app may be more than you need, but if you want this level of control, then this could be the app for you. For everyone else, Magic Adblock for iPad will do just fine!

magic ipad adblock

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Mark Up PDFs With Apple’s Mail App for iPad & iPhone

pdf mail markup

There are undoubtedly many great PDF annotation apps for the iPad and iPhone. I own many of them. Apps like PDF Expert, Notability, iAnnotate and Foxit PDF are great options, but you don’t always need such a full featured app. Sometimes you just want to do some quick markups to a document and send it back to the person who emailed it to you. For occasions like this, you can use the Apple Mail app in iOS 9 or later.

How to Annotate PDFs With the iOS Mail App

1. Open your Mail app and tap the PDF icon in your message to open a full screen preview.

2. Tap the screen again to reveal the toolbar at the top of the screen, then tap the toolbox.

toolbox mail icon

If the PDF appears as a live preview in your email, press and hold on the image view of the PDF and select Markup and Reply.

markup and reply

3. Use the annotation tools at the bottom of the screen to markup your PDF.

pdf markup tools mail ios

4. There are a variety of tools available for marking up your PDF. They include a pen tool, a text tool, and the option to add your handwritten signature. You can adjust the font, font size and font alignment as well as the pen color and thickness. There is even a magnifier tool that can be resized and used to call out areas of the document by making them larger.

5. When you are finished, click Done in the top right-hand corner of the screen and the annotated PDF will be added to an email that is pre-populated with the original sender’s email address. You can now add a quick message and send it straight back to the sender for their attention.

Possible Uses for the iOS Mail App Annotation Tools

Perhaps the most obvious use for these tools is to electronically sign documents. This is an increasingly common need and although there are 3rd-party apps to help you do this, nothing would be faster than doing it in the Mail app and sending it right back to the sender.

Teachers could use this tool to markup and give feedback to students on the 1st draft of an essay or another type of assignment that was emailed to them on their iPad. However, students could also use it to email ideas and drafts of group projects back and forward to each other, or as part of a peer review process.

Bonus Tip: iTunesU

Many of the markup tools also appear when you view a PDF inside an iTunesU course. This means teachers could add a PDF for students to annotate and turn in as an assignment. The PDF could be blank and students could use it as a whiteboard for working out Math or Science problems. It could be a map, a graphic organizer, a handwriting guide, graph paper, or any number of other things. The built-in tools can then be used to mark-up the PDF so it can be turned in to the teacher for grading or review.