How to Fix: Disable Full Screen Popup Ads in Android

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Richard A. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I am so glad I found your website! I have a major problem with my Samsung S6 Edge (with Android Marshmallow). Recently I started receiving full screen pop up advertisements on my phone - these ads are appearing even when my phone is idle! At first they appeared every few days but now these full screen advertisements are popping up every few hours. I have NO idea where they are coming from. I searched google for 'block popup ads android' and came across an article suggesting it is possible to disable notifications from apps by adjusting the 'apps that can appear on top' setting, but this did absolutely nothing. Can you PLEASE help? "

My response:

I don't normally answer Android questions but I have had a similar issue with my phone - so I'd like to share my suggestions in case anyone else is having the same problem.

How to Fix: Disable Full Screen Popup Ads in Android

The methods I'm using are for non-rooted phones, which is the majority of Android users.

First let's discuss two main types of "full screen ads" that appear on Android phones.

  1. If you occasionally play games on your phone and full screen ads appear during that time, then it is likely the game sending you ads. These ads can be disabled using "Airplane mode." This effectively disables your Wifi and data, but you won't receive any ads. When you're finished with the app, flick the Airplane mode off. Airplane mode is usually located in the Settings -> Connections area.
     
  2. If you are receiving full screen popup ads on your phone that seem to come out of nowhere, you have a bit of detective work to do:

    a. The easiest way to figure out where the ads are coming from is to wait until the full screen ad appears, then press the "app button" on the phone. As soon as you do this, the title of each app currently running on the phone will be displayed, including the popup ad and the app responsible for displaying the ad. In other words, the popup ad will now contain the title of the app!

    b. Once you find out which app is causing you grief, go to the Settings -> Applications -> Application Manager, scroll through the list of your installed apps, then select the app in question to display its properties. Most apps will have an "uninstall" button, in which case you can kick the program to the curb and never see the ads again.

    c. If there is no uninstall button, you will have to "force stop" the app, then click the "uninstall updates" (if that is an option), then click the button to "disable" the app. Note that you may not see the "disable" button until you uninstall the updates! Doing so effectively prevents the app from ever starting again and the "disabled" settings will be remembered even after a reboot.

In my case, I had an app called "Peel Smart Remote" that came bundled with my phone's operating system (AT&T). I've never once used the app but it was sending me ads every few hours. What a pain! I had to 'disable' the app because there was no way to uninstall it.

Still having Issues? Try a Firewall App

It should also be noted that if none of suggestions I've mentioned has helped, consider installing a firewall app. This will allow you to pick and choose which apps are allowed to communicate with the outside world. That said, once it is installed it may temporarily break some programs until you 'flip the switch' to allow communication. By default, the firewall will disable all outgoing communication for most apps. Also note that if you use the firewall to prevent ads on an app -and you still keep using the app - it may break certain features of the app, as some apps need a constant connection to work.

I hope that helps!

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

Damsone's picture

I don't normally post comments online but this guide really helped me so I thought I should pay it back in some way!
The offending app in my case was Video Player for Android: I want to caution others as I downloaded this app from the Google Play Store where it is still available and has been downloaded 10 million times! I had used it without any issues for well over a year but noticed that full screen ads started appearing about three or four months ago (September 2017) which could have been the result of an update. It's a pity as the player itself worked really well but the ads are very annoying, drain the battery and make the phone very difficult to use. They appear even when the app is closed - while browsing the internet or checking emails. They even appear when the phone is locked.
I discovered this by using your tactic of closing all apps and waiting to see which one appeared with the ad: this app is incredibly sneaky as it didn't show its name. It was only after checking the recent activity for each app that I discovered it was Video Player as this was the only app that had been active since the last full battery charge! It was not the one I would have suspected but since uninstalling it, I haven't had any further problems. Hope this helps somebody.