How to check and disable JavaScript in your browser

JavaScript is a versatile scripting language widely used to create interactive and dynamic websites. Supported by most modern web browsers, it brings dynamic elements to user interfaces. JavaScript's applications range from form validation and animation to event handling and server interaction via AJAX.
We'll explore JavaScript's features from both technical and user perspectives, understanding its impact on browser functionality, data privacy, and internet security.

  • JavaScript is an interpreted language, meaning the browser executes the code in real-time during user interaction, unlike compiled languages like Java or C++. This approach simplifies coding and debugging.
  • It allows manipulation of the DOM (Document Object Model) of HTML documents, enabling content changes, event handling, dynamic element insertion, and more.
  • JavaScript supports asynchronous server requests using AJAX technology. This facilitates loading specific data without refreshing the entire page, enhancing server response and reducing CPU load.

Modern JavaScript features a modular structure, easing code division into multiple files and libraries for better management and collaborative development. User perspective:

  • JavaScript enhances browser interactivity with elements like drop-down menus, sliders, and forms, engaging users more effectively.
  • It optimizes page loading, speeding up data transmission and reception.
  • JavaScript validates form data, ensuring accuracy before submission to the server.

While JavaScript significantly enriches website functionality, making it more interactive and user-friendly, it can compromise user privacy and security. For instance, JavaScript can determine a user's location via geolocation. This feature simplifies interactions with region-dependent services but raises concerns about constant location tracking.

How JavaScript in the browser affects your fingerprint

JS not only risks leaking location data but also tracks various user details. These include:

  • Behavioral data collection. JS gathers information about the pages you visit, duration of stay, and actions performed (like clicking links, filling out forms, and reading). Analyzing these scripts helps build a user behavior profile for personalized recommendations or advertising.
  • Tracking and analysis. JS can track the IP owner through cookies and other browser storage technologies to identify interests, preferences, and behavior patterns, primarily used for personalized advertising.

On the positive side, JavaScript offers several benefits:

  • Enhanced security. Some browsers use JavaScript for anti-virus and anti-phishing filters, improving the safety of your browsing experience.
  • Support for dynamic websites. Websites without JavaScript may load but often lack full functionality, including animations or interactive elements, leading to a subpar user experience.
  • Advertising display. Although JavaScript might feel intrusive, it enables websites to display relevant advertisements. For instance, if you’re searching for a rare car part, JavaScript-powered contextual ads might suggest additional search options in the following days.

Using JS scripts is a standard practice for most websites today. Browser security settings typically don’t flag scripts as hostile and only block them based on specific user instructions. It’s up to each individual to control the data collected and site permissions in the browser. Common steps include blocking cookies or using ad and tracking blockers. Understanding JavaScript's role, you can check its status and, if desired, disable it in the browser. However, remember that disabling JS can significantly impact website accessibility, potentially rendering some resources unusable.

Disabling JavaScript in Google Chrome

  1. To open the settings menu in Google Chrome, click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner and select "Settings".
  2. In the settings menu, locate "Privacy and security" on the left side. Click it, then scroll down to find and open "Site settings" at the bottom of the page.
  3. On the "Site settings" page, scroll to the bottom to find a section titled "Content". Click on "JavaScript".
  4. Chrome's default setting is "Sites can use JavaScript". To disable JavaScript, change this setting by selecting "Disable".
  5. If you don't want to disable JavaScript entirely, you can specify individual sites that are either blocked or allowed to use JavaScript in the settings below.

After modifying your browser settings, a restart may be necessary depending on your Chrome version. However, recent versions of Chrome automatically save the new settings and function without a restart.

Disable JavaScript in Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is the developer's proprietary browser and comes with Windows by default. There are three different ways to disable JavaScript in Edge.

Through browser settings

  1. To access your browser's menu, click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right corner and choose the "Settings" section.
  2. In the menu, navigate to the left panel and locate the "Cookies and site permissions" group. Click on it, then scroll down on the right side of the window to find the "JavaScript" section, and open it.
  3. JavaScript is enabled by default. To disable it, move the slider on the right to the off position. In this section, you can also list specific sites where JavaScript is either blocked or allowed. Remember, completely disabling JavaScript will affect all sites, so manage individual site settings only when JavaScript is enabled.

Additionally, explore the browser's security options for more tracking protection features in the privacy section.

Via Windows tools

  1. To manage JavaScript settings, press the Windows key + R. This works for both Windows and Linux operating systems. In the run dialog, type "gpedit.msc" without quotes and press Enter or click "OK".
  2. This command opens the “Group Policy Management Editor”. Navigate to "Computer Configuration", then "Administrative Templates", and find the "Microsoft Edge" folder.
  3. In the Microsoft Edge settings, look for "Allows you to run scripts, like JavaScript" on the right side of the window. Double-click it to open its settings window.
  4. You'll see three options in this window. Selecting "Not configured" allows JavaScript to be turned on or off automatically, which might not be secure. "Enabled" allows scripts to run always, potentially increasing CPU load. Choose "Disabled" to enhance security by preventing geolocation tracking and browser behavior tracking. Remember to click "OK" after making your selection.

This method may not work in all versions of Windows. For instance, in Windows 10 Lite, deep system configuration access is restricted. In such cases, consider an alternative method to manage JavaScript, which is simpler but depends on your browser version.

Via the address bar

Open the Microsoft Edge browser. Ensure it is updated to the latest version if you are using an older version. In the address bar, type “edge://settings/content/javascript” without quotes and press “Enter”. This will open a settings window where you can modify JavaScript settings and create exception lists for certain websites.

After making any changes to these configurations, you may need to restart the browser for the changes to take effect.

How to disable JavaScript in Safari

This browser has a large number of additional tools and add-ons that track user actions. Depending on your version of Apple software, you can completely disable JavaScript in Safari using one of two methods below.

Via the developer menu

  1. Open the browser and look for the menu bar at the top of the window. On the top left, next to the Apple icon, you'll find the "Safari" menu. Click on it and select "Preferences".
  2. In the settings window, navigate to the far right and click on the "Advanced" icon. This section contains various debugging options. At the bottom, you'll find the option "Show Develop menu in menu bar". Check this box to activate it.
  3. Now, go back to the main browser window. You will see a new "Develop" menu item in the menu bar, positioned third from the right. Click on it, and in the drop-down menu, you'll find an option to "Disable JavaScript".

Enabling this option will completely turn off JavaScript support for all web traffic in this browser.

Simplified instructions for Mac OS users

  1. Open the Safari browser. From the menu bar at the top of the screen, click on "Safari" and then select "Preferences".
  2. In the Settings window, navigate to the "Security" section. At the bottom, you'll find the option "Enable JavaScript". By default, this option is enabled (the checkbox is checked). To disable JavaScript, simply uncheck this box.

As a general rule, it's good practice to restart the browser after making such changes. While Safari often automatically applies new settings, restarting ensures that all changes are fully implemented.

Disabling JavaScript in Opera

  1. Open Opera and access the menu by clicking on the three horizontal stripes icon in the upper right corner. Scroll to the bottom of the menu and click on "Go to full browser settings".
  2. On the left side panel, select the "Privacy & security" tab. In the "Privacy and security" section, click on "Site settings".
  3. In the “Site settings”, find and click on the "JavaScript" section.
  4. You'll see the default settings, where JavaScript is usually allowed "Sites can use JavaScript". To disable JavaScript, change this setting to "Don’t allow sites to use JavaScript".
  5. For more personalized control, you can keep JavaScript enabled but create your own lists of sites that are either allowed or not allowed to use it. This can be done by using the "Add" button to create white and black lists.

After these adjustments, scripts will be disabled as per your settings. Fully disabling JavaScript might affect the functionality of many websites, so using site-specific lists for restrictions is often a more practical approach.

Disabling JavaScript in Mozilla Firefox

  1. Open Firefox and type “about:config” in the address bar, and press “Enter”.
  2. You'll be presented with a warning about modifying advanced settings. Click on the "Accept the Risk and Continue" button to proceed.
  3. In the search bar that appears, type “javascript.enabled”. As you type, you'll see the setting appear below the search bar. If the value next to "javascript.enabled" is "true", JavaScript is currently enabled.
  4. To disable JavaScript, double-click on the line where "true" is displayed, or click on the toggle icon on the right side of the line. This action should change the value to "false", indicating that JavaScript is now deactivated.

This method does not allow for partial restrictions or the creation of site-specific lists. It's an all-or-nothing approach, where JavaScript is either enabled for all sites or disabled completely.

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