A browser that’s set to compress or block images, ads and other bandwidth-hogging parts of a web page can save you megabytes.

J. D. Biersdorfer
  • July 26, 2018

Q. I live in a rural area with an extremely slow, metered connection and limited internet bandwidth. I mostly use the web on my computer to read news articles, so is there a way to block everything except the text from downloading to save megabytes?

A. Most commonly used browsers — including Google Chrome. Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox — have a setting that allows you to disable image files from loading with a web page. When you turn on the Develop menu in the Preferences of Apple’s Safari browser, you get a Disable Images option.

If you don’t care to wade around in settings and configurations files, you can probably find a third-party add-on to block (or allow, on demand) images, videos and other visual content. To minimize the time and megabytes spent online, some people even use a browser’s “reader” mode to cut and paste text into a word-processing document for reading or printing later, or bookmark pages for offline reading later.

Opera, like many other browsers, can be set to stop images on a page from loading.CreditThe New York Times

For those wishing to save bandwidth and battery, the desktop Opera browser has some appealing built-in features, and the option to block images is easily found in the program’s settings. If you want to keep pictures loading but reduce the amount of data consumed, Opera has a “turbo” mode that compresses images, as well as its own ad blocker, a virtual private network and a battery saver feature that minimizes background activity. (Other browsers may have similar add-ons, like Google’s Data Saver extension available in the Chrome Web Store.)

If you’re feeling technically adventurous (or nostalgic), some text-only browsers are around. These include Lynx, which dates back to the early 1990s, and the much newer Browsh.

Browsers that compress data are also available for mobile devices. Dolphin, Opera Mini and the UC Browser are options, as is the Google Chrome app.

Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

J.D. Biersdorfer has been answering technology questions — in print, on the web, in audio and in video — since 1998. She also writes the Sunday Book Review’s “Applied Reading” column on ebooks and literary apps, among other things. @jdbiersdorfer


Orignially published in NYT.

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