Saw a tweet today from asking if anyone had seen a good example of a site that displayed an alert to users with pop-up blockers turned on (in the case where the blocker interferes with display of some function or content).

Presuming that the pop-up window is necessary (I already suggested a modal window), is there a good reference for this messaging? Would it need to vary by OS and browser? Would you need browser-specific instructions on temporarily disabling the blocker?

I came up empty myself.

  • 4
    "Pop-up blocked. Installing Internet Explorer 6...please wait." Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:33
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    Perhaps in an alternate universe where everything is backwards :)
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:45
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    In all seriousness, I have a hard time imagining very many scenarios where a pop-up is necessary. It's almost always the wrong answer to non-toaster-related questions. Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:53
  • Yeah, I couldn't think of any scenarios myself, which is probably why I couldn't think of a good example. Maybe a mandatory Flash-only site (horror!) or antiquated CMS-driven site? Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 22:00
  • A couple of the questions trending in the Related Questions block seem to provide situations where a person could argue for a pop-up, though, unless they're S.I. Newhouse, no one's probably going to agree.
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


I would point the user to the browser widget that is no doubt already on screen telling them that a popup was blocked. That widget typically has a built-in control to allow the popup.

Bonus points if you can get one message to work for all the browsers you support.


So, here's a related question that presents a possible use case.

Let's say John Public is moving from an application at one subsite to an application at another subsite, and the business logic requires that he re-authenticate to ensure he's not some crazy evil sorceress. You decide to open a pop-up to perform that re-authentication (and, agreed, a modal window is probably the better choice here as well, but we'll run with it), you're going to want that pop-up to actually open.

Unfortunately, Mr. Public is running a fancy new-age browser that blocks pop-ups like an over-competitive dad at his kid's U-14 hockey game. He doesn't realize his browser is stopping him from performing this simple task, and the site isn't getting its reassurance that he's not a doppelganger.

The best response I've seen in this case is to stop everything and let Mr. Public know that

  1. His browser is too cool for school,
  2. The pop-up it's blocking isn't malware, and
  3. That you'd really like him to unblock this pop-up so he can go back to doing all the awesome stuff he wanted to do.
  4. Also, you'll probably want him to except your site from further nannying altogether so the mouse can also get his milk.

I would have it load a a page, in the site's normal livery (a.k.a. keep it in-brand), with a few simple sentences explaining the SNAFU and showing how to correct the interruption in the most popular browsers from which the site sees traffic.

  • 1
    Words cannot describe how awesome this post is.
    – Rahul
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 22:23

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