How to prevent apps from accessing the internet on Windows and Mac

Worried about apps sharing your personal data online? Here’s how to revoke internet access using Windows or macOS.

It is always a good idea to keep an eye on the apps that have access online. Restricting or revoking internet use for certain services is a good way to make your device more secure and keep your personal informationon private.

Do you want to prevent an app from accessing the internet on your Windows or Mac computer? Let’s explore how you do it on your PC or laptop.

Why block apps from accessing the internet?

There are various reasons why you might want to block an app from accessing the internet.

It is possible that you are suspicious of a service and are not sure what data it shares with the developer when you allow it to the internet. Keeping an eye on what personal details are shared is always a good move.

Related: How To Stop Any App From Using Mobile Data On Android

Another possible reason is that you don’t want your kids to access certain online content in some apps. In this case, blocking the internet for your apps is really useful.

How to prevent apps from accessing the internet on Windows

If you’re using a Windows PC, you don’t need to install an app to block online activities for your apps. Your built-in Windows Defender firewall is capable enough to allow you to restrict internet connection usage to certain apps.

Block the Internet for an app in Windows Firewall

To use the firewall to restrict the Internet, you need to create a rule in this utility that blocks the Internet for the selected software. Here’s how to create this rule:

  1. Open Control Panel, click System and Security, then click Windows Defender Firewall.

  2. On the left, click on the option that says Advanced settings to view advanced firewall settings.

  3. Select Outbound Rules on the left while creating a new outbound firewall rule. Then, click New Rule on the right.

  4. The firewall should ask what kind of rule you want to create. Select Program and press Next at the bottom.

  5. On the resulting screen, choose This Program Location and click Browse.

  6. Find the app you want to block from connecting to the internet. Once the app’s EXE file is displayed, click on the address bar in File Explorer and press Ctrl + C to copy the folder path. Do not select the EXE file yet.

  7. Go back to the firewall panel and paste the copied path into This program path. Then, enter the name of the EXE (Ctrl + V). You need to do this because Windows doesn’t automatically use the absolute path to your app’s executable file. Then click Next.

  8. Select Block the connection and click Next.

  9. Check all the options and click Next to make sure the app doesn’t access the internet no matter the situation.

  10. Enter a name for your rule; this will appear in the rules list. You can add a description if you want and click Finish.

  11. The newly created rule should now be running.

  12. Launch your app and you will find that it can no longer access the internet.

Unblock the Internet for an app in Windows Firewall

If you decide to allow your blocked app to access the internet again, you can do it as follows in your firewall:

  1. Search for Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security in the Start Menu and click on it.

  2. Click Outbound Rules on the left to view outbound connection rules.

  3. Find the rule you created earlier on the right and select it.

  4. Click Disable Rule on the right to disable the rule. This will allow your app to connect to the internet.

  5. If you will no longer use this rule, click Delete to permanently delete it. Make sure you take this step first.

If you want to grant temporary internet access to your app, you need to disable the rule instead of deleting it. Then, when you want to enable blocking again, you can enable the rule.

Block apps from accessing the internet on macOS

MacOS has built-in and third-party methods for preventing apps from accessing the internet.

However, the macOS firewall only allows you to block incoming connections for your apps (and to do that, you’ll need to know how to configure the macOS firewall). Unless this is what you want to do, you have to use the third party app method.

Use an app to block internet access for your Mac apps

There are several apps to help you block the internet for your apps on your Mac. One of them is Radio Silence (free trial, then $ 9 one-time) that helps you block and unblock the internet for your apps in just a few clicks.

You can use some browser extensions to block certain websites, including temporary and long-term solutions.

Here we show how you use this app to prevent internet access for your apps installed on macOS:

  1. Download, install and launch Radio Silence on your Mac. You need to download the app from its website as the app is not available on the Mac App Store.

  2. Click the Firewall tab in the main app interface.

  3. Click Block Application at the bottom to add an app to the list.

  4. Switch to the app you want to restrict Internet access for. Usually, all your apps are available in the Applications folder.

  5. The internet is now blocked for your app.

  6. You can enable and disable the Radio Silence feature using the switch in the lower right corner.

Use the macOS firewall to block incoming connections

If you’re just looking to block inbound connections for your apps, the built-in macOS firewall should suffice. Here’s how you use it:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left and select System Preferences.

  2. Select Security and privacy.

  3. Click the Firewall tab and select Firewall Options.

  4. Click the Add (+) button and add the app for which you want to block incoming connections.

  5. Choose Block incoming connections from the menu next to your app in the list.

  6. Press OK at the bottom to save the changes.

Give Internet access only when necessary

Not all apps on your computer need to connect to the internet to work. If you don’t want an app to send data online, the methods above help you prevent that service from accessing the outside world. Make sure you’re not limiting any core functionality by revoking it, however!

There are also some other measures you can take to protect yourself from being spied on by apps that might otherwise appear to be trustworthy.

How to protect yourself from unethical or illegal espionage

Do you think someone is spying on you? Here’s how to find out if spyware is on your PC or mobile device and how to remove it.

About the author

Mahesh Makvana (101 articles published)

Mahesh is a technology writer at MakeUseOf. He has been writing technology guides for about 8 years and has covered many topics. He loves teaching people how to get the most out of their devices.

More from Mahesh Makvana

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