2 Ways to Block Downloads in Google Chrome (Plus Alternatives)

INTRODUCTION

BLOCK WHAT!?

Welcome to a guide on how to block downloads in Google Chrome. Fun fact – By browsing websites, you are already downloading contents, scripts, images, audio, video, and all kinds of stuff. So when it comes to “blocking downloads”, it really isn’t quite accurate here… Since that will literally mean “not being able to access web pages” and “blocking the entire Internet”.

Hence in this guide, let us walk through something else that makes sense instead. “How to download files safely”, and “how to allow websites only” – Read on to find out!

 

 

 

SECTION A

BLOCK DOWNLOADS

First, let us walk through how to “disable downloads but still allow websites”. Beware though, this is pretty technical and requires changes to the system registry.

 

CHROME ALREADY HAS BUILT-IN PROTECTION

Before you decide to carry on with “disabling every download”, Google Chrome actually already has built-in “Safe Browsing” protection as described here. All you have to do is to make sure that it is turned on in the settings:

  • Click on the ⁝ button at the top-right corner > Settings.
  • Under “People” > “Sync and Google services”.
  • Under “Other Google services” > Turn on “Safe Browsing”.

With that, all of the known malware and virus files will be blocked from downloading. This also includes blocking all websites with a known bad reputation.

 

HOW TO BLOCK DOWNLOADS (IN WINDOWS)

Of course, it is impossible to filter out everything. So if you somehow still decide that it is necessary to block downloads for some security or company policy reasons, here are 2 ways to do it –

1) EDIT THE WINDOWS REGISTRY

Press Start > Search for “regedit” > “Registry Editor”.

Go under “Computer” > “HKEY_CURRENT_USER” > “Google” > “Chrome” > Right-click on empty space > New > DWORD (32-bit) > Name it “DownloadsRestrictions”.

Right-click on “DownloadRestrictions” > Modify > Give it one of the following values, as described in Google Support.

Value Description
0 No download restriction, all kinds of files are allowed.
1 Block the dangerous downloads. All downloads that are known as “dangerous” will be blocked.
2 Block the potentially dangerous download. All downloads that have been marked with “potentially dangerous” will be blocked.
3 Block everything, absolutely no file downloads allowed.

That’s it, just close Google Chrome and relaunch it.

 

 

2) ADD GROUP POLICY

Hit the start button > Search for “group policy” > Edit group policy.

Go under Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Classic Administrative Templates > Google > Google Chrome > Allow download restrictions.

Right-click on “Allow download restrictions” > Edit > Enabled > Select a download restriction > Hit “OK”. That’s it, close Chrome and reopen it again.

 

EXTRA) MISSING POLICY TEMPLATES? HOW ABOUT MAC & LINUX?

Can’t find the Chrome policy section in the editor? Then you need to download the policy templates from the Chromium website. Yes, Mac and Linux also have a similar policy mehcanism, and it is totally possible to block the downloads. Just follow the instructions on the Chromium webpage to import the policy templates, then enable the download restrictions.

 

 

SECTION B

PREVENTION MEASURES

Blocking “everything” really does not make a lot of sense – It will prevent yourself from downloading files and applications that you might need… Also, using another browser will bypass that restriction easily. So in this section, we will walk through the “softer” prevention alternatives to blocking.

 

INSTALL AN ANTI-VIRUS

On top of the default “Safe Browsing”, we can also install anti-virus to beef up the security – One can never have “too much protection”. Don’t worry, there is quite a lot of reputable free anti-virus out there:

Even if you don’t do anything, Windows actually comes with a “default” Windows Defender Antivirus, and Mac has XProtect built-in.

 

PROMPT BEFORE DOWNLOADING FILES

One dirty trick that bad code ninjas use on the Internet goes like this:

  • Ever visit a website and it “warns” that your system is infected with a “virus”?
  • It then automatically downloads a file that goes “install this to fix your infected system”.
  • But this downloaded file itself is actually the virus in disguise.

Yep. There are several different variations to this trick, including baits like “install to win a million-dollar reward” or “install to allow tech support to remote access”. The best protection against these pesky buggers is to not allow automatic downloads and discard the infected files immediately.

Hit the ⁝ button at the top-right corner > Settings > Advanced > Downloads > “Ask where to save each file before downloading”.

 

 

USE A DOWNLOAD MANAGER

This next alternative – I initially thought that it is possible to filter the downloads. To keep certain types of files (such as images, ebooks, documents) and discard the rest (such as videos, applications). But sadly, as at the time of writing, there don’t seem to be any mechanisms to do that… The next closest thing that I can find is this Free Download Manager.

While it does not restrict the download file types, but it can automatically save different file types to different folders. For example, images to one folder, ebooks to another folder. With this file manager, we can send the application downloads to a “quarantine” folder… Not an ideal solution, but close enough.

 

EVEN MORE PROTECTION?!

With the combination of safe browsing, download prompt, and anti-virus – There should be sufficient protection against virus infections and you can rest easier. But of course, it is impossible to have a “perfect shield” and there will always be cracks.

If you want further protection, then it has to go beyond Chrome. Create a guest user account in the Operating System (Windows, Mac, Linux). Guest accounts do not have the rights to install applications on the computer, and that should add another layer to the security. They can download an application, copy from a flash drive, but never be able to install it.

 

 

CLOSING

WHAT’S NEXT?

Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this guide I hope this has helped you to better understand, and if you have anything to share with this guide, please feel free to comment below. Good luck and may the cyber force be with you.

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