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Block Skype Ads by adding the Ad Server to Restricted Sites

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If you’re a regular Skype user who finds the Skype chat window ads to be distracting, here is a neat way to disable the ads and the ad placeholders. The instructions apply to Skype 7 desktop app for Windows.

Skype ads are fetched from server using a secure (https) connection. To block the ads, you just need to add this sub-domain to the Restricted Sites zone in Internet Explorer so that scripts can’t run from that site. The setting works for Internet Explorer as well as Skype.

How to Remove Ads in Skype?

Here is how to remove Skype ads:

  1. Close Skype if it’s running. Check the notification area to verify if Skype is running hidden. If so, right-click the Skype icon and click Quit.
  2. Open Internet Explorer, click Tools (Alt + T) and open Internet Options.
  3. Select the Security tab, and click Sites
  4. Type the following website address, and click Add.

    (Be sure to use the prefix https:// instead of http:// )

  5. Click Ok, Ok to close Internet Options.
  6. Close Internet Explorer
  7. Re-open Skype. No Ads should display now, and the chat window would appear as below:

However, as you can see in the screenshot, a placeholder appears where the ads used to appear. It shouldn’t bother you, but if it does, you can however remove the empty placeholder by editing the Skype config file.

Remove empty Ad placeholders in Skype

  1. Close (exit) Skype again if it’s running.
  2. Press Winkey + R to bring up the Run dialog.
  3. Type the following path, and press ENTER
  4. Double-click to open your Skype profile folder. In this example, the profile folder is named ramesh_mvp.
  5. Open the file config.xml using Notepad.
  6. Use Notepad’s find feature to search for the line that reads “AdvertPlaceholder”. By default, the markup looks like this.

  7. Change the above line to the following. That is, change 1 to 0.
  8. Save the file and close Notepad.

Finally, you’ve got a clean Skype chat window sans the advertisement banners and placeholders.

Skype Home gets blocked, too

If the subdomain is blocked, it also causes Skype Home to stop working. You’ll see the message Skype Home is unavailable at the moment. Check back later... which briefly appears, and then followed by an animated blue circle or progress indicator. Regardless, you can click on a contact to start a chat instance.

Malvertisement Campaigns

Ads are one of the primary sources of revenue for many app developers and website owners, and they help authors bring quality content. However it’s worth noting that some platforms are targeted by malware writers to distribute their stuff and infect users on a massive scale. Here are some cases — check out Malvertising Via Skype Delivers Angler | F-Secure, Users Report Malicious Ads in Skype | Threatpost, and Skype serving virus-laden ads – Skype Community.

Screenshots of malicious ads in Skype

Those ads mislead users to believe that they’re genuine dialog boxes by the respective software — WMP and Flash, and create a sense of urgency. Clicking on the ad, as a Skype user reports, “will take you to a site pretending to be Adobe and try to download viruses to your machine.

Malvertising concern is one good reason to block ads in Skype. Hope Skype improves the ads quality and further tightens the grip on its ad delivery system, although malicious Skype ad campaigns may be rare occurrences.

And check out this GitHub page for a HOSTS file that blocks Skype ads. Using HOSTS file is another method to disable ads.

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