When Google ads fail to appear in Safari or Firefox

It seems like more and more websites you visit these days are adorned with a block of Google ads. My online store is no exception. As I was configuring my store, I noticed that my ads appeared when I was surfing the web with Google Chrome but not when I was using either Firefox or Safari. What displayed, instead, was a block of blank space.

Checking the message boards, I noticed that others were reporting a similar problem with various browsers. As I was investigating the source of the glitch, I noticed that the ads appeared when I ran either Firefox or Safari under a different user account on the same machine. That revelation convinced me that it wasn’t an incompatible plugin or extension that was causing the problem. Rather, something happened which corrupted my browser configuration in my main user account. My task was to figure out what that was and how to correct it.

While the Safari fix turned out to be deceptively simple to implement, it took a little while to arrive at the solution.

First, I tried the obvious strategies, like resetting the browser, emptying the cache, and verifying that JavaScript was enabled in the Preferences menu. I also tested the site with Safari Extensions turned off and on. None of those configuration changes made any difference.

Finally, I elected to see what would happen if I shut down my browser and deleted the Safari preference list file (com.apple.Safari.plist) located in my Library’s home folder. That simple step enabled the ads to reappear the next time I launched Safari!

Re-enabling Firefox’s capability of displaying the Google ads proved to be more challenging and time-consuming. Deleting the Library folder’s preference list file (org.mozilla.firefox.plist) with Firefox shut down didn’t help. Disabling all the optional add-ons and extensions proved fruitless as well. In Firefox Safe Mode, I was able to see the ads, but my home page’s Flash animation didn’t appear because its associated plugin had been deactivated by default.

What finally fixed the problem was my decision to create a brand new Firefox profile, copying over essentials from my old profile like bookmarks, passwords, and the cookies file. A list of what files to bring over are shown on the this support page.

Logging into Firefox using a new profile, I regained the ability to view my Google ads on my website.


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Filed under Apple Software, Third Party Software, Today's Activities, Troubleshooting

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