Brave is one of the more privacy friendly browsers out there today. It’s based on Chromium (the same project that powers Google Chrome), but offers many perks like automatic tracking protection, decentralized syncing, support for Chrome extensions, etc, on top. While Brave gets a lot of things right, you could do without a few of its default settings.
Disable Brave Rewards ⬆
The “shields” feature in Brave blocks tracking cookies, pop-ups, fingerprinting scripts, and invasive ads by default. The company does understand that this negatively affects many content creators who rely on advertising revenue to keep their websites and services running.
To offset this, Brave includes “Rewards” – a feature that pays Brave users to occasionally view privacy-friendly ads. The payment is done in BAT (Basic Attention Token), a cryptocurrency that’s exclusively available through the browser. Users can choose to either contribute their earnings to frequently visited websites, or use it on the trading platform Uphold.com.
Most of the internet depends on advertising, but modern script based ads have many problems – bloated website pages, unnecessary data collection and tracking, decreased device performance and battery life, to name a few. Ad blocking affects content creators, while allowing ads to load can sometimes cause a poor experience for users. This is an all-around sticky situation, and I must applaud Brave for trying to tackle it with a novel approach. That said, Brave Rewards may not always present a pleasant experience, and you are free to turn it off.
Rewards is an opt-in feature, which means it will only activate with your consent. If you’ve already consented to it and would like to turn it off now, the steps are easy.
Click the hamburger button (≡) on the top right part of Brave, and open “Brave Rewards”. Switch off “Brave Ads” and “Auto-Contribute”.
To hide the Rewards button on the address bar, go to ≡ > “Settings” > “🖥 Appearance”, and enable the option “Hide Brave Rewards button”. You can use the search button to find the relevant options if you’re unable to locate them at a glance (there are a lot of options in Brave).
Disable (or enable) Crypto Wallets ⬆
Besides Rewards, Brave also supports native and third-party crypto wallets to manage cryptocurrency like Ethereum. This is another opt-in feature that you will have to manually enable. There is currently no option to reset/delete any wallets that you have created or added, but you can stop them from launching automatically.
Go to ≡ > “Settings” > “🧩 Extensions”, and set the first two options to “None” and off, respectively. Reopen Brave for the change to take effect.
Disable Tor, WebTorrent, and other extensions ⬆
While we are on the extensions page, you may also want to disable all or some of the below extensions. Move on to the next part if they are already off, or if you’d like to keep using them.
- Allow Google login for extensions: allows extensions made by Google (like Hangouts or Keep) to access your Google account
- Private window with Tor: Tor allows anonymous browsing, but it can be incredibly slow and frustrating for most users
- WebTorrent: it can handle torrents directly inside the browser, including streaming media files without the need to download them
In addition to the above, you can enable the “Media Router” extension to get Chromecast functionality in Brave.
Install Chrome extensions ⬆
Brave supports most extensions on the Chrome Web Store. If you have a favorite in mind (or ten!), head over there and install them just as you’d on Chrome.
Enable Sync ⬆
Like most modern browsers, Brave can sync your bookmarks, extensions, history, and more across devices, both desktop and mobile. Brave Sync is unique in that it’s fully decentralized – the data only moves between your devices through encrypted peer-to-peer technology and is never sent to Brave’s servers.
Setting up Sync is fairly straightforward. Head over to ≡ > “Sync” and follow the instructions.
Disable sponsored images, stats, and more on the start page ⬆
Brave’s new tab page has a bunch of widgets to show information like top visited sites, time, news, stats from Brave Shield, and more. You can disable any or all of them from the Customize link on the bottom right part of the page.
Block social media tracking across sites ⬆
Turn off telemetry ⬆
Brave includes minimal telemetry to detect crashes and improve their product. I’d suggest leaving these on, but you can disable them under ≡ > “Settings” > “Additional settings” > “🔒 Privacy and security”.
Enable aggressive mode in Brave Shields ⬆
Brave Shields uses a “standard mode” as the default option. This should work well for most users, however there’s an aggressive mode available to block a larger set of invasive cookies, ads, fingerprinting scripts, etc.
Head over to ≡ > “Settings” > “🛡 Shields” to turn it on.
Note that the strict mode might break some websites. You can give it a spin and go back to balanced mode if something breaks. You can also disable Brave Shields on a per-site basis, and I’ll recommend you to do it for websites that respect your privacy and don’t blast your screen with banners and pop-ups.
Are there any other Brave features you’d like me to cover? Let me know in a comment below or through the feedback form.