Block adult content at your school with SafeSearch

This article applies to network administrators. Learn more about SafeSearch for individual accounts

About SafeSearch

If you’re a network administrator at a school, you can prevent adult content from appearing in search results at your school. No filter is 100% accurate, but SafeSearch should help you avoid most of this type of material.

Block adult content by turning on SafeSearch

  1. Visit the Search Settings page.
  2. In the "SafeSearch filters" section, check the box beside "Filter explicit results." Checking this box will filter sexually explicit video and images from Google Search result pages, as well as results that might link to explicit content.

  3. Click Save at the bottom of the page.

Learn more about SafeSearch

Enforce SafeSearch

Option 1: Lock SafeSearch on each computer on your network

To turn the SafeSearch lock on for your school’s computers, a teacher or administrator needs to sign in to each computer, browser, and browser profile. Then, this person needs to lock SafeSearch following the instructions below. This setting will apply to all users of that browser and can only be unlocked by the same Google Account that locked it.

  1. Visit the Search Settings page.
  2. Make sure SafeSearch is turned on by checking the "Filter explicit results" checkbox.
  3. Click Lock SafeSearch to the right of the "Filter explicit results" checkbox. At this point, you may be prompted to sign in.
  4. Once you're signed in, click Lock SafeSearch. You'll see a confirmation page once the lock is turned on.

Learn more about locking SafeSearch

Option 2: Enforce SafeSearch on Chromebooks or Chrome browsers
Is your school using Chrome or Chromebooks? If so, you can also enforce SafeSearch by setting User Policies.
Option 3: Apply SafeSearch to your computers by making changes to your router (advanced)
This option requires extensive technical expertise. Options 1 and 2 are recommended for those who don’t have a technical background.

Step 1: Update your DNS entry (disable SSL)

Why you need to disable SSL

Searching over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) provides you with a more secure and private search experience. You can tell that you’re searching on SSL when you see https in your URL (note the “s” in “https”, meaning secure).

When searching over SSL, the connection between the user and Google is encrypted. Because the connection is encrypted, the query rewriting techniques described below will not work unless you disable SSL search.

Blocking https://www.google.com may prevent your organization from accessing many Google products. Instead, use the steps below to enforce SafeSearch.

How to disable SSL Search

To disable SSL search for your network, configure the DNS entry for www.google.com (or any other Google country domains your users may use) to be a CNAME for nosslsearch.google.com.

We will not serve SSL search results for requests that we receive on this virtual IP address (VIP). If we receive a search request over port 443, the certificate handshake will complete successfully, but we will then redirect the user to a non-SSL search experience. The first time a user is redirected, they will be shown a notice that SSL has been disabled by the network administrator.

Utilizing the NoSSLSearch VIP will not affect other Google services outside of Search. Logging into Google Apps and authenticating to different services will continue to work (and will occur over SSL).

Step 2: Update your router to append information to all search URLs

To enable SafeSearch throughout a school network, you’ll also need to use a a proxy server to append &safe=active directly to all search URLs.

Google sends search queries along URL paths like google.com/search?, google.com/images?,google.com/s?. Schools that activate SafeSearch with a proxy should keep their filters updated to include /search, /s, and /images URLs.

Examples:

  • http://www.google.com/search?q=foo&safe=active
  • http://images.google.com/search?q=bar&safe=active
  • http://www.google.com/s?q=baz&safe=active

Step 3: Block access to https://encrypted.google.com (Optional)

If students search using https://encrypted.google.com, content filtering systems in place on your network may not be able to read their searches or Google’s response. If this is problematic for your school, you can block https://encrypted.google.com. When students continue to search using http://www.google.com, your content filtering will work as it always has in the past.

Report offensive content

If you see a webpage that has adult content with SafeSearch turned on, report the offensive content.