Fixing Discord With OpenAsar

Like many (arguably most) pieces of free, proprietary software today, Discord is really bad for your privacy. Your "private" messages and even voice chats on Discord are collected and stored, readable by Discord staff, according to their own privacy policy. Discord's primary source of revenue is selling your data. These are just a few of many issues.

By default, Discord also collects data on applications you open and run on your computer and build a statistical model of what software you are likely to buy/license in the future. You can turn this off under Settings → Privacy & Safety by turning off "Use data to improve Discord", but they try to scare you out of disabling it.

Discord trying to scare you into not turning off spyware

You also have to disable it twice before it actually does anything, at least in my own personal experience. I recommend turning off every setting under the "HOW WE USE YOUR DATA" heading.

What is OpenAsar

The Discord desktop app is built with Electron, which basically means its a web view running in Chromium as a desktop app. Electron bundles application scripts in an app.asar archive file, and OpenAsar is an open source reimplementation of Discord's app.asar.

OpenAsar is a much, much smaller file size than Discord's own app.asar, and it adds some really nice additional features.

OpenAsar file size

If you have a GitHub account, give the OpenAsar repository a star!

What Does OpenAsar Do?

Once OpenAsar is installed (see Installing OpenAsar), if you go to Settings in the Discord app, you should see a new section in the sidebar under "App Settings" called "OpenAsar". Clicking this will open the OpenAsar settings window.

From this window, you can turn off a lot (but most likely not all) of Discord's spyware by completely blocking the /api/science Discord API endpoint, disable showing others when you're typing in Discord, and apply custom CSS from the "Theming" tab.

OpenAsar settings page

One of the things that annoys me the most about Discord is how aggressively they push Discord Nitro subscriptions on you everywhere throughout the app, and how arbitrary the set of features that are put behind the Nitro paywall is. Sorry, Discord, but I will never, ever pay money for Discord Nitro, ever. I would try convincing my friends to switch to Matrix before paying for Nitro.

With OpenAsar, I can use the "Theming" tab to inject custom CSS and remove a lot of the Discord Nitro ads from the Discord app.

/* Hide all things Discord Nitro */
/* "Add Super Reaction" button */
div[aria-label="Add Super Reaction"],
/* Super Reactions others have added */
/* "Nitro" section in sidebar of settings page */
/* The huge Nitro ads on the profile customization page */
/* Discord's Birthday stuff on the profile customization page */
/* The "boost" status on Discord server sidebars */
div[aria-label*="Buy Boosts to help unlock"],
/* The "Nitro" item in the direct messages list */
ul[aria-label="Direct Messages"] a[href="/store"],
/* The "Discord's Birthday" item in the direct messages list */
ul[aria-label="Direct Messages"] a[href="/activities"]
/* The "Start an Activity" button */
button[aria-label="Start an Activity"] {
  display: none;

Installing OpenAsar

If you're on NixOS (or use Nix package manager on another OS) like me, you're in luck, it's incredibly easy to install OpenAsar via Nix, just by setting a package override:

{ pkgs, ... }: {
  # if using home-manager
  home.packages = [ (pkgs.discord.override { withOpenASAR = true; }) ]
  # if not using home-manager, install globally
  environment.systemPackages = [ (pkgs.discord.override { withOpenASAR = true; }) ];

Otherwise, you will have to replace Discord's app.asar manually. On Linux, Discord's app.asar is most likely in one of the following locations:

# native Discord installation

# Flatpak Discord installation

For Windows, it should be in the directory %localappdata%\Discord\app-1.0.9013\resources which you can get to by typing that into the address bar in Windows file explorer.

Once you've located Discord's app.asar, fully quit Discord, then just replace the entire app.asar archive with the version you download from OpenAsar's website.

Updating OpenAsar

On NixOS, OpenAsar will update any time you apply updates via your Nix config. On Windows and generic Linux, OpenAsar can self-update, but on Windows you will need to change the directory permissions for Discord's resources directory (which you located when installing) for self-updates to work. See OpenAsar's FAQ for more information.