Removing Add-on Browser Toolbars

May 6, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Browsers are great, but all too often they allow evils of the Internet onto our systems. While modern browsers are designed to sandbox themselves away from the rest of the operating system, there is still one threat that they are susceptible to.

Security software and browser security settings are designed to pick up and eradicate spyware and adware, malware and Trojans, but it seems that no one has noticed the major irritation that is caused by the sneak installation of browser toolbars.

For those of us that want to retain control of our browsers, these custom toolbars – usually offering new buttons, a search tool and some way to quickly integrate with the service that is providing it – are a major irritation, helping to slow down browsing and being a general eyesore, taking up required visual real estate on your display.

Removing Add-on Browser Toolbars

Where Does the Yahoo! Toolbar Come From?

A prime example of one of these browser toolbars comes in the shape of that provided by Yahoo!. Like many others, this toolbar secretes itself into installers for things like Java VM, the download intended to activate various web page functions like chat rooms, for instance (note that this phenomenon is not limited to installing Java).

These toolbars are included in other software installers, and are listed at just the point where you start to stop paying attention in a software install wizard. Banking on your preference to click Next all the way through an application installation, the developers of these toolbars are basically sneak-installing, assuming your acceptance by “default ticking” the box you would use to agree to the addition of these toolbars to your browser.

While Yahoo! is a generally reputable firm, there are others that use these tactics that aren’t as friendly. You might end up with a new home page or default search provider in your browser, which is laughable because if your search provider was no good, you would never have found the software that was installing the new search tool in the first place!

As such, vigilance is very much required as you install new applications onto your PC – you never know when they are going to take advantage of the flexibility that browsers offer for adding new functions…

Removing Unwanted Browser Toolbars

Fortunately, should you have a browser toolbar that you don’t require, there are a couple of easy ways to remove them. First of all, head to Start > Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a program and search for the toolbar there, following the usual steps to remove it from your system.

If this proves unsuccessful, meanwhile, consider resetting your browser. How this is done depends on the browser you are using; Internet Explorer 7 and later offers a rest tool that can remove all add-ins rather than just a single one, so you might like to avoid using this.

Finally, right-clicking on your browser menus and clearing the checkbox for the offending new toolbar should remove it from sight, if not your computer.

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