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You should be able to remove any toolbars or browser settings that have been added to your computer.

How can I get rid of Ask.com? It's taken over my computer and has muscled out my two browsers: Firefox and Explorer. Now everything I do has to go through Ask.com. I'm running Windows XP. Thanks for your help.

In this excerpt from Answercast #22, I look at a situation where Ask.com seems to have taken over a computer. More than likely, a few simple steps will resolve this problem.

Ask.com has taken over

There are three possibilities I think that come to mind.

1) Ask.com has simply made itself your browser's homepage.

Go back into your browser and set your homepage to be whatever it is you want. I have an article on that, "How do I set my browser's homepage to what I want?" or something similar to that.

That is often the most common cause. You'll visit a site, you'll do something, that basically allows that site to make itself your homepage. Then, every time you open your browser, that's the page that shows up first.

2) It's possible that you've installed something like an Ask.com toolbar.

Go into your browser and disable or remove the toolbar that seems to be associated with Ask.com.

Many software installations include (unrelated to their installation) additional toolbars that are basically provided as a form of revenue generating advertising for that particular software installer. If you don't pay attention, it's very easy to install these things accidentally.

I would strongly recommend that you take a look in Control Panel. Look in Add/remove Programs to see if there's anything related to Ask.com there and uninstall it. Then, I would go into both Firefox and Explorer and look in their add-ons. Add-on pages are usually found in their Options sections. Remove any add-ons that appear to be related to Ask.com.

Finally:

3) The third possibility is spyware.

I think it's worth making sure that you're clean; that the machine itself doesn't actually have spyware of some sort on it.

So what I would do in that case is make sure you've got an up-to-date anti-spyware tool; install it; run it. Perhaps also run the free version of Malwarebytes from malwarebytes.org and see if that also ends up removing a problem for you.

Article C5409 - May 31, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Nick Ringhof
June 1, 2012 8:51 PM

Great article as usual Leo. However I beg to differ on Ask.com. Whilst it's not alone, any product that has to resort to the , at times, covert means to push it's self on to the unsuspecting public is borderline nefarious. Nero 10 was a good example. The 'Ask' bar was actually installed without a choice for the user. Cnet stopped pushing Nero for that exact reason. Ah it's a sad world at times. Thanks for your news letter Leo. Love it.

Jimmy Gambino
June 1, 2012 11:13 PM

Heres a tip to prevent this annoying toolbar from becoming installed again... Go to your firewall and make a rule that blocks both inbound and outbound connections from APNSTUB.exe and ApnToolbarInstaller.exe and any program that attempts to install the dreaded Asktoolbar will not be able to do it. Watch out for programs like FoxItReader because the last version of it that I tried to download failed to install because of it trying to install this apnstub, (as soon as I saw Eset's HIPS warning say that apnstub.exe is trying to access my temporary folder I knew that I had to find another PDF reader. So far this has never failed for me and I have this blocked for over a year now. Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Billy Bob
June 7, 2012 10:20 PM

Agree w/ Nick. Sorry, but Ask.com is absolutely not a reputable site, or company.

Yes, back in the old days they were good guys, but no longer. Now they are pushers of adware and unwanted toolbars. They are right in the murky gray area between aggressive click-marketers and criminals. Their current growth strategy seems to be buying struggling but reputable websites and leveraging those sites' reputations to push more adware.

I don't know how a good website degraded so badly; it's probably an interesting story.

The original asker probably has picked up some adware, or worse.

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