Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It's all too easy for browser toolbars to accumulate to an almost unusable collection. We'll look at how to prevent, and remove, browser toolbars.

I have 7 different tool bars - I only want to keep Google and Yahoo. How do I get rid of the others? I'm a new user so please tell me the simplest way to do it.

There are two ways to do it, and both are pretty simple.

There's a third way that's perhaps the most appropriate, and also very simple, but most people don't think to do it.

That's never to allow the toolbars to install in the first place.

I've seen some pretty messed-up browsers. You have 7 different toolbars? Yes that's a lot, but it's small time compared to some. Imagine an screen where more than half of what would be the browser window is taken up with toolbar after toolbar after toolbar.

"After installing a few applications ... they find their browser overloaded with toolbars."

You can't convince me that anyone would actually want that many toolbars.

How does it happen? I've written about it before: buried in the default options when you install some unrelated piece of software is a checkbox that says "Yes, I do want the whizbang toolbar from spamco!" or something like that. The toolbar has nothing to do with the application that they're installing - it's pure marketing. People don't pay attention and simply accept all the default options. After installing a few applications (or in some cases even just updates) they find their browser overloaded with toolbars.

Sigh.

1: The right solution - prevention.

Pay attention when installing software or updates. UNcheck options that offer you toolbars and other "stuff" that you don't need or want.

Read Why do I suddenly have another toolbar in my browser? for how, and why this happens, and what you need to be looking for.

2: The quick solution - don't display them.

In most browsers on the View menu, there's a Toolbars submenu. In there you'll find a list of most of your toolbars, with checkmarks. Simply uncheck those you no longer want to see.

It's quick and simple, but there are two problems with this approach:

  • even though you can't see them, the toolbar and the software that implements it is still around, using up memory, and perhaps even interfering with your browser

  • not all toolbars show up in that list

But it's quick and easy, and perhaps it's enough for you.

3: The practical solution - uninstall them.

This is still pretty easy, but it takes just a little more work.

Close your browser, and go to Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs (XP) or Control Panel, Programs and Features (Vista and 7). Look for the name of the toolbar in the list of installed software. Once you find it, click on Remove or Uninstall.

(In Firefox, some toolbars may actually be browser add-ons, so be sure to look in Firefox's add-on manager for the equivalent uninstall opportunity.)

This should remove the toolbar, and all it's supporting software, from your machine.

Note that I said "should". This is where many toolbars are notorious for being "bad citizens". They intentionally make it difficult to remove them, often by not even having an uninstall option.

In such a case your options are to use an uninstallation utility like Revo Uninstaller, attempt a System Restore to a time prior to when the toolbar appeared, or restoring to a backup taken prior to the toolbar's appearance.

And yes, those options are increasingly not simple.

That's why the best option of all is #1: prevention.

Article C4019 - January 2, 2010 « »

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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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12 Comments
Tom R
January 5, 2010 11:53 AM

My ex brother-in-law had me do some tech support work on his computer. I asked him why he had a Comcast toolbar installed in his browser. He looked at me funny and said, "Comcast is my internet provider. I have to have that toolbar."

You can't fix stupid.

carolyn wilson
January 5, 2010 4:03 PM

Dear Leo'

I love your articles. Especially how to get rid of too many toolbars. It was helpful.

carolyn wilson

Steven Richards
January 5, 2010 4:18 PM

Use toolbar cop and hijack this to remove toolbars. Look for the name of the toolbar in the list these programs provide and delete them. If nothing went wrong, delete the backup files left behind.

Frank D
January 5, 2010 4:40 PM

I'd like to ask about another (possible?) option: in Windows XP, go to Start > Control Panel > Internet Options > Programs > Manage Add-ons (button). Can this be used?

I've noticed some obscure entries, such as: Name {09E90109-A9AA-4980-BCEF-76F8D924E902}
Publisher Not Available
Status Enabled
and
Name {09E90109-A9AA-4980-BCEF-76F8D924E902}
Publisher Not Available
Status Enabled

Is this feature useful for anything? There are no instructions, so how can I be certain I'd be doing no harm by disabling these entries?

Frank D

Terry Hollett
January 6, 2010 4:24 AM

You should point out that just because a toolbar is hidden its probably still working in the background.

I recently had to help a neighbour - she sells avon and couldn't sign into here online account. She uses Internet Explorer and I couldn't ignore the 4 toolbars on here IE.

Not surprisingly web pages where also slow loading. A IE reset fixed both problems.

With IE it's just a matter of resetting it to get rid of those - Tools>Internet Option>The Internet Options dialog box appears.
Click the Advanced tab.
Under Reset Internet Explorer settings, click Reset. Then click Reset again.
When IE finishes resetting the settings, click Close and restart IE.

Not the first time I cleared out slow internet connections by getting rid of toolbars.

http://hitanykey.webs.com/

Burt
January 8, 2010 11:27 PM

I semmed to have lost the favourites star /save which used to appear on all windows is there a toolbar which holds this particular favourites star/ Save . (two small icons a star and a radio button to save the appropriate subject top left hand corner of the window .) Thank you for a very good information programme .

christi anne
January 31, 2010 5:02 PM

Wow! I'm a newbi but you said simple and it was...I not only got rid of toolbar stuff I don't want, but I also learned how to keep a healthy browser...Thank you for being there when I needed you, and Leo, have a double latte on me.

Beverly
September 5, 2011 10:52 AM

I tried this but i press uninstall and it says PARENT CONTROLS please enter password to continue.....
So i can't but i mean if it let me install them without a password why can't i uninstall them?

Beverly
September 5, 2011 10:56 AM

Ok Leo i found out the problem my dad had installed a control block thing but he said he did along time ago if i can install them with out a password why can't i uninstall them this hit my dad on the butt to but can you answer please this is important.

Sharon Hurdell
November 22, 2011 4:21 AM

I was actually looking for answer to an iMac but I really donèt care for the popup for your site either.

for the parental controls option look in your internet options and search there. I believe that is where they are set or you dad may have downloaded a program from the internet to control browsing then you would have to find out which one because as was stated, there may have been an option to install a toolbar. Good luck.
I should also state that sometimes a download just wonèt work when you de-select the toolbar option as I found in Adobe Reader many times. :D
I usually try to download from CNET but I got a nasty download on two of my pcès which is why I am back to this iMac which isnèt mine & greatly needs work also besides finding to change my language pref as it appears.

Engineer10388
May 22, 2012 9:46 PM

Great advice from Leo. I use Revo Uninstaller, a great, FREE utility that can get rid of unwanted toolbars, etc. They have a paid "PRO" version with a few more bells and whistles, plus additional capability to do forced uninstall on stubborn programs (including any that do not show up in Windows 7 "Programs and Features"). But you probably won't need it.

Larry B.
August 10, 2012 4:43 PM

Can't seem to get rid of Babylon Toolbar.

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