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How to clean up the mess left by browser toolbars

Ian Paul | Feb. 12, 2014
You would think that in 2014, we'd have put all the web shenanigans of the 1990s and early aughts behind us, but you'd be wrong--at least for Windows users. Download a desktop app like AVG, Skype, or Vuze and these programs will try to sneak toolbars onto your system or change your default home page and browser. Yuck.

Chrome is even less of a fan of toolbars than other browsers, and Google plans on banning all toolbars from the Chrome Web Store by June.But sometimes we might download and install a toolbar just for the heck of it. Luckily, dumping a toolbar is almost as easy as installing it.

Start by tapping the menu icon in the upper right corner and select Settings from the drop down menu. In the new tab that opens, select Extensions from the left-hand navigation column. Scroll down until you find the toolbar you're looking for and either uncheck the Enabled checkbox or click the trash icon. Clicking the trash icon rids you of the toolbar for good, while unchecking the Enabled box leaves the toolbar installed but disabled.

Chrome also resists changes to its default search provider, but if you ever need to change it, here's what you do.

Again go the Chrome settings tab, but this time choose Settings in the left-hand navigation column. Under Search, click on the drop down menu and select your preferred search provider from the list.

To return your home page settings, go up to the top of the same settings menu. Under On startup, click the Set pages link. A new window will open with the pages set to open when you fire up the browser. Hover over any pages you don't want and click the "X" on the far right of the page to nuke unwanted hijackers. You can also choose which page(s) to load on startup by merely adding their URL here.

That's it, you're back to normal!

Toolbars, home page, and search engine changes are annoying, but they do crop up from time to time if you're not careful when installing new software. Now, however, you know how to beat back the insanity when disaster does strike.


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