I’m a big fan of free software, and there are (thankfully) several reliable sources for downloading functional, virus-free open source programs, (like CNET, for example). However, an increasingly common annoyance often comes with free and inexpensive software—it’s “bundled” with other software you may not even realize you’re installing if you don’t read each screen of the installation wizard carefully.
To be clear, the bundled software from trusted sources like CNET isn’t malicious. These aren’t viruses. Rather, these are pieces of software you just didn’t realize you were getting when you downloaded something else. One of the most common varieties is browser toolbar add-ons.
If you’ve installed one of these by accident in the past, you likely knew it. The next time you opened your browser of choice, there would have been a new set of menus, options and buttons along the top of the window. A new “toolbar”. While installing them (without even meaning to) is alarmingly easy, uninstalling them can be a real pain.
Get rid of toolbars easily with Toolbar cleaner
Thankfully, Toolbar Cleaner, a free application focused on finding and deleting toolbar add-ons, makes the process of removing them a snap. Just download the application and install it. Launching the program after installation will open a simple but robust window that lists every toolbar and add-on associated with each browser on your computer. To remove unwanted toolbars, simply check the box beside each one you don’t want and hit
Remove Selected Toolbar(s) at the bottom of the window.
Be aware that Toobar Cleaner is thorough in its hunt for toolbars, add-ons and browser extensions. So thorough, in fact, that you may find some items listed you aren’t familiar with. As is always the case, don’t delete things until you know what they are. (Often a quick Google search is the easiest way to identify the nature of a program or add-on.)
Also pay attention while installing Toolbar Cleaner. I downloaded the program via CNET and, ironically, it came bundled with not one, but two additional applications. One of them, if you can believe it, was a toolbar. It’s a good idea to be in the habit of actually reading each page of the install wizard every time you add a new program to your computer, and Toolbar Cleaner is no exception. As long as you take the time to opt out of the additional programs, they will not be installed.
Or, you could simply use Toolbar Cleaner to uninstall them.
Toolbar Cleaner is a small, handy utility that is easy to understand and, best of all, extremely useful. I tend to clean up my computer regularly, and it still managed to find a couple of toolbars that had snuck past me that I didn’t realize were still installed.
Give Toolbar Cleaner a whirl. There are certainly a number of ways to get rid of toolbars easily, but this is one of the quickest, easiest options.