One of the perks of being a tech is that I often work with my hands. I have my doctor’s bag packed with network and computer tools. Next to my desk is our new and wonderful Makita cordless screw gun and all the other random¬† tools I have gathered from the shelves and drawers around NEKLS HQ. However, there is one tool I cannot tolerate: the browser toolbar.

I have seen 15″ monitors where the browser header takes up nearly half of the screen. Yahoo, Bing, Ask, Google, Good Search, Coupon Cutters, Conduit, and so many more litter the top of our monitors. At best, these take up valuable real estate, and at worst, they track your digital currency: your personal information.

In my opinion, you should stick with Firefox and/or Chrome as your browser, with Chrome needing no additional toolbars besides the combo search/address “Awesome Bar” and Firefox needing the address and search bar. The rest really need to go.¬† Keep in mind the Firefox’s search bar can be configured to support several search engines from its drop down menu, I love being able to search IMDB and Amazon from this location.

Prevent the Onslaught

Usually we don’t know how or when the toolbar started rearing its ugly pixels. These programs often pad the software we download (intentionally or unintentionally). If we are careful with our clicking we can limit the need for removal. When installing software and breezing through terms of service agreements, deselect those pre-filled check boxes that flash before your eyes.

Remove the Rogues

If you are using Firefox, select the Tools menu and then select Add-Ons. After you select Extensions from the left hand menu you will be able to view any plugins that have been added to Firefox. You can select Remove to rid your browser of the chosen programs, restart Firefox to finalize your changes. In Chrome, select the Customize icon (top right), next select Settings and then Extensions from the menu to locate unwanted programs, using the Trash icon to remove them. In Internet Explorer, select the Gear icon (Tools) and Manage add-ons, in this menu you will see a selection for Toolbars and Extensions, highlight and select Disable for any unwanted programs.

If the unwanted toolbar still exists you may need to remove it from the Windows OS. Navigate to the Control Panel. My preferred way to get access to the Control Panel is to press the Windows Key (next to the ALT key) and R key on your keyboard simultaneously. In the new Run Window type Control and press the Enter key. From the Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP), Programs and Features(Windows 7, Icon view), or Programs: Uninstall Program (Windows 7, Category view). Remove any unwanted toolbars by highlighting the program and then selecting uninstall.

Why Won’t You Die?

The above really only helps if the toolbar is legitimate software. If you still can’t find the method to uninstall a toolbar from the browsers mentioned you may have been the victim of Malware/Adware. In these cases I would suggest you run Malwarebytes. In most cases this anti-Malware/Adware software can rid your PC of unwanted and unconsolidated software. If you are installing this software make sure you practice your new found skill and deselect the trial Pro-version if you are prompted.

Photo Credit: Toolbars by Flick user mdornseif, used under a Creative Commons License