How to Remove Spyware Toolbars

Category: Browsers

I now have FOUR unwanted toolbars on my browser! In addition to cluttering up my screen, I'm getting 'adult' popups, and it also messes up my searching. I can't figure out how they got there, or how to get rid of them. Help?

Remove Unwanted Browser Toolbars

The Internet is awash in free browser toolbars that promise better searches, instant access to your favorite social networks, and other supposed conveniences. By some estimates, there are hundreds of different toolbars out there. Some are legit, such as the Google Toolbar, and similar offerings from Bing and Yahoo. But unfortunately, most of them are spyware or adware.

Install one of these spyware toolbars and you will quickly be overwhelmed by pop-up windows advertising anything from fake security software to p**n and "men's health" drugs. Some toolbars pop up ad after ad so rapidly they make it impossible to navigate or even close your browser in the normal way. The only option is to kill the web browser via Task Manager.

Other spyware toolbars are more subtle. They may not annoy you with pop-ups but, in the background, they are quietly logging your Web surfing activity. Information about the sites you visit, links you click, and keys you press is collected and transmitted to the spymasters. This data may be used to target ads to you interests, or it may be used to steal your usernames and passwords. Spyware toolbars can get even more aggressive.
Remove Toolbars

A toolbar may include a botnet Trojan that gives its master control of your computer. Email contact lists may be stolen and used to spam your friends. Credit card numbers and other personal data may be sniffed out wherever it resides on your hard drive.

Steps to Remove a Toolbar

Clearly, spyware toolbars should be removed. But that can be difficult. Right-clicking in the toolbar area may bring up a prompt to remove a toolbar from the browser. But don't rely on that to get rid of anything. At best, it will simply hide the offender.

Start with the Windows uninstall app. Click Start, then Control Panel, then Add/Remove Programs in Windows XP. In Windows 7, click "Uninstall Program" on the Control Panel. Find the spyware toolbar in the list of installed programs and attempt to uninstall it. But even if the toolbar appears to be uninstalled, it may come back.

Spyware toolbars sometimes install a hidden program or registry key that is not removed by their uninstall file. When you reboot your computer, this hidden program re-installs the spyware toolbar. You have to take extra steps to remove such malware.

After uninstalling a toolbar, run a registry cleaner such as CCleaner to remove leftover traces of the spyware installation from your registry. Also scan your hard drive with an anti-malware program such as Adaware, Malwarebytes, etc. You may have to try several different anti-malware programs because no one program recognizes every breed of spyware toolbar. See my related articles Free Registry Cleaners and MalwareBytes Anti-Malware for help downloading these free "cleanup" tools.

There are free programs online that claim to specialize in removing toolbars. Some of these have been discovered to be "rogue anti-malware" that actually installs malware while claiming to remove toolbars. "" is one example fingered by Symantec as such a deceptive program. If a solution seems to be tailored exactly to your problem, it may actually be trying to take advantage of your pain and desperation to remove annoying toolbars.

The best way to avoid the headaches of spyware toolbars is not to install toolbars from unknown sources. If you must install a Google search toolbar, get it directly from and not from some free app that you found online. The same goes for Yahoo and Windows Live toolbars. Avoid toolbars bundled with other free software, even if they appear to be from a trusted source. If you pay careful attention to all the prompts that appear during a software installation (especially pre-checked boxes), you can avoid many of these nuisances.

Do you have something to say about browser toolbars? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "How to Remove Spyware Toolbars"

Posted by:

Terry Anderson
21 Jun 2011

I never install any toolbar offered because I don't want them taking up my space on my viewing screen.
In the past I have found system restore to be effective in most cases. Once I had to resort to a factory reset. That was a hassle but should be a guaranteed fix.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2011

I've found that the free Revo Uninstaller does an excelent job removing toolbars and all their registry files.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2011

Oh, those pesky toolbars. You've gotta be very, very careful when installing new games, programs, etc. You really need to read each screen, when installing, so that you can 'uncheck' the box(es), that gives permission to install, these 'pesky' toolbars & whatever.

One small note, I have noticed lately that there are 2 check boxes for these Toolbars. 1 is for the permission to install the Toolbar & 2 is for whatever service, Google, Bing or Yahoo!, to become your start page. I have learned to 'uncheck' both boxes, not just the first box. Otherwise, you will see that you have given permission to change your start page.

For years, I used Windows Uninstaller, but when I found Revo Uninstaller free version, tried it and found that it worked MUCH better than the Windows version, I never went back. It totally amazes me, just how much Revo Uninstaller removes from your PC, without messing it up.

To date, I can't think of any program, that Revo Uninstaller hasn't removed & no residuals being left behind. Windows Uninstaller leaves residuals, most of the time.

Posted by:

Tom S.
21 Jun 2011

A program called 'Revo Uninstaller' works well for me as it also examines the registries to fully delete the entire program.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2011

Revo rocks. Excellent program with excellent results.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2011

Cudos on the Revo Uninstaller to remove/uninstall completely any software from your computer. The Windows add/remove function is all but worthless.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2011

I always use toolbar cop and hijack this.

Posted by:

Donald Mitchell
22 Jun 2011

I agree with the above post, Revo uninstaller is a
(boss) Tool.I have been using it for a few years now,and its free.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2011

One nice alternative is to use They remove the junk and save a TON of time. I have used malwarebytes and toolbar cop before and had great luck with them.

Posted by:

Pat Huwig
22 Jun 2011

I do a lot of animal advocate posting on Facebook and, also, play Farmville. I had downloaded the Zynga toolbar on Facebook and I cannot get rid of it! I have it hidden but it's still there. Did everything you and they suggested. I cannot find it to delete. It is not in the remove programs and when I looked in the apps as suggested it is there but says deleted. Any easy suggestions?

Posted by:

23 Nov 2011

Better posted late than never,
I used REGEDIT to remove insidious and stubborn stuff.
BEWARE! Editing your registery can wreak havok! Know what you're doing!
I delete the offenders and reboot.

Posted by:

17 Jun 2013

I have got this annoying default homepage that keep appearing automatically as my homepage even after I change it. I have uninstalled the program from control panel but it was of no use. Please help.

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