I have an older brother who is not very adept with technology, and every time I need to use his computer I am surprised just how many toolbars and custom search providers have found their way onto his PC; I am further surprised by how labor intensive it is to clean that stuff out. And then I found this program.
If you need a way to remove toolbars and other extensions from your browsers, whether it’s legitimate stuff that you installed that you no longer want, or crapware toolbars that snuck in when you were installing other things, then check this free software. ‘Toolbar Cleaner’ is a small, simple program which will scan all your installed browsers for installed extensions, addons, toolbars, and even BHO’s, and gives you the option to remove all or some of them with a single click.
Putting the program to the test:
(1) Installed tons of toolbars and crapware
I started off with a clean Windows 7 install on a virtual machine. I had IE preinstalled and I downloaded and installed Chrome. Next, I downloaded a bunch of freeware that I knew came laden with crapware and installed every single ‘offer’ (my recent article where I showcased some of the most deceptive crapware installation methods meant that I knew exactly where to go).
My browsers were laden with toolbars in short order; my search providers were changed, as were my home pages. Moreover, some software was installed on my hard drive that had nothing to do with the browsers. See what my IE looked like below.
(2) Installed Toolbar Cleaner
Strangely (although I somehow expected it), Toolbar Cleaner installer came with some bundled offers itself. See screenshot to the right. At least these offers were not hidden in any way and not deceptive
I tried to let those install (what the hell). I wanted to know if they may be different from what you usually get, but got an error, and moved on.
(3) Ran Toolbar Cleaner
All installed addons appeared for my installed browsers. I all of except the Java plugin in IE (if in doubt about a plugin, Google it) and clicked ‘Remove’. All were instantly removed, and I was presented with a prompt to ‘run the control panel’, which in fact opens the Windows add/remove dialog – which is our segue for the next section …
(4) A few loose ends
Once in the Windows add/remove, I found number of uninstallers for a bunch of stuff that also needed to be removed. In addition to this, my search engine definitions in the browsers were completely gone and had to be redefined, and my home pages had to be changed back.
A brilliant piece of software. The one-stop-shop aspect, where it just lists every extension and toolbar in every installed browser is brilliant, and the fact that it got the job done so quickly and easily was extremely impressive. The fact that it takes care of BHO’s (browser helper objects, which can modify the browser and can contain malware) is also impressive. Highly recommended.
Get Toolbar Cleaner (Windows). [Thanks go to reader Panzer for tipping us off about this program]