Helping you balance your online life

Jul 24th


Help! How do I Remove All These Toolbars?

Take a good look at your computer screen. How many toolbars are on the top? If the answer is more than three, it's time to take control and delete some of them.

What is a toolbar? A toolbar is a row of small icons at the top of the screen that activate the various functions of the software. All Windows-based browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox, come with a built-in toolbar. To enhance your browsing experience, third-party add-on toolbars are available, including the AOL toolbar, the Google toolbar and more. Add-on toolbars can actually be quite useful, offering such features as a one-click search function, the ability to block pop-ups and shortcuts to tools you frequently use on the Internet.

Here's the problem: If you're not careful, browser toolbars can multiply. Each time you download a new version of your browser, it will either ask to or automatically install a new toolbar. Sometimes, toolbars are installed without your knowledge or approval, and many of these are nefarious spyware that track the Web sites you visit and the things you do on your PC with the resulting information sent to advertisers. It's actually possible to have a half-dozen or more toolbars installed at one time, leaving precious little screen room below. Too many toolbars can also slow down your Internet browsing speed.

The good news: Toolbars are easy to delete. But before you start deleting them, make sure you keep the essential toolbars.

No matter which browser you use, there are two toolbars you must have and one optional toolbar.

1. The menu toolbar is essential for navigating within your browser. It contains such commands as "File," "Edit," "View," "History," "Bookmarks," "Tools" and "Help." Do not delete this!

2. The navigation toolbar contains icons that allow you to use the most popular browser functions with just a click of the mouse, such as refresh, back-up and going to the homepage. It also contains the long white box into which you can type Web addresses and search terms. Do not delete this!

3. The bookmark toolbar allows you to use the Internet faster. You choose which of your favorite Web sites you want to include on the toolbar, giving you one-click access to your favorites. This toolbar is optional.

If you have more than these three toolbars, consider deleting them since they are covering up space on your screen that you could otherwise use. Deleting them is easy.

How to delete a toolbar:
  • Click on View on the menu toolbar.
  • Choose Toolbars.
  • Check the ones you would like to display and uncheck the ones you want to hide.
  • If you hide one and decide you want it back, follow the above instructions and check it.

When you delete a toolbar this way, you're not eliminating it. Instead, you're hiding it. If you want it back, it's there. But there are times, especially with spyware and adware toolbars, that you want to do more than hide them. You want to eliminate them from your computer.

How to uninstall third-party add-on toolbars from Internet Explorer:
  • Click on the Start menu and then click on Control Panel.
  • Click on Add or Remove Programs.
  • In the Add or Remove Programs window, scroll down the list of currently installed programs and highlight the toolbar(s) you want to remove.
  • Click on the Change/Remove button to start the uninstallation process.
  • After the uninstallation is complete, restart your browser to confirm that the selected toolbar has been removed.
How to uninstall third-party add-on toolbars from Firefox:
  • On the Firefox menu toolbar, click Tools.
  • Click Add-ons.
  • Choose the name of the toolbar you want to remove and click Uninstall.
--Originally published by the Editors of Netscape