Where did that toolbar come from?

A common complaint from many users is that surfing the Internet takes so long loading pages. Gone are the days where the culprit was the slow Internet connections. There are still many possible reasons for being forced to wait on pages to load, and not all of them are under your control. However, a common reason that you do have the ability to change is the number of toolbars you use in your Internet Browser. Whether you use Internet Explorer, Mozilla, or Chrome, if you don't pay attention, you can find you have 3, 4, or more toolbars installed. Each of these will slow down everything you do on the Internet by a little bit. Now, some toolbars are useful, so if you like a toolbar I'm not saying you should remove it, but too much of a good thing rarely works out for anybody.

Two topics to discuss with toolbars: How do I get rid of the ones I don't want? And how do I keep them from installing in the first place.

When you are trying to get rid of unwanted toolbars, there are two steps. Disable the toolbar, then uninstall it completely. With Internet Explorer, you can disable toolbars, but opening up the Tools Menu, then selecting Manage Add-Ons. Make sure that you have the "Toolbars and Extentions" option selected, then look through the list of toolbars on the right-hand side. Select all of the toolbars you don't want to use, then click on the Disable button. The toolbar will disappear immediately from your Internet Explorer windows. (Similar steps would also work in Chrome or Mozilla, but I won't drag this out with too many details).

Once you've disabled the toolbar, uninstalling it from your computer would finish off the application completely. You will need to have local administration rights to be able to do this step. Open up your Control Panel, then click on "Add/Remove Programs" (Windows XP) or "Programs and Features" (Windows Vista/7). CAUTION: if you uninstall the wrong software here, something you do want to keep could be uninstalled. Always double-check what you are uninstalling before proceeding. After a brief wait, a list of all of the programs installed on your computer will show up. You can select the toolbar you want to remove from that list, and click on Uninstall. Follow the prompts and when finished, the toolbar will be completely removed from your computer. You can repeat this for each toolbar you want to remove.

Now that they are all gone, you need to learn a couple of tricks to not get them back. Many toolbars are tied in with updates to other applications. For example, Google toolbar is offered every time you update Adobe Reader, and Ask.com's toolbar currently wants to install when you update Java. Unless you uncheck the install options they will automatically add themselves. Other toolbars will add themselves just because you visited a website. These are usually the most dangerous, and are often associated with spyware. If you find a website that does this to your computer, be very careful and consider whether you really need to access that website.

One of the major keys to keeping your computer working is to minimize the number of things you ask it to do. Very rarely do I see somebody who actually uses more than 1 or maybe 2 toolbars, but often they will have as many as 7 and they don't know where they came from. Cleaning these unwanted toolbars will unclutter your window and help pages to load faster, improving your experience while surfing the Internet.