How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

Once upon a time, there was a stupid person who installed Java even though it is terrible. Even worse, this madman clicked “Next” without disabling the bundle offers.

Ok, ok, that stupid person was me.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

Thanks to my stupidity, Yahoo now looks like a search engine and nobody wants it. This wasn’t an occasional accident either – other programs made other annoying tweaks to my PC, adding things like toolbars and even extra ads to my browser.

Ideally, the solution is to avoid junk programs in the first place. But if it’s too late, you don’t necessarily have to reinstall Windows from scratch – AdwCleaner can help you. This free app removes the annoying shit that’s bundled with installers. But, while it sounds incredibly simple, there are a few tricks to using it the right way.

Warning: AdwCleaner is designed to remove shit from your system, but as with all things, be sure to back up your computer and create a system restore point before continuing. That way, if you delete something you wanted to keep or mess up your computer, you can go back to the way things were.

Step one: download AdwCleaner

Download AdwCleaner from Malwarebytes, which acquired AdwCleaner in 2016. Not just Google AdwCleaner and install it from anywhere, because scammers offer fake version to fool people.

You will find the program in the Downloads folder.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

This is a portable application, which means there is no installer. You can move the program wherever you like, including the Documents folder or even the desktop. Just remember where you put it.

Double-click the application to run it. You will be asked for permissions.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

Click “Yes” and you are ready to rock.

Step Two: Scan your computer with AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner’s main interface offers three important buttons: Scan, Clean and Log File.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

Click “Scan” to start searching for junk mail. The software will start looking for potentially problematic programs.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

After a few minutes, you will see a list of results.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner points to four types of malware, spread across a few different tabs (in my case, “Folders” and “Registry.” It will attempt to include:

  • Adware, which you really don’t want.
  • Potentially undesirable software, which you may want but probably not.
  • Toolbars, which you probably don’t want.
  • Hijackers, which do things like change your default home page. You don’t want these either.

Knowing this, you can read through the list, pinpointing anything you may actually want to keep. (AdwCleaner is known to include some things you may want, such as benign browser settings or Chrome extensions.) Make sure you uncheck anything you don’t want to remove. If you are unsure, google the file name or check it in the database shouldiremoveit . If the folder has an incomprehensible name (like many Chrome extensions), you can browse the folder yourself and see which program or extension it can be associated with.

For example, on another system, AdwCleaner found a Chrome extension marked potentially unwanted, but it was installed by me. If you hadn’t investigated and unchecked that option, AdwCleaner would have removed it.

Repeat this process for the other tabs in the AdwCleaner interface, which may include registry keys, browser settings and extensions, shortcuts, services, and more. Again, be careful not to delete everything you actually want.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

When everything is checked and ready to use, move on to the next step.

Step three: clean it

There are two ways to continue from this point.

First, and most obviously, you can click the “Clean” button to automatically remove each selected item. You will be notified of the termination of the affected software.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

At the end of the cleaning process, you will be asked to restart your computer. Make sure you close other programs before this happens.

Alternatively, you can click on the “Logfile” button. This will give you a text file detailing where all the problematic files and registry keys are located. This way, you can find the problematic files using Windows Explorer and delete them yourself. If you know how to edit the registry, you can manually delete those unwanted registry keys as well.

How to remove toolbars and adware with AdwCleaner

This is a little more complex than just clicking “Clean”, but it makes sure you investigate every problem before removing it, which is useful if you want to dig deeper.

If you opt for the manual method, be sure to close your browser and other affected programs before trying to delete anything. Scan again when you’re done, just to make sure it’s all really gone.

With any luck, your computer will be flawless again.

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