Help! I Have Too Many Toolbars

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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.

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What is a toolbar? A toolbar is a row of small icons at the top of the screen that activate various functions. 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 from AOL, Google, Yahoo and many other companies and websites. Many of these toolbars can 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 may ask to or automatically install a new toolbar. Sometimes toolbars are installed without your knowledge or approval, and a few are nefarious spyware that tell advertisers about the Web sites you visit and the things you do on your PC. 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 ones.

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 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.

The AOL Toolbar can also help clean up your browser when you install it. During the installation of the AOL Toolbar, if you have more than two toolbars installed in your browser, you will see a window with options to disable unwanted toolbars. The goal is not to be sneaky: AOL offers to disable any toolbar we detect, including our own AIM, MapQuest, and AOL Toolbars.

Simply select the toolbars you want to disable, and the AOL Toolbar installer will do the rest. We do not uninstall the toolbars, rather, they are just disabled in the browser. You can always re-enable yourself them later if you choose to do that.

If you have more than three toolbars, consider disabling them if they are covering up space on your screen that you could otherwise use. Disabling a toolbar is easy.

How to disable 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.

By disabling 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 uninstall 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.

To make sure the third-party toolbars have been completely removed, you should run a registry cleanup. The easiest way to do this is with a registry cleaner tool such as System Mechanic. This deletes any orphan files left behind by the uninstalled toolbars, ensuring complete toolbar removal.

To fully remove spyware and adware toolbars, you may also need to run an antispyware scan on your computer, such as System Mechanic or McAfee.

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