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Toolbar Cleaner removes unwanted browser toolbars, browser extensions, and start-up items

Toolbar Cleaner is a small easy-to-use freeware app which allows you to keep on top of this simple Windows maintenance task.

By Mark O'Neill
January 9, 2013 09:55 AM ET

PC World - At one time or another, we install too much stuff. And who can blame us? The Internet is one big playground with lots to install and play with, and we eventually forget that too many installations can slow down and eventually crash our system. One key to a smooth healthy running computer is to keep it as trim as possible, with as little bloatware as possible. Enter Toolbar Cleaner (free) to make that task really easy.

As the name implies, Toolbar Cleaner...well....cleans your system of toolbars. But it actually goes further than that;A it also cleans your browsers of other items such as plugins and extensions. It also provides another service, which is to clean up your Windows start-up menu.So don't think it is a one-trick pony. It is capable of more than you might think.

But one thing at a time. First you need to install the program, which will literally take only a minute due to the installation file weighing in at 1MB. But a word of caution: A During the installation process, the app will try to change your browser homepage as well as install something called an "anti-phishing domain advisor" (more on that later). You can easily bypass these by unchecking them before proceeding, but an unalert user with their eye on something else at the time may totally miss it.A So concentrate on the installation; otherwise, you will have something else to uninstall later.

When it is ready to go, fire up Toolbar Cleaner and you will immediately be presented with two tabs. The first tab, called "Browsers", will show you all he toolbars, extensions and plugins that you have installed. he app supports all the big browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Simply study the list, decide which toolbars, extensions and plugins you want removed and tick the boxes next to them. Then, making sure the browser is closed first, click "Remove Selected Toolbar(s)" and watch the progress bar methodically remove your choices. Then simply restart the browser and see if they are gone.

The other tab is called "Windows Startup". Again, this is very self-explanatory. You will see a list of all of the services and software apps that start up when you boot up Windows. If you have too many, then Windows will slow down when you are trying to start it. So it pays to have this list as small as possible and only have the essentials starting up. Saying that, if you don't know what something is, don't touch it. Otherwise you could end up doing more damage than good.

If you know what something is, and it doesn't have to start up during Windows boot-up time, then check the boxes next to your choices and click "Remove Selected Startup Item(s)". They will then be disabled, not uninstalled (an important distinction to make).

Toolbar Cleaner is a nice small simple app which fills a need and does it well.A However, it is slightly spoiled by the fact that it tries to install something on your system as well as try to get your homepage changed. If the developer would remove that, they would have a perfect little app on their hands.

There's one important point to go over. During installation, the program will try to install something called "Anti-Phishing Domain Advisor."A You might think it ironic that a program dedicated to removing bloatware is trying to install some of its own. However, I checked with developer Visicom Media, and they told me that Anti-Phishing Domain Advisor is actually a security application that they develop for Lavasoft (makers of Ad-Aware) and Panda Security. The Anti-Phishing feed, which comes from Panda Security servers, is updated several times per hour. A The developer was keen to point out that installation is not obligatory.

Not all toolbars are evil. The Google Toolbar, for example, is well-made and recommended. But all too many toolbars are virus-ridden and malware-infected, doing nothing but slow your system down and send your private information back to the toolbar developer. Keep Toolbar Cleaner handy and run it on a regular basis to keep your system clean.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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