Unchecky is a free program for Windows computer systems that has been designed to prevent unwanted software installations automatically.
Free is not always that, as you often pay with something else to make up for that. Most of the time it is information about yourself that you are paying with, but sometimes, it is third party software that you install unintentionally on your system while installing a free product.
It is a Windows issue only, but one that has really grown dramatically in recent time. Third-party offers are not only included in shady apps anymore, many legitimate companies have started to do the very same thing.
If you download Adobe Flash, you may get Google Chrome along with it. Java ships with the Ask Toolbar, and many download portals and software hosting services such as Download.com
or Sourceforge have started to wrap program downloads into extra installers (wrappers) to deliver third party software such as toolbars and trial offers to user systems to make a quick buck if the user happens to overlook the offer that is not related to the actual program in any way.
If you are experienced, you know what to do:
Most inexperienced or less tech savvy users do not know that. They click next next next to finish the installation and use the program, and will notice later that they may have changed their browser's homepage, default search provider, or added a browser extension to it in the process.
It is too late then, and web forums are filled with user requests to get rid of these things which sometimes is quite difficult.
Unchecky is a free program for Windows -- all from XP on are supported -- that takes care of some of these offers during installation.
In particular, it will uncheck options and switch to custom installation for you if available and if it recognizes the dialog. In addition to that, it will also warn you that the software may install potentially unwanted programs on your system, so that you know that you need to be extra careful during setup.
It needs to be noted that while this works well most of the time, it is not something that you put all your faith in. It is very likely that it won't detect all custom installation options with 100% accuracy, and what may weight even more, it cannot make decisions for you that require you to click on buttons.
If you get an accept or decline screen, it is you who has to make the decision as Unchecky won't do anything here.
In short, Unchecky does two things: it warns you when program installers include unwanted offers, and it will pick the custom installation option and uncheck boxes for you automatically.
The application itself runs silently as a service on the system. It will come to action whenever you install a software program on your PC.
Unchecky offers no 100% protection against unwanted software installations. While it covers many, it will let others slip by it so that you still have to check all options manually to make sure that this is not the case.
If you fall prey to these installations often, or know someone who does, you may want to give the program a try to reduce the damage that these installations make.
Unchecky has been improved by its author ever since we published our initial review of the application here on this site.
The program runs as a background service by default. You can suspend that service at any time in the application's settings (that is the only thing you can do there besides switching the language and looking at statistics).
The latest version of Unchecky adds entries to the Windows hosts file which block access to select servers used by installers to deliver third party offers. This is done automatically and without option to block this from happening. The entries are removed again when you uninstall the program.
When you look at the changelog on the developer website, you notice that support for specific programs and general installer types has been added by its author in the meantime. It supports several download wrappers used by download portals, for instance the one used by Brothersoft or Softonic, which is a great addition.
A video has been released in addition which demonstrates the program's functionality. It is embedded below.
Unchecky has been updated a lot in 2015 and 2016 (so far). One of the biggest improvements to the program is that it will warn you about browser offers as well now.
Some download pages, Adobe Flash for instance, will include third-party offers in the download unless you uncheck a box on the website to block that from happening.
Another recent addition (to Unchecky 0.4) is the implementation of warning tooltips. These display a warning prompt when you are about to click on a button or a checkbox that would result in the installation of potentially unwanted software on the system.
Other improvements include support for numerous new programs and installers, including Microsoft Silverlight 64-bit, Adguard, RealPlayer, or Bing Maps 3D.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.