The age of the toolbar is over

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 9, 2016

When was the last time you received an offer to install a toolbar in a browser on your system, or noticed that a toolbar was suddenly displayed in it?

I install lots of programs every day, and I cannot really remember the last time an installer tried to push a toolbar on to my system.

Frankly, I think that the age of the toolbar is over, and with it all the annoyances that came with it such as not knowing how it landed on the system in first place or how to remove it without breaking the whole damn browser or system.


Neither the Ask Toolbar or the Babylon Toolbar appear to be pushed massively anymore on to user systems using third-party offers in installers.

The main reason for that is not a change of heart of the companies that benefit from these toolbars, but because of changes that companies responsible for popular browsers such as Firefox or Chrome made.

If you take Google Chrome for instance, you may know that the browser refuses to install extensions that are not listed on Google's Chrome Web Store.

While toolbar developers could in theory submit their extensions to the web store, it is unlikely that their products will be accepted in the form they are in currently offered in. Apart from that, Chrome does not support interface modifications by extensions anyway.

Mozilla is in the process of enforcing add-on signatures for Stable and Beta versions of the Firefox web browser, and will have completed the process when Firefox 46 gets released on April 19th, 2016.

Microsoft Edge, Microsoft's new browser for Windows 10 does not support browser extensions or toolbars yet, and it is unlikely that it will add support for toolbars in the future.

This leaves mostly older browsers and forks, something that is likely not lucrative enough to pursue.

Additionally, some software repositories and producers stopped including third-party offers with their products after Google announced that it would step up its game against unwanted software offers by blocking unwanted software offers using Safe Browsing.

The current situation

One of the primary purposes of getting toolbar installations on user systems was to take over the search functionality of the browser. Search is a lucrative business, and switching default search engines over to custom search engines meant that companies could earn a pretty penny for those implementations.

Search engine modifications are still common and it is rather surprising that several antivirus companies offer "secure search" features that ship in form of extensions and take over a browser's search engine functionality.

Those won't go away for some time but it will get increasingly difficult for companies to push these on to user systems without consent or through deceptive means.

Now You: When was the last time you encountered a toolbar?

The age of the toolbar is over
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The age of the toolbar is over
Toolbars are a thing of the past it seems as browsers and search engines stepped up their game and started to block offers in recent time.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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