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
Article Name
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.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Paul(us) said on March 10, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Just today with installing Adobe Flash Player for Internet Explorer Final (2016-03-10) I had to look out that I did not automatically installed a toolbar.

    1. john said on March 11, 2016 at 11:33 am

      you mean that mcafee crap? thats not a toolbar, its a icon for a “online scan” of your PC.

  2. Dwight Stegall said on March 10, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I can’t remember what program I installed last week but it was pushing Google Toolbar. I thought they quit developing that several years ago. They said that everything you can do in the toolbar was either in Chrome or you could do it with bookmarklets.

    1. Dwight Stegall said on March 13, 2016 at 3:16 am

      Torch comes with the Ask Toolbar installed. You can easily remove it on the torch://extensions page and in the edit search engines page in Torch’s settings.

  3. neal said on March 9, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Panda free antivirus offers a toolbar. It is tied in with its url filter at install, however you can uninstall the toolbar and keep the url filter.exe.

    Also Symantec has a toolbar and it is an requirement for their web filter. If you uninstall it, then the web filter won’t work.

    Avira also has a toolbar which is tied into it webguard. I think like Panda it has a custom search so it also is a way for a AV company to monetize its free users.

    With Panda, it is obvious that they are trying monetize it’s free users b/c the toolbar includes it’s own yahoo powered search. However at least they let you uninstall and keep the url filter. That can’t be said of Avira though, uninstall the toolbar and you lose functionality. In their paid version, of course you get to keep the webfilter functionality regardless of whether the toolbar is there or not.

    With Symantec who knows, Symantec is of course paid software, I didn’t use it long enough despite it being free for all Comcast users.

    1. Pants said on March 9, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      AV meddling/scanning with internet (and email) is not really necessary. First of all, generally speaking, they act as MiTM attacks and some monetize you. Secondly, your browser on it’s own is robust (sandboxed processes, safe-browsing, and so on – caveat, definitely some extra protection with some extensions) You can also “immunize” your system (and/or router) with the hosts file (eg Sypbot S&D, Spywareblaster). AV is really only good as a last line of defense (file system protection), you are better off plugging all the holes that let the stuff in in the first place. There are at least 30 things I consider more important to do than AV when setting up a new PC.

      1. John Krazinski said on March 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm

        Hey dude, can you recommend me a sanbox app that goes 10 level deep?
        I mean I don’t want to run windows > app.exe
        I want to go: windows > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > sandbox > myapp.exe

        Cool man! LOL
        When i grow up i want to be stealth and wear an invisibility cover.

  4. anon said on March 9, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Now the applications are coming bundled with search redirectors that quietly log everything you type in the address bar. I think i preferred the toolbars. At least you knew they were there.

  5. Chris Laarman said on March 9, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    My last time may have been last week, upon updating Java Runtime on a Mac.
    The installer was checked to install something by Yahoo, and I unchecked it. I take the something to have been a toolbar.

    Anyway, Ask and Yahoo appear to be the content that I remember most, Java the carrier.

  6. Maelish said on March 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Thank god. I am tired of uninstalling them from naive relative’s PCs.

    1. ddd said on March 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      use AdwCleaner…. one tool to remove all crapwares….

      1. XenoSilvano said on April 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm

        Many thanks, it would better to have the program deal with any Adware attempts than to have to deal with them manually after the adware has already been installed.

    2. XenoSilvano said on March 10, 2016 at 12:35 am

      I have seen toolbars installed on some computers that I have come across over the last few months which means that there are certainly programs and websites out there that still propagate them, however, unlike back-in-the-day when browsers where completely unprotected against programs that wanted to integrate toolbars into the browser through overt or covert means, browsers today seek the user’s permission before such an integration can take place, therefore, the integration of an unwanted toolbar is mainly due to the user clicking buttons without really paying much attention to the agreements that they are acknowledging to (even at the very last line of defense when the browser notifies the user that a toolbar is attempting to be integrated). As the article mentioned, I think that it is safe to say that the period when browser toolbars where a commonplace issue that a lot of netizens had to deal with has pretty much subsided.

      There are several programs that I have installed on the computer that I use that give advanced warnings that a toolbar is trying to integrate itself to the browser.

  7. Jeff-FL said on March 9, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    What about Internet Explorer, used by millions in Win Vista, 7 and 8.1. I doubt that it will stop anything from being installed. No, the age of the toolbar isn’t quite over, but nails are being put in the coffin.

    Besides, there’s a massive amount of user ignorance out there, and where there’s a void, something will fill it. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was pop-ups, then it moved to toolbars, and when toolbars are gone it will just be something else. When there are a billion sheep just waiting to be sheared, you can bet there will be plenty of scammers out there with their clippers sharpened.

  8. Beto said on March 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    These bars are a cancer!

  9. CHEF-KOCH said on March 9, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    God damnit, after 25 years … finally. :D

    But I bet some software still bundled with crap …. yes chinese installers I’m looking in your direction. :D

  10. Adithya FRK said on March 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    The last i saw was almost an year ago, now the installers are offering bundled softwares.

    What happened to Babylon? (Leave Ask as it is easy to remove, but Babylon really does stick around the system)

  11. Tom said on March 9, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I think the last nail in the coffin of these toolbars was that Microsoft recently added the most obnoxious ones as a threat in Windows Defender / Security Essentials.
    Good riddance nonetheless.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.