Last month I wrote about reducing the number of programs that start up with your
computer. This month follows that theme only it is narrower in scope. It involves
only your Web browser, typically Internet Explorer, and the various installed
There are well over a dozen popular toolbars that are available for download or
come as part of other programs that are installed on your computer. To name a few
there is the Yahoo toolbar, AOL toolbar, MSN toolbar, Comcast toolbar, and of course
the very popular Google toolbar. Basically these toolbars are convenient entry points
for searching the Internet for almost anything you can think of plus a myriad of other
buttons that whisk you off to specialized locations. They occupy a location in Internet
Explorer near the top of the window you are viewing. I’ve seen computers that have
at least three of these toolbars installed. This reduces the ability of Internet
Explorer to display the full height of the Web page. Although you can move the vertical
scroll bar to the right of the window to see the full page, it requires you to
manipulate the mouse more than you should. This of course is user preference but it
can be annoying too.
The problem with multiple toolbars is that they have their own behind-the-scene agenda.
Many of them offer anti-phishing, anti-spam, anti-spyware, and a pop-up blocker.
This built-in protection scheme often conflicts with your own installed security
My advice is to uninstall all toolbars. To do this click Start, click Control Panel,
click Add or Remove Programs, click the toolbar you want to remove, then click on
Change/Remove or Remove. For Vista users, in the Control Panel under Programs, click
Uninstall a Program, click the unneeded toolbar, then click Uninstall. I can hear you
now – “I really use my toolbar”. I understand, however Internet Explorer can be
configured to use any search engine you wish without using a toolbar. Open Internet
Explorer and click the tiny down arrow under the “X” in the upper right corner of the
window. Click Find More Providers. Under Web Search are the popular search engine
providers. Google is the preferred choice. Click Google if it is not installed and
click the Add Provider button in the pop-up window. By clicking that same down arrow
again you should now see Google has been added. To make Google the default search
engine for Internet Explorer click that down arrow again and click Change Search
Defaults. Next click Google and click Set Default and OK the window. You should now
see Google in the grayed out search field of Internet Explorer. Type a search request
in this field then click the magnifying icon next to the search field and you will
automatically be taken to Google. The first ten search results will show in the
If you insist on having a toolbar make sure only one is installed to avoid conflicts.
Look for where the Preferences or Options are in the toolbar and turn off or disable
all the extra and unneeded security functions it offers. The Comcast toolbar can be a
troublesome toolbar so that one should be uninstalled as described earlier.
I find the pop-up blocker built into Windows to be more than adequate. To use Window’s
pop-up blocker open Internet Explorer, click on Tools, move to Pop-Up Blocker and turn
it on if necessary. Also under Tools is a Phishing Filter. If your security software
provides this function do not use Internet Explorer’s Phishing Filter.
The basic rule is to not run your computer with multiple security programs of the same
type at the same time. Only one anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, phishing filter,
or pop-up blocker should be operational at a given time.
More information about this and other subjects can be obtained if you attend our monthly PC Club meetings. They
are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM upstairs in the Community Center.