Removing the Ask.com Toolbar And Its Search Engine Hijacking Effects

This isn’t something I usually do, but given I had to do a lot of hunting around to find out how to get rid of the Ask.com completely (or at least until it wasn’t interfering with my browser any more) I thought I’d write out my experience in order to aid others in future.

My Specs

I did this on a Windows 7 PC that uses Firefox (v14.0.1).

Removing the Ask.com Toolbar

  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Either search (top right of the window) for ‘Remove program’ or click on Programs and Features (Large Icons view) or click on ‘Uninstall a program’ under Programs (Category view).
  3. Let the window load up all your programs. Sort the window by name (by clicking on the Name bar just under the word Organise) and find Ask.com toolbar listed.
  4. Right click on it and select ‘Uninstall / Change’.
  5. You’ll be asked if you want to uninstall the Ask.com toolbar. You do, you really, really do.
  6. You’ll need to close all your browser windows for the uninstallation to complete. If you want to come back to this page after you’ve unstalled the toolbar, copy the page URL before shutting the browser window.
  7. With the Ask.com toolbar uninstalled, open your browser back up. Check to see that the toolbar is gone.
  8. Next, check to see if your default browser is Ask.com (in the bar next to the space next to the URL bar in Firefox) and / or do a search from your URL bar.
  9. If your search doesn’t pull up an Ask.com page, you should be good to go. Consider running your anti-virus program just in case – not because it will stop the Ask.com, but just because it is a good idea and when was the last time you did it anyway?

Changing Ask.com If It Is Your Home Page

  1. In Firefox, click on the orange Firefox tab at the top left of the page, then select Options and then Options again.
  2. Under the “General” tab, you’ll see a Startup section right up top – this tells Firefox what to do when it starts up. Either click on “Restore to Default” or enter the homepage you want to start with into the space provided.
  3. Hit “OK” to close the window. Try closing down your browser, then re-opening it and see which page it starts on. It should be your selected home page.

Changing Ask.com From Being Your Default Search Engine

  1. Try doing a search within your URL area (i.e. type in a term, like “why is ask.com so awful”) and hit return. There’s a chance that that search will pull up an Ask.com page, not your former default page (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, whatever).
  2. In Firefox, go to the quick search area next to the URL area. Click on the little down arrow that’s next to the icon of your default search engine (which may even be Ask.com).
  3. Click on “Manage Search Engines…”.
  4. Find Ask.com in that list. Click on it then click on “Remove”.
  5. Click “OK”. You should see that Ask.com is now gone from the list of search engines in that quick search list and another search engine has taken place as the default.

Changing Ask.com From Being Your Default Search Engine, Even After You’ve Removed It

  1. Do another search within your URL area (e.g. “how do ask.com employees live with themselves”). If it comes up with another Ask.com search page, you’ll need to do some more work.
  2. I found the approach here, but thought I’d write it up in a slightly fuller way, so… open up a new Firefox tab or window.
  3. Type in “about:config” (no inverted commas) and hit enter. This is going to open up some of the things under Firefox’s hood and you can break important things here, so be careful. Accept the warning.
  4. Search for “Ask.com” – I found it under “browser.search.defaultenginename”. Double click on that line and change “Ask.com” to “Google”, “Bing” or whatever. Hit “OK”.
  5. You may also find “Ask.com” under “browser.startup.homepage”. Open up a separate page, navigate to your preferred search engine, do a search for a term and and then copy that URL including the search parameter (i.e. for Bing, this is “http://www.bing.com/search?q=”). Go back to your about:config page, double click on “browser.startup.homepage” and then modify it by pasting in the copied search URL. Hit “OK”.
  6. Find “keyword.URL”. Open it up by double-clicking in it and then paste in the same search URL as indicated in point 5 above. Click on “OK”.
  7. Close your about.config window. Close your browser and restart it. Do another test search in the URL space (e.g “have I gotten rid of Ask.com”). It should now open up using your preferred search engine, not Ask.com.
  8. If the above didn’t work, I can’t help you. Sorry!
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4 thoughts on “Removing the Ask.com Toolbar And Its Search Engine Hijacking Effects

  1. Pingback: Microsoft Security vs Other Security vs the fakers. | Like this? Don't; Like this a lot!

  2. I like you had the same problem and did the same changes as you and found that in “about:config” there were other entries where ASK.com was still listed.

    The following also needs to be changed:(in this case it is back to Google.)
    Select the value by clicking once and then right clicking and selecting “Modify” or double click.

    (Search engine values)
    For Google, http://www.google.com/search?q=
    For Yahoo!, http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=
    For Bing, http://www.bing.com/search?q=

    browser.search.defaultenginename => http://www.google.com/search?q=
    browser.search.order.1 => Google.com (Change to Name of your search provider)
    browser.search.selectedEngine => Google.com (Change to Name of your search provider)

    Shutdown Firefox and restart it again. This should change back your search engine to the one you desire. My platform Windows 7 Enterprise (64 bit) Firefox 26

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