Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Removing those cursed Microsoft Windows toolbars

Lose that Adobe Acrobat Toolbar

The Adobe Acrobat toolbar is only one of several pieces of toolbar flotsam that infest my XP environment. No, I don't have any spyware infestations (oddly enough I've never gotten anyway, perhaps because I don't use IE!). These toolbars are all legit commercial products that just won't go away. I'm beginning to understand, though, why spyware vendors typically target toolbars to deliver their wares. It looks like the Microsoft Windows toolbar architecture is a festering mass of muck -- with many different backdoors and hacks that one can use to inject code into an application. Yay Microsoft.

In particular I'm cursed by pieces of Acrobat 4.0 and, more recently, the the silly Yahoo Desktop search toolbar (I like X1/Yahoo Desktop Search, I don't like Yahoo's toolbar -- which is starting to feel a bit like Adware).

This page provides some tips. I found 2 copies of PDFMaker.xla in "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\XLSTART" and deleted the older one, that seems to have gotten rid of the ghost Acrobat 4.0 toolbar in Excel. A search of my file system for "PDFMaker" found flavors of that beast in the Acrobat 6.0 folders and in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\STARTUP and C:\Documents and Settings\[myUserName]\Application Data\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART.

I still haven't figured out yet how to remove the Yahoo Outlook toolbar. Deleting it from the Outlook toolbar list doesn't work. (Hmm. Feels like spyware indeed ...). Regedit tells me I have "Yahoo! Desktop Search Outlook Addin" loaded. Unfortunately I can't parse this further or find a file corresponding to the Addin. I'm defeated for the moment ... I might need to let the web chew on this one for a while.

Update: I received an email from Nigel L. He suggested: "You can remove the YDS Outlook toolbar by simply deleting the X1Outlook.dll ... I have not noticed any other unwanted effects from doing this (YDS can still index your PST files etc.). I also removed X1Launch.dll to stop YDS from trying to open up an internet connection…". These files are located in the Yahoo Search directory. I tried both of his suggestions and it seems to work well. The desktop toolbar still works.

Update 8/17/05:

By chance I found the official way to remove the YDS toolbar.

1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
2. On the Other tab, click Advanced Options.
3. In the Advanced Options dialog box, click COM Add-Ins.
4. Click to clear the YDS Add-in check box then remove it.

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