When Malware and viruses attack your computer, they often make changes to your home page and the default search engine you use. If this is the case for you, here is how to take back control of your computer. Be sure to set a system restore point before you begin.
First, it is important you take a look at the programs that are installed on your computer. Open your Control Panel and go to “Programs and Features.” Look in the list and remove everything that indicates it is a toolbar. Also, look for things that indicate “search” or “Internet Explorer helper,” as these are typically not part of Windows. If you are unsure, search the name of the program in Microsoft.com to see what they have to say about it. You can also look at the date that the programs were installed and match it with the date that your home page was changed. This may be an indication showing which programs are responsible for changing your settings.
Once you remove all the suspect programs, open Internet Explorer and type in the website address at the top that you want to use as your home page. Click “Tools,” and then click “Internet options.” If your menu bar is not visible, right-click near the top of the window until you see “Menu bar.” Checkmark it again to make it visible.
Next, click the “Security” tab at the top of the Internet Options box. Below, click the “Reset all zones to default level” button, if it allows. Again, at the top, click the “General” tab. Under the “Home page” section, click the “Use current” button and then click “OK” at the bottom to save and close the Internet Options box. Your home page should open to your preference now.
Lastly, still in Internet Explorer, click “Tools” and then click “Manage add-ons.” In the box that opens, on the left side, click “Search Providers.” Here you’ll see a list of search providers.
Many of us use either Google or Bing as our default search provider. If your desired search provider is showing, click it once then click “Set as default” at the bottom-right. If your default search engine doesn’t appear, to the bottom-left, click the link: “Find more search providers.” A website will open where you can select and install your desired search provider. Once it installs, you will need to close all the open boxes and then re-open the “Manage add-ons” box, click “Search Providers” to the left, to make your new choice visible. Highlight it by clicking on it once, and then click “Set as default” at the bottom-right.
Remove all other search providers by highlighting them, and then clicking “Remove” at the bottom-right. I also recommend you checkmark the boxes at the bottom-left: “Prevent programs from suggesting changes to my default search provider” and “Search in the address bar.” This last box means that when you have Internet Explorer open, you can type in your search question directly in the address bar at the top and the results will automatically open below using the default search provider you have set. There is no need to go to your search engine’s website. Click “Close” at the bottom-right to save your changes. Once you have finished, set another system restore point.
For 14 years, Scott Lindsay has helped tens of thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 250 articles about Microsoft software, the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at ScottLindsay@Live.com.