Pop-ups, redirects, and other malware

If you're seeing pop-up ads that won't go away, or you suddenly have a homepage that you know you didn't set, you might have an unwanted program installed on your computer. Here are some steps you can take to get rid of this program and block similar ones in the future.

Clues to tell if you have an unwanted program

  • Your browser doesn't block pop-up ads from showing
  • Your homepage, startup page, or search engine has changed to a site you don't recognize
  • Unfamiliar extensions or toolbars are added to your browser
  • You're seeing a search engine that looks like Google, but with the wrong logo or web address

These changes may be caused by harmful software known as malware.

Get your browser settings back

Step 1: Get rid of unwanted programs

You should remove malware and other programs on your computer that you don't remember installing. You have to uninstall these malicious programs before you can get your settings back to normal.

Software removal tool for Windows users

To help find these tricky files, you can download and run the Software Removal Tool, which searches your computer for suspicious programs and offers to remove them for you.

Get more help uninstalling programs

Step 2: Reset your browser settings

After you have removed unwanted programs from your computer, reset your browser settings.

Learn how to reset your settings on Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Step 3 (Optional): Get help from the Search Help Forum

If resetting your browser settings doesn't work, visit the Google Search Forum. In your post, mention what steps you’ve already taken to fix the problem.

Report bad sites or programs to Google

Protect your browser from malware

Here are two common ways that people get malware:

  • Downloads: Sometimes you download a program to let you do certain things online, but the program also contains bad software. Even though you can see and use the program you wanted, the other program might be running in the background. These additional programs can do things like add toolbars or ads to your browser.
  • Extensions: Safe extensions that you have on your computer are sometimes purchased by hackers. When they update the extension, they can install malware onto your computer.

To protect your computer from malware in the future, only click links and downloads from sites that you trust.

page author courtney

Courtney is a Search expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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