Usage instructions for ToolbarCop utility

Published: August 25, 2005
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ToolbarCop is a browser extensions manager which can disable or eliminate the following browser add-ons selectively from Internet Explorer:

  • Browser Helper Objects (BHO)
  • Toolbars
  • Standard Toolbar buttons
  • Context menu Extensions
  • Download managers
  • Protocol Handlers
  • Horizontal / Vertical Explorer Bars (side-search bars)
  • Startup applications originating from RUN registry keys.

ToolbarCop is currently at v3.4, as of this writing.

ToolbarCop - Usage

ToolbarCop is not rules based, nor has any database. This utility just lists all the browser add-ons installed in your system. The list may contain legitimate items as well as the add-ons added by a Malware. You're the judge who determines which add-on to delete and which one not to delete. However, to gather the information on a particular add-on, select the item, and click the (i) button in the toolbar. Alternately, use the CTRL + I shortcut.

Download and move ToolbarCop.exe to a folder

Download ToolbarCop, unzip the file, and save the executable to a permanent folder, rather than running it from the Temp directory. This is because ToolbarCop creates the Undo (.reg) files in the same directory from where it's launched.

Figure 1. ToolbarCop folder

So, move Toolbarcop.exe to a permanent folder (say C:\SecurityTools\Toolbarcop) and run it from there everytime.

Disabling the add-ons

ToolbarCop allows you to disable the browser Add-ons selectively. This feature is very handy if you want to determine a browser crash, or Explorer.exe illegal operation errors, by selectively disabling the Toolbars, Browser Helper Objects and all other third-party extensions on a trial and error basis. Once you determine the  culprit, you can re-enable the other items.

Figure 2: Disabling the add-ons

To disable add-on(s), select them from the list. To choose multiple items at a time, use the CTRL key when you select an add-on. Then, right-click the entries(s) and click Disable the selected item(s) context-menu option. Alternately, you can use the CTRL + D keyboard shortcut. Now the chosen items are disabled, and will not load until you enable them again.

Gather more information about a particular add-on

When you encounter a suspicious / unnamed item, you may gather more information about the corresponding add-on file. To do this, select that add-on, and then click the (i) button in the toolbar. Alternately, use the CTRL + I keyboard shortcut. The File Version Information is now displayed.

Refer (Figure 3 - left) Shows Information about the REFIEBAR.DLL module added by Microsoft® Office.

Gather more information about an add-on using Web search

If the above information is not sufficient, then do a Web search. To do so, select the add-on, click the Tools menu. Choose Add-on Web search. This opens the search results window, with the add-on name (or the CLSID) as the search parameter. The search results may contain references to the selected add-on. (if available) - This is just another feature. Ref (Figure 4 in the right)

Add ToolbarCop icon to Internet Explorer toolbar

To add ToolbarCop icon to IE toolbar, select the option Add ToolbarCop button to Internet Explorer in ToolbarCop's Tools menu. This adds an icon to your IE toolbar, for easy accessibility. If the icon does not appear, you need to customize your toolbar preferences in Internet Explorer, and configure ToolbarCop icon to be shown.

Deleting an add-on

Deleting an add-on is similar to the procedure provided above for disabling add-ons. You need to select the entries, right-click and then choose Delete the selected item(s), and then select Yes in the confirmation window. By default, the Backup mode is turned ON, this means that the Undo .REG file is automatically created and placed in the same folder as Toolbarcop.exe is present. Once the Undo file is created, the add-ons are removed from the system.

Undo files - Registration entries (.REG)

Undo files (Fig 5 - left) are nothing but registry backups for the deleted add-on(s), which can be used to reinstate the entry later. This feature is helpful if you've deleted some add-ons accidentally and want to restore them.

The undo file names start with the type of browser add-on ( BHO for Browser Helper Objects...BE for Browser Extensions...RUN for Startup Run keys... and so forth. You can get more information about the naming conventions in the ToolbarCop's Readme.txt file, included in the Zip file )

Turning Off the backup mode

By default the Backup mode is enabled when you start ToolbarCop. In case you don't need the backup option, you can disable the option by deselecting Enable Backup option in the Tools menu. No undo files will be created when you delete an add-on. Refer Fig 6 below.

(Figure 6) Disabling the Backup option

Plus, have a look at other miscellaneous options under the Tools menu.

Generate a detailed browser add-on report

To generate a detailed log file listing all the browser add-ons, click the Notepad icon in the toolbar at the top. The report will be stored in a file named ToolbarCopLog.txt in your Desktop, and opened automatically.


Hope this small tutorial helps. ToolbarCop, which was programmed in my part-time, has been helpful to many for troubleshooting add-ons, to perform a trial-and-error testing, to start a clean instance of Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer etc...