How to Recover a Hijacked Google Browser
By David Nield
Updated September 18, 2017
If your Google Chrome browser has been hijacked by malware or other unwanted software, you may see settings being changed without your permission, such as the default home page and search engine. The browser may also crash on a regular basis. While resetting may solve the problem, chances are you have malware and will need to remove it one way or another.
Reset Chrome Settings
Resetting Google Chrome's key configuration options returns the default search engine and content settings back to their original state. This clears the home page setting, which becomes the New Tab page, and removes the home page button from the toolbar. The default startup tabs, New Tab page, pinned tabs, cookies and site data are all cleared, and all installed extensions and themes are removed. Click the "Settings" option from the Chrome menu – marked with three horizontal lines – choose "Show Advanced Settings," and then click "Reset" to do this.
Your installed anti-malware software may be able to identify the program that has hijacked your browser. Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware tools are running the most recent updates, and then initiate a full scan of your computer using the most thorough settings available. If nothing is detected, use standalone utilities such as Microsoft Safety Scanner or Spybot Search & Destroy (see Resources) to run an additional scan without affecting the security applications you already have in place.
Third-Party Apps and Extensions
A third-party app or extension may be the root cause of the browser hijacking, and while you can disable some add-ons from Chrome's extensions list – select "Tools," then "Extensions" from the Chrome menu – or reset the browser, the troublesome software may not appear here. Open your computer's Control Panel, and then click the "Uninstall a Program" link to look for listed applications that you can remove from your system.
Uninstall and Reinstall
Uninstalling and reinstalling the browser may be enough to clear the malware from the software. Doing this also ensures that you are running the most up-to-date version of Chrome. If resetting Chrome has no effect, uninstall it via the "Uninstall a Program" link in Control Panel, and then download and install the latest release from the official Google Chrome website (link in Resources). Reinstalling Chrome puts default settings in place and removes all toolbars, extensions and add-ons.
An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.