I have banished the Yahoo Toolbar from my PCs. It's not that I have anything against Yahoo. I use many of the company's services.
It's just that for me, the shortcuts on the Yahoo Toolbar don't justify the lost screen space, especially on my 13.3-inch laptop display.
So imagine my surprise when I happened to find the Yahoo Toolbar listed among Firefox's add-ons. (It snuck in when another user of the machine downloaded the Yahoo IM client.)
You might be surprised by the add-ons and extensions that have wormed their way into your copy of Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3.
You can work your way through the list of add-ons in your favorite browser, disabling and uninstalling those you don't need. Or you can save time by opening IE 7 and Firefox 3 with all add-ons and extensions disabled.
To open Internet Explorer with no add-ons or ActiveX controls working, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Internet Explorer (No-Add-ons). (In Vista, a faster way to open IE with no add-ons is by pressing the Windows key, typing Internet Explorer, and choosing Internet Explorer (No Add-ons) in the resulting list of shortcuts.)
To disable all of Firefox's add-ons, you have to open the browser in its Safe Mode (no relation to Windows' own Safe Mode) by clicking Start > All Programs > Mozilla Firefox > Mozilla Firefox (Safe Mode). A quicker way is to press the Windows key (in XP, follow this by pressing R), type Firefox -safe-mode, and press Enter.
In the Firefox Safe Mode dialog box that appears before Firefox opens, click "Disable all add-ons" and choose the Make Changes and Restart button to run the browser with no add-ons or extensions enabled.
I can't tell you for sure that every feature of every Web site you visit will work as designed, nor can I say unequivocally that you'll be browsing faster with no add-ons enabled. But I made the rounds of my favorite sites in each browser's no-add-ons mode and didn't feel like I was missing anything. In fact, the only way I knew my add-ons were disabled in IE was seeing the Manage Add-ons option grayed out on the Tools menu.
Disabling add-ons and extensions one at a time is a snap in both Firefox and IE. In the former, click Tools > Add-ons, select an entry under the Extensions tab, and click Disable. To toss an extension, click Uninstall. You can disable (but not uninstall) Firefox's plug-ins by clicking the Plug-ins tab, selecting an entry, and clicking Disable.
In IE, you can turn off add-ons one by one by clicking Tools > Manage Add-ons > Enable or Disable Add-ons. You have your choice of four views on the Show menu at the top of the Manage Add-ons dialog box (the default is "Add-ons currently loaded in Internet Explorer"). To disable an add-on, select it and choose Disable at the bottom of the dialog box.
One reason you may need to disable your browser's add-ons is to troubleshoot poor performance. Microsoft provides a step-by-step guide for fixing problems with Internet Explorer, and one of the steps is disabling your add-ons and re-enabling them individually until the problem recurs, at which time you've found the troublemaker.
You'll find more information about Firefox add-ons at the Firefox Support Knowledge Base.