How to Use the Chrome Cleanup Tool

how to use Chrome cleanup tool

Getty Images (Oivind Hovland/Ikon Images) 

The Google Chrome web browser is perhaps best known for its high level of customization and for its speed, among other qualities. With tens of thousands of add-ons and extensions available, along with independent processes for each open tab, Chrome's appearance and feature set can be tailored to your liking without sacrificing a great deal of its performance.

One downside to the browser's flexibility, however, is that you occasionally end up with unwanted programs or settings that can range from minor annoyances to potentially dangerous malware

Once available as a standalone program, the Chrome Cleanup tool is now a part of the actual browser itself and can detect and remove harmful software along with restoring hijacked settings back to their original state.

Using the Chrome Cleanup Tool 

If you are experiencing undesirable symptoms such as intrusive pop-up ads and unexpected web pages appearing, your search engine and homepage being redirected to services and sites that you've never heard of before or just general slowness in your browser, then you should first check for and remove any unwanted programs.

The browser will periodically check for suspicious programs on its own, letting you know whenever something untoward is discovered and offer the option to remove it. You can manually check for these problem programs as well by taking the following steps.

Windows

chrome cleanup tool
Chrome's cleanup tool can help you remove problematic software.
  1. Open your Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the main menu button, located in the upper right-hand corner and represented by three dots.
  3. When the drop-down menu appears, select Settings. You can also enter the following text in Chrome's address bar (or Omnibox) in lieu of clicking on this menu item: chrome://settings
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Advanced.
  5. Scroll further until you locate the Reset and clean up section.
  6. Select the Clean up computer option.
  7. Click on the FIND button, located to the right of the Find and remove harmful software option.
  8. A message labeled Checking for harmful software... will now be displayed, accompanied by a spinning wheel. This process can take several minutes to complete, so be patient. If any suspicious programs are found, you will then be given the option to remove one or more of them. Chrome will also disable extensions at this point.

macOS

Chrome for macOS does not offer this feature, but you can still remove unwanted programs manually.

  1. Open a new Finder window and choose Applications from the left-menu pane, or click on the Applications icon in the dock.
  2. Peruse the list of programs shown and see if anything looks out of place. If you see one or more applications that you are not comfortable with, right-click on each one and select the Move to Trash option.
  3. Return to the desktop and right-click on the Trash icon.
  4. When the pop-up menu appears, select Empty Trash.

Use caution here, as you do not want to accidentally remove any reputable applications that you might need later on. You may also want to disable extensions, either one at a time or all in one fell swoop, to see if one or more of these third-party add-ons could be the cause of your issues.

Resetting Your Browser Settings

If removing unwanted programs didn't solve your problems, you may want to reset your browser's settings back to their default state.

reset Chrome browser settings
These steps will give Chrome a fresh start.
  1. Open your Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the main menu button, located in the upper right-hand corner and represented by three dots.
  3. When the drop-down menu appears, select Settings. You can also enter the following text in Chrome's address bar (or Omnibox) in lieu of clicking on this menu item: chrome://settings
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Advanced.
  5. Scroll further until you locate the Reset and clean up section on Windows, or the Reset settings section on Chrome OS, Linux or macOS.
  6. On Windows, choose the Restore settings to their original defaults option and then click the RESET SETTINGS button. On Chrome OS, select the Reset option and then click the RESET button. On Linux and macOS, select the Reset settings option and then click the RESET button. 
  7. Your Chrome settings will now be restored to their default values.