Have you ever had a Chrome extension that won’t go away or slow your browsing? The typical uninstall method might fail when they crash or don’t load properly. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to remove Chrome extensions using several methods.
The removal procedure below is for the Google Chrome browser. However, Microsoft’s desktop browser, called Microsoft Edge is based on the open-source Chromium project. Any extension installation from the Google Chrome Web Store should work in Edge. This means the same removal procedures should work too.
If your organization manages your web browser, you may have issues removing a Google Chrome extension. The reason is the system admin may have configured it, and there’s a reason it’s being used.
Personally, I try to keep as few browser extensions as possible. They tend to consume a lot of resources, although this varies based on what the extension can do. Also, I don’t advocate getting a browser extension to disable extensions or apps. I think it’s easy enough to do using the instructions below. And, some of these extensions have their own security vulnerabilities.
Quickly Remove Chrome Extension
This is the fastest and easiest way to delete a Chrome extension or add-on.
- Open Google Chrome.
- In Chrome’s address bar, type chrome://extensions.
- Chrome will display your extensions in a nice grid. Microsoft Edge uses rows.
Each extension shows the icon, name, brief description, Details button, Remove button, and status toggle.
- To delete the browser extension, click the Remove button.
If you wish to disable extensions, you can flip the blue status toggle in the lower right corner of the grid. This will remove it from your browser toolbar.
- A confirmation dialog will appear.
- Click the Remove button to confirm the deletion.
- Click Remove again.
The above process works well except if the browser extension crashes. In some cases, you won’t see it in the extension listing. Deleting an extension that doesn’t appear in the list, such as a malicious extension, is harder. This is a trick certain malware authors use. They may also redirect you to another page.
This is also why you should install extensions from an established marketplace and use a browser security tool like CRXcavator. Google has been clamping down and forcing developers to use the Chrome web store.
Manually Delete Chrome Extensions
The trick to uninstalling the problem extension is twofold. First, you must find your Chrome extensions folder. Second, you need to find the folder containing the problem extension. If you have a lot of extensions, I’d suggest using net export to produce a table of your browser extensions. Otherwise, you can use the steps below.
- Close Google Chrome.
- Find your Default folder location. The location depends on your Windows operating system. You’ll need to substitute your user name where I have <username> below.
Windows Vista – Windows 11
If you’re using Microsoft Edge, the path is different.
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default
- Within the Default folder, there should be another folder called Extensions. If you click that, you should see a folder for each extension. As you can see from the screen snap below, the folder names are cryptic. You might be able to narrow it down by the Date modified column.
- If you open a folder, you’ll see a subfolder with the extension’s version number.
- If you open the folder with the version number, you should be able to tell which extension it belongs to. You can open the manifest.json file.
- Open the JSON file with a text editor or code editor. I prefer the free VS Code from Microsoft, which is cross-platform.
- If this is the problem extension, delete the folder. This will be the folder with the cryptic name. (As an aside, I like this extension and am using it for illustration purposes.)
- Restart your browser.
Troubleshooting Chrome (It Still Misbehaves)
Sometimes, after taking these steps, Chrome still misbehaves. However, while you think the issue might be an extension, it might be Google Chrome or some other internet issue. To test this theory, you can turn off all Chrome Extensions for the session. The easiest way to do this is using the command prompt.
Temporarily Turn Off All Chrome Extensions
- Find where chrome.exe resides on your PC and copy the file path.
- Press your Windows key + r to open the Run dialog.
- Paste in the file path you copied above in the Open: field.
- Type a space and add –disable-extensions to the file path. (Example below)
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --disable-extensions
- Click OK.
Google’s Chrome CleanUp Tool (Removed)
As I mentioned above, some folks play nasty and bury their extensions in ways that take more than peeking into the Extensions folder. Google used to have a program called the Chrome Cleanup Tool. The program has been removed with a similar service that works in Chrome.
Google has been removing this tool from the browser, starting with Chrome v. 111.
- Open Google Chrome.
- In the browser address bar type, chrome://settings/cleanup.
- Click the Find button.
According to Google, the program will scan and remove software that may cause problems with Chrome. These include:
- Pop-up ads
- New tabs that won’t go away
- Chrome homepage or search engine changed without your permission.
- An unwanted extension or Chrome toolbar that keeps coming back.
- Your browser is redirected to unfamiliar pages or ads.
- Alerts about a virus or an infected device.
There is also a Google support page that provides more information.
Google’s Featured Badge Extensions
In March of 2022, Google introduced a new “Featured” badge for Chrome Extensions. According to Google, the badge means that the extension has been manually reviewed as opposed to some computer algorithm. This is reserved for extensions that abide by the web store’s best practices. You can see an example below for the Print Friendly extension.
Granted, these Featured badges don’t mean the uninstall process will be perfect. However, it does reduce the instances of badly coded extensions or malware.