Eventhough it claims to help you detect and remove spyware, the Yahoo! Toolbar – now included/suggested in lots of freeware downloads (Flash,)- practically behaves as a piece of adware itself.
I subscribed to a Yahoo Group (for Flickr users in Brussels) and the first time I wanted to access the group’s homepage, I got an ActiveX popup for the Yahoo toolbar. I know I don’t need the toolbar to see the homepage, but I guess a lot of people will think they do, and click ‘Yes’ automatically. I installed it too to see how aggressive the toolbar would be afterwards.
The toolbar shuts down all your IE windows after installation, and a new window appears with the new toolbar. It features spyware protection (with Norton security), multiple tabs, Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! Mail/Messenger integration. It tries to set your homepage and preferred search engine to Yahoo! but I did not allow that. The toolbar takes up quite a bit of screen real estate, with the tabs and all.
Let’s say you’re like me, and you’re not that impressed with the toolbar (I use Google’s toolbar and am quite happy with it). You would start with disabling the Yahoo! toolbar (View -> Toolbars). Much to your surprise, the next IE window you open, the toolbar would reappear. Even when you open a link in a new window: there’s the toolbar. Now that’s pretty annoying.
The best way to go is to remove it completely:
Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs -> Yahoo! Toolbar for IE
I’m not saying that Yahoo! is evil, but the way their toolbar is promoted and the way it keeps popping up even when you don’t want it to, reminds me a lot of ‘shopping toolbars’ and other malware. Certainly if they want to promote it as a tool to combat spyware and adware, they might do some effort to behave correctly too.