Remove Ask.com as Default Search in URL Field

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The Problem

Somehow ask.com toolbar was installed on my computer recently. It defaulted all automatic searches in the URL field to their engine. Not that there is anything completely wrong with ask.com, but I simply prefer Google’s results.

I wanted to go back to Google search results for any mistypes in the URL bar and other search features. However, removing the toolbar as a program, removing the program directory, and resetting all defaults in Firefox / Internet Explorer did not allow to to escape their results. Trust me I tried everything in each programs options, to no avail.

Ask.com Solution

Editors Note (December 18, 2008) – Ask.com formally responded. Pretty cool.

Peter, I’m a Product Manager at Ask. Changing your default search settings is simple with some browsers and more complex with others. We created a tool to simplify the process of removing Ask as the default search engine in your browser address bar. Please click on the URL listed below and run the file to remove Ask from your address bar. If you still experience issues after running this tool, please send an email to AskToolbarBugs@ask.com

Link to the executable file:

I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Chris

My Solution

Internet Explorer 6 (presumably 7 too)

  1. Go to Control Panel in Windows itself
  2. Click on Internet Properties
  3. Click on General
  4. Click on Search settings
  5. Set new default and delete ask.com


  1. Open a new tab or window.
  2. Type “about:config” and hit enter, this brings up the all powerful settings of Firefox.
  3. Agree to the warning that you could mess things up
  4. Find keyword.url, you probably should not change anything else
  5. Double click and change keyword.url string to something else like https://www.google.com/webhp
  6. Note that you cannot just put in the web site domain, you must put in the parameters before your search query. So find your favorite search engine, do a search and grab all the text up to your actual search results. So that a search for “test” in Google returns this, https://www.google.com/search?q=test, but all you need to input into the keyword.url field is https://www.google.com/webhp

Finally, yes I know you can also manage default pages via the default settings under Tools > Options and also Manage Search Engines for the default search area, but those do not remove the default search if something is typed in wrong in the URL line. I mistype a lot or use the URL field to get the No. 1 listing automatically. I believe this is in the only way to stop ask.com and other search engines from becoming your default URL search choice.

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60 Responses to Remove Ask.com as Default Search in URL Field

  1. Gabriel
    11:03 am on November 29th, 2008

    Hello from Spain. I’d like to thank you for the solution; it was esasy but it had to be known or found, and Google pointed to your site. Thanks a lot. As I suffered the same problem, I decided to publish it in my own blog (in Spanish) just to spread the word.

    I write this comment to you because Blogger does not sends trackback or pingbacks.

    Best regards.

  2. Adam
    11:55 pm on December 1st, 2008


    Thanks for the great post, it took me forever to get rid of that dang ask.com stuff. The link above is the same directions from the Firefox website.

    It also points out that if you would like Firefox to guess at your web page and direct you there for example typing in MSN will autofill in the www and .com part and take you right to http://www.msn.com insted of searching google for msn as stated above. just change the option of keyword.enabled to False

  3. majisterludi
    5:49 pm on December 6th, 2008

    Thanks for the great post and quick and effective fix. the end of ask’s woeful attempts and the return of google when I commit a typo.

  4. Tom Duhamel
    3:18 pm on December 8th, 2008

    Even better and safer:

    On the about:config page in Firefox, all of the Firefox settings are displayed, including some that are not accessible from regular setting locations, such as Tools/Options. Settings which were changed from their default value are bold. If Ask.com set itself as the default URL search engine, keyword.URL will be bold. If you want Google back (the default factory setting), simply right-click the line (the one starting with keyword.URL) and select Reset from the menu. Google is back (and the default setting includes more parameters then simply “…/search?q=”).

    After that, I typed “ask” in the filter box above (a kind of search box, you could type “keyword” for instance in order to locate keyword.URL quickly) several other lines appeared with a value of “Ask”. Two of them were bold, and resetting those returned the value to “Google”, so presumably “Ask” meant “Ask.com”. Be aware that most of the other lines which appear really want “Ask” as their value, and in theses cases “ask” doesn’t mean “Ask.com” (they possibly mean “ask me what to do”).

    Hope this helps. Thanks to Peter Boyd for pointing out where the problem were (about:config didn’t come to my mind before reading this page), his solution works, but wasn’t optimal for me.

    Tom 🙂

  5. Bob
    4:42 am on December 9th, 2008

    I did as suggested and then searched on “value” and found these three needed setting to “Google” from “Ask”.

    Now it’s goodbye Ask and welcome home Google!

    Thanks for the invaluable info!


  6. Chris Zimdars
    2:53 am on December 18th, 2008

    Peter, I’m a Product Manager at Ask. Changing your default search settings is simple with some browsers and more complex with others. We created a tool to simplify the process of removing Ask as the default search engine in your browser address bar. Please click on the URL listed below and run the file to remove Ask from your address bar. If you still experience issues after running this tool, please send an email to AskToolbarBugs@ask.com

    I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Chris

  7. Peter Boyd
    7:46 am on December 18th, 2008

    Thanks Chris. Nice to see a response, even if it ends my great tip. I guess this makes it darn easy. 🙂

  8. Jadefeuer
    10:29 pm on December 20th, 2008

    Thank you. Finally a solution that works! I didn’t have any problems with ask.com so far, but after their nearly unremoval default search I probably won’t ever use ’em again…

  9. Nick Brennan
    6:24 pm on January 15th, 2009

    I find it repulsive that a company like Ask would pull garbage like this. I appreciate their help in removing their worthless tool from MY computer, but I would think they’d take a note and not force their horrible search engine on anyone.

    There’s a reason Google is number 1, Ask, and it is most likely because they didn’t pull crap like this.

  10. Rachel
    1:16 pm on January 29th, 2009

    Thanks for the fast and effective fix. This had been bugging me for days.

  11. Len
    10:54 pm on February 5th, 2009

    About TIME! This was irritating me for WEEKS! I was getting extremely frustrated and had spent hours trying to get rid of that ask.com — pffft’!!!!

    When will companies realize that hijacking people’s options makes people hate them? Now when I see ask.com – I shiver, and curl up one side of my lip. Who knows how many other people feel that way now!

    Good riddence to ask.com on my browser!!!

  12. Jeff
    5:39 pm on March 2nd, 2009

    Here is another way I also hate the Ask.com websearch:

    If this is the thing where it loads an “Ask” search when it can’t find a webpage (mistyped URL or server error) then I had this same problem and figured out the fix yesterday.

    Put ‘about:config’ in the address bar to enter Firefox’s configuration page. Look out for The ‘keyword.url’ setting, and change it back to one of the recommendations shown on this page http://kb.mozillazine.org/Keyword.URL

    The first one worked for me. I now get a Google result instead of an Ask one if the page fails to load. If you’d rather see an error message than Google results, then look for the ‘keyword.enabled’ setting and set it to ‘false.’

    If the fix works for you, then please post it anywhere else where you’ve seen this question.

  13. Nat
    9:29 pm on March 3rd, 2009

    After spending days trying to find the register key to erase ask.com as the default searcher in IE when misstyping a site, I found the answer and would like to share with you people:

    After removing the Toolbar in the Program Files > Ask Toolbar it is still will be remaing a .dll file named Defaut Searhcer. Erase it. Problem is solved.

    Hope I could help you people. It was simpler that we could imagine… Good Luck!

  14. Butch
    5:26 am on March 9th, 2009

    Recently I had to reinstall Nereo 8 and forgot to uncheck the Ask Toolbar option. Now it is in my IE7 and Firefox 3. I have removed programs, rebooted, and it is still in both. No matter what I do it will not be removed. I have contacted Ask.com but had no response. Any ideas here for me? Thx!

  15. Peter
    11:58 am on March 10th, 2009

    Thank you for the solution, this was one of the most annoying things that actually made me HATE ask toolbar because I wrongfully installed it and then I can’t get rid of it anymore, I think I will need time to forget about ask

  16. Diane
    10:02 pm on March 23rd, 2009

    Thank you for this easy fix. I thought I’d mess my computer up (again) before I found an answer to this annoying problem.

  17. Dihan
    5:29 am on April 1st, 2009

    Thank you so much for adding this tutorial!! It worked perfectly and Ask free!!

  18. Molly
    8:51 pm on April 1st, 2009

    Yeah the about:config thing works the best, I tried everything else first. I sorted everything by “Status, which which showed all the bold “user set” settings first- then went through the list and found everything that had “ask” in the “Value” column and replaced it with the default by right-clicking and hitting “reset”.

    And talk about reverse marketing… DO NOT WANT!

  19. jill
    2:04 am on April 19th, 2009

    To get rid of the Ask.com toolbar in Firefox. go to Tools/options/main/manage add-ons/disable Ask.com toolbar. Simple.

  20. Ken
    6:01 am on April 19th, 2009

    I think that you should be able to charge the company (ask.com in this case) for removing this type of malware. Now you have to carefully watch every thing that you install to make sure that you don’t let it install this crap by default.

    Toolbars like this are for noobs that don’t know how to use a computer…

    What really chaps my a$$ is that I went through add/remove programs and removed the toolbar application but that didn’t remove these keys for firefox.

  21. paul
    3:25 am on April 26th, 2009

    dude you are beautifull i’m trying for months to get the stupid ask.com search engine to diappear and this did it.

    thank you

  22. Erik
    5:31 pm on April 30th, 2009

    To Product Manager Chris:

    Your advertising strategy of causing other software to install the ask toolbar and change the default search engine sucks.

    As a result of having to use this (very useful) fix here, I’ll be making a point to tell everyone I know how much ask sucks.

    Your money was not well spent on your advertising campaign. Maybe you should invest it in a decent search engine instead.


    And to Peter:

    Thanks for the great information.

  23. Eugene
    3:54 am on May 28th, 2009

    Thank you for the solution.
    DAMN ask.com!

  24. @ertailara
    2:53 pm on June 5th, 2009

    Si a alguien se lo ownea el buscador de ASK.com y le cambia el buscador que tienen , acá esta la solucion

  25. rwharris311
    3:00 am on June 20th, 2009

    I was able to remove ASK as my homepage and reset it to Google though “Internet Options” under the “Tools” menu. I was then able to remove most of the ASK software through the “Add Remove Programs” option in Control Panel (Windows XP, Home Edition. The problem was that if I made a typo in entering a URL, ASK search engine would still pop up.

    The only way to correct this that worked for me (IE7) is to click on the magnifying glass icon at the top of my homepage (Google in my case). Click on “Change search defaults” to whatever search engine you wish to use as your default. If you wish to do so, you can delete ASK at the same time. This reply came to me courtesy of ASK tech support and I thought I would pass it on.

  26. DJ
    9:50 pm on June 29th, 2009

    After uninstalling the ask.com toolbar through windows, my browser (Firefox) still kept doing the redirect when I tried to use Google. The final fix was the about:config solution posted by the previous folks. Thanks!

  27. MOLLY
    8:38 pm on June 18th, 2010

    Hallelujah! After weeks of trying to remove the irritant Ask.com, finally a reprive!! I inadvertently forgot to uncheck the “install Ask.com as default search engine” when downloading another program.

    I have never really had an issue with Ask, I’ve always just used Google; but after this stunt, I will steer clear of Ask.com forever. Great marketing ploy guys, force people into using your site…you are clearly not creative enough to come up with a plan to legitimately bring in new customers.

    I have always, and will always continue to use Google.

    Oh BTW, I just deleted the Ask.com folder from my Program Folders in my C drive.

    Thanks for letting me vent!

  28. mara
    12:58 pm on September 14th, 2010

    Thank you for your significative help!!!!

  29. Tac
    1:52 pm on September 30th, 2010

    I do the keyboard.url thing, I change it back…. and ask changes it back to their thing! so annoying! I am using record toolbar, which may be causing it. does anyone have a program for firefox that can record audio? I want to dump all ask shit software completely!

  30. Tac
    2:11 pm on September 30th, 2010

    okay… everytime I change keyword it changes itself back to Ask… why is this happening?

  31. Alicia
    8:04 pm on October 2nd, 2010

    I got all that “ask.com” stuff when I downloaded Foxit Reader (I did not pay attention to everything it said it would download; you actually have to “decline” so that you do not get the stuff.
    I was very angry because I lost a lot of time trying to remove the ask.com. I never even tried it; i do not appreciate anything being imposed on me or trick me.
    Don’t the people at ASK.com think there are others out there like me?
    The link did not help at all. I was able to remove it with what was listed as “My Solution”-I think by Pete Boyd.
    I have Windows 7, 64bits, IE 8.
    Thank you.

  32. Alicia
    11:22 am on October 5th, 2010

    I got all that “ask.com” stuff when I downloaded Foxit Reader (I did not pay attention to everything it said it would download; you actually have to “decline” so that you do not get the stuff.
    This is to update my previous comment…
    I thought I would not see ASK.com as my default search engine again but I was wrong. It “came back” and I kept trying to no avail.
    I am very angry with both Foxit Reader and Ask.com

  33. Paula
    4:03 pm on October 8th, 2010

    THANKS! I used your advice to stop Google from taking me to the 1st result if I do a URL field keyword search, which somehow became the default and really is annoying.

    I’ve tried searching before, couldn’t find an answer but this time found your advice. The keyword:url search string had some extra bits I simply replaced with your suggested one.
    Again, thanks

  34. Alex
    7:57 am on October 15th, 2010

    I use firefox and the instructions were very simple to follow
    Thank you so much i hate .ask.com

  35. Aaron Small
    7:32 pm on October 29th, 2010

    To Chris@Ask.com

    So you are honestly and sincerely saying that your Company did not deliberately, with intent to defraud (meaning to derive monetary gain from dishonest conduct) attack the Mozilla Firefox Browser in order to redirect people from the sites they wished to go to, via Google’s automatic re-router, but instead they were hijacked and forced to visit a site they had no earthly intention of visiting, in doing so generating considerable amounts of money for your Company?

    I mean, in order to change the registry/configuration files from within a webpage, the webpage had to be written to bring about that effect. So a deliberate calculated attack on however many browsers it worked on, to generate incredible exposure and profit for your scumbag little company?

    This is not a gimmick, it is outright fraud. How many of the ‘Paid Search Results’ appearing on whichever page it is that people are directed to, were aware of your Companies new “Marketing Ploy”? Chances are, given the state of the law on the Internet, you will escape prosecution (although check out the KNO3 Trial and Dow Jones v Gutnik, “False & Misleading Conduct in Trade or Business” may well be actionable wherever the person was misled, ie. if the person, such as myself, was misled here, then you are subject to Australian Law, which has no right of “Free Speech” or anything else).

    But apart from that, what can we do? Can we put pressure on Mozilla to carefully check that the people involved in this exercise, including those who paid to be a part of it, are excluded from being able to place advertisments, etc.? I mean it is self-evident, given that the security hack had to be signed for most people to be led astray, that this attack has come someone with intimate knowledge of the Gecko engine, I cannot imagine why Mozilla would have anything to do with such scum in the first place.

    I personally am quite willing to avoid Ask.com and any Company associated therewith. I will not voluntarily set my metaphysical feet anywhere near them, nor will I have any dealings with the Companies who obviously, by paying to be a part of such a slimy, underhanded, dishonest & dishonourable scheme, showed their approbation thereof. Thus I feel obliged to vote with those same metaphysical feet and not spend a cent anywhere associated with this despicable scam.



    PS When the internet is heavily regulated and the laws start cropping up everywhere, it will because of this type of behavior. Scams where the person is taken advantage of and ends up somewhere other than they want to end up, despite having acted in all ways appropriately, will resonate with Lawmaker’s. The damage done by people like this (who if they studied real hard & worked night and day for a decade maybe, just maybe might become fully fledged halfwits), pulling stunts like this one, is immeasurable. This is not trojans and spyware infecting your computer becasue you habituate Pornography websites, nor is it like the laughably inept Nigerian/etc Bank Scammer’s, this does not require people do do something dumb, or make a wrong choice.

    I hope to God that Mozilla takes it seriously, this exact issue is why the laws are going to end up coming in. Because even experienced web-trawlers, who brush off spybots & keyloggers daily, can get entangled in this one, through no fault of their own. That means nobody can be protected from the message assclowns like these idiots have to spread, or for that matter, from being directed to sites which will install proper hacks into your computer while the page is loading.

    It is time to take a stand on this, or we risk losing the Internet. I can handle the scam artists as long as they know to stay out of certain boundaries. This is dangerous, truly dangerous, it has shown how a dimwit with a lukewarm IQ can hijack a browser with no assistance from the user thereof and steer that browser to destinations known only to the program in control of the browser.

    Whether those programs are keyloggers, password sniffers, or just waiting for Credit Card Transactions, or maybe even darker purposes, the fact remains, there is no protection against it.

  36. Ron
    6:30 pm on September 5th, 2011

    Thank you for this help, I like using firefox, but hate when being forced to use Ask.com, or any other search engine I did not chose.
    Good people like yourself, to often, go unrewarded for the help you provide to the greater community of the internet.

  37. dustin
    12:48 pm on November 6th, 2010

    thanx alot.

  38. Tom
    6:58 am on November 29th, 2010
  39. geoff
    5:33 pm on December 14th, 2010

    Thanks Aaron, couldn’t have said it better myself.

    My solution – ultimately – was to delete the ask.com folder in program files; I had to boot up in safe mode and do it from the command prompt, but it worked.

    In relation to your observations about the ethics of ask.com, all I can think to add is that Norton and others should take a decision to classify ask.com and every application directly resulting from it as malware, and routinely block it, or at least alert users before it is installed.

  40. Jeremias
    6:57 pm on July 25th, 2012

    Glad you caught this Geoff, the folder contains a program called Ask Updater that I imagine is responsible for routinely resetting our browser defaults.

    It can be easily deleted after hitting Ctrl+Alt+Delete and stopping the Ask Updater process.

  41. Steve S.
    12:11 pm on December 31st, 2010

    Amen to @Chris Small!

  42. jimmcconnellcdn
    1:46 am on January 7th, 2011

    Thanks to: Peter, Scott, Tom, Boyd……..You all helped me! I didn’t need to keep reading further but for sure bookmarked this site. ( Chris’s ‘tool’ didn’t help).

  43. jimmcconnellcdn
    2:02 am on January 7th, 2011

    By chance I had the uplifting experience of reading Aaron Small’s comments. This person is definitely my choice for best expression of my (and a heck of a lot of others, I’m sure) sentiments towards Ask.com.

  44. Mariolirajunior
    9:26 pm on July 27th, 2011

    Thank you very much for helping me keep more of my hair… something changed my Firefox settings and I was just mad this last day…

  45. Crudbunnies4eva
    11:33 pm on September 12th, 2011


  46. Olle Holmqvist
    4:55 am on November 8th, 2011

    I never wanted or needed ToolBar, and am insulted by its contant presnce. Furthermore,
    in this country Sweden it is unreliable, if nevertheless you try to use it, it proviedes outdated phone numbers.
    olle h

  47. Thobart8
    11:59 pm on April 9th, 2012

    It wont go. Bugs are multipling every day. Thank God for my Malwarebytes. Quarantines you all the time.

  48. Mary Gage
    10:58 pm on April 18th, 2012

    Did everything suggested above for Firefox. Did not work. Tried all kinds of other ways too that were suggested on the internet. I feel like giving up but want my Google search bar back and no ask.com. I remember that I either updated or loaded Java and did not say yes to ask.com.

  49. check
    11:38 am on April 26th, 2012

    Solution works, but Ask does not.

  50. Tuvieja
    4:43 pm on April 27th, 2012

    HIJOSDEPUTA, metanse el buscador de ask.com en el ORTO

  51. Grateful User
    8:02 am on April 28th, 2012

    Excellent, many thanks for this!

  52. Frank
    1:40 pm on May 16th, 2012

    annoying Ask, i also got ask.com installed, while i never got asked for it. I hate ask now for this, real bad marketing! Just go to controlpanel > programs and features and remove the f*cking thing

  53. idicev
    1:02 pm on June 29th, 2012

    Just use the drop down in the search box (currently marked Ask).
    Click manage to remove or
    Click another item in the list to use that instead

  54. Feathers04
    4:34 pm on July 23rd, 2012

    This did not work. When I closed firefox the next time I used it askme.com showed up again. Uninstalling and using Chrome is my only option.

  55. Goetzsusanm
    9:07 am on July 28th, 2012

    i am not very experienced at making changes to my computer like this, I use Firefox. i seem to have followed your instructions up to #5 but I am lost to complete #6 and the paragraph that follows
    Could you explain in more detail please

  56. Phil
    9:09 pm on August 14th, 2012

    you solution worked great for firefox, thanks

  57. Billm03
    7:58 am on November 4th, 2012

    Why would any toolbar be so difficult to remove if the company’s intent was not malicious? You guys are full of it. Why don’t you do the right and ethical thing and fix this issue. If you want users to use your toolbar, let them do so on their perceived merits of the tool, don’t hold us hostage. I will rebuild my desktop before I give you the satisfaction of using your toolbar.

  58. Neil Olien
    2:10 pm on November 23rd, 2012

    Thank you

  59. Jace
    1:46 pm on January 8th, 2013

    Yes, this annoying experience is forcing me to boycott and despise ask.com forever and spread the word widely. Looks like your scam backfired, ask.com!

  60. jen
    1:46 pm on February 15th, 2013

    Thank you!!! I just tried about 5 other suggestions, but this one worked!!! Success 🙂