AVG Signal Blog Privacy Browser How to Manage and Remove Chrome Extensions

Written by Brittany Nelson
Published on June 4, 2021

While many extensions are helpful — such as security extensions for Chrome that help protect your data — some are built with more malicious goals in mind. Cybercriminals create extensions that seem helpful, but will actually monitor your online activity, harvest your personal data, or spam you with ads.

Other add-ons and plugins request more permissions than they actually need — there’s no reason an ad-blocker Chrome extension needs to access your webcam and location data. Jump down to find out how to identify malicious extensions and protect against them with the free AVG Secure Browser.

This article contains:

    How to remove Chrome extensions

    Deleting Chrome extensions is simple. Follow these steps to find extensions in Chrome and uninstall any Chrome extensions you don’t want:

    1. Launch Google Chrome.

    2. Click the three vertical dots in the top-right of the browser window to open the menu.

    3. Select More tools from the dropdown menu and choose Extensions from the list of options. You should now see all your downloaded browser extensions.

      Google Chrome menu opened, more tools selected from drop down menu, Extensions selected from the second drop down menu.
    4. Find the extension you want to delete and click the Remove button.

       Image shows Google Translate Chrome Extension with the Remove button highlighted.
    5. Click Remove again on Chrome's pop-up confirmation window to delete the extension.

      pop up window resulting from clicking 'Remove' on the Chrome extension. Remove button on pop up window is highlighted.If you’d like to disable Chrome extensions without removing them, toggle the slider to the left. The slider button is gray when the extension is turned off.

      Google Translate Chrome extension is shown as deactivated, with toggle bar on lower left grayed out.

    Using extensions in other browsers too? Learn how to remove extensions from Firefox.

    How to delete hidden Chrome extensions on Windows

    Not all Chrome extensions are visible in the Extensions section of your browser. Hidden Chrome extensions that aren’t visible in your browser are more likely to be malware, like browser hijackers. It’s important to remove browser hijackers immediately, because they’re invasive and can compromise your online security and privacy. 

    Have a Mac? Jump to our removal instructions on Apple. Otherwise, here’s how to find and delete hidden Chrome extensions on Windows:

    1. Close Google Chrome (if open).

    2. Open your file explorer and paste the following pathway into the navigation bar, replacing username with the username you use on your computer, then press Enter.

      C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

      File Explorer window with pathway directing to Chrome extensions pasted into the navigation bar.
    3. Select Extensions from the list.

      File explorer window with list of folders and Extensions folder selected.Inside the extensions folder are more folders for each extension, with the folder names as strings of letters.

      File explorer window with Extensions folder opened and lists of folders inside. All folders have names that are strings of random letters.
    4. Open any folder. You won’t know which extension each folder is for until you go a little deeper.

    5. Open the subfolder with the extension’s version number.

      File Explorer window with one extension folder opened, one sub folder is within and named with the version  number of the extension.
    6. Look for a manifest.json file, which is a simple JSON file that tells the browser how the extension’s user interface should appear when installed on desktop or mobile devices.

      File explorer window with subfolder of extension opened and file titled manifest.json highlighted.
    7. Open the manifest.json file by right-clicking and selecting “open with” and choosing your preferred text or code editor. Then identify the name of the extension by checking the short_name field.

      manifest.json file opened in file viewing application. a line that reads short name, colon, emoji tools is highlighted.
    8. To remove this extension, return to its main folder (step 4, where all the folders are listed with strings of letters as names) and delete the folder.

    9. Restart Google Chrome.

    How to delete hidden Chrome extensions on Mac

    Deleting hidden Chrome extensions on Mac is very similar to the process on Windows. Here are the steps to delete hidden extensions on Mac:

    1. Open Finder.

    2. Use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G to open the Go to Folder navigation bar.

    3. Paste this pathway in the navigation bar: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Extensions

      Go to folder search window with pathway leading to Chrome Extensions typed into the navigation bar.
    4. This will open the Google Chrome extensions folder.

      Google Chrome extensions folder with many folders within. All folders within have names with long strings of letters.Go to steps 4 through 10 above for Windows and follow the same steps for removing the hidden extensions.

    How to identify malicious extensions

    Before adding a new extension or plugin to your browser, make sure you’re not adding something malicious. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you don’t add any unsafe extensions.

    1. Research the developer

    Developers who have created add-ons or extensions can usually be verified via profiles on engineering forums such as GitHub, or by public association with the company they work for.

    Most reputable extensions have their own homepage with a direct download option. This homepage — or the Chrome Web Store — is a safer place to download than a third-party portal, since malware creators can disguise their deceptive downloads in the marketplace as popular extensions.

    2. Check the extension’s requested permissions

    Review the permissions that a browser extension requests. If an extension requests access to something it shouldn’t need to perform its function, that’s a red flag. Why would a recipe-finder extension need permission to access your email? It doesn’t.

    Always read permission requests carefully, rather than quickly clicking Allow to make the pop-up window go away. If a request sounds suspicious, do some research or delete the extension.

    3. After installing the extension, look for strange behavior

    While using your browser, check for the following warning signs of a malicious extension:

    • You’re seeing a sudden increase in ads, especially pop-up ads.

    • Your browser is much slower than usual.

    • You’re getting scareware pop-ups that don’t look like the alerts from your actual, legitimate antivirus program.

    Check if this experience is unique to your browser by having someone else visit the same web address on their own computer to compare the lag time and number of ads visible. If they don’t have the same problems you’re having, then you might have a malicious extension on your browser.

    If your browser still feels slow after removing the extension, check out our tips on how to speed up your browser. And install an ad blocker to get rid of annoying ads that also slow you down.

    4. Check for unwanted redirects

    Manually type in a web address — if your browser redirects you to a site other than the one you typed, you may have a malicious browser extension. These extensions redirect you to unsafe websites that can collect your personal data, inundate you in pop-up ads, and collect money for advertisers.

    In addition, unsafe extensions and plugins use ad tracking to gather more information about your web activity. Using browsers with built-in security and privacy features can prevent you from installing malicious extensions and help avoid the consequences.

    Protect against suspicious extensions with AVG Secure Browser

    Browser extensions can be super useful, so don’t let malicious add-ons spoil your fun. The Extension Guard feature in AVG Secure Browser gives you added protection by highlighting permission requests from extensions to help you identify any unusual permission requests before you install the extension. 

    WIth the free AVG Secure Browser, you’ll know in advance that any extension you add has been vetted for safety before you use it.

    Why is it important to manage extensions in Chrome?

    While it’s tempting to download every extension that sounds exciting or useful, some extensions are safer than others. Here are some things to consider before going on a plugin installation spree:

    • Managing your Google Chrome extensions makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally install malware.

    • Unsafe extensions compromise your privacy, putting personal data at risk.

    • Browser extensions update automatically and malicious ones may suddenly introduce malware, such as adware.

    • Extensions take up space and memory, and too many extensions can bog down your computer and make your browser feel slower

    • If you use extensions on a work computer, some requested permissions may violate your company’s data security policies.

    • Know where you’re downloading from — app stores like the Chrome Web Store and the AVG Extension Store screen extensions for malware before approving them.

    While you’re managing your extensions, consider disabling notifications in Chrome for sites that abuse them to show you ads. Doing a bit of Chrome extension and notification management helps ensure you’re installing only beneficial extensions that won’t introduce security vulnerabilities, leak your data, or otherwise harm your computer. 

    Lastly, do some browser maintenance like deleting your cookies and clearing your history.

    Manage extensions easily with AVG Secure Browser

    AVG Secure Browser is built on the Chromium platform, which means that you can enjoy all of its benefits while using all your favorite Google Chrome extensions. Rather than worry about unsafe extensions, you’ll get automatic protection with Extension Guard in AVG Secure Browser.

    Extension Guard is an advanced, built-in feature that protects you from unsafe extensions, extensions that haven't passed AVG security checks, and extensions that request unusual permissions. That way, you won’t unintentionally add a plugin to your browser that doesn’t have your best interests in mind. But that’s just one way the free AVG Secure Browser enhances your privacy and security online. 

    You’ll also get protection against malicious websites and shady downloads to help you avoid phishing attacks and malware, while the anti-tracking and ad-blocking features let you surf the web without bots following your every move and blasting you with ads. 

    AVG Secure Browser even offers automatic encryption when connecting to unsecured websites, and an ultra-secure Bank Mode for super-sensitive transactions. Get AVG Secure Browser today for smoother, safer browsing.

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    Brittany Nelson