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Google removing Chrome Cleanup Tool that deleted ‘unwanted’ Windows apps


Chrome icon in a Windows taskbar

In 2015, Google introduced a Cleanup Tool designed to find and delete unwanted software (UwS) that might impact your browsing experience. Google is now removing the Chrome Cleanup Tool.

Google says the Cleanup Tool is no longer needed given a “steady decline in UwS findings on users’ machines,” as well as a drop in user complaints about such software. It worked by detecting and removing suspicious or unwanted apps so that users could “recover from unexpected settings changes.”

For example, last month just 0.06% of Chrome Cleanup Tool scans run by users detected known UwS.

It was originally a standalone download before being integrated into Chrome for Windows. The company credits Google Safe Browsing and antivirus software for “more effectively” blocking file-based UwS.

Where file-based UwS migrated over to extensions, our substantial investments in the Chrome Web Store review process have helped catch malicious extensions that violate the Chrome Web Store’s policies.

Additionally, Chrome is combating cookie theft and other malware by using “hardened authentication workflows and advanced heuristics for blocking phishing and social engineering emails, malware landing pages, and downloads.”

The tool is going away with Chrome 111 for Windows, which started widely rolling out yesterday. You specifically won’t be able to “request a Chrome Cleanup Tool scan through Safety Check or leverage the ‘Reset settings and cleanup’ option offered in chrome://settings on Windows.” In the eight years it has existed, the tool has “performed more than 80 million cleanups.”

Chrome will also remove the component that periodically scans Windows machines and prompts users for cleanup should it find anything suspicious.

Safe Browsing’s Enhanced protection — chrome://settings/security — is offered as an alternative.

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