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Dealing with Pop-Up Ads and Spyware

January 20th, 2009 surfer – Pop-up ads are those irritating ads and messages that pop up on your screen whenever you’re online. There are three major causes of pop-up ads:

  • Web sites that display some extra ads each time you request to view a specific page.
  • Messenger Service ads that sneak in through the Windows Alerter service (originally designed to allow network administrators to contact users within a corporate network).
  • “Free” software you download and install, not realizing that those programs earn revenues by displaying pop-up ads on you screen.

Dealing with the first two types of ads is relatively easy. You can use a simple pop-up blocker like the Google toolbar to block those ads.

Installing the Google toolbar

The Google toolbar is a nice freebie that makes it easy to search the Web. As an added bonus, it can automatically block most pop-up ads that come through your Web browser. To install the Google toolbar:

  1. Use your Web browser (or this link) to go to
  2. Click on Download Google Toolbar.
  3. When the File Download dialog box opens, click on the Open button.
  4. Follow the instructions on your screen.

Once the toolbar is downloaded and installed, you should see it in your Web browser’s toolbar area, as in the example shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1

Here are some quick tips on using the Google toolbar:

  • To ensure that Google is blocking pop-up ads, click the Options button in the toolbar. Make sure the Popup Block option is selected (checked) then click OK.
  • To show or hide the Google toolbar, choose View > Toolbars > Google form your Web browser’s menu bar.
  • If you see “Site popups allowed” where the number of ads blocked normally appears, click on that word to block pop-ups from the current Web site.
  • To search the Web for a word or phrase, type your text into the text box next to “Google” then click the Search Web button.

Blocking Messenger Service Ads

Messenger Service ads are plain-text pop-ups, like the example in Figure 2. Like most such ads, the information in that one is lie and something you should definitely ignore. Better yet, just block these things so you don’t have to put up with them at all. The steps below describe how to block those ads using Windows XP:


Figure 2

Caution: Follow the steps below very carefully. There is no margin for error in this operation. So now is not a good time to experiment or be careless.

  1. Click the Start button and choose Run.
  2. Type services.msc into the text box and press Enter.
  3. Scroll down to, and double-click on the Messenger item shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3

  1. In the dialog box that opens, choose Disabled as the Startup type.
  2. If the service is currently running, click the Stop button under “Service Status”.
  3. Click OK.

That should take care of the Messenger Service pop-ups.

Blocking Other Pop-Ups

Any remaining pop-ups will be coming from some program on your system. Examples of programs that are notorious for producing pop-ups are the peer-to-peer file sharing programs like Kazaa, Morpheus, and AudioGalaxy. The only way to block pop-ups from such programs is to actually remove them from your computer using Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel.

If you really don’t want to part with the service the program provides, see if you can find an equivalent program that doesn’t do pop-ups. For example, if you’re willing to part with $18.88 (or whatever the price might be) for six months worth of downloading and updates, without any pop-up ads, you can purchase and installed LimeWire Pro from LimeWire’s Web site at

Getting Rid of Adware and Spyware

Spyware and Adware are other ways advertisers find you. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware is a great program for finding and eliminating those items from your computer. There’s a version you can download and use, free-of-charge, and it won’t do anything nasty like cause pop-ups. For more information, see

Quick-Closing Multiple Internet Explorer Windows

If you end up with lots of open Web pages on your desktop in Internet Explorer, and don’t feel like closing them one at a time, here’s an easy trick. Just right-click Internet Explorer’s taskbar button (shown below) and choose Close Group.


Alan Simpson

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