How to remove Babylon from your Firefox browser

Babylon is an insidious program which, once installed, is a devil of a job to get rid of. An online translator, its website boasts “100 million downloads and counting”. I wonder how many of those were intended.

The Hangimng Gardens of Babylon, by Carla216 http://www.flickr.com/photos/hauntedpalace/Because the problem is, as you may have had the misfortune to discover from personal experience, is that if you’re not careful you can install Babylon by accident. And once you’ve done so, it can be extremely irritating because one of the effects of having it on your system is that it makes itself the default search engine in the address bar of your browser.

Quick aside about address bar searching

You can search for something by typing a search term directly into the address bar. In the screenshot below, I’ve typed the word “test”. My default address bar search engine was Bing, so Bing has undertaken the search.

The address bar search facilityAnother annoyance is that it makes itself the default search engine in the list of search engines. (How to deal with this is explained below.)

So, if your browser happens to be Firefox, how do you get rid of Babylon?

Say “No” in the first place

As far as I know, you always get a choice of whether or not to install Babylon. It tends to be one of the pre-selected options when you are downloading and installing free software. Unfortunately, you cannot rely on the old adage “Use only trustworthy sites for free software”, because even those are often full of software which carries these sorts of “extras”.

It is really easy to whiz through the set-up process, in effect saying “Yes” to everything, and then end up installing not only the program of your choice but one or to others as well – including Babylon.

Being more careful at this stage can usually save you a lot of hassle later on.

But what if you do install Babylon, and wish to rid yourself of it? Here are the steps I’ve found to be most useful. They are not mutually exclusive, and sometimes some of them work, while others don’t, and vice versa. You will have to try each out for yourself I’m afraid.

Do not bother with Babylon removal tools

Here is another “don’t”. Carry out a search for “How to remove Babylon”, and some of the results will contain links to computer clean-up tools. I’ve tried a few of these, and what they all seem to have in common are the following:

  • they are free to download and install;
  • when you run a scan, they find 5,000+ “problems” with your computer;
  • you are offered the choice of having a couple of hundred of these so-called problems sorted out or, for a mere $20, you can download the full program and then have them all sorted out.

Well, perhaps I am unduly cynical, but I have two issues with this. First, how does the program define a “problem”? I ran once a clean-up tool which, by default, erases all of the “recent files used” settings. The program thinks they are a problem; for me, they are a real help.

Second, if my computer has over 5,000 problems, how come it seems to run really smoothly, without a hitch?

I am prepared to be convinced: I have much better things to do than go through all the steps I am about to describe. So, if you know of a Babylon clean-up tool which really works, without messing up anything else, please let me know, either by a comment here or by email.

Uninstall Babylon from your computer

You do this through the Windows Uninstall option, in Control Panel. For example, in Windows 7 you go to Control Panel –> Programs and Features. Find Babylon in the list, double-click on it and follow the prompts. You may have to reboot your computer for the changes to take effect.

Remove Babylon from Firefox

Start Firefox, then navigate to Tools->Extensions. If Babylon is listed, click on Remove if that option is present, or Disable if it isn’t.

Then in your browser address bar, type:

About:config

You will see a warning message, like this:

Firefox warning message

Press Enter to continue.

You will see an empty space near the top of the screen labelled “Search:”, which looks like this:

The Config Search bar

In that search bar, type:

Babylon

A list of entries containing the word “Babylon” will appear. Right-click on each one in turn and select Reset.

Next, type:

Search

In the list of entries that appears, look at the one called browser.search.defaultengine, highlighted here:

The default address bar search engine

If it contains the word “Babylon”, double-click on it, and in the dialog box which appears, replace “Babylon” with your preferred search engine. In the illustration below, I have typed “Google”, but I could have typed “Bing” or some other search engine’s name instead (without the quotation marks). This will change the default search engine used by the address bar.

Change the default address bar search engine to one of your choice

When you have done all this, close your browser and then restart it for the changes you’ve made to take effect.

Remove Babylon from the search engine list

You can see the list of search engines by clicking on the downward pointing arrow to the left of the search window on the top right-hand side of the browser.

To manage the list, click on Manage Search Engines…, as shown in the screenshots below.

The search engine list Managing the search engine list

Now, it may be that you don’t wish to remove Babylon, but just have it there in case you need it. If so, click on it and click on Move down.

However, if you wish to remove it, click on Remove.

When you have finished, click OK.

Run MalwareBytes

The only program I’ve found that (usually) clears up all the detritus left by Babylon is MalwareBytes, which you can download free from the MalwareBytes website.

If you’re offered the option of updating the database once you’ve downloaded and installed it, do so.

Start the program, and select the Quick Scan option. Hopefully, that will find some malware (stuff you don’t really want on your computer). Select all of it and remove it all, using the button provided.

Reset Firefox

Hopefully, at least one of the steps described should rid yourself of this nuisance. If not, there is what I call the “nuclear option”, although it isn’t really too bad.

You can reset Firefox back to its original state, ie with no add-ons or any custom settings. However, when I tried this, it did retain my bookmarks (favorites), though not my browsing history (even though it’s supposed to).  If that is important to you, check out the article on how to save the history: How to backup history?

If you don’t want to risk losing your bookmarks, look at the article called Export Firefox bookmarks to an HTML file to back up or transfer bookmarks.

You’ll then need to reinstate any custom settings and reinstall add-ons. To find out what resetting Firefox does, and what it affects, read the article entitled What does the reset feature do?

To use the reset feature, click Help->Troubleshooting Information. Then click on Reset Firefox.

Conclusion

There are programs which, like Babylon, seem to get everywhere. (Another one is Funmoods.) the approaches suggested here, amended as appropriate, should work for them too.

But, as I said right at the start, the ideal option is to not install them in the first place if you can avoid it. Remember: prevention is better than cure!