There are few problems as enduring and annoying as that of your browser home page or search engine changing without your permission. You try searching through Google but end up being redirected to Yahoo, or your homepage suddenly becomes some dodgy knock-off that you've never heard of.
There are various reasons why your search engine and homepage may keep changing - from annoying extensions to sneaky "opt-out" checkboxes in software, to more malicious things like malware. We cover all the fixes for you here.
Search Engine Has Changed (to Yahoo or Another)
If your search engine or homepage keeps changing to Yahoo (or really any other search engine), then the most benign explanation is that at some point you accidentally opted in to change your search engine (usually through third-party software that has a sneaky checkbox in the installer asking if you'd like to opt out of changing your search engine, which means that by default they do change your search engine). Annoying.
If that's happened, it could just be a case of manually changing your search engine back to the option you had initially chosen.
Click the More icon at the top right -> Settings -> Search engine and change the search engine in the drop-down menu. You can also change the homepage here by going to the "On startup" section.
Click the More icon at the top right -> Settings -> Privacy, search, and services. Scroll all the way to the bottom, click "Address bar and search," then change the "Search engine used in the address bar" drop-down.
To change your Edge homepage, click "On start-up" in Settings on the pane on the left, then make your changes.
To restore your previous search engine, click the three-lined settings icon at the top right corner of Firefox, then Settings.
Click Search in the left-hand pane, then under Default Search Engine switch it to the one you want to use.
To fix your Firefox homepage, click Home in the left-hand pane, then in the "Homepage and new windows" dropdown menu, switch it to what you want.
Search Engine Keeps Changing (to Yahoo or Another)
If your homepage or search engine keeps changing, then you may have a redirect virus. At some point you may have clicked a fake "update" pop-up telling you to do things like update your Flash Player or update your browser.
Installing such an update will hook a redirect link into your browser, changing your search engine to a different one even when you change it back. The creators of the virus then profit from any searches you make using that search engine and have access to your browsing data.
There are several different fixes for this:
1. Uninstall the Relevant Software
There's a lot of software out there that comes with accompanying bloatware, which sometimes sneaks onto your PC when you fail to uncheck a box while installing the software you do want, or sometimes even without permission.
This software hooks into your browser and force-redirects your homepage even if you change it back.
Find this software by right-clicking the Start menu, going to "App and Features," then look for and delete apps with any of the following (or similar) names:
- Search Provided by Yahoo
- Web Companion
2. Find the Culprit Browser Extension
Disable browser extensions one by one, each time checking to see if you're still being redirected to the invasive search engine or homepage. If your preferred search engine sticks with a certain extension disabled, then it's possible that the disabled extension was causing the redirect and that it should be removed.
3. Reset Your Browser
In Chrome, go to "Settings -> Advanced -> Restore settings to their original defaults -> Reset settings."
In Edge, click the "More icon -> Settings -> Reset Settings -> Restore settings to their default values."
In Firefox, click the settings icon -> Help -> More troubleshooting information -> Refresh Firefox. This will keep key settings in your browser while removing stuff like extensions, themes and profile information.
One of the above should fix your ever-changing homepage and/or search engine, giving you back control of your browser. For more Windows tips, see our guide on how to get a list of all software installed on Windows 10. We also have a guide on how to disable auto-refresh on web pages in your browser.
Image credit: Composite image of search engine by YayImages
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