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Get the March Windows and Office patches installed, but watch out for known bugs

It’s been another Keystone Kops month, with a reasonably stable Patch Tuesday, followed by a hasty Patch Thursday to cover a security hole Microsoft accidentally blabbed, then the usual buggy “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch, finishing with a fix for yet another bug introduced by earlier patches.

Plus ça change …

Along the way we got a quiet fix for a bug in Windows Defender. And a warning about yet another bad-font-takes-over-your-PC security hole. Microsoft has toned down its original warning about that Type 1 Font Parsing security hole, and now says it’s mostly a less-severe problem with Windows 7 and related servers.

All the while, in spite of loud sirens from many corners, there have been exactly zero emergencies, where a Microsoft patch fixed a hole that’s being widely exploited.

Which means it’s a good time to make sure you have the March patches installed, in preparation for what awaits in WFH April. Here’s how to do it.

Make a full backup

Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup

Install the latest Win10 March Cumulative Update

If you haven’t yet moved to Win10 version 1909 (in the Windows search box type winver and hit Enter), I recommend that you do so. The bugs in version 1903 are largely replicated in 1909 and vice versa, so there’s very little reason to hold off on making the switch — although, admittedly, there’s almost nothing worthwhile that’s new in version 1909. I have detailed instructions for moving to 1909 here.

To get the latest March Cumulative Update installed, click Start > Settings > Update & Security. If you see a Resume updates box (screenshot), click on it.

1903 updates paused Woody Leonhard/IDG

That’s all you need to do. Windows, in its infinite wisdom, will install the March Cumulative Update at its own pace. If you don’t see a Resume updates box, you already have the March Cumulative update and you’re good to go.

If you see a come-on for the “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch KB 4541335 (screenshot), simply ignore it. There’s absolutely nothing in that patch that you need or want, and it’s causing all sorts of problems.

1909 optional update available 2 Woody Leonhard/IDG

There’s a reason why Microsoft is discontinuing these step-in-the-mess “optional” patches.

When your machine comes back up for air, don’t panic if your desktop doesn’t look right, or you can’t log in to your usual account. You got bit by the “temporary profile” bug, which we’ve known about — and complained about — for more than a month. We have three separate threads on AskWoody about solving the problem (1, 2, 3) and if you need additional help, you can always post a question. (Thx @PKCano.)

Also, don’t be overly surprised if you discover that, after installing the March patches, your internet connection disappears when you connect to a virtual private network. Yep, that’s another bug introduced by this month’s patches. For a change, Microsoft has actually documented the bug — and released a fix. You should only install the manual-download-only patch of a patch KB 4554364 if you’re getting knocked offline when connecting to a VPN. If your internet stays connected, simply ignore this warning. You’ll get updated in April. At least, theoretically.

While you’re mucking about with Windows Update, it wouldn’t hurt to pause updates, to take you out of the direct line of fire the next time Microsoft releases a buggy bunch of patches. Click Start > Settings > Update & Security. Click “Pause updates for 7 days.” Next, click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” four more times. That pauses all updates for 35 days, until early May. With a little luck that’ll be long enough for Microsoft to fix any bugs it introduces in April. And the March stragglers, for that matter.

Patch Win7, Win8.1, or associated servers

If you’ve paid for Win7 Extended Security Updates and you’re having trouble getting them installed, Microsoft has a new article called Troubleshoot issues in Extended Security Updates that may be of help. We’re also fielding questions on AskWoody. 

0patch continues to provide patches for Win7, going so far as to fix the announced new font parsing bug, which Microsoft itself hasn’t even fixed as yet. 

If you’re running Win7 and haven’t been able to get Extended Security Updates working (there are lots of reported problems!), @abbodi86 offers a script that’ll let you install the latest Win7 security patches, bypassing the ESU restrictions.

Several high-profile security guri, including Patch Lady Susan Bradley, have called on Microsoft to open up its March 2020 Win7 patches to everybody, particularly considering the number of people who are working from home, on older machines, through no fault of their own.

Windows 8.1 continues to be the most stable version of Windows around. To get this month’s puny Monthly Rollup installed, follow AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. You should have one Windows patch, dated March 10 (the Patch Tuesday patch). No, you don’t want the Preview of Monthly Rollup.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model.

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 3 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Get the January 2020 Patch Tuesday patches installed

This month has seen a whole lotta hand waving and sky-is-falling-caliber rhetoric, but the reality is much more prosaic. If you aren’t running a major network (and thus aren’t susceptible to the imminent problems with Remote Desktop Gateway, the Citrix network bugs or the whopping 334 patches in Oracle), there’s been little reason to install this month’s updates. 

Still, work on cracking the CurveBall CVE-2020-0601 security hole continues at a furious pace. Some security companies are using CurveBall to sell more product, but the free Microsoft Defender catches at least some afflicted programs; Firefox, Chrome and Edge won’t fall for it; and pre-Win10 versions of Windows (Seven Semper Fi!) have never been exposed.

With several working proof-of-concept routines readily available — but no attacks, and indeed no sign that a general attack is imminent — patching for CurveBall falls in the “abundance of caution” bucket. Since we’ve seen few weird problems with the January patches, now seems like a good time to get patched up.

As usual, Patch Lady Susan Bradley has a detailed analysis in her Patch Watch column with a full patch-by-patch reckoning in her Master Patch List (paywall; donation requested).

Here’s how to get your system updated the (relatively) safe way.

Make a full backup

Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup

Patch Win7, Win8.1 or associated servers

This is the last month we’ll see free Win7 patches — or so we’ve been promised. (I find it hard to believe that Microsoft won’t patch the Win7 Internet Explorer JScript security hole CVE-2020-0674, but Microsoft, eh?)

As for those of you Win7 holdouts worried about sprouting a black wallpaper due to the Win7 January “Stretch” bug, Microsoft now advises:

We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release for organizations who have purchased Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU).

Nice guys. 

Bottom line, for you Win7 folks: Do yourself a favor and change your wallpaper so it isn’t Stretched, before installing the buggy January patch. Follow Lawrence Abrams’s instructions on BleepingComputer.

Microsoft is blocking updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on recent computers. If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC that’s 24 months old or newer, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or @MrBrian’s summary of @radosuaf’s method to make sure you can use Windows Update to get updates applied.

For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. You should have one Windows patch, dated Jan. 14 (the Patch Tuesday patch). If you see a Monthly Rollup Preview, ignore it.

If you insist on manually installing Security-only patches for Win7 and Server 2008 (I call that the “Group B” approach on AskWoody), get the full list from @PKCano on the AskWoody site. If in doubt, ask questions on the site! It’s easy and free.

Realize that some or all of the expected patches for January may not show up or, if they do show up, may not be checked. DON’T CHECK any unchecked patches. Unless you’re very sure of yourself, DON’T GO LOOKING for additional patches. In particular, if you install the January Monthly Rollup, you won’t need (and probably won’t see) the concomitant patches for December. Don’t mess with Mother Microsoft.

If you see KB 4493132, the “Get Windows 10” nag patch, make sure it’s unchecked.

Watch out for driver updates — you’re far better off getting them from a manufacturer’s website.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model.

If you’re worried about Windows 7 hitting end-of-support, don’t be alarmed. The first missed security patch isn’t until next month. Besides, you have lots of alternatives, and not all of them involve Windows. We watch your options intently in the Seven Semper Fi series on AskWoody.

Patch Win10 and associated servers

If you’re running Win10 version 1803, 1809, Server 1809, Server 2019, or any earlier version of Windows 10, I urge you to upgrade to Win10 version 1903. (You can find your version by typing winver in the Search box in the lower left corner and pressing Enter.) There are detailed instructions in the article Why — and how — I’m moving Win10 production machines to version 1903.

Win10 1903 is far from perfect, but it seems to be relatively stable at this point. The one huge advantage to version 1903: It lets everybody pause updates with a few simple clicks. That feature has my vote for the most important (perhaps the only important) upgrade to Win10 in the past four years.

If you insist on using Win10 version 1809, go through the steps in All’s clear to install Microsoft’s November patches to get 1809 updated. If you’re on Win10 1909, I figure you’ve jumped the gun, but the following instructions will work.

If you’ve been following my usual advice — to click “Pause updates for 7 days” three times — your machine is probably waiting further instructions, displaying an “Updates paused” notice in the Windows Update pane (Start > Settings (the gear icon) > Update & Security > Windows Update). If you see that updates have been paused, click “Resume updates.” Windows will go out and install the January cumulative update, plus any other ancillary patches (for example, for .Net) that you require.

I’m very happy to say that clicking “Resume updates” will not automatically move you to Win10 version 1909. In order to move to the next version — which continues to suffer from bugs, most notably the File Explorer Search bug — you need to click a link that says, “Download and install now.” Don’t click it.

Once you’re updated and rebooted, pause updates for 28 days: Click Start > Settings > Update & Security. Click Windows Update on the left side, then click “Pause updates for 7 days.” Next, click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” and click it again, and one last time, for a total of four clicks. That pauses all updates for 28 days, until Feb. 21. With a little luck that’ll be long enough for Microsoft to fix any bugs it introduces in February.

If you see an offer of an Optional update (screenshot), don’t click Download and install now. There’s a reason why Microsoft deems such patches “optional.”

1909 download and install now Woody Leonhard/IDG

February’s Patch Tuesday is on the 11th. That’ll be the first day Win7 users will miss a security update (unless they pay for it). Expect much hand wringing and clucking, but not many fireworks.

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 3 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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How to Move Installed Apps & Programs in Windows 10

If you’ve got a lot of apps and programs installed on your Windows 10 system, you might want to move them to another drive to free up space. It may also be necessary to change your default install location. Happily, all of these things are possible.

Windows has a built-in utility that allows you to move modern apps to a location of your choice. Although this method doesn’t work for traditional desktop programs, it’s still possible to move these programs to another drive.

Let us show you how to move an app or program to another drive.

How to Move Apps & Programs to Another Drive

It’s quick to move most of the native Windows apps, but the process of moving anything else will require additional work. First, we’ll outline the process for Microsoft Store apps, then we will take a look at traditional desktop programs.

Modern Apps

Press Windows key + I to bring up the Settings menu and click Apps. You should be on the Apps & features page of the left-hand navigation.

Here you will find a list of all apps and programs installed on your system. Some of these apps might have come with your system, the others you installed yourself. This method will only work with the latter group.

move apps

Scroll to the app that you want to move and select it from the list. Now, click Move. Select the new drive location from the dropdown, then click Move again.

You can repeat the process if you ever want to move the app back or to a different drive.

If the Move button is greyed out, it means it’s a Windows 10 app that can’t be moved. If you see a Modify button instead, it’s a traditional desktop program and you’ll need to follow the method outlined below.

Desktop Programs

Microsoft doesn’t recommend moving the file location of installed programs because it can cause issues, like the program ceasing to run. A safer (though less efficient) method is to uninstall the program and then just reinstall it to your desired drive.

If you do want to proceed, create a restore point


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so you can reverse the changes, if anything goes wrong.

We recommend using a program called Steam Mover. This was originally designed to move Steam games between drives, but will actually work on any program. You can use it to move programs from your HDD to SSD


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, for example.

Note that any drive you want to use with this program, whether it’s where the installed program currently sits or where you want it moved to, needs to be in the NTFS format. You can check this by loading File Explorer and then clicking This PC from the left-hand navigation. Now, right-click a drive and select Properties. Refer to the File system to see if it’s using NTFS.

local disc properties

Open Steam Mover. First, select the button next to Steam Apps Common Folder to select the folder path which contains the program you want to move (for example, your Program Files). Now, select the button next to Alternative Folder and select the folder path where you want to move the program to.

steam mover

Next, select the program from the list that you want to move. You can select multiple programs by holding CTRL as you click. When ready to move, click the blue right arrow at the bottom to begin. Command Prompt


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will open and process the move. When complete, you’ll see the new folder path next to the program in the Junction Point column.

How to Change the Default Install Location

If you just want to change the default install location for apps, that’s simple. Changing it for standard programs is a bit more complicated.

Modern Apps

Press the Windows key + I to bring up the Settings menu. From here, click System and then select Storage from the left-hand menu.

Underneath the More storage settings heading, click Change where new content is saved. To change the default drive for new apps, use the New apps will save to: dropdown.

app save locations

You will notice that this page also allows you to change the default location of things like documents, music, and pictures.

Desktop Programs

Microsoft doesn’t recommend changing the default install path for programs. Doing so could cause problems with existing programs and some Windows features. It’s best to perform this operation on a clean system. If that’s not suitable, create a restore point so that you can roll back if necessary.

The majority of programs will let you change the install path when installing them, which might be a better solution than fiddling with the system.

Create a restore point before you move any app

If you do want to proceed, we recommend a program called Install Dir Changer. Download it from SourceForge and then run the program.

Once the program has opened, click Enable Editing and then click Yes when the User Account Control window pops up. You’ll now be able to select a default install path, using the … button to browse to a folder path if necessary.

install dir changer

Program Files is where 64-bit applications will be installed and Program Files (x86) is for 32-bit applications. If you’re not sure what that means, read our guide for the difference between the 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows


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. But you’ll probably want both of them on the same drive anyway.

Once you’ve selected your new path, click Apply Changes. Now all new programs you install will default to these folder paths.

Clean Up Your Drive

Now that you know how to move your apps and programs and how to change their default install location, you can free up space on your drives. But remember to take all precautions when using the third-party programs.

And if you want to salvage even more disk space, consider deleting old Windows files and folders


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. Along with having moved your programs to another drive, you’ll have a superbly organized drive.



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6 Ways to Check Which Versions of .NET Framework Are Installed

The Microsoft .NET Framework is an important feature of the modern Windows operating system. It provides developers with a ready-made collection of code that Microsoft maintains. Most of the time, you have no direct dealings with .NET Framework. However, that’s not always the case. At times, you need to know the specific version of the .NET Framework installed on your system.

Here are six ways you can find out which versions of .NET Framework are installed on your version of Windows.

Find Newer .NET Framework Versions: 4.5 and Later

There are three methods you can use to find out your .NET Framework version for versions 4.5 and later. “But Gavin,” I hear you say, “I’m doing this to find out which version I have, I don’t know if it is version 4.5 or not.”

You are exactly right. Checking for the .NET Framework version only takes a moment. You can quickly establish if you have .NET Framework version 4.5 or later. If you don’t, you can safely assume that you have an earlier version installed, or no .NET Framework version at all (which is highly unlikely).

1. Use the Registry Editor to Find the .NET Framework Version

regedit net framework dword value

You can find the .NET Framework versions installed on your system in the registry. (What is the Windows Registry, anyway?)

  1. Press Ctrl + R to open Run, then input regedit.
  2. When the Registry Editor opens, find the following entry:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftNET Framework SetupNDPv4
  3. Under v4, check for the Full If it is there, you have .NET Framework version 4.5 or later.
  4. In the right-hand panel, check for a DWORD entry named Release. If the Release DWORD exists, you have .NET Framework 4.5 or a later version.
  5. The Release DWORD data contains a value relating to the specific .NET Framework version. For instance, in the image below, the Release DWORD has a value of 461814. That means my system has .NET Framework 4.7.2 installed. Check the table below for your Release DWORD value.

.net frame work dword versions

You can cross-check the DWORD value against the value table below to find out the exact .NET Framework version on your system.

2. Use the Command Prompt to Find the .NET Framework Version

Type command into your Start Menu search bar, right-click the Best Match and select Run as Administrator.

Now, copy and paste the following command into the Command Prompt:

reg query "HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftNet Framework SetupNDPv4" /s

The command lists the installed .NET Frameworks for version 4. .NET Framework version 4 and later display as “v4.x.xxxxx.”

3. Use PowerShell to Find the .Net Framework Version

net framework powershell command

Type powershell into your Start Menu search bar, right-click the Best Match and select Run as Administrator.

Now, you can use the following command to check the value of the .NET Framework Release DWORD:

Get-ChildItem 'HKLM:SOFTWAREMicrosoftNET Framework SetupNDPv4Full' |  Get-ItemPropertyValue -Name Release | Foreach-Object { $_ -ge 394802 }

The command above returns True if the .NET Framework version is 4.6.2 or higher. Otherwise, it returns False. You can use the .NET Framework DWORD value table above to swap out the last six digits of the command for a different version. Check out my example:

The first command confirms that version 4.6.2 is present. The second confirms that version 4.7.2 is present. However, the third command checks for version 4.8, which I don’t have installed yet as the Windows 10 May Update hasn’t arrived on my system. Still, you get the gist of how the PowerShell command works with the DWORD value table.

Find an Older .NET Framework Version

regedit net framework older version

You can find out which old .NET Framework versions are installed on your system using the registry. The Registry Editor holds all the answers.

  1. Press Ctrl + R to open Run, then input regedit.
  2. When the Registry Editor opens, find the following entry:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftNET Framework SetupNDP
  3. Check the NDP file in the registry for each .NET Framework version.

Check Your .NET Framework Version Using a Third-Party Tool

There are a couple of tools you can use to find the .NET Framework version on your system automatically. However, they’re not updated frequently, which is why knowing the manual method is handy, too.

1. Raymondcc .NET Detector

raymondcc net framework detector

The Raymondcc .NET Detector is one of the fastest and easiest detection tools to use. You download the folder, extract it, then run the executable. When the program runs, it shows a list of .NET Framework versions. The versions in black are installed on your system, while the gray versions are not. If you click on a grayed-out .NET Framework version, the program takes you to the installer.

Download: Raymondcc .NET Detector for Windows (Free)

The archive password is raymondcc

2. ASoft .NET Version Detector

asoft net framework version detectors

The ASoft .NET Version Detector works very similarly to the Raymondcc .NET Detector. Once you download and extract the program, run the executable. The program shows a list of currently installed .NET Framework versions. It also provides download links for those versions you do not have.

Download: ASoft .NET Version Detector for Windows (Free)

Simple Methods to Check Your .NET Framework Version

You now know several simple methods to check your .NET Framework version.

It isn’t always necessary to check your .NET Framework version. Many programs will check the version before installing and tell you if there is a program. Others will install the necessary version before commencing the installation, saving you the job of finding out the correct version and the hassle of downloading.

Still, it is always handy to know how to find the .NET Framework version manually. Want to find out more about the .NET Framework? Here’s why you need it and how you install it on Windows 10


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.

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Troubleshooting, Windows Update.



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How to Remove a Chrome Extension “Installed by Enterprise Policy” on Windows

chrome logo

Google Chrome extensions that say “Installed by Enterprise Policy” do not let you uninstall them because they install with elevated permissions. If you’re part of an Enterprise or business, your administrator installed these. If you aren’t part of such an organization, here’s how to remove them.

What Does “Installed by Enterprise Policy” Mean?

When a Google Chrome extension says that it’s “Installed by Enterprise Policy,” “Installed by Your Administrator,” or “Managed by Your Organization,” all it means is that when the extension is installed, it was done so with elevated permissions and can’t be removed in the standard way. In most cases, anybody that’s part of an enterprise, business, school, workplace, etc., will have a system administrator who manages these types of settings and extensions on your machine.

RELATED: Why Does Chrome Say It’s “Managed By Your Organization?”

Unfortunately, if you aren’t part of an enterprise, or don’t have an administrator who manages your computer, these extensions can find other ways onto your system and grant themselves elevated status.

You see, sometimes when you download free software from the internet, it can come with an added piece of bonus software that isn’t adequately disclosed (or technically was but in a misleading TOS) when running the installer—this is commonly known as adware or malware. The unwanted software embeds itself into your list of browser extensions, and you don’t realize it until Chrome redirects to some shady looking website or pops up annoying ads.

These extensions leverage a Chrome policy that’s intended for system administrators but sometimes exploited by malware, which gives it immunity from being removed from your browser via Google Chrome’s extensions page. To remove an extension “Installed by Enterprise Policy,” you need to find and delete the policy that this harmful extension added.

If you suspect the extension to be malicious, the first order of operation should be to run antimalware software to see if it can search and destroy the problem automatically for you. Otherwise, continue below and follow the steps listed.

RELATED: How to Run Malwarebytes Alongside Another Antivirus

How to Remove an “Installed by Enterprise Policy” Extension

Extensions like this can often—but, unfortunately, not always—be removed by modifying the Windows registry. Here’s how.

First, fire up Chrome, type chrome://extensions into the Omnibox, and then hit Enter.

At the top of the page, toggle the switch that reads “Developer Mode” to the “On” position. This lets you view a bit more information about each extension that we need for the steps below.

Toggle Developer Mode in Chrome's settings

Scroll down until you find the extension added by policy—look for the one you can’t remove normally from the Extensions page. Highlight the extension’s ID, and hit Ctrl+C to copy it to your clipboard.

Copy the ID asscociated with the extension you want to remove

Extensions that are unable to uninstall often have the “Remove” button greyed out or missing entirely. So, be on the lookout for any extensions that prevent you from clicking the Remove button.

To remove an “Installed by Policy” Extension, you need to make a few edits in the Windows Registry.

Standard Warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple registry edit, and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

RELATED: Windows Registry Demystified: What You Can Do With It

Next, open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open the Registry Editor and then permit it to make changes to your PC.

open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open the Registry Editor

In the Registry Editor, click “Edit” and then click “Find.”

Click Edit, then click Find, once Registry Editor opens

Paste the ID from the extension we copied earlier by pressing Ctrl+V and then click “Find Next.”

Paste the ID from earlier into the field provided, then click Find Next

When Registry Editor finds the ID, right-click the value containing that ID and then click “Delete.”

Right-click the value, then click Delete

Note: Ensure you delete the whole registry value and not just the string inside it.

Click “Edit,” then “Find Next” to locate any other registry entries containing the extension’s ID and then delete them as well.

Click Edit, then click Find Next to find other policies

The two primary keys you want to look for will end in “ExtensionInstallForcelist,” and you’ll usually find them in the following locations:

HKEY_USERSGroup Policy ObjectsMachineSoftwarePoliciesGoogleChromeExtensionInstallForcelist
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesGoogleChromeExtensionInstallForcelist

You can now close Registry Editor and restart Chrome.

Head back to chrome://extensions and click the “Remove” button inside the extension you want to remove.

Locate the extension and click Remove

The Nuclear Option: Delete Group Policies

If you can’t remove the extension even after completing the steps above, or you weren’t able to find it in the Registry, you can take things one step further and remove all group policies on your machine using Command Prompt.

WARNING: This will delete all the group policies on your system! Do not do this if you’re on a domain that applies group policies to your system (in this case, there will likely be protections in place that prevent you from performing the procedure, anyway). Only do this if you’re on a home computer and you don’t have any group policies set. You may experience unintended consequences after running this command.

To delete all the group policies associated with your machine, you must not be part of a group policy where a legitimate administrator is intentionally forcing these extensions on you. This fix is intended for people who have been duped into installing malicious extensions to their browser.

Fire up an elevated Command Prompt by hitting Start, type “command,” and you’ll see “Command Prompt” listed as the main result. Right-click that result and choose “Run as administrator.”

RELATED: How to Open the Command Prompt as Administrator in Windows 8 or 10

Click Start, type Command into the search bar, then right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator

Now that you have an elevated Command Prompt window open, enter the following commands, one at a time:

RD /S /Q "%WinDir%System32GroupPolicyUsers"
RD /S /Q "%WinDir%System32GroupPolicy"

Here’s a quick overview of what those arguments do:

  • RD: Remove Directory command
  • /S switch: Removes all directories and files in the specified path
  • /Q switch: Removes everything in quiet mode, so that you aren’t prompted to confirm every file you’re deleting.

After these two directories have deleted, you must run the following command to update your policy settings in the Registry:

gpupdate /force

The whole process looks like this when completed.

Ouitput from the commands using command prompt

Afterward, you might need to restart your computer for everything to be updated and fully removed.

Start Fresh

If you still see an extension that’s “Installed by Enterprise Policy,” then there’s only one last thing you can do: burn your computer and start fresh.

Just kidding. But it does involve starting from a fresh install of Chrome. Don’t worry though, because most of your information is synced up to your Google account anyway, which downloads when you sign in to Chrome.

RELATED: How to Turn Syncing On or Off in Chrome

First, you want to manage your sync settings through Chrome and disable syncing of extensions to other devices. You wouldn’t want all this progress to go out of the window as soon as you wipe Chrome clean, then have everything install all over again.

Fire up Chrome, click on your profile picture, and then click “Syncing to.” Alternatively, you can type chrome://settings/people into the Omnibox and hit Enter.

Click your profile picture, then click on "Syncing to"

Under the People heading, click on “Sync.”

Click Sync

On the next screen, everything that gets saved to your account and synced across all your devices is listed below. By default, “Sync Everything” is enabled. To manually toggle what information to sync to Chrome, you first have to turn off “Sync Everything,” then disable “Extensions” by toggling the switch across from it.

First, untoggle Sync Everything, then untoggle the Extensions setting

Now that we have extension syncing disabled and out of the way, it’s time to reset Chrome to its default state.

Note: By disabling extension sync, you will have to manually re-install any extensions you had before the fresh start. This may be a good time to list all the ones you’d like to keep for later reference.

You can reset Chrome by typing chrome://settings into your Omnibox and hitting Enter. Once in the Settings tab, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Advanced.”

Under Settings, click advanced, located at the bottom of the page

Scroll to the bottom, then click on “Restore settings to their original defaults,” located under the Reset and Clean Up heading.

Click Restor Settings to Their Original Defaults

A prompt will pop up warning you of the repercussions of resetting your browser. This will reset your startup page, new tab page, search engine, pinned tabs, installed extensions, and cookies. It won’t delete your bookmarks, browser history, or saved passwords. Click “Reset Settings” when you’re ready to continue.

Read the cautions, then click Reset Settings to start fresh


Hopefully, after all those trials and tribulations, you can finally return to browsing the internet in peace. Unfortunately, Google has made it more complicated than it should be.





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