I recently had a question from a relative about the irritating issue of pop-up windows appearing on a computer. For those who are not familiar with the term “pop-up“, this refers to additional windows appearing on your computer, either while using your web browser or directly on your desktop where you have not initiated the action.
There are several ways you can deal with excessive pop-up windows appearing however it is important to remember that you can never completely remove all pop-up windows from displaying on your computer, and for good reason, because some pop-up windows are important and provide you with information relating to your computer and its performance.
In this post I will outline how to manage pop-up windows within Windows 7 and also outline how to deal with pop-up windows through a web browser.
Using Windows 7
As mentioned there are some pop-up windows that are impossible to avoid. These types of pop-up messages are designed to provide you with information you need to know about your computer. Awhile ago I had a pop-up message appear on my computer advising me that an issue had been detected with my computer’s hard drive and that a failure was imminent. This gave me enough warning and time to backup and ensure my data was secure whilst arranging for replacement of the faulty drive.
There are several different types of pop-up message you may receive from Windows 7. The way in which a pop-up message is displayed is related to the purpose of the message. Safe types of pop-up messages include:
- A desktop alert message such as for a new mail message received
- A security warning when running a file
- A prompt to permit changes being made to your computer e.g. User Account changes
It is important to understand the different types of pop-up messages you may receive and be able to identify them as being displayed by Microsoft Windows or potentially being displayed by a third-party program.
When it comes to third-party programs you must be cautious. Over the years of providing IT and technical support services I have seen my fair share of third-party programs wreak havoc on computer systems. It is always a good idea to be cautious when installing programs where you may not know what is hidden within them. Installing programs from high profile software vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Symantec are generally safe unless they do not look authentic, however always ere on the side of caution when it comes to software providers you are not familiar with. If you are after a program which has a very specific function then ask around your friends and family for recommendations to steer you in the right direction.
Below are some pop-up messages generated by rouge third-party programs and if you receive this type of message you need to act promptly to avoid further damage to your computer.
It is a good idea to remember that if you receive a pop-up message from a software program you do not recall installing; that you cannot locate within the Start menu; and is not visible in the list of installed programs on your computer then it is highly likely you are seeing a pop-up message which contains a scam or has malicious intent. A large volume of malicious content will try to convince you that you have won a prize, or you already have an infection on your computer, and will ask you questions or ask you to purchase “protection” to remove the threat, when in actual fact, the content will actually make alterations to your system by installing third-party programs or deleting files which will cause your computer to stop functioning.
NEVER click any of the buttons within the pop up message, use the Close or X button located in the top right hand corner and immediately take steps to scan your computer for threats, or seek assistance from an IT technician, you can even drop me a message if you need some advice.
In this day of constant online access you must be up-to-date with your antivirus or antispyware software. There are numerous great programs available to provide you with protection from virus’, spyware and malicious content. As I have previously mentioned, I personally recommend either Norton Internet Security (which I use on my own computers) or Avast! If you currently have no antivirus or spyware active on your computer, here are some links to both products with a discount.
For Australian Based Readers:
If you already have an antivirus/antispyware program installed ensure you scan any files you have downloaded from the internet prior to installing or opening them. Always ensure your antivirus/antispyware program is also up-to-date with the latest definition. Be careful when downloading free programs, generally if they are free you need to realise that the publisher needs to make money somewhere and usually that is through hidden programs within the installation which can cause you issues later down the track.
If you do not have any antivirus or antispyware programs installed you can use the built-in Microsoft Windows Defender program. It has come a long way since it was first released however I still prefer to use a more complete solution that incorporates both antivirus and antispyware. Windows Defender will certainly assist with some troubleshooting if you do not have any other software installed.
Windows Defender is not an antivirus program but will provide protection against spyware and other types of unwanted programs. Unless you have installed another antispyware program, Windows Defender is quite possibly protecting your computer already.
To check the status of Windows Defender and run a system scan, follow these steps:
- Click Start > Control Panel
- The Control Panel will be displayed
- Double click the Windows Defender icon
- If Windows Defender is disabled you will see a message appear:
- To enable the program click the link to click here to turn it on
- The Windows Defender window will now appear:
- To perform a full system scan, click the drop down menu to the right of the Scan button
- Choose Full scan
- The scan will now begin
- Allow the scan to complete and view the results
- Your computer will hopefully now appear with no issues found
- If harmful content is found on your computer, Windows Defender will prompt you to remove the threat, follow the steps to complete the removal and then repeat the full scan
Change your web browser settings
Now that you have checked your computer for spyware or virus activity I will show you how to minimise pop ups appearing in your web browser.
For Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Open Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Select Tools > Pop Up Blocker > Pop Up Blocker Settings
- The Pop Up Blocker Settings dialog box will appear:
- Ensure the Blocking level is set to at least Medium
- If there are specific websites you use which require pop up windows to be permitted, simply add the address of those websites into the Address of website to allow field and click Add
- Click Close
For Mozilla Firefox
- Open Mozilla Firefox
- Click the Open Menu button on the right corner of the screen
- Select Options
- From the Options dialog box select the Content category
- Ensure the Block pop-up windows checkbox is selected
- If you have a website you wish to see pop-up windows for, click the Exceptions button and add the URL to the list
- Click OK
For Google Chrome
By default, Google Chrome blocks pop-up windows however if you would like to double check your setting, follow these steps:
- Open Google Chrome
- Click Customize and control Google Chrome button in the right corner of the screen
- Select Settings
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and select the link for Show advanced settings
- Under the Privacy heading click the Content settings button
- Scroll down to the Pop-ups heading and check the setting is Do not allow any site to show pop-ups (recommended)
- Again you can add an exception into here if you need to view pop-up windows on certain websites
- Click Done
- Close the Settings tab
I hope this information gives you a starting point to discover the reason you are receiving pop-up messages on your computer. Please feel free to contact me if you are having problems and I am more than happy to assist.