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How to Fix a Browser Hijack on Microsoft Edge

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path by rating it at the end.

Introduction

Browser hijacking is when various plugins force changes to the way your browser functions, for the purpose of pushing advertisements and affiliate links to various popular stores at you, in order to make money from your browsing. It tends to be incredibly invasive, slow, and annoying to deal with, while any benefit given is questionable, at best.

This guide will walk you through removing the root cause of many of these take-overs quickly and easily, and returning the Microsoft Edge browser to its normal, quick operation.

Edge browser hijacked
Screen Take-Over Pop-Ups

Microsoft Edge used to be particularly vulnerable to a nasty pop-up that would take over your whole screen and even talk. Thankfully, with the newer versions of Edge, this attack is simply no longer possible; the commands to maximize and hold the browser window are no longer available to websites in the first place.

However, some websites especially those from various hijacks, will mimic the look-and-feel of Windows of macOS, in an attempt to trick you into clicking things.

This guide, while not directly focused on this, can help clean the root cause of such advertising, so it won't continue to happen.
Pop-Ups

Generally, since Microsoft switched the base code of Edge, pop-ups have become much less of an issue, as they are blocked by default. However, if you are experiencing pop-ups still, we have a separate guide that focuses on removing pop-ups.

Microsoft EdgePreventing Pop-Ups on Edge
Various browser windows with advertising mimicking errors.

1 How to Remove Extensions

Some browser extensions can cause your browser to behave abnormally. Removing any unwanted, unnecessary, or unused browser extensions can get your web browser running properly again.

  1. In Edge, select the Menu in the top-right corner, and select Extensions.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge menu with Extensions highlighted.
  2. Turn off or Remove any extensions you do not need.
    Microsoft Edge requires no extensions at all to function properly and give you a great browsing experience. It is safe to remove or turn off any you see.
    Turn Off Extensions
    It's always safe to turn off extensions, as they can be turned back on easily if needed, cannot effect anything while off, and can't re-enable themselves.
    1. select the switch on the right-hand side.
      Extensions with switch highlighted.
    Remove Extensions
    1. Select Remove below the extension.
      Extensions with remove highlighted.
    2. You'll be asked if you're sure you want to remove the extension, select Remove.
      Extension removal conformation with Remove highlighted.
    3. If you are asked to give feedback or complete a survey, simply close the tab by clicking the X on the tab.
      Remember, these tend to be rather underhanded extensions in the first place. The likelihood of the survey itself harvesting your information or re-infecting your browser is very high, not to actually gather the asked-for information. Simply close it without interacting with it to avoid problems.
      Uninstall survey tab with close tab button highlighted.

2 Reset Start Page

Next, it's best to make sure the Homepage, or first page you see when you open the Edge browser, is set how you want it.

  1. Open Edge, select the Menu on the right, and select Settings.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge browser with menu open and settings highlighted.
  2. Select the Menu on the left, and select On startup.
    Settings with Menu open and On startup highlighted.
  3. Select Open a new tab.
    On startup settings with Open a new tab highlighed.

3 Remove Site Permissions for Unwanted Pages

Pages can be allowed to send "push" notifications, or messages to you when you are using your browser. This can be great if you're using a web-based email system and want to get such notifications. But, many other sites, particularly malicious pages, overly-intrusive news pages, and other advertising sites will trick you into agreeing to receive tons of push notifications that can look like spam pop-ups.

By simply removing permission, you will be prompted again, but you can be more selective in which sites you allow to show notifications.

  1. Open Edge, select the Menu on the right, and select Settings.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge browser with menu open and settings highlighted.
  2. Select the Menu, then select Site permissions.
    Edge settings menu with Site permissions highlighted.
  3. Select Notifications.
    Sit Permissions Settings with Notifications highlighted.
  4. Under Allow, for each site listed, select Options (the three dots on the right), and select Remove.
    Notifications Site Permissions Settings with site menu open and remove highlighted.
    Repeat this step for all sites listed under Allow.

4 Clear Cache and History

Clearing the cache and cookies from your browser can remove any remaining tracking from hijack sites.

  1. Open Microsoft Edge, select the Menu, point to History, and select Clear browsing data.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge browser menus with History and Clear browsing data highlighted.
  2. Select the items you'd like to clear, and select Clear now.
    Clear browsing data with options and clear now highlighted.
    Time Range
    All time in drop-down box.Select All time This option controls how far back to clear in history. It's recommend to clear from "All time", to allow the items to rebuild.
    Browsing history
    Checked BoxCheck this item History is the list of pages you've visited in the past and that auto-fill in the address bar when you type in addresses.
    Download History
    Personal Choice This will clear the list of files you've downloaded from web pages. In most cases this list is never used, and perfectly safe to delete by checking it.
    Cookies and other site data
    Checked BoxCheck this item Cookies and site data can cause many problems with how a page is displayed, and it is recommended to clear it if you're experiencing problems.
    You will need to log back into any websites such as social media or email after clearing cookies.
    Cached images and files
    Checked BoxCheck this item Websites have a lot of graphics on them, they take up a lot of space, and sometimes become corrupt. Clearing them is recommended, they will re-download the next time you visit the page.
    Passwords
    Unchecked BoxUncheck this item You do not want to clear the passwords you've saved in your browser's password manager.
    Autofill form data
    Unchecked BoxUncheck this item You do not want the saved information for your name, address, etc. that automatically fills on some forms deleted.
    Site permissions
    Personal Choice Some sites will ask permission to use your microphone or video camera, and the Edge browser remembers this. If you clear this option, the browser will prompt you again for access the next time you visit; it's safe to clear this option.
    Hosted app data
    Personal Choice Some sites, such as webmail, document editing, or enterprise management tools load entire app data to the browser. If the site you're having problems with uses exceptionally complex tools, it may help to clear hosted app data, otherwise it's fine to leave this unchecked.

5 Continued Browser Hijack Issues

Your browser should be back under your control. Make sure your Homepage comes up properly by closing and opening the browser, try bringing up a few favorite websites, and try doing a few searches to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

If you continue to have problems, it means there's a 3rd party app that keeps re-adding or changing how your browser functions. You will need a professional to take a deeper look at the programs and your computer as a whole.

Please contact the product manufacturer for further assistance.

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Browser hijacking is when various plugins force changes to the way your browser functions, for the purpose of pushing advertisements and affiliate links to various popular stores at you, in order to make money from your browsing. It tends to be incredibly invasive, slow, and annoying to deal with, while any benefit given is questionable, at best.

This guide will walk you through removing the root cause of many of these take-overs quickly and easily, and returning the Microsoft Edge browser to its normal, quick operation.

Edge browser hijacked
Screen Take-Over Pop-Ups

Microsoft Edge used to be particularly vulnerable to a nasty pop-up that would take over your whole screen and even talk. Thankfully, with the newer versions of Edge, this attack is simply no longer possible; the commands to maximize and hold the browser window are no longer available to websites in the first place.

However, some websites especially those from various hijacks, will mimic the look-and-feel of Windows of macOS, in an attempt to trick you into clicking things.

This guide, while not directly focused on this, can help clean the root cause of such advertising, so it won't continue to happen.
Pop-Ups

Generally, since Microsoft switched the base code of Edge, pop-ups have become much less of an issue, as they are blocked by default. However, if you are experiencing pop-ups still, we have a separate guide that focuses on removing pop-ups.

Microsoft EdgePreventing Pop-Ups on Edge
Various browser windows with advertising mimicking errors.

Some browser extensions can cause your browser to behave abnormally. Removing any unwanted, unnecessary, or unused browser extensions can get your web browser running properly again.

  1. In Edge, select the Menu in the top-right corner, and select Extensions.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge menu with Extensions highlighted.
  2. Turn off or Remove any extensions you do not need.
    Microsoft Edge requires no extensions at all to function properly and give you a great browsing experience. It is safe to remove or turn off any you see.
    Turn Off Extensions
    It's always safe to turn off extensions, as they can be turned back on easily if needed, cannot effect anything while off, and can't re-enable themselves.
    1. select the switch on the right-hand side.
      Extensions with switch highlighted.
    Remove Extensions
    1. Select Remove below the extension.
      Extensions with remove highlighted.
    2. You'll be asked if you're sure you want to remove the extension, select Remove.
      Extension removal conformation with Remove highlighted.
    3. If you are asked to give feedback or complete a survey, simply close the tab by clicking the X on the tab.
      Remember, these tend to be rather underhanded extensions in the first place. The likelihood of the survey itself harvesting your information or re-infecting your browser is very high, not to actually gather the asked-for information. Simply close it without interacting with it to avoid problems.
      Uninstall survey tab with close tab button highlighted.

Next, it's best to make sure the Homepage, or first page you see when you open the Edge browser, is set how you want it.

  1. Open Edge, select the Menu on the right, and select Settings.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge browser with menu open and settings highlighted.
  2. Select the Menu on the left, and select On startup.
    Settings with Menu open and On startup highlighted.
  3. Select Open a new tab.
    On startup settings with Open a new tab highlighed.

Pages can be allowed to send "push" notifications, or messages to you when you are using your browser. This can be great if you're using a web-based email system and want to get such notifications. But, many other sites, particularly malicious pages, overly-intrusive news pages, and other advertising sites will trick you into agreeing to receive tons of push notifications that can look like spam pop-ups.

By simply removing permission, you will be prompted again, but you can be more selective in which sites you allow to show notifications.

  1. Open Edge, select the Menu on the right, and select Settings.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge browser with menu open and settings highlighted.
  2. Select the Menu, then select Site permissions.
    Edge settings menu with Site permissions highlighted.
  3. Select Notifications.
    Sit Permissions Settings with Notifications highlighted.
  4. Under Allow, for each site listed, select Options (the three dots on the right), and select Remove.
    Notifications Site Permissions Settings with site menu open and remove highlighted.
    Repeat this step for all sites listed under Allow.

Clearing the cache and cookies from your browser can remove any remaining tracking from hijack sites.

  1. Open Microsoft Edge, select the Menu, point to History, and select Clear browsing data.
    Microsoft Edge
    Edge browser menus with History and Clear browsing data highlighted.
  2. Select the items you'd like to clear, and select Clear now.
    Clear browsing data with options and clear now highlighted.
    Time Range
    All time in drop-down box.Select All time This option controls how far back to clear in history. It's recommend to clear from "All time", to allow the items to rebuild.
    Browsing history
    Checked BoxCheck this item History is the list of pages you've visited in the past and that auto-fill in the address bar when you type in addresses.
    Download History
    Personal Choice This will clear the list of files you've downloaded from web pages. In most cases this list is never used, and perfectly safe to delete by checking it.
    Cookies and other site data
    Checked BoxCheck this item Cookies and site data can cause many problems with how a page is displayed, and it is recommended to clear it if you're experiencing problems.
    You will need to log back into any websites such as social media or email after clearing cookies.
    Cached images and files
    Checked BoxCheck this item Websites have a lot of graphics on them, they take up a lot of space, and sometimes become corrupt. Clearing them is recommended, they will re-download the next time you visit the page.
    Passwords
    Unchecked BoxUncheck this item You do not want to clear the passwords you've saved in your browser's password manager.
    Autofill form data
    Unchecked BoxUncheck this item You do not want the saved information for your name, address, etc. that automatically fills on some forms deleted.
    Site permissions
    Personal Choice Some sites will ask permission to use your microphone or video camera, and the Edge browser remembers this. If you clear this option, the browser will prompt you again for access the next time you visit; it's safe to clear this option.
    Hosted app data
    Personal Choice Some sites, such as webmail, document editing, or enterprise management tools load entire app data to the browser. If the site you're having problems with uses exceptionally complex tools, it may help to clear hosted app data, otherwise it's fine to leave this unchecked.

Your browser should be back under your control. Make sure your Homepage comes up properly by closing and opening the browser, try bringing up a few favorite websites, and try doing a few searches to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

If you continue to have problems, it means there's a 3rd party app that keeps re-adding or changing how your browser functions. You will need a professional to take a deeper look at the programs and your computer as a whole.