A tool for avoiding accidental junk downloads

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I fix my clients’ computers just about every day.  I either do it remotely (which is what I prefer to do, since it is easier to schedule and more cost-effective for the client), or I do it in person.  If I physically do the repair, it is usually done here in my office.  But regardless of how it is done, one of the most common procedures I am doing these days is removal of malware and junkware.


Sometimes the bad stuff got on someone’s computer because they did a Google search to try and get something for free (free music, free software, free games, free screensaver – all of them will likely get you into trouble).

But in a lot of cases, the malware was an “accidental” download.  In other words, the person was installing a perfectly legitimate program, and part of that installation process was designed specifically to trick the user into downloading a separate program (or sometimes several other programs) in addition to the one that was actually be acquired.

Here’s a very common example.  Java has updates all the time, because it is constantly being exploited.  It’s a big security issue.  Every time you get an update from Java, you have to go through the installation process.  For a lot of people, that just means clicking Next – Next – Next until it’s all installed.  They don’t really read anything that’s on the screen because they just want to get it over with.  But look at what is on one of those screens during the installation:



See the little checkmark?  It’s there by default.  In other words, you have to deliberately UNcheck it in order to NOT get the crapware known as the Ask toolbar.  And at the same time, you are also designating Ask to be your default search provider (because we all know it’s SO much better than Google, right?).  It’s a slimy, deceitful way for Oracle to make money, but that’s the path they have chosen.

The bottom line is, a lot of people could avoid having all these garbage programs installed on their computer if those check boxes were UNchecked automatically.

And now there’s a free program that will do that for you.  It’s called Unchecky, and you can get it at www.Unchecky.com.

Unchecky has one job – to change the pre-set checkboxes and “Agree” boxes during a software installation so that you don’t end up with a lot of needless junk slowing down your computer.

Just go to the link above and click the big “Download” button.  Then click on the downloaded file to install it. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with this little program:



Click “Install” and a few seconds later you will be at the final screen, where you just click “Finish”.  That’s it!  Unchecky will be running in the background all the time, and it will recognize when you are doing a software installation.  For the most common installations, such as Java and Adobe Flash and Reader, it will recognize what boxes need to be unchecked and take care of that for you.

BUT…keep in mind that Unchecky is still in beta.  That means they are still working on improving it and making it more accurate at recognize those sneaky little boxes that it needs to uncheck.  So, there will most likely be a few installs where it might not catch everything.  I would look at it like a safety net.  You should still be very careful about what you install, and pay attention during the process so that you can catch these things yourself – but if you do happen to miss something, there’s a good chance that Unchecky could catch that for you.

It’s also kind of interesting to track what Unchecky does for you.  When you run the program, right on the home screen you can see a running total of how many crapware boxes Unchecky has unchecked for you:



There’s also a button that gives you the option to suspend the service if you want, but why would you want to do that?

I like this little program because it’s a way of protecting the average user against the slimy companies that just want to load up your computer with garbage so that they can make a few bucks.

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Eric W.
March 31st, 2014

Excellent heads up! Thank you, Scott.

March 31st, 2014

Scott, just tried to download unchecky and my security came up with the message bad file blocked-soooooo rather ironic isn’t it ? Any help/info on this ? THANKS

Scott Johnson
March 31st, 2014

It depends on what program specifically you are referring to as “security”. I did not have Security Essentials or Malwarebytes come up with any issues of Unchecky being a risk. I would have to see it to see what exactly is happening.

Michael Finegold
March 31st, 2014

I also got a security warning due to an Unknown Publisher while running Security Essentials.

Scott Johnson
March 31st, 2014

Everything I have seen indicates that it is safe, including usage on my own personal computer. They address this issue of false positives on their website FAQ: http://unchecky.com/faq