Blocking the Skype Toolbar in Firefox

Justin Scott

113

The Skype Toolbar for Firefox is an extension that detects phone numbers in web pages, and re-renders them as a clickable button that can be used to dial the number using the Skype desktop application. This extension is bundled with the Skype application, and is installed into Firefox by default when Skype is installed or, in some circumstances, updated. As a result, a large number of Firefox users who have installed Skype have also installed the Skype Toolbar, knowingly or unknowingly.

The current shipping version of the Skype Toolbar is one of the top crashers of Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13, and was involved in almost 40,000 crashes of Firefox last week. Additionally, depending on the version of the Skype Toolbar you’re using, the methods it uses to detect and re-render phone numbers can make DOM manipulation up to 300 times slower, which drastically affects the page rendering times of a large percentage of web content served today (plain English: to the user, it appears that Firefox is slow loading web pages). We believe that both of these items constitute a major, user-facing issue, and meet our established criteria for blocklisting an add-on.

As a result, we’ll add all versions, up to and including the current shipping and beta versions, of the Skype Toolbar to the Mozilla Firefox Blocklist for all versions of Firefox. The blocklist entry will be a “soft block”, where the extension is disabled and the user is notified of the block and given the option to re-enable it if they choose. It’s also important to note that the Skype application itself will continue to work as it always has; only the Skype Toolbar within Firefox is being disabled. The blocklist entry will be added sometime in the next 48 hours, and will be in addition to the existing soft block on earlier versions of the Skype Toolbar.

We’re tracking the issues we’re seeing with the Skype Toolbar in bug 615799, and the blocklist process in bug 627278. We’ve recently established contact with the Skype Toolbar team, and will work with them to identify the issues that should be corrected, and will lift the soft block on future versions that address those issues.

113 responses

  1. Mike wrote on :

    I disabled ALL of Skype in FF in 2009, when it forced itself to be installed when I updated FF !! WARNING BELLS rang for me immediately. Never had any problems with FF crashes due to Skype !!

  2. Nickle wrote on :

    When I booted up FireFox today, the Skype extension re-enabled itself, and the options and uninstall buttons are grayed-out. I’d like to just uninstall it (I’m not even sure why I have it, because I opted to not install it when Skype last updated, and I didn’t have it installed before the update either.).

    1. Don from KC wrote on :

      I have the same issue. If Firefox is going to blocklist an add-on it originally installed from it’s OWN add-on page, they should be responsible for getting out of THEIR software, right???? WHO’S WITH ME!!!

  3. Ewan wrote on :

    I also appear to have had this plugin “automagically” reactivate itself in the last 24 hours. After a few hours of frustration I noticed it and found my way here

  4. Joko wrote on :

    Hey,
    please block this extension forever. It is installed automatically with Skype and you have no chance to avoid this. This is just really bad, and I know nobody who actually uses that sh*t of a software.

    Its just a way of the Skype people to distract people and let them dial numbers by mistake in order to make money. So basically, this is some sort of commercial placed in the browser.

    As long as they deliver this extension with their software and leave no choice to not install it, it should be kicked put permanently. Otherwise, they wont learn at all.

    Keep your awesome browser free of that crap!

    Best,
    Joko

  5. Clay wrote on :

    When you talk to the Skype Toolbar Team, can you send them a message?

    Skype, if you feel you need to install something on the sly — it’s very likely that no one wants your add-on. Please stop annoying your customers (personally, I use, and like, Skype-out)

    1. Ward wrote on :

      Skype…a curse and a blessing to me. First the blessing…I spent 2.5 months at a remote military facility in the middle of the ocean, and skype was the only realistic way to keep in touch with my family. Thank you Skype for providing that technological support, I do appreciate that!

      Now the curse…in recent updates to Skype, I have unstoppable browser tab spawning. I was able to disable the Skype extension, with some quick fingers and lucky timing, but it was a huge hassle. It made access to the internet impossible. I was unable to use Firefox, so I went to Internet Explorer…guess what, same thing! And I didn’t install any kind of extension on IE (do they even have extensions/add-ons?). I tried Safari, which worked at first, then succumbed to the same fate. I didn’t try Chrome.

      So I kept the extension disabled. Today I uninstalled it, just to be safe.

      So Skype isn’t ‘crap’, it is a useful tool…making calls back home for $3 a month from the Indian Ocean was priceless, and worth some hiccups. But this needs to be fixed. If Skype is purposely messing our web browsing experience up trying to get some revenue, they need to be called onto the carpet for that and we the consumers have to decide whether we are done with them or whether we will give them another chance.

  6. Trendt wrote on :

    Exactly the same as Ewan on my side. This is very curious..

  7. George wrote on :

    Had kittens with this 2 days ago, had just updated video card and everything slowed to a stop, an OMG moment ensued. Began deleting progs one at a time and thankfully came across the warning on mozella site before returning the video card. I need Skype because I have relations in Christchurch N.Z.———–I dont want ALL the bells and whistles and aggro. these bring
    GB

    1. Don from KC wrote on :

      Use WindowsLive Messenger… it’s completely free and fairly reliable as well.

      1. Kat wrote on :

        Reliable? You must be joking. The latest version of WLM is horrible, especially if you want to use it for the same things you’d use Skype for, i.e. calling and video chatting. The video calls that WLM has are so bugged they don’t even work half the time. When it does work, it lags horrendously.

  8. Claudia wrote on :

    How do I deactivate or uninstall it?

    1. JaneB wrote on ::

      Go to control panel/Add or Remove programmes, find Skype Toolbars in the list and remove. Or use a better uninstaller, personally I prefer Revo Uninstaller, or Iobit Uninstaller, which can be downloaded free.

  9. amosngweien wrote on :

    Skype Add-On is so stupid, Besides phone number, they count numbers like 2009 as a freak number… should check number first… so stupid. seriously

  10. Rory wrote on :

    I think we all ought to contact Skype and complain.
    It’s a bit unfair to leave it all to FF.

    1. roger wrote on :

      Have you tried finding a contact for skype? I can’t find a way to contact them.

  11. Nobi wrote on :

    I don’t understand why the “uninstall” feature is greyed out for the Skype toolbar add-on. Sure, I disabled it. But why can’t I get rid of it altogether?

  12. Philippe Croissant wrote on :

    I also appear to have had this plugin “automagically” reactivate itself in the last 24 hours. After a few hours of frustration I noticed it and found my way here

  13. Brett wrote on :

    1) Installs even when asked not to.
    2) Re-enables itself after being disabled.
    3) Can’t be uninstalled.
    4) Crashes and or slows computer.

    How is this not considered malware? Forget this “soft block” business. I’d say remove it and submit its signature to Norton.

  14. Shirley wrote on ::

    I don’t understand what the problem is , I have not had a problem with Skype before . Why would I want to disable it ?

    1. Non Tech smart Mike wrote on :

      Shirley, the Skype progaram by itself is not bad as far as what it will do when you need it to call your friends. Where the issue lies, is in the program software code, is a hidden feature that looks for phone numbers in any website you happen to visit or email you look at online. It then takes those numbers and does what is called “re-render” or allows the number to be dialed by skype simply by clicking or accidently clicking on that number. And incase you did not know….if you call to a friends Skype account it is free, But…if you call a real phone number….you will Pay for it big time….FYI you only have to delete the tool bar, not the whole program.

  15. Genesys wrote on :

    The problem is, Shirley, that I did not give it permission to install itself in my browser. It also makes page rendering VERY slow, and is buggy as hell.

  16. Alex wrote on :

    Shirley, did you heard about peer-to-peer network with name KaZZa?
    Skype made by the same guys who was sued for there sharing stuff, but they move the same principle to the voice technology. That’s exactly how skype works – everyone in skype network help them make money because every computer that has skype on it became communication node. If you will put external firewall and start tracking connections that your computer make even without your knowledge and even when you don’t speak with someone – trust me, you will be surprised when you will see a bunch of connections that passed through your computer. Your computer isn’t yours if you installed this crap. They will used your internet bandwidth, your computer resources, your electricity to make their dirty business.
    There is a bunch of free SIP-servers and bunch of free soft-phone software(include open source) that allow you to have absolutely the same – voice, video and chat for free and without dirty tricks with your computer, otherwise you are just a skype-proxy and nobody knows – for what else and with what kind of purpose your computer is used because all connection is encrypted.

  17. Lorraine Samborsky wrote on :

    I just updated Skype today and got the Skype toolbar for Firefox added without permission. I read the Jan.20, 2011 notice which seemed to say that the Skype toolbar would be blocked. I would like to remove it ASAP!!
    How do I do that?

    1. Philip Maise wrote on :

      I agree skype should be banned as malware. I gave it no permission to get on my toolbar and could find no way to get it off within Firefox.

      Use these steps
      1. Close all windows of mozilla firefox
      2. Go to Start menu and then Control Panel
      3. Select Add Remove Programs
      4. The program to delete is called either Skype Click to Call, or Skype Toolbar

      If like other readers report it magically shows up again then i plan to kill the whole program skype.

      Skype robs me of money all the time. I travel long distances and only use my account rarely in remote countries. Many times I go months with zero internet access and during that time Skype steals my funds because of inactivity. Tell me..what cost is there for them to keep my account open and active? ZERO..yet they still remember all my passwords and log in names just so they can try and get me to prepay for their service again.

      Skype is big business gone bad and will be absolute history in 5 years when other firms wake up to the fact that providing a decent product wins customers.
      Phil

  18. roger wrote on :

    my computer becomes frozen every time I disconnect from a skype call.
    I deactivated skype toolbar but no help.

  19. Denise wrote on :

    Well, I really want to be able to use Skype as I have grand and great grand kids that I never see unless it is through my computer. So, what should I do as I don’t want to totally disable Skype?

  20. Oldskool wrote on :

    For all those who want to uninstall the toolbar completely, do so via the control panel.
    This has got to be one of the most dirtiest tricks ever. They install it without even notifying you. That’s just spyware right there. Why would they not alert you?

    Thank you for the warning Mozilla, I didn’t realize it until I restarted the browser.

  21. CJ wrote on ::

    My laptop became progressively sluggish. Eventually learned of Skype’s incompatibility with Firefox.
    Just now used Revo Uninstaller to remove it. This is a free program and seems to be pretty thorough, plus it also allows for recovery.
    Immediately after uninstalling, a window opened encouraging to keep it, with links to other information. It also offered comment: “Remember, Skype automatically removes any older version when you upgrade to a newer version.”
    Reading other info from Firefox, it’s been the earlier versions of Skype causing the problems.
    But for now I’m not in any hurry to install a later version, so will wait until they’ve worked out the bugs.
    For those of you who need to use it now, perhaps a full uninstalling, followed by then installing the newest version might at least make some improvements for you.

    1. bishara wrote on :

      Cj, I have started having problems with Skype just now. I’ve never had problems with anything until today. My computer was acting up, so Firefox wouldn’t open (or if open, won’t close after a long time) – recommending to buy an antivirus program. It was also not getting into any website I wanted to go to, and the keyboards were half numbers and symbols instead of their alphabets.I got an antivirus to clean up my computer but still the problem persisted. After I restarted the computer for the sake of the antivirus, skype disappeard from the taskbar. I tried getting into it through desktop or menu, but it said ‘application not available.”

      So, i uninstalled EVERYTHING, and tried to download from fresh again. It kept popping this window “application not found” :( .I don’t know what to do anymore..what in the world can I do for skype to come back to my laptop again?? The yahoo messenger and the antivirus are working properly..why isn’t skype doing the same? PLzZZZZ help me!

  22. Phred wrote on :

    How is it that an add-on (ANY add-on) has the privilege to prevent itself from being uninstalled? There is no way that Firefox should ever allow an add-on to install itself and prevent itself from being uninstalled. It simply shouldn’t be possible.

  23. Silvia wrote on :

    THANK YOU!!!!

  24. Lee wrote on ::

    How can I tell which version toolbar I have? Should I uninstall all versions of it if I have it in my system?
    Thank you,
    Lee

  25. Roberta wrote on :

    How do I delete or remove Firefox add ons? I want to be sure I remove SKYPE add on. I know it’s something new, but I am not interested in it at all.

    I like my life simple, and don’t need or want all these “fancy dood” things that just slow up my computer.

    Thanks.

  26. Linesh Jose wrote on ::

    Thanks for this post, I was frustrated with the toolbar. Thanks so much

  27. Elmer wrote on :

    Just installed a Skype update today. It added the click to call monstrosity to Firefox, Google Chrome, and IE. I don’t use IE, so that shouldn’t really bother me, but it does. Immediately after the Skype update, I went into IE and Google Chrome, clicked on the Skype icon in the toolbar, then clicked uninstall. It was then removed from both of those. In Firefox, I went to the addons, and clicked uninstall. After restarting Firefox, Skype was gone.

    It is annoying as hell to have to do this, but it isn’t really that hard. Once removed, it CAN’T re-enable itself. Everybody wants to install a toolbar, and I don’t want ANY of them. If I can’t decline, I let them install it and before the dust settles I’m in removing the crap. This includes Skype, Yahoo, Google, AVG, Weather Channel, whatever… I value my desktop space and my cpu cycles and won’t give either to useless crap.

  28. Christine wrote on :

    Help firefox wont load today for thr first time, I have been using it for many months ok but now I cant access it at all it keeps crashing. Anyone else having same problems?

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