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How to Remove Conduit Engine Search from Firefox 3.x

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I know this isn’t a tecchie blog, but sometimes I come across a problem to which there isn’t a solution listed and have to work it out for myself. In this case I (ill-advisedly as it turned out) upgraded BitTorrent to version 7 (7.1 and 7.2 at present). This is sort of pertinent to The Unsuitablog as I have been recently accessing a number of Wikileaks files via BitTorrent (other torrent software is available) for – ahem – research purposes.

Anyhow, upon upgrading BitTorrent, I found three things had happened, all of which greatly annoyed me.

1) A couple of new toolbar widgety-type things had ensconced themselves in Firefox
2) The search box had been hijacked
3) The URL bar search facility had also been hijacked

It turned out that the makers of BitTorrent had been a little foolish, using something called Conduit Engine to create a toolbar. The problem with this is that when you use Conduit Engine then it stays used: you have to accept (or rather your users have to accept) all the crap that comes along with it, screwing up your search options seemingly forever; or at least until you completely uninstall Firefox and reinstall it. And even then it will probably still be around.

Fortunately there are a few simple fixes which I have worked out, none of which (thankfully) involve hacking the Windows Registry, and all of which are neatly isolated within the Firefox domain. This is just for Windows Vista and Windows 7, although the operations are very similar for Windows XP. You’ll have to work it out for yourself if you have a Mac or Linux, although some of the tips might be relevant.

1) To get rid of the Toolbar / widget things, you need to go to Tools > Add-ons > Plugins, and uninstall the two entries pertaining to BitTorrent and Conduit. You will need to restart Firefox twice for this. Check that they are both gone when you have restarted.

2) To remove the Search Box hijack, click on the down-arrow next to the search box (it will probably have a Google symbol next to it) and select Manage Search Engines. Then select any search engine you don’t like the look of or recognise – you will be surprised how many there are – and for each one click Remove.

3) They were the easy bits. Now to remove the Conduit Engine itself.

You need to have Firefox shut down for this, as it restores some of the files upon shutdown to prevent corruption. First, locate you Roaming Application Profiles. You will need to be an administrator to do this, but assuming you are, in Explorer select Tools > Folder Options > View tab (if Tools is not visible, hit Alt) and ensure the radio button for “Show hidden files, folders and drives” is selected and “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” is unchecked (you will be asked to confirm this).

Find your profile. This will be located in your home drive (probably C:) in the “Users” or “Documents and Settings” (for XP) folder, so in my case it is C:/Users/Keith. Ensuring you have Folder View open, click on the {profile} folder and in the right-hand pane locate AppData (or Local SettingsApplication Data for XP). Within this is the folder “Roaming”, within which is the Firefox Profile folder, e.g. {profile}AppDataRoamingMozillaFirefoxProfiles.

Beneath that is your random profile ID folder, which will be something like “1234abcd.default”. This folder I will call {fprofile}.

First, locate the pesky Conduit Engine folders, which contain most of the gubbins associated with this monster. Delete the folders conduit and CT2790392 (I can’t vouch for this exact number, but it seems to be standard at the moment).

Find the file {fprofile}prefs.js and save a copy of this with a .backup extension. Right click on prefs.js and select “Edit”; this will (should) open the javascript file in Notepad.

You need to remove all references to Conduit:

First, delete every line beginning with the following:


Second, locate the following line:

user_pref("", "{searchTerms}");

Change it to (for Google search):

user_pref("", "");

You will need to find the relevant command line for your own search engine, or just leave the second quotes empty for no URL bar searching.

Finally, locate the line:

user_pref("keyword.URL", "");

and change it to (for Google):

user_pref("keyword.URL", "");

Again, you will need to find your own code for different search engines: I’m not a huge fan of Google, but at least you can just delete the cookie to remove your search history, or use Private Browsing.

Save the file, and restart Firefox.

As far as I know, that’s it. Any comments and additions, please say your piece below.

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    Total 3 comments
    • Anonymous

      I would love to know how to do this with a Mac. I have that exact same problem. I couldn’t benefit from any of this knowledge because macs are so different from a windows computer

    • Anonymous

      Thank you sooo much dude! The engine was really starting to irritate me. I deleted the toolbar and everything yet it would still search through that stupid conduit crap. I hated it

    • Anonymous

      That did it, thanks!

      There were a bunch of other lines with “conduit” in them in the prefs.js file.
      I commented them out by putting /* before the first one, and */
      after the last one. Seems to work fine, now!




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