Google announced that it will retire the Chrome Cleanup Tool, an application for Windows users that detects and removes suspicious or unwanted software from the Chrome browser. The move will begin with the release of Chrome 111, at which point users will no longer be able to scan their devices using the tool through the browser’s Safety Check feature or via the “Reset settings and cleanup” option in chrome://settings on Windows. Additionally, Google is removing a feature that intermittently scans Windows machines for suspicious activity.
The Chrome Cleanup Tool was first introduced as a standalone app named Google’s Software Removal tool in 2015 and was later renamed and integrated directly into the Chrome for Windows browser, with no equivalent tool for macOS systems. The tool has performed over 80 million cleanups since its release, recovering systems impacted by unexpected settings changes and removing extensions that violate Google’s Unwanted Software Policy.
While useful for everyday system maintenance, the Chrome Cleanup Tool was never intended to be a comprehensive antivirus solution. Today, Chrome has better alternative services for protecting users and blocking suspicious files, such as Google Safe Browsing and Chrome’s built-in virus protection for Windows. As new phishing and malware trends continue to emerge, Google says it has shifted its focus to proactively improving authentication workflows and virus detection technology to protect Chrome users.
Google claims that user complaints regarding unwanted software have fallen over the years, reporting that just 0.06 percent of Chrome Cleanup Tool scans run in the last month actually detected known software concerns. With decreasing user reports and the availability of more capable antivirus solutions, Google claims the Chrome Cleanup Tool is now obsolete. It is unlikely that Chrome users will be impacted by the removal of the tool, as the browser still provides security features like automatic Safe Browsing and enhanced system protection.