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March 6, 2007

Google Forces You to Install Google Pack

If you try to download Google Desktop, you'll see something strange: you have to download Google Updater, an executable available that's a part of Google Pack, the collection of Google software and third-party applications launched last year.

"The Google Updater is the program that downloads and installs all the software in the Google Pack. You can use the Google Updater to monitor the status of your installation, run software that's been installed, or uninstall software. A Google Updater icon will appear in your system tray and will display notifications when new software is available."

So if you try to download Google Desktop, you're forced to download Google Pack, or at least Google Pack's core, which is Google Updater. You can look at Google Updater like an equivalent of the "Add or remove programs" included in Windows. Unlike the application manager from Windows, Google Updater monitors the applications for new versions and is configured to automatically update the applications.

It seems that Google tries to centralize the way you install and manage Google software, so I wouldn't be surprised if you'll be forced to install the Updater for any Google software in the near future. Like Google Toolbar, which is a way to push new services and feature, Google Pack and the updater are a way to push new software from Google and its partners (there's a "Show new software" link that sends you to a page that lists software from Google Pack you don't have on your computer).

Note: In case you don't see the text below when you go to Google Desktop, this is the page where you should've been redirected. There's a workaround if you want to download only Google Desktop: this link.

Update: This is a new version of Google Pack (2.0 beta) that will be used to install individual Google products. Even if the download pages are not changed for everyone yet, Google Toolbar for IE and Google Earth for Windows will be installed in the same way.


  1. > "...and is configured to..."
    and CAN be configured to..
    but is the default configuration

    google updater is also annoying because it installs itself just running the executable, you have no choice of installing it or running it just this time, anyway after you install the desired application you can just uninstall the google updater

  2. I recently started using Google Updater (Google Pack) on my supported PC's and find it surprisingly useful and convenient.

    IMHO, I hope Google use this method for more of their products, as well as adding more external Apps.

  3. Despite not an advocate for forced installation of software, I find that the idea of Google Pack is quite useful to me.

    Just a few days ago, I reinstalled my XP on my notebook;
    Google Pack saved me some clicks and typing by letting me choose all Google's products (and a few others) on one page and install them in a batch.

  4. Hmm probably i just don't see the problem here - where is it?

    Google Updater is just a little mini-software (like adobe downloader or stuff like that). What's the problem with it? Are you forced to install any _real_ other software or is it just the updater? Your blog title is kinde wrong i think. i don't see any "pack" here.

    and when marcel states that the google updater installs itslef when starting he probably means it's creating an icon and a start-menu entry ;) anything else would be strange just becaus if it needs to be installed it wouldn't run without prior installation.

    "nothing special to say about google today so let's write some cheap stuff"

  5. Despite not an advocate for forced installation of software, I find that the idea of Google Pack is quite useful to me.

    It may be useful, but you should install it only if you want it.

    Google Updater is just a little mini-software (like adobe downloader or stuff like that). What's the problem with it? Are you forced to install any _real_ other software or is it just the updater?

    Well, Mr. Frank, you don't just install a downloader, you install a software that runs in the background and monitors for Google software updates. It also alerts you when a new software is added to Google Pack.

    Your blog title is kinde wrong i think. i don't see any "pack" here.

    Google Pack is a collection of software + the updater. When you try to install Google Desktop, you'll have to agree with Google Pack TOS, the updater is hosted at and it's the main point of the Google Pack. So I don't see anything wrong with the title.

    I said "forced" because you want to install Google Desktop and you get Google Pack. There's not obvious alternative to install only Google Desktop.

    nothing special to say about google today so let's write some cheap stuff

    I don't write cheap stuff. Believe me.

  6. And it's not the first time when Google forces you to install Google Pack.

    The last time was when they dropped the Picasa referrals from AdSense and replaced them with Google Pack ads. The new ads say:

    * "Organize your photos. Google Pack"

    * "Crop, sharpen, make pictures pop. Get the free Google Pack."

    * "Organize your digital photo album with the free Google Pack"

    This is kind of misleading. Google Pack is not a photo manager, it includes one.

  7. With the potential security issues in Google Desktop, and with many other software packages coming with auto-update functionality (Firefox & Thunderbird, Adobe Reader, Windows), I'm finding it hard to see the problem here. Yes, they force you to have update capabilities--so do many others. Can you uninstall the Google Update software? That puts them a step above the others whose updating is built in. Updating should have been built in to Google Desktop? Why, when they have a perfectly good updating tool already available. Google Update allows the user (not forced) to install other apps from Google Pack as well, so of course they would have to agree to the Google Pack agreement.

    This is just silly.

  8. No, John. Google Desktop has always had auto-update. Like most Google software.

    It's interesting to test if Google software obeys the settings from the updater. For example, the toolbar always updates automatically without notifications. But Google Updater has an option to notify you when there are updates or to let you manually update software.

  9. Hi Ionut, just curious, how exactly did you come across that fast installation link, the default page gives you the .exe directly..

  10. Easy. I went to to download the latest version of Google Desktop (I've already had it installed), and I was redirected to that page. From what I've read at Google Desktop group this isn't very new and it's the expected behavior.

    Now when I visit I get the old page that opens the .exe directly. Maybe they're still testing this.

  11. Google Toolbar and Google Earth seem to be the next apps that will install using the updater. I found the terms & conditions pages for:

    -> Google Earth

    -> Toolbar

  12. Google calls this new behavior Google Pack in "single installer mode".

    A comment from a JavaScript file:
    "For example, when new users visit Toolbar website, download and install Toolbar via the Updater, the Updater is in the single installer mode instead of the full Pack mode."

  13. I won't use any tools that cannot be installed without the Google Updater.

    If they mutilate the Google Earth installer this way, the program has to go.

  14. There will always be a direct link to the setup, but I assume Google will not display it on the download page. And that's pretty bad.

  15. Sounds EVIL to me

  16. I noticed this behavior when trying to download Picasa in January.

  17. echowhiskey, I agree: I will be less likely to try new Google software this way. I've already uninstalled the updater twice. Google isn't evil yet, but forced benevolence is not far off. It asks "good for whom?" It would be very good for me to have all my Gmail accounts accessible at one login, but apparently this is not good for them. Likewise, it is very nice to have software that checks for updates when it loads (via an option), because I am already giving it authority to use my system resources. Or, make it a Google Account preference, but I have a lurking suspicion that my account isn't really for me. My most recent installer encounter was after trying the Pack sreensaver. For as intuitive as Picasa is, this is a shockingly underachieving work. They have better software lost in the labs! So here's a subpar offering bundled with a force install... it's worth criticism: who is Google servicing? In the end their success is built on our (the users) good-will, and mine is ever so slightly more hesitant.

  18. this is some pretty pathetic attention seeking. The google installer can be used to install lots of things, including the Google Pack. this comes from the same school of journalism as the "Multimedia Messaging Service sends porn to your kids" headlines.

  19. No, gavinzac, I don't need anybody's attention and this is not journalism. I just saw a glimpse of the future and reported about it.

    Let's analyze the headline:

    Google - that's the company we're talking about.

    forces you to install - the verb is in no way an exaggeration. I want to install something, but Google gives me something else that will install what I want. It's like Winamp that will only install using FlashGet (a download manager).

    Google Pack - I didn't make any confusion between Google Updater and Google Pack. The Pack is a list of software managed using the Updater. In this case the list of software contains only the software you want to download (like Google Desktop).

    So if you can't understand something that simple, please refrain from posting your thoughts.

  20. For those who didn't believe me when I wrote this:

    * Now Google Toolbar UK redirects you to a Google Pack page where you can download Google Updater + Toolbar.

    So redirects to

    * This also happens for Google Toolbar Germany.

    * I'm sure you noticed that Google Desktop for Mac can only be downloaded using Google Updater.

  21. a direct link to the latest Google Earh installer - without the "updater"

  22. I agree with all of the sceptics re Google. I want to be in control about what goes onto my pc. Is that too much to ask?

  23. I can't install Google Toolbar because Google Updater has problems with our Firewall at work. I've just got a new laptop at work, and they don't seem to allow Google Updater through the firewall. So, I'm unable to download the Google Toolbar, because it now seems only installable by using Updater.

  24. Suppose I have downloaded and installed Google pack softwares through Google updater. What if I had to format my system and reinstall OS? I have no way to reinstall softwares already downloaded with Google updater.The only way I see now is to download and install again using Google updater. There is no way to get the setup files. Its just a waste of time to download each time. It seems Google wants to give free software but at the cost of user's time. Even this is ok for small softwares but really irritating for suite like star office.

  25. I have a Mac with Leopard installed and the updater pops up on my screen about every 15 minutes. There is no way to stop this short uninstalling Google Earth.

    Anyone have an idea on how to keep this from popping open?

  26. barry,

    Same problem here - after upgrading to Leopard the Google Updater keeps popping up, and it shows that it is tracking every backup copy of every Google program on my Time Machine drive!

  27. How do I stop Google Updater from popping up all the time in Mac OS X Leopard?? I can't find any 'uninstall' option.

  28. To uninstall Google Updater I just typed in the Terminal:

    sudo rm -rf /Library/Google

    That will remove the directory with Google


  29. Mmmmm... the way I see it is.. I bought MY computer with MY money and I would like control over the software I have on it...thanks anyway, Google--- see the following quote from The Big G

    How do I uninstall Google Updater?
    To uninstall Google Updater, you first have to uninstall other Google software on your computer. You can't uninstall Google Updater while you have Google software on your computer because we need it there to keep your software up-to-date.

    end of quote-well I've been prompted to this as my laptop fan has been running because the insidious updater has been trying to connect to The Mother Ship-- should I let it--No Way

  30. For those of you who want control over your own computer and want Google Earth try either changing the location from the USA to OTHER or try:

    FYI. I had no trouble uninstalling Google updater without removing my Google software. And I reckon we should write to Google about this. It's something hardly anyone wants. People are afraid they will get too big. The public are the only ones who can stop them going to far. I think this qualifies.

  31. total control - by google over poor little desperate users/loosers

  32. i am not getting my google pack

  33. security feature...
    they don't want to be responsible when you get hacked ;)

  34. Usually when things happen automatically,I end up re formatting drive C. usually things go pear shape. so I am reluctant to trust Google updater.

  35. I cannot get rid of the Google Updater on my XP Pro machine. I have uninstalled it and re-started the computer five or six times, but one of those dialog boxes telling you that an application has failed to load properly (Google Updater) keeps popping up every few minutes for the past three days. I have clicked the buttons on "send error message" to Microsoft, "Don't Send", and "Debug". This is extremely annoying. I checked to make sure it was gone and also made sure it was removed from the Start-Up menu. Is getting rid of Google Earth the only way to stop this? The last time I had a problem like this was years ago when I uninstalled Norton Antivirus and it took the entire computer with it. "Google Updater" apparently tried this, but I was finally able to boot up in Safe Mode and get my computer going again.

  36. There are two different questions.
    -Is google pack necessary?
    -Do i have a choice over installing it?

    Pack or Google Updater, is google's unified auto update mechanism. Like all other softwares, auto update is shipped with the product you chose. Be it Earth, desktop, or toolbar. However, you DO have a choice to uninstall it if you want to. And its easy, just click uninstall Google Updater from your start menu.

    For the first question, A software is dead without auto update. Security vulnerabilities WILL be found in future, and there should be a mechanism to patch systems already using softwares(like Toolbar, Desktop, Spyware Doctor), lest you want crackers to take control of your system. You can chose to have individual updaters for each software, or none at all, if thats what you wish.

    Pack is meant for the users, who dont WANT to keep track of every new security patch. If you have a problem with the auto updater being UNIFIED, then just go ahead, and have different updaters for all different softwares, even when you know they all are doing essentially the same thing.

    Rest are just brazen doubts over the intentions of a corporate.

  37. PLEASE HELP . I only have dial up 56k internet ,
    google pack is downloading to my pc , i can see these files BIT1.tmp ,BIT2.tmp ,BIT3.tmp , BIT4tmp C:\Documents and Settings\Dean\Local Settings\Temp\ , i dont want this and i really dont know how it started to get on my pc , as i am very aware of things i install, can any please tell me how to stop this from downloading , everytime i delete those bit.temp files they re-appear and start downloading again .

    thanks .

  38. Google updater? That isn't installed on my pc but it still tries to every 24 hours.
    Not quite irritating, but more like a dog that barks at your gate every day - sooner or later you are going to go outside and put some rat poison on a nice juicy steak...

  39. I recently installed Google Earth and along with it came the Google Updater. It didn't seem like a problem until the next time I restarted my machine.

    Upon restart, my Google Talk (which is supposed to load automatically at startup) was missing. Instead, I get an explorer window on my desktop directed at C:\Program Files\Google that just sits there.

    I have tried everything possible to fix this. I've finally managed to get my GoogleTalk to start up again at startup, but that infernal window just refuses to go away. I have removed/deleted/uninstalled every reference possible to the Google Updater, it's exe, the startup scheduled tasks, removed it from the registry, and even (unsuccessfully) tried to remove it from the startup list in msconfig.

    I am about to restart my machine, and if it doesn't go away I am simply uninstalling Google Earth and never using it again. If that doesn't fix the irritation, I don't know what will.

    My issue is - each Google program or utility is built with its own update checking and notifications. There really is no need for yet another system-resource chowing bandwidth-hungry hard-to-get-rid-of piece of software that does, essentially, a duplicate task.

    Love Google, but seriously, this is starting to make me angry. It wouldn't have been such an issue if the Updater hadn't mucked with the way my system runs.