The web is awash with applications and downloads, many of them free. However, not all of them are useful.

In fact, there are plenty that are just plain annoying. They install themselves, marking their territory with icons. They flash distracting, trivial alerts on the screen in front of you. They demand that you install the latest update, and they won't take no for an answer. When you give in and install the update, they make you restart. They nag you to upgrade to a paid version. They spam you. They beg you to sign up. They're a pain in the browser.

We've all experienced annoying apps. Some of them come preinstalled on new PCs. We've rounded up what we think are the 11 worst offenders.


This program earns my nomination for 'most annoying'.

In one version of AOL's popular AIM instant messaging app, a video starts playing if you make the mistake of mousing over the upper part of the AIM panel. I can't watch video and work at the same time, thank you. I've never seen a needier, more shamelessly attention-hungry web app than AIM. The developers seem to have thought of just about every way to hound you into clicking to an AOL property or to one of its advertisers.

The app automatically opens the AIM News page in a browser at start-up. This page continues the game by presenting you with juicy celeb gossip news and pictures - guilty-pleasure stuff designed to keep you on the page a few seconds longer. "Please stay... look at this! Lindsay Lohan throwing up!"

The current version of the app looks for any excuse to get in your face. It notifies you at the top right of your screen that one of your friends has logged on, logged off, eaten a sandwich, or taken out the trash.

Because I have AIM on my work PC, my home PC (a Mac), and my mobile phone, the app constantly bugs me about the fact that I'm logged in from more than one location. So what if I am? Is that a big security risk? No. I'm not discussing military secrets; most people never discuss sensitive stuff on IM, period. The alert about multiple log-ins is really just another excuse to pop a message box in front of my face and make that stupid AIM sound.

I've used a number of different versions of AIM over the years, since my work requires it - and try as I may, I always end up upgrading to a new version, which invariably introduces a whole new generation of annoyances. Most people, however, can choose from among dozens of third-party IM apps to use. These apps readily communicate with AIM and many other clients, and they spare you AIM's needy and annoying habits.


  1. We've all used these apps
  2. iTunes
  3. RealPlayer
  4. The Ask Toolbar