Search-operator.com Redirect (Mac)

Also Known As: Search-operator.com browser hijacker
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

How to remove search-operator.com browser hijacker from Mac?

What is search-operator.com?

search-operator.com is a fake search engine similar to search.tapufind.com, search-me.club, search.hogwarin.com, and many others. Most are promoted as useful and capable of providing more accurate search results, faster searches, and an improved browsing experience. In fact, search-operator.com is promoted using a rogue downloaders/installers (including a fake Adobe Flash installer) that adjust browser settings. Furthermore, fake search engines often collect browsing-related and other data.

search-operator.com browser hijacker on a Mac computer

Generally, installers/downloaders target popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. In this case, they assign search-operator.com as the default search engine, homepage, and new tab URL. Therefore, users of hijacked browsers are forced to visit this website when they open their browser, new tab, or enter a search query using the URL bar. Furthermore, these changes cannot be undone, at least not until "helper objects" are removed. "Helper objects" are browser extensions (plug-ins or add-ons) that are installed by the installers/downloaders. They prevent users from reverting any of the modified settings. If attempts are made to change/undo them, these apps immediately reassign them. Furthermore, search-operator.com itself is useless, since it does not provide improved search results (or other features relating to enhanced browsing). It simply redirects to bing.com (a legitimate search engine owned by Microsoft) and displays results generated by this engine. Both the search-operator.com fake search engine and "helper objects" (apps installed by rogue installers/downloaders) collect data relating to users' browsing habits/activity. This includes URLs of visited websites, IP addresses, search queries, geo-locations, and other similar details. They also record personal/sensitive information. Developers share recorded information with third parties (potentially cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue. Therefore, do not use fake search engines such as search-operator.com and remove unwanted apps, since both can lead to various problems relating to privacy, browsing safety, or even identity theft.

Threat Summary:
NameSearch-operator.com browser hijacker
Threat TypeMac malware, Mac virus
SymptomsYour Mac became slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you get redirected to shady websites.
Distribution methodsDeceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake flash player installers, torrent file downloads.
DamageInternet browsing tracking (potential privacy issues), displaying of unwanted ads, redirects to shady websites, loss of private information.
Removal

To eliminate Search-operator.com browser hijacker our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.

Developers present fake search engines as capable of providing an enhanced browsing experience or by offering various features, however, most provide no real value. On the contrary, they cause problems and are used to generate revenue for their developers.

How did search-operator.com install on my computer?

Most fake search engines are promoted using rogue download/installation set-ups. Developers promote these websites using a deceptive marketing method called "bundling". Bundling is used to trick people into downloading or installing unwanted applications together with other regular software. They achieve this by hiding these dubious (potentially unwanted) apps in "Custom", "Advanced" and other settings/options of the download/installation dialogues. Therefore, rushing downloads or installations and leaving settings unchanged often causes unintentional installation of unwanted apps or allows browser settings to be modified.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Download software using official and trustworthy websites or other reliable channels. Third party downloaders, peer-to-peer networks such as torrents, dubious websites or other similar channels should not be used. Also check "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings when installing or downloading software, especially freeware. Opt-out of offers to install unwanted software and only then finish the installation or download process (the set-up). Avoid clicking advertisements, especially if they are displayed on untrustworthy, dubious or unofficial websites. These often redirect people to untrustworthy (and potentially malicious) websites such as pornography, adult dating, gambling, etc. If you encounter these redirects or see intrusive ads, check your browser for unwanted applications (extensions, plug-ins, and add-ons). Also check the list of installed programs on your computer and remove all unwanted or unknown/suspicious applications/software immediately. If your computer is already infected with browser hijackers, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Deceptive application installer promoting search-operator.com:

Delusive installer used to promote search-operator.com

Instant automatic removal of Search-operator.com browser hijacker: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Search-operator.com browser hijacker. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner for Mac By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove adware browser redirects to search.operator.com using Combo Cleaner:

search-operator.com redirect removal:

Remove search-operator.com-related potentially unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

mac browser hijacker removal from applications folder

Click the Finder icon. In the Finder window, select "Applications". In the applications folder, look for "MPlayerX","NicePlayer", or other suspicious applications and drag them to the Trash. After removing the potentially unwanted application(s) that cause online ads, scan your Mac for any remaining unwanted components.

Remove search-operator.com browser hijacker related files and folders:

Finder go to folder command

Click the Finder icon, from the menu bar, choose Go, and click Go to Folder...

step1Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from launch agents folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from launch agents folder step 2
In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step2Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/Application Support folder:

removing adware from application support folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/Application Support

removing adware from application support folder step 2
In the “Application Support” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious folders. For example, “MplayerX” or “NicePlayer”, and move these folders to the Trash.

step3Check for adware-generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 1


In the Go to Folder bar, type: ~/Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 2

In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step4Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder:

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 1
In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 2
In the “LaunchDaemons” folder, look for recently-added suspicious files. For example, “com.aoudad.net-preferences.plist”, “com.myppes.net-preferences.plist”, "com.kuklorest.net-preferences.plist”, “com.avickUpd.plist”, etc., and move them to the Trash.

step 5 Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps in the correct order you Mac should be clean of infections. To be sure your system is not infected run a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus. Download it HERE. After downloading the file double click combocleaner.dmg installer, in the opened window drag and drop Combo Cleaner icon on top of the Applications icon. Now open your launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon. Wait until Combo Cleaner updates it's virus definition database and click "Start Combo Scan" button.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-1

Combo Cleaner will scan your Mac for malware infections. If the antivirus scan displays "no threats found" - this means that you can continue with the removal guide, otherwise it's recommended to remove any found infections before continuing.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-2

After removing files and folders generated by the adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

Search-operator.com browser hijacker homepage and default Internet search engine removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove search-operator.com browser hijacker related Safari extensions:

safari browser preferences

Open Safari browser. From the menu bar, select "Safari" and click "Preferences...".

safari extensions window

In the preferences window, select "Extensions" and look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions. When located, click the "Uninstall" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Safari browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

Change your homepage:

changing homepage in safari browser

In the "Preferences" window, select the "General" tab. To set your homepage, type the preferred website URL (for example: www.google.com) in the Homepage field. You can also click the “Set to Current Page” button if you wish to set your homepage to the website you are currently visiting.

Change your default search engine:

changing the default Internet search engine in Safari browser

In the "Preferences" window, select the "Search" tab. Here you will find a drop-down menu labelled "Search engine:" Simply select your preferred search engine from the drop-down list.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove search-operator.com browser hijacker related Mozilla Firefox add-ons:

accessing mozilla firefox add-ons

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser. At the top right corner of the screen, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button. From the opened menu, choose "Add-ons".

removing malicious add-ons from mozilla firefox

Choose the "Extensions" tab and look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Remove" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Mozilla Firefox browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

Change your homepage:

changing mozilla firefox homepage

To change your homepage, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button and choose "Preferences" from the drop-down menu. To set your homepage, type the preferred website URL (for example: www.google.com) in the Homepage Page.

Change default search engine:

mozilla firefox about config

In the URL address bar, type "about:config" and click the "I'll be careful, I promise!" button.

changing mozilla firefox default Internet search engine

In the "Search:" field, type the name of the browser hijacker. Right click on each of the found preferences and click "Reset" from the drop-down menu.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Mozilla Firefox.

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove search-operator.com browser hijacker related Google Chrome add-ons:

removing malicious google chrome extensions step 1

Open Google Chrome and click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button located in the top-right corner of the browser window. From the drop-down menu, choose "More Tools" and select "Extensions".

removing malicious Google Chrome extensions step 2

In the "Extensions" window, look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Trash" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Google Chrome browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

Change your homepage:

changing Google Chrome homepage

Click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button and choose "Settings". In the "On Startup" section, click the "Set pages" link near to the "Open a specific page or set of pages" option. Remove the URL of the browser hijacker (for example trovi.com) and enter your preferred URL (for example, google.com).

Change default search engine:

changing the default Internet search engine in Google Chrome

Click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button and choose "Settings". In the "Search" section, click the "Manage search engines..." button. In the opened window, remove the unwanted Internet search engine by clicking the "X" button next to it. Select your preferred Internet search engine from the list and click the "Make default" button next to it.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
Search-operator.com browser hijacker QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Search-operator.com browser hijacker on your mobile device.
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Platform: macOS

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Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.