The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker removal instructions
What is The PDF Tools Plus?
The PDF Tools Plus is a browser hijacker endorsed as a tool to convert document formats to PDF and vice versa. It operates by making certain alterations to browsers to promote thepdftoolssearch.net, a fake search engine. Furthermore, this app possess data tracking capabilities, which it employs to monitor users' browsing activity. Due to its dubious proliferation methods, The PDF Tools Plus is also categorized as a Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA).
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and other popular browsers are common targets of browser hijacker. After successful infiltration, these hijackers assign the addresses of their fake search engines as the default search engine, homepage, and new tab/window URL. These modifications may seem minor, and yet they significantly diminish the browsing experience. For example, with The PDF Tools Plus present, each new tab/window and each search query entered into the URL bar redirects to thepdftoolssearch.net. Rogue search engines do not generate unique results, or they are inaccurate and/or promote dubious/malicious websites. If they are unable to provide search results, they redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) a legitimate site. Note that thepdftoolssearch.net uses this model and simply redirects to search.yahoo.com. Furthermore, any changes users attempt to make to their browsers are automatically reset, if indeed access is allowed at all. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the hijacker to recover the compromised browser. The PDF Tools Plus can track data including browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries, etc.) and personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). This private data is then shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) intent on misusing it for profit. To summarize, the presence of data-tracking content on systems can result in financial loss, serious privacy issues and even identity theft. To protect device and user safety, remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.
|Name||The PDF Tools Plus|
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab.|
|Browser Extension(s)||The PDF Tools Plus|
|Supposed Functionality||It can supposedly convert files from/to PDF.|
|Serving IP Address (thepdftoolssearch.net)||18.104.22.168|
|Affected Browser Settings||Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine.|
|Symptoms||Manipulated internet browser settings (homepage, default internet search engine, new tab settings). Users are forced to visit the hijacker's website and search the internet using their search engines.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.|
|Damage||Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
NJoyMusic Search Plus, DIY Projects, and Download Party are some examples of other browser hijackers. In general, PUAs seem legitimate and lure users to install with offers of "useful" functions, however, these features are rarely operational (or do not work as advertised). The sole purpose of all unwanted content is to generate revenue for the developers at users' expense. PUAs modify browsers and promote fake search engines, cause redirects to untrustworthy and malicious sites, deliver intrusive ads (e.g. pop-ups, banners, coupons, etc.) and collect sensitive data.
How did The PDF Tools Plus install on my computer?
Some PUAs (including The PDF Tools Plus) have "official" download pages. They also proliferate via download/install set-ups of other programs. This deceptive marketing method of pre-packing normal software with unwanted or malicious content is called "bundling". By rushing through download/install processes (e.g. ignoring terms, using pre-set options, skipping steps and sections, etc.), many users risk inadvertently allowing bundled apps onto their systems. Once an intrusive advertisement is clicked, it can execute scripts to stealthily download/install PUAs.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications
You are advised to research all content, before downloading/installing. All downloads should be performed via official and verified channels. Do not use free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.), third party downloaders or other untrustworthy download sources - they can offer bundled software. When downloading/installing, read the terms, explore all available settings and opt-out of supplementary apps, tools, features and so on. Intrusive ads often seem legitimate and harmless, however, they can redirect to highly dubious web pages (e.g. gambling, adult-dating, pornography and others). If you encounter these ads/redirects, inspect the system and immediately remove all suspect applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with The PDF Tools Plus, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker asking for various permissions on Google Chrome:
The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker asking for various permissions on Mozilla Firefox:
Website promoting The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker:
Appearance of The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker (thepdftoolssearch.net redirect) GIF:
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is The PDF Tools Plus?
- STEP 1. Uninstall The PDF Tools Plus application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove thepdftoolssearch.net redirect from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 4. Remove thepdftoolssearch.net homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 5. Remove thepdftoolssearch.net redirect from Safari.
- STEP 6. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker removal:
Windows 7 users:
Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.
Windows XP users:
Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.
Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:
Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.
Mac OSX users:
Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.
In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "The PDF Tools Plus"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications that cause browser redirects to the thepdftoolssearch.net website, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
The PDF Tools Plus browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove hxxp://thepdftoolssearch.net and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you launch Internet Explorer. You can also enter about: blank to open a blank page when you start Internet Explorer.
Change your default search engine:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". In the opened window, select "Search Providers", set "Google", "Bing", or any other preferred search engine as your default and then remove "The PDF Tools Plus".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the thepdftoolssearch.net redirect, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.
Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.
In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.
Click the Reset button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "The PDF Tools Plus" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.
Change your homepage:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "The PDF Tools Plus", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.thepdftoolssearch.net) below the “Open a specific or set of pages” option. If present, click on the three vertical dots icon and select “Remove”.
Change your default search engine:
To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings", in the "Search engine" section, click "Manage search engines...", in the opened list look for "thepdftoolssearch.net", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the thepdftoolssearch.net redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "The PDF Tools Plus", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.
Change your homepage:
To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "The PDF Tools Plus", remove hxxp://thepdftoolssearch.net and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.
Change your default search engine:
In the URL address bar, type about:config and press Enter.
Click "I'll be careful, I promise!".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled"
Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the button.
Computer users who have problems with thepdftoolssearch.net redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.
Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...
In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.
In the preferences window select General tab and make sure that your homepage is set to a preferred URL, if its altered by a browser hijacker - change it.
In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate any recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.
Change your homepage and new tab settings:
Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section look for the name of the browser hijacker and click "Disable".
Change your default Internet search engine:
To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Privacy and services", scroll to bottom of the page and select "Address bar". In the "Search engines used in address bar" section look for the name of the unwanted Internet search engine, when located click the "Disable" button near it. Alternatively you can click on "Manage search engines", in the opened menu look for unwanted Internet search engine. Click on the puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the thepdftoolssearch.net redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
A browser hijacker is a type of adware infection that modifies Internet browser settings by assigning the homepage and default Internet search engine settings to some other (unwanted) website URL. Commonly, this type of adware infiltrates operating systems through free software downloads. If your download is managed by a download client, ensure that you decline offers to install advertised toolbars or applications that seek to change your homepage and default Internet search engine settings.
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove thepdftoolssearch.net redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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