How to uninstall KeyWordsSearch adware

Also Known As: Ads by KeyWordsSearch
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

How to remove KeyWordsSearch from Mac computers

What is KeyWordsSearch?

KeyWordsSearch is a potentially unwanted application (PUA) and part of the AdLoad adware family. Like most applications of this type, KeyWordsSearch is designed to display intrusive advertisements. Research shows that this app also promotes a fake search engine and might collect data. Therefore, it operates not only as adware but also as a browser hijacker. KeyWordsSearch is distributed through fake Adobe Flash Player installers. Users tend to download and install software like KeyWordsSearch inadvertently.

KeyWordsSearch adware

Typically, installed adware displays various advertisements such as coupons, banners, surveys, pop-up ads, etc. When clicked, these usually open untrusted pages or cause download/installation of unwanted, potentially malicious applications. As mentioned, KeyWordsSearch hijacks browsers by making changes to their settings. I.e., it promotes a fake search engine by assigning its URL as the address of the default search engine, homepage, and new tab. PUAs prevent users from removing the addresses of fake search engines from the aforementioned settings. The only solution is to uninstall the app (in this case, KeyWordsSearch) that appointed it. Never use fake search engines, since most do not generate unique results and can provide misleading information. Furthermore, KeyWordsSearch might gather browsing data (IP addresses, entered search queries, addresses of opened pages, geolocations, and so on). These apps often collect sensitive information. Developers misuse the data to generate revenue by selling it to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals), who then misuse it in other ways. Adware can be the reason behind identity theft, financial loss, problems with browsing safety, privacy, and other issues. Therefore, remove any installed adware (including KeyWordsSearch) from the browser and operating system immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by KeyWordsSearch
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus.
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Adload-M [Trj]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Adware.MAC.Adload.4), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adload.AE), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Cimpli.k), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Your Mac becomes slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you are redirected to dubious websites.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.
Damage Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites, loss of private information.
Malware Removal (Mac)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner for Mac
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

KeyWordsSearch is very similar to ExploreSearchResults, MajorChannelSearch, SmartWebSearch and other adware-type applications. In most cases, software of this type serves intrusive, deceptive advertisements and tracks information. Developers advertise adware as legitimate, useful software, however, these applications do not operate as promised or deliver any valid features - they simply cause problems.

How did KeyWordsSearch install on my computer?

KeyWordsSearch is often installed through a fake Adobe Flash Player installer, however, there are a number of other ways that these apps are installed. Developers include PUAs into the download/installation set-ups of other software. In most cases, offers to download or install potentially unwanted apps can be found in "Advanced", "Custom" and other similar settings, however, many people fail to check or change these settings. By leaving the default settings, they often grant PUAs permission to be downloaded and installed together with the required software. Additionally, PUAs are installed through deceptive ads that run certain scripts (this happens only when users click the ads).

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Do not download any programs or files through third party software downloaders/installers, untrusted websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), or other such tools/sources. Files and software should be downloaded from official websites and via direct download links. Check "Custom", "Advanced" and other settings of this kind. Dismiss offers to download or install unwanted software. Intrusive advertisements that are displayed on dubious websites (e.g., relating to gambling, pornography, adult dating) can open potentially malicious websites or cause unwanted downloads and installations. Therefore, it is not safe to click such advertisements. Remove any unwanted, suspicious extensions, plug-ins and add-ons already installed on the browser immediately. Also remove software of this kind that is installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with KeyWordsSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Files related to KeyWordsSearch adware that need to be removed:

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.KeyWordsSearch/KeyWordsSearch
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.KeyWordsSearchDaemon/KeyWordsSearch
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.KeyWordsSearch.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.KeyWordsSearchDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote KeyWordsSearch adware are designed to create a new device profile. Therefore, before taking any further removal steps, perform these actions:

1) Click the "Preferences" icon in the menu bar and select "Profiles".

KeyWordsSearch preferences step 1

2) Select the "KeyWordsSearch" profile and delete it.

KeyWordsSearch preferences step 2

3) Perform a full system scan with Combo Cleaner anti-virus suite.

After performing these actions, you can proceed with further removal steps for this browser hijacker.

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: 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 Mac malware. 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. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

KeyWordsSearch adware removal:

Remove KeyWordsSearch-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 ads by keywordssearch 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.

Ads by KeyWordsSearch removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by keywordssearch 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.

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

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove ads by keywordssearch 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.

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

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove ads by keywordssearch 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.

  • 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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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Ads by KeyWordsSearch 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 Ads by KeyWordsSearch on your mobile device.
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