How to get rid of CreativeSearch adware?

Also Known As: Ads by CreativeSearch
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

How to remove CreativeSearch from Mac?

What is CreativeSearch?

CreativeSearch is a potentially unwanted application (PUA) which is designed to operate not only as adware but also as a browser hijacker. It feeds users with various advertisements and changes browser's settings to that users would be forced to visit some fake search engine (its address). Also, CreativeSearch may designed to collect various information. It is categorized as PUA because users often download and install adware, browser hijackers unintentionally. Research shows that to distribute CreativeSearch developers use a deceptive Adobe Flash Player installer.

CreativeSearch adware

When apps like CreativeSearch are installed on a browser and/or computer, they feed users with coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups and/or other types of advertisements. It is common that they are designed to promote (open) questionable pages or even cause unwanted downloads and/or installations by executing certain scripts. Therefore, ads that appear because of some adware (in this case CreativeSearch) should not be clicked. Also, CreativeSearch is designed to promote some fake search engine by changing browser's settings. Typically, fake search engines are promoted by changing settings such as addresses of a default search engine, homepage and new tab so that users would visit them when they open a browser, new tab and enter search queries into URL bar. Such changes can be undone only when a browser hijacker or other app that made them (e.g., CreativeSearch) is no longer installed. Moreover, apps like CreativeSearch often are designed to collect browsing-related data. For example, addresses of visited websites, entered search queries, IP addresses, geolocations. However, both browser hijackers and adware-type apps can be designed to collect sensitive information as well. The major problem with it is that gathered data could misused to generate revenue by selling it to third parties (potentially cyber criminals) or in some other ways. It means that users may become victims of identity theft, experience issues related to online privacy, browsing safety and/or other problems.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by CreativeSearch
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Additional Information This application belongs to Adload malware family.
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
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There are many apps like CreativeSearch, a couple of examples are MajorPanelSearch, AdditionalChannelSearch and SearchToolHelper. Typically, they are useless and designed only to generate revenue for their developers by serving ads, promoting fake search engines and/or collecting various data. Although, quite often such apps are advertised as legitimate, useful. Apps like CreativeSearch should never be downloaded and/or installed, especially if they are distributed by using shady methods (e.g., through deceptive installers). Such installers can be designed to install malicious software like ransomware, some Trojan or other malware.

How did CreativeSearch install on my computer?

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the ways to unknowingly install CreativeSearch is through a deceptive Adobe Flash Player installer. Although, it is common that users download and/or install such apps together with other programs as well. To be more precise, when they are included in their setups as additional offers. In most cases such offers can be declined through setup's "Advanced", "Custom" or other settings. Although, not all users change those settings when they download and/or install programs. By leaving default settings unchanged users give included apps a permission to be downloaded and/or installed too. This distribution method of unwanted apps is known as "bundling". Also, in some cases such apps can be downloaded and/or installed by clicking deceptive ads. However, only when those ads are designed to execute certain scripts.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Programs (and files) should not be downloaded from unofficial websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders, free file hosting pages, etc. They should not be installed through third party installers as well. Quite often such channels are used to distribute various unwanted, sometimes even malicious applications. Software should be downloaded only from official pages and via direct links. Download and installation setups that contain settings like "Custom", "Advanced" should be checked for offers to download and/or install additional software. Such offers should be declined before finishing downloads and/or installations. Additionally, it is not safe to click intrusive ads that appear on questionable websites. It is because such ads can be designed to open untrustworthy pages or even download, install unwanted apps. If there are any suspicious, unwanted extensions, plug-ins and/or add-ons already installed on a browser or programs of this kind installed on the operating system, then they should be uninstalled as soon as possible. If your computer is already infected with CreativeSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Files related to the CreativeSearch adware that need to be removed:

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.CreativeSearch/CreativeSearch
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.CreativeSearchDaemon/CreativeSearch
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.CreativeSearch.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.CreativeSearchDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote the CreativeSearch 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"

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote CreativeSearch (Step 1)

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

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote CreativeSearch (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/adware.

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:

CreativeSearch adware removal:

Remove CreativeSearch-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 creativesearch 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 CreativeSearch removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by creativesearch 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 creativesearch 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 creativesearch 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 CreativeSearch 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 CreativeSearch on your mobile device.
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