How to uninstall VirtualDeskSearch adware from your operating system?

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

How to remove VirtualDeskSearch adware from Mac?

What is VirtualDeskSearch?

VirtualDeskSearch is an adware-type application with browser hijacker traits. Following successful installation, this app runs intrusive advertisement campaigns and modifies browser settings - in order to promote illegitimate search engines. Most adwares and browser hijackers gather browsing-related data, it is highly likely that VirtualDeskSearch does so as well. Since most users download/install VirtualDeskSearch inadvertently, it is considered to be PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application). One of the dubious techniques used to distribute this application is through fake Adobe Flash Player updates. Users should note that illegitimate software updaters/installers also used to proliferate malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, etc.).

VirtualDeskSearch adware distributed via fake Flash Player updater/installer

Adware delivers pop-ups, banners, coupons, surveys and other intrusive advertisements. These ads seriously diminish the browsing experience, as they overlay page content and slow down the browsing speed. Upon being clicked, intrusive adverts redirect to various untrustworthy/rogue, deceptive/scam, compromised and malicious websites. Some of the advertisements can be triggered (by being clicked) to execute scripts, designed to stealthily download/install software (e.g. PUAs). Browser hijackers reassign browsers' homepage, default search engine and new tab/window URLs to the addresses of illegitimate web searchers. Hence, with such a piece of software installed: new browser tabs/windows opened and every single search query typed into the URL bar - redirect to the promoted address. Fake search engines are usually unable to generate search results, so they redirect (or cause redirection chains ending with) Yahoo, Google, Bing and other legitimate ones. Recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without first removing the software affecting it. Since any changes users attempt to make to their browsers can be automatically reset, if access to the browser's settings is permitted at all. Most PUAs (adware and browser hijackers included) have data tracking abilities. They can monitor browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries, etc.) and gather sensitive information inferred form it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). The collected data typically contains personally identifiable information. What is more, this information is often monetized by PUA developers - by being shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). To summarize, presence of unwanted apps on devices can lead to system infections, financial losses, serious privacy issues and even identity theft. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is strongly recommended to eliminate all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by VirtualDeskSearch
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Adload-AD [Trj]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Adware.MAC.Rload.5), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adload.), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Cimpli.k), Full List (VirusTotal)
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
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

LookWebResultsSearchMainInfoSkilledControl are a few examples of other adware-type apps. They appear legitimate and harmless. Users are enticed into download/installation with a wide variety of "useful" functionalities. However, despite how good these features may sound - they are rarely operational. This is true of practically all PUAs. The only goal of unwanted applications is to generate revenue for the developers; to users - they have no real value and instead can cause various issues. PUAs are designed to run intrusive advert campaigns, modify browsers, cause undesirable redirects and collect private data.

How did VirtualDeskSearch install on my computer?

PUAs can be downloaded/installed alongside other products. This false marketing technique of pre-packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". By rushing through download/installation processes (e.g. by ignoring terms, skipping steps and sections, etc.) - users risk unintentionally allowing dubious and/or bundled content into their devices. Select PUAs have "official" promotional webpages, from which they can be downloaded. Intrusive ads proliferate these applications as well. Once clicked on, they can execute scripts to download/install PUAs without user consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to always research software before download/installation. All downloads must be done from official and verified sources. Untrustworthy channels, like: unofficial and free file-hosting sites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders - commonly offer deceptive and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, and so on. Intrusive advertisements typically look ordinary and harmless, however they redirect to highly questionable websites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.). In case of encounters with such adverts/redirects, users must inspect the system and immediately remove all suspect applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins from it. If your computer is already infected with VirtualDeskSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

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

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.VirtualDeskSearch/VirtualDeskSearch
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.VirtualDeskSearchDaemon/VirtualDeskSearch
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.VirtualDeskSearch.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.VirtualDeskSearchDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote VirtualDeskSearch 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 VirtualDeskSearch (Step 1)

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

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote VirtualDeskSearch (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 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:

VirtualDeskSearch adware removal:

Remove VirtualDeskSearch-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 virtualdesksearch 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 VirtualDeskSearch removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by virtualdesksearch 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 virtualdesksearch 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 virtualdesksearch 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 VirtualDeskSearch 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 VirtualDeskSearch on your mobile device.
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