How to remove the SkillFormat adware from the operating system?

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

How to remove SkillFormat from Mac?

What is SkillFormat?

SkillFormat generates advertisements and promotes a fake search engine (its address). It functions as adware and a browser hijacker. Additionally, it is possible that SkillFormat gathers information related to user's browsing habits and/or other data. This app is distributed via deceptive installer that is disguised as the installer for Adobe Flash Player. Typically, users download and install apps like SkillFormat inadvertently, for this reason they are called potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

SkillFormat adware

In most cases applications like SkillFormat serve coupons, banners, surveys, pop-up ads and/or ads of other types. It is common that when users click them, they open untrustworthy pages or even cause downloads and/or installations of unwanted applications. As mentioned in the introduction, SkillFormat promotes a fake search engine/functions as a browser hijacker. A typical browser hijacker does that by changing the address of a default search engine, homepage and new tab to an address of its fake search engine. In most cases such search engines do not generate any unique, individual results, or they generate results that may include links to shady pages. Furthermore, it is possible that SkillFormat collects various data related to user's browsing habits as well. For example, IP addresses, geolocations, entered search queries, addresses of visited websites. What is worse, it may be capable of accessing personal, sensitive details as well. There is always a possibility that developers of adware that is designed to gather certain information may sell gathered information to third parties (potentially cyber criminals) or misuse it to generate in other ways. Therefore, users who have such apps installed on their browsers and/or computers may become victims of identity theft, encounter problems related to browsing safety, online privacy, and/or other issues. These are the main reasons why apps like SkillFormat should never be trusted.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by SkillFormat
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Agent-MT [Trj]), AVG (MacOS:Agent-MT [Trj]), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adload.AE), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Cimpli.m), 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.

In conclusion, apps like SkillFormat generate revenue for their developers by serving advertisements, promoting certain addresses and/or collecting various data. Most of them are useless to their users even if they are advertised as useful, legitimate apps. A couple of examples of other apps that are similar to SkillFormat are SkilledObject, InitialSkill and CleanParameter.

How did SkillFormat install on my computer?

SkillFormat is distributed via fake installer that is designed to look like the installer for Adobe Flash Player. It is worthwhile to mention that in some cases deceptive installers like the one that is used to distribute SkillFormat can be designed to install malware (e.g., ransomware, Trojan-type malware). Also, it is common that adware and PUAs of other kind are distributed by integrating them in download and/or installation setups of other programs as extra offers. In such cases users download and/or install PUAs when they do not untick certain checkboxes or change "Advanced", "Custom", "Manual" or other settings that are available in download and/or installation setups. This distribution method for PUAs is known as "bundling". Additionally, unwanted downloads and/or installations can be caused by clicking deceptive advertisements: there are ads that, if clicked, execute certain scripts that are designed to start a download and/or installation process of some unwanted app.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is not recommended to use unofficial pages, Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders, or other sources of this kind to download any programs, files, or use third party installers to install software. The safest way to do that is by using official websites and direct download links. Also, it is advised to always check download and/or installation setups for checkboxes, "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings and see if they include offers to download and/or install unwanted software. Advertisements on questionable pages should not be clicked, they tend to be designed to open untrustworthy websites, in some cases they can be designed to cause downloads and/pr installations of unwanted apps. Therefore, those ads should not be clicked. Lastly, there should not be any unwanted, suspicious extensions, add-ons installed on a browser or programs of this kind installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with SkillFormat, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Deceptive installer that is used to distribute SkillFormat (first installation step):

skillformat adware installer step 1

Deceptive installer that is used to distribute SkillFormat (second installation step):

skillformat adware installer step 2

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

  • ~/Library/Application Support/.[random_string]/Services/com.SkillFormat.service.app
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.SkillFormat.service.plist
  • /Library/Application Support/.[random_string]/System/com.SkillFormat.system
  • /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.SkillFormat.system.plist

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 SkillFormat adware using Combo Cleaner:

SkillFormat adware removal:

Remove SkillFormat-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 skillformat 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 SkillFormat removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by skillformat 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 skillformat 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 skillformat 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.

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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.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
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 SkillFormat 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 SkillFormat on your mobile device.
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