How to remove the MovieSearchTool browser hijacker?

Also Known As: moviesearchtool.com redirect
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker removal instructions

What is MovieSearchTool?

MovieSearchTool is a dubious piece of software classified as a browser hijacker. It promotes the moviesearchtool.com fake search engine by making alterations to browser settings. Additionally, most browser hijackers have data tracking abilities that are used to spy on users' browsing habits. Due to the questionable techniques employed in MovieSearchTool's distribution, it is also deemed to be a PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application).

moviesearchtool.com browser hijacker

Browser hijackers mainly target popular browsers with large user bases. This software operates by assigning fake web searcher addresses (e.g., moviesearchtool.com) as browsers' homepage, default search engine, and new tab/window URLs. Therefore, with a browser hijacker installed: every new browser tab/window opening and search query typed into the URL bar - redirect to the promoted search engine's address. In case of MovieSearchTool, the previously mentioned actions redirect to moviesearchtool.com.

Illegitimate web searchers are rarely able to generate search results, so they tend to redirect or cause redirection chains leading to Yahoo, Bing, Google, and other genuine search engines. Moviesearchtool.com is not an exception to this; however, where it redirects to - depends on users' geolocations. The web searcher has been observed redirecting to the Yahoo (search.yahoo.com) search engine. Alternatively, moviesearchtool.com has been noted redirecting to searchlee.com. The latter is also a fake search engine, though it can provide search results. Yet the results it delivers - promote untrustworthy/malicious websites and have various advertisements injected into them.

Browser hijackers ensure persistence by restricting/denying access to browser settings. If the access remains unrestricted, then any changes users attempt to make can be automatically reset. Therefore, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it.

Furthermore, most browser hijackers can track data; MovieSearchTool likely has such abilities as well. Information of interest includes: visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, IP addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable details. The gathered data is then shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, data-tracking software can cause severe privacy issues, financial losses, and lead to identity theft. To ensure device integrity and user safety, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name MovieSearchTool
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab
Browser Extension(s) MovieSearchTool
Promoted URL moviesearchtool.com
Serving IP Address (moviesearchtool.com) 172.67.133.69
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)

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DigitalIncognitoSearch, My Smartlink, and Santa APP are a couple examples of browser hijackers. They appear ordinary and harmless. Users are enticed into download/installation with a broad range of "handy" features. However, the advertised functionalities are usually nonoperational. This applies to practically all PUAs. The only goal of unwanted apps is to generate profit for the developers; hence, functionality and device/user safety are irrelevant. PUAs are designed to modify browsers, cause redirects, deliver intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and collect sensitive data.

How did MovieSearchTool install on my computer?

PUAs are spread via download/installation setups of other software. This deceptive marketing tactic of packing regular products with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed downloads/installations (e.g., ignored terms, skipped steps and sections, used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of unintentionally allowing bundled content into the device. Intrusive adverts are used to proliferate PUAs as well. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to stealthily download/install these applications without user permission. PUAs may also have "official" download webpages.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research products to verify their legitimacy prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Furthermore, all downloads must be done from official and trustworthy sources. Dubious download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting (freeware) websites, P2P sharing networks (Torrent clients, eMule, Gnutella, etc.), and other third-party downloaders - often offer bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, explore available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, functions, and other additions. It is just as important to exercise caution when browsing. Intrusive advertisements appear ordinary and innocuous; however, they redirect to various questionable sites (e.g., adult-dating, pornography, gambling, etc.). In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this type, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it without delay. If your computer is already infected with MovieSearchTool, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker asking for various permissions:

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker asking for permissions

Appearance of moviesearchtool.com redirecting to the genuine Yahoo search engine (GIF):

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker redirecting to Yahoo (GIF)

Appearance of moviesearchtool.com redirecting to the fake searchlee.com search engine (GIF):

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker redirecting to searchlee.com (GIF)

Websites promoting the MovieSearchTool browser hijacker;

IMPORTANT NOTE! Some of these deceptive sites ask to enable web browser notifications:

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker promoting website (Firefox) MovieSearchTool browser hijacker promoting website (Chrome)

Therefore, before commencing, perform these steps:

Google Chrome (PC):

  • Click the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen
  • Select "Settings", scroll down to the bottom and click "Advanced"
  • Scroll down to the "Privacy and security" section, select "Content settings" and then "Notifications"
  • Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL and click "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)

Disable pop-up' notifications in Google Chrome web browser

Google Chrome (Android):

  • Click on the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen and click "Settings"
  • Scroll down, click on "Site settings" and then "Notifications"
  • In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs and click on them one-by-one
  • Select "Notifications" in the "Permissions" section and set the toggle button to "OFF"

Disable pop-up' notifications in Android Google Chrome web browser

Mozilla Firefox:

  • Click the Menu button (three bars) on the right upper corner of the screen
  • Select "Options" and click on "Privacy & Security" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen
  • Scroll down to the "Permissions" section and click the "Settings" button next to "Notifications"
  • In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs, click the drop-down menu and select "Block"

Disable pop-up' notifications in Mozilla Firefox web browser

Internet Explorer:

  • Click the Gear button on the right upper corner of the IE window
  • Select "Internet options"
  • Select the "Privacy" tab and click "Settings" under "Pop-up Blocker" section
  • Select suspicious URLs under and remove them one by one by clicking the "Remove" button

Disable pop-up' notifications in Internet Explorer web browser

Microsoft Edge:

  • Click the menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the Edge window and select "Settings"
  • Click on "Site permissions" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen and select "Notifications"
  • Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL under "Allow" section and click "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)

Disable pop-up notifications in Microsoft Edge web browser

Safari (Mac):

  • Click "Safari" button on the left upper corner of the screen and select "Preferences..."
  • Select the "Websites" tab and then select "Notifications" section on the left pane
  • Check for suspicious URLs and apply the "Deny" option for each

Disable pop-up' notifications in Safari web browser

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Quick menu:

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker removal:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

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:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

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:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

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.

moviesearchtool.com browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "MovieSearchTool"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the moviesearchtool.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

MovieSearchTool browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing moviesearchtool.com related Google Chrome extensions

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "MovieSearchTool" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing moviesearchtool.com from Google Chrome homepage

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "MovieSearchTool", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.moviesearchtool.com) 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:

Removing moviesearchtool.com from Google Chrome default search engine

To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon Google 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 "moviesearchtool.com", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the moviesearchtool.com redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google 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.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing moviesearchtool.com related Mozilla Firefox extensions

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "MovieSearchTool", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.

Change your homepage:

Removing moviesearchtool.com from Mozilla Firefox homepage

To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "MovieSearchTool", remove hxxp://moviesearchtool.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing moviesearchtool.com from Mozilla Firefox 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 Mozilla Firefox switch about:config entry button button.

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with moviesearchtool.com redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...

removing browser hijacker from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 3 - changing homepage

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.

removing browser hijackers from safari step 4 - changing the default Internet search engine

In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) 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:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 2

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) 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:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 3

To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) 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 Microsoft Edge (Chromium) puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the moviesearchtool.com redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

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.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing moviesearchtool.com related Internet Explorer extensions

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options 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:

Removing moviesearchtool.com from Internet Explorer homepage

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove hxxp://moviesearchtool.com 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:

Removing moviesearchtool.com from Internet Explorer default search engine

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options 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 "MovieSearchTool".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the moviesearchtool.com 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.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

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.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Summary:

declining installation of browser hijackers while downloading free software sampleA 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.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove moviesearchtool.com redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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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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Software uninstall instructions
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
moviesearchtool.com redirect 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 moviesearchtool.com redirect on your mobile device.
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