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How to remove Image Search adware and the advertisements it delivers?

Also Known As: Ads by Image Search
Type: Adware
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

Image Search adware removal instructions

What is Image Search?

Image Search is a piece of rogue software, endorsed as a tool for easy access to image databases. To elaborate, this product allows users to search for images on Unsplash, Creative Commons, Pinterest, Pexels, and PixaBay - by highlighting text on any website and opening the right-click menu. However, Image Search also delivers misleading/malicious ads and collects browsing-related information. Due to this behavior, this tool is classified as adware. Since most users install Image Search inadvertently, it is categorized as a PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application) as well.

Website used to promote the Image Search adware

Adware enables the placement of third-party graphical content - typically, on any visited site. It delivers various pop-ups, banners, coupons, surveys, full-page, and other intrusive advertisements. They seriously diminish the browsing experience by slowing down the browsing speed and overlaying webpages. Additionally, these adverts pose a threat to device/user safety. Once clicked on, intrusive ads redirect to questionable/dangerous websites and some can stealthily download/install software (e.g., PUAs).

PUAs are commonly proliferated via intrusive advertisements. These apps can have heinous functionalities, and these functions can be in different combinations. Unwanted applications can force-open untrustworthy/malicious pages, run intrusive advert campaigns, and/or hijack browsers. The latter are called browser hijackers; they operate by making modifications to browser settings and restricting/denying access to them - in order to promote fake search engines. The promoted web searchers seldom can provide search results, so they redirect to Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other legitimate search engines.

Furthermore, most PUAs (regardless of other abilities) can track data; Image Search also has such a functionality. Information of interest includes: URLs visited, webpages viewed, search queries typed, IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable details. What is more, the collected data is then monetized by being shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, unwanted software can cause system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and result in identity theft. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by Image Search
Threat Type Adware, Unwanted ads, Pop-up Virus
Browser Extension(s) Image Search
Supposed Functionality Easy access to image databases.
Symptoms Seeing advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing. Intrusive pop-up ads. Decreased Internet browsing speed.
Distribution Methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.
Damage Decreased computer performance, browser tracking - privacy issues, possible additional malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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SystemMonitorOneUpdaterChrome Tools, and History Wipe Clean are a few examples of software within the adware classification. It usually appears legitimate and offers "handy" features. However, the functionalities rarely work as promised, and in most cases - they do not work at all. In fact, this is true of nearly all PUAs. The only aim of unwanted apps is to generate profit for the developers. Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can deliver intrusive ad campaigns, cause redirects, hijack browsers, and collect private information.

How did Image Search install on my computer?

Select PUAs (e.g., Image Search) have "official" promotional sites, from which they can be downloaded. These applications can also be downloaded/installed together with other products. This false marketing method of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is termed "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g., ignored terms, used pre-set options, etc.) increase the risk of unintentionally allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the ads can execute scripts to download/install software without user permission.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is important to research products prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, all downloads must be done from official and verified sources. Since dubious download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - often offer harmful and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive adverts appear ordinary; however, they redirect to highly unreliable and questionable webpages (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so on). In case of encounters with such ads and/or redirects, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it. If your computer is already infected with Image Search, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this adware.

Screenshot of Image Search adware asking to be permitted to track data:

Image Search adware asking for permissions

Screenshot of Image Search adware's promised feature (easy access to image databases) in use:

Image Search adware promised functionality

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Quick menu:

Image Search adware 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.

Image Search adware uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for "Image Search", select this entry and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application (which causes Image Search ads), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove Image Search adware from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing Image Search  ads from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "Image Search", select this entry and click the trash can icon.

Removing Image Search ads from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by image search, 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 Image Search ads from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click "Extensions", in the opened window, remove "Image Search".

Removing Image Search ads from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with ads by image search 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 adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

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

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

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 adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by image search, 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 Image Search ads from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for "Image Search", select this entry and click "Remove".

Removing Image Search ads from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by image search, 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 adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove ads by image search from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
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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.

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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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
Ads by Image Search 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 Image Search on your mobile device.
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