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How to remove the SearchForWords adware?

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

How to remove SearchForWords from Mac?

What is SearchForWords?

Typically, adware is designed to generate unwanted advertisements. Also, it can be designed to hijack browsers by changing their settings. It is known that SearchForWords displays ads and changes settings. Therefore, this app is categorized both as adware and a browser hijacker. It is noteworthy that apps of this type tend to be designed to gather browsing data or other details. Another important detail about SearchForWords is that the installer for this app is designed to look like an installer for the Adobe Flash Player. In other words, SearchForWords is distributed using a fake installer. Typically, users download and install such apps unknowingly. Apps that users download, install unintentionally are called potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

SearchForWords adware

Adware-type applications like SearchForWords generate various coupons, pop-up ads, banners, surveys, and other unwanted, often annoying advertisements. It is common that they are used to advertise questionable websites (e.g., scam pages, download pages for various PUAs). In some cases, ads displayed by adware can be used to distribute PUAs by designing those ads to be capable of running certain scripts. In such cases, those ads cause unwanted downloads, installations when users click on them. Furthermore, it is known that SearchForWords changes browser settings to promote a fake search engine (its address). It hijacks a web browser by changing the address of a default search engine, homepage, and new tab to an address of a fake search engine. SearchForWords forces its users to visit a certain address. It is important to mention that most fake search engines show results generated by some legitimate search engine (or a questionable one) or generate results that may promote shady websites and contain unwanted advertisements. For this reason, it is never safe to use fake search engines. Typically, users can remove the address of a fake search engine from the settings of a hijacked browser only after uninstalling the app that has hijacked it (in this case, SearchForWords).

It is likely that SearchForWords gathers browsing-related data, for example, entered search queries, addresses of visited websites, geolocations, Internet Protocol addresses. It is important to mention that there are many adware-type applications that can read sensitive data, such as credit card details, saved passwords, or other personal information. It is important because collected information could be misused to steal identities, personal online accounts, make unauthorized purchases, transactions, or misused for other malicious purposes. Therefore, it is recommended not to download and install apps like SearchForWords.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by SearchForWords
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
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

It is common that applications like SearchForWords are advertised as useful, legitimate. However, most of them are completely useless. Moreover, users who have apps of this type installed on browsers, computers are likely to encounter problems related to online privacy, browsing safety, or other issues like monetary loss, identity theft, etc. Therefore, it is strongly recommended not to trust apps like SearchForWords. More examples of apps similar to SearchForWords are PublicConsoleSearch, WebSearchUpgrade, and GlobalSearchSystem.

How did SearchForWords install on my computer?

Individuals behind SearchForWords distribute this app using a fake installer masquerading as the installer for Adobe Flash Player. It is important to mention that fake installers can be and often are used to trick users into installing malicious programs, for example, ransomware, Trojans. It is also common that adware-type apps and other PUAs are distributed via downloaders, installers for other, mainly free programs. Quite often, those apps are bundled with other programs (included as extra offers). Users can decline offers to download or install PUAs by unticking certain checkboxes or via "Custom", "Advanced", "Manual", or other settings. Nevertheless, not all users check and change the aforementioned settings or untick checkboxes. In such cases, they allow for PUAs to be downloaded or installed alongside programs they are bundled with. Sometimes users cause unwanted downloads and installations by clicking on deceptive advertisements designed to run certain scripts.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Applications should be downloaded from reliable, official pages (or platforms like App Store) and via direct download links. It is not recommended to use other sources for downloading files, applications. For example, various Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), unofficial websites, third-party downloaders. Also, it is advisable to check downloaders (and installers) should be checked for bundled applications. Typically, such apps can be opted out using their "Custom", "Advanced", "Manual", or other settings. One more way to avoid unwanted downloads, installations is by not clicking on ads if they appear on shady websites. It is common that those ads are designed to advertise potentially malicious pages. In some cases, they can cause unwanted downloads, installations. Unwanted, unknown apps (add-ons, plug-ins, or extensions) installed on a browser and programs of this kind installed on the operating system should be removed. If your computer is already infected with SearchForWords, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

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

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.SearchForWords/SearchForWords
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.SearchForWordsDaemon/SearchForWords
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.SearchForWords.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.SearchForWordsDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote the SearchForWords website 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 SearchForWords (Step 1)

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

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote SearchForWords (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:

SearchForWords adware removal:

Remove SearchForWords-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 searchforwords 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 SearchForWords removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by searchforwords 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 searchforwords 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 searchforwords 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.

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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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 SearchForWords 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 SearchForWords on your mobile device.
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