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How to remove the CharacterSearch unwanted application?

Also Known As: Ads by CharacterSearch
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What is CharacterSearch?

Adware is a type of software that generates advertisements. It is uncommon for software of this type to be downloaded and installed knowingly. There are certain deceptive techniques to trick users into downloading or installing adware. It is known that CharacterSearch is distributed a fake Adobe Flash Player installer.

CharacterSearch adware

CharacterSearch adware in detail

The CharacterSearch app functions as adware, browser hijacker and likely a data collector. As mentioned in the introduction, users rarely download and install adware intentionally. Therefore, CharacterSearch and other apps of this type are called potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

Usually, adware-type apps generate banners, coupons, pop-up ads, display surveys, etc. In one way or another, it is common for ads displayed by adware to be used to promote questionable websites. In some cases, those advertisements can be used to distribute other PUAs by designing them to run certain scripts (cause downloads, installations). For this reason, it is recommended not to click ads that CharacterSearch or any other adware displays.

Also, CharacterSearch changes the address of a default search engine, homepage and new tab in the settings of a browser that has this app installed on it. CharacterSearch hijacks a browser to promote a fake search engine - it forces users to use a certain fake search engine while they browse the web. Typically, fake search engines provide results generated by Yahoo, Google, or other legitimate search engines. However, they can generate misleading results (e.g.m promote potentially malicious websites) as well.

Additionally, it is possible that CharacterSearch collects browsing-related information such as IP addresses, geolocations, entered search queries, visited addresses, etc. Also, it is possible that this app collects personal information that could be used to steal online accounts, commit identity fraud, make fraudulent transactions. It is known that there are many adware-type apps that can read passwords, credit card details, names, surnames, etc.

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

More adware examples

There is a great number of apps like CharacterSearch. Some examples are DefaultUpgrade, LocalTech, and FileDisplay. Typically, their main purpose is to generate annoying advertisements on websites. However, they often have additional functionalities - they hijack browsers by changing their settings and collect various information. In one way or another, it is strongly recommended not to download and install apps like CharacterSearch (adware, browser hijackers).

How did CharacterSearch install on my computer?

It is known that CharacterSearch is distributed using a fake installer that is designed to look like the installer for the Adobe Flash Player. It is important to know that fake/third-party installers can be used to trick users into installing malicious programs (e.g., ransomware, trojans). Therefore, it is strongly recommended not to use them to install any software.

Another popular way to distribute PUAs is to bundle them together with other programs. Users download and install potentially unwanted applications when they do not change certain settings. Typically, downloaders and installers that include additional offers have "Manual", "Advanced", "Custom", or other settings, or ticked checkboxes that can be used to decline those offers. This distribution method is called "bundling".

In some cases, potentially unwanted apps are distributed through advertisements. Users cause unwanted, unexpected downloads, installations by clicking those ads. It is important to mention that most of those ads appear only on untrustworthy websites.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Third-party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), questionable, unofficial pages, and other similar tools, channels should not be used to download or install the software. Quite often, these channels are used as tools to distribute various PUAs or even malicious programs. The safest way to download software (and files) is by using official websites and direct links.

Furthermore, downloaders and installers with "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings, o ticked checkboxes should be checked for unwanted offers. It should be done before finishing downloads, installations. Typically, the aforementioned settings can be used to opt out unwanted apps.

Intrusive advertisements appearing on untrustworthy pages should not be clicked. It is common that those ads are used to promote untrustworthy, potentially malicious pages, or they can cause unwanted downloads, installations. Any suspicious, unwanted, or unknown extensions, plug-ins, and add-ons installed on a browser should be removed.

Programs of this kind installed on the operating system should be uninstalled as well. If your computer is already infected with CharacterSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

List of CharacterSearch's files that need to be removed:

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.CharacterSearch/CharacterSearch
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.CharacterSearchDaemon/CharacterSearch
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.CharacterSearch.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.CharacterSearchDaemon.plist

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

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

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote CharacterSearch (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/browser hijacker.

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 CharacterSearch adware using Combo Cleaner:

CharacterSearch adware removal:

Remove CharacterSearch-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 charactersearch 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 CharacterSearch removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by charactersearch 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 charactersearch 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 charactersearch 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.

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