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How to remove the Dictionary Search browser hijacker?

Also Known As: Dictionary Search redirect
Damage level: Medium

What is Dictionary Search?

Dictionary Search is a browser hijacker endorsed as an easy access tool to online dictionaries. Typically, software within this category makes alterations to browser settings in order to promote fake search engines.

In some cases, Dictionary Search modifies browsers to promote togosearching.com, and in others - it does not. Additionally, Dictionary Search spies on users' browsing habits.

Due to the dubious techniques used to distribute browser hijackers, they are also classified as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).

Dictionary Search browser hijacker asking permission to track data

Dictionary Search browser hijacker in detail

Browser hijackers assign fake web searcher addresses as browsers' homage, default search engine, and new tab/window URLs. Hence, with such a piece of software installed: new browser tabs/windows opened and web searches done via the URL bar - redirect to the promoted search engine (e.g., togosearching.com). Dictionary Search does not always operate in this manner.

Illegitimate web searchers usually cannot provide search results, so they redirect to or cause redirection chains ending with Bing, Yahoo, Google, and other genuine search engines. This also applies to the web searcher promoted by Dictionary Search. Togosearching.com causes a redirect chain consisting of my-search.com, a random website, and concluding with the Bing (bing.com) search engine.

Furthermore, browser hijackers can restrict/deny access to the browser settings and/or undo any changes users try to make to their browsers. Therefore, restoring an affected browser is impossible without removing the software hijacking it.

Dictionary Search also has data tracking abilities, which is a standard functionality of browser hijackers. They record browsing activity (URLs visited, webpages viewed, search queries typed, etc.) and collect vulnerable information extracted from it (IP addresses/ geolocations, personally identifiable details, etc.).

Browser hijacker developers monetize the collected data by sharing it with and/or selling it to third-parties, likewise intent on misusing it for profit. To summarize, the presence of data-tracking software on devices can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

It is crucial to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection - to ensure device integrity and user privacy.

Threat Summary:
Name Dictionary Search
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab
Browser Extension(s) Dictionary Search
Supposed Functionality Easy access to online dictionaries
Promoted URL togosearching.com
Detection Names Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address (togosearching.com) 104.24.118.208
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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Browser hijackers in general

PDFConverterSearchMediaFreeIncognitoSearch, and Movie Quick Tab are a few examples of browser hijackers. They appear legitimate and innocuous.

Browser hijackers also offer a wide variety of "useful" and "advantageous" functions. However, despite how good the advertised features may sound - they are rarely operational.

Functionality and user safety are irrelevant for practically all PUAs. These applications only aim to generate revenue for the developers; they have no real value to users.

Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can hijack browsers, cause redirects, run intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and gather private information.

How did Dictionary Search install on my computer?

Some PUAs (e.g., Dictionary Search) have "official" promotional/download sites.

These applications are most commonly downloaded/installed together with other software. The false marketing method of packing regular programs with unwanted or malicious additions - is termed "bundling".

Rushed download/installation processes (e.g., ignored terms, skipped steps, used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of unintentionally allowing bundled content into the system.

Intrusive adverts are used to spread PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the advertisements can execute scripts to download/install this software stealthily.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research products before download/installation and/or purchase. All downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Untrustworthy download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - often offer bundled and/or hazardous content.

When downloading/installing, it is important to read terms, explore possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, features, and so forth.

Intrusive adverts appear ordinary and harmless; however, they redirect highly questionable sites (e.g., gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.).

In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this type, the system must be checked and all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it without delay. If your computer is already infected with Dictionary Search, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

Website promoting Dictionary Search browser hijacker:

Website used to promote Dictionary Search browser hijacker

Appearance of togosearching.com redirecting (via my-search.com and a random website) to the Bing search engine (GIF):

Dictionary Search browser hijacker causing a redirection chain (togosearching.com, my-search.com, and a random site) leading to Bing (GIF)

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Quick menu:

Dictionary Search browser hijacker removal:

Windows 10 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.

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.

macOS (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.

togosearching.com browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

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

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

Dictionary Search browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing togosearching.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 "Dictionary Search" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing togosearching.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 "Dictionary Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.togosearching.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 togosearching.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 "togosearching.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 dictionary search 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 togosearching.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 "Dictionary Search", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.

Change your homepage:

Removing togosearching.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 "Dictionary Search", remove hxxp://togosearching.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing togosearching.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 dictionary search 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 dictionary search 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 togosearching.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 togosearching.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://togosearching.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 togosearching.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 "Dictionary Search".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the dictionary search 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 dictionary search 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.

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.

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