How to remove privatesearches.org from the settings of a web browser
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is privatesearches.org?
We have tested privatesearches.org and found that it is a shady search engine that can show misleading results. Our team has discovered privatesearches.org after installing a fake Google Docs application downloaded from a deceptive page.
The fake Google Docs app promotes privatesearches.org by hijacking a web browser. Also, it adds the "Managed by your organization" feature to Chrome browsers.
More about privatesearches.org and the app promoting it
Results generated by privatesearches.org can include shady advertisements and links to potentially malicious pages. Privatesearches.org may promote various scams, untrustworthy applications, deceptive websites, etc. Thus, it is highly advisable not to trust search results from privatesearches.org.
The fake Google Docs application hijacks a web browser by making privatesearches.org the default search engine, homepage, and new tab page. Also, it prevents users from removing privatesearches.org from the settings of a hijacked browser. Thus, privatesearches.org cannot be removed without removing the fake Google Docs app.
In addition to showing unreliable results, privatesearches.org may track users. It may collect browsing-related data that its developers could sell to third parties or misuse in other ways.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||A fake Google Docs appication|
|Supposed Functionality||Improved browsing experience|
|Affected Browser Settings||Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine|
|Detection Names (Installer)||Arcabit (Adware.Agent.YPK), Combo Cleaner (Adware.Agent.YPK), Emsisoft (Adware.Agent.YPK (B)), G-Data (Adware.Agent.YPK), Panda (Trj/Agent), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Detection Names (privatesearches.org)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Related Domains||searchesmia.com - used in a redirect chain which leads to privatesearches.org|
|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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Browser hijackers in general
Browser-hijacking applications promote fake or shady search engines. These search engines can show results generated by legitimate or untrustworthy search engines or generate results that can include untrustworthy websites. Typically, users download and add browser hijackers to browsers inadvertently.
More examples of apps designed to hijack web browsers are Clean Notifications, Whiteboard New Tab, and Cities HD Backgrounds in Your New Tab.
How did privatesearches.org promoting software install on my computer?
The app promoting privatesearches.org is distributed via a deceptive installer. That installer is promoted on a deceptive page. A browser becomes hijacked after downloading a fake installer and finishing the installation. A screenshot of a deceptive page promoting privatesearches.org/fake Google Docs app is provided below.
Also, browser hijackers can be found in freeware installers. Users cause unexpected installations when they finish installation processes without deselecting included browser hijackers. Typically, installers containing browser hijackers or other unwanted apps have "Advanced", "Custom", or similar settings or ticked checkboxes mentioning additional installations.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
Do not trust advertisements on questionable, suspicious websites or allow such pages to show notifications. Download all apps from legitimate pages and stores. Avoid downloads from unofficial pages, third-party downloaders (and stores), P2P networks, etc.
Deselect unwanted applications (change "Advanced", "Custom", or similar settings in downloaders and installers) before downloading and installing software. If your computer is already infected with browser hijackers, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.
Appearance of privatesearches.org displaying its results (GIF):
Deceptive page promoting a fake installer used to distribute a fake Google Docs app:
Appearance of the fake Google Docs extension which promotes the privatesearches.org website:
Appearance of searchesmia.com redirecting users to privatesearches.org:
Instant automatic 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 malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is privatesearches.org?
- STEP 1. Uninstall unwanted applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove privatesearches.org browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove privatesearches.org homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove privatesearches.org redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
privatesearches.org redirect removal:
Windows 11 users:
Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.
Windows 10 users:
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:
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:
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.
In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the privatesearches.org website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
privatesearches.org redirect removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More Tools" and click "Extensions". Locate a fake "Google "Docs" app and other recently-installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable the malicious extension (if present), look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.privatesearches.org) 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:
To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the 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 "privatesearches.org", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Delete".
- If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the privatesearches.org redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the 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.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons and themes". Click "Extensions", in the opened window locate all recently-installed suspicious extensions, click on the three dots and then click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Settings", in the opened window disable malicious extension (if present), remove hxxp://privatesearches.org and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.
Change your default search engine:
In the URL address bar, type "about:config" and press Enter. Click "Accept the Risk and Continue".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled". Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the button.
Computer users who have problems with privatesearches.org redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.
Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...
In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.
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.
In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge 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:
Click the Edge 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:
To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge 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 near it and select "Disable".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the privatesearches.org redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
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.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
A 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users visit privatesearches.org website?
Fake search engines like privatesearches.org are more profitable for their developers when they have more users.
Is visiting privatesearches.org a threat to my privacy?
Privatesearches.org can lead to untrustworthy pages and track users. Thus, using it to browse the web can cause issues related to online privacy.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
The fake Google Docs app is distributed via a fake installer (that installer is promoted on an untrustworthy page). In other cases, browser-hijacking apps are distributed via software bundles (mostly via freeware installers), notifications from dubious pages, and shady advertisements.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove a browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner will remove any browser hijacker from your computer. It is important to mention that some browser hijackers can be designed to reinstall one another. Thus, if multiple browser hijackers are present, it may be required to remove all of them at once. It can be difficult to achieve it manually. Combo Cleaner removes unwanted apps automatically.
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