Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is PrintOnKey?
According to developers, the PrintOnKey application enhances the online shopping experience by displaying relevant and interesting ads in new tab mode using your browsing data. This added functionality can tricks some users into believing that PrintOnKey is a legitimate and valid browser extension.
PrintOnKey, however, is categorized as adware and a potentially unwanted program (PUP). It is mostly distributed using a deceptive software marketing method called 'bundling', which allows developers to install their applications together with regular software.
Many users do not pay enough attention when downloading free software, and therefore, this method is extremely effective. PrintOnKey adware installs on the Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox browsers, and then randomly places intrusive online adverts on visited webpages.
The developers employ a 'virtual layer', which allows display of third party graphical content on any website. Furthermore, some advertisements are displayed in new browser tabs or windows. Generated advertisements such as inline text, coupons, banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, transitional, etc. might redirect to bogus websites.
They are likely to redirect to commercial websites (such as online stores), however, they may also lead to sites containing infectious content. Clicking them can lead to adware or malware-type computer infections.
Most users are unaware that adware-type applications track their Internet browsing activity and collect various user/system information. Commonly, adware Privacy Policies state that these apps do not collect information containing personally identifiable details, however, the statements are false.
Research shows that adware applications usually track language settings, geographic locations, Internet protocol (IP) addresses, websites visited, pages viewed, search queries, passwords saved in the browser, cache, cookies, web beacons, browsing history, and even mouse and keyboard inputs.
This type of information will contain personally identifiable details such as bank account information. This information is shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who use it to generate revenue. Therefore, information tracking can result in serious privacy issues or even identity theft.
Adware-type applications such as PrintOnKey should never, under any circumstances, be installed on your system.
PrintOnKey is a version of previously-discovered PUPs named dotdo and FlashBeat. There are hundreds of applications similar to this adware including WordShark, Wordinator, Jungle Net, and WebSpeed.
These apps offer features to supposedly improve the Internet browsing experience (for example, increase Internet connection speeds, providing discounts when shopping online, safer Internet browsing, word translation, etc.), however, this is merely an attempt for these bogus apps to appear legitimate and useful.
Apps such as PrintOnKey attempt to trick users to install so that they may display ads and collect various information - the developers are paid for displayed ads (pay-per-click) and recorded information (which is later shared with third parties). Rogue applications provide no real value to the user.
Popular freeware download websites (such as downloads.com, softonic.com, and soft32.com) encourage the use of 'download tools', which supposedly 'ease' the download process. These, however, are simply used to monetize website traffic and free services by offering installation of third party apps (such as PrintOnKey) with regular software.
The programs offered are described as 'genuine and virus-free', and yet, these claims are false - applications distributed using the bundling method are often categorized as adware or malware and should be never be accepted. If you have inadvertently installed PrintOnKey, the following instructions will guide you through removal of this adware.
How did PrintOnKey install on my computer?
PrintOnKey is distributed with additional software. Users commonly install this app without their consent. Installation of adware is often concealed within the 'Custom' or 'Advanced' download/installation section, which is skipped by many users. Download clients and installers neglect to properly disclose installation of additional programs, and therefore, lack of attention during this process is the main reason for inadvertent installation.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
Be attentive when downloading free software - never skip any steps and do not rush the procedure. If possible, download software from official websites only, or at least use direct download links rather than download clients when downloading from freeware download websites.
Also, installation should be performed with the 'Custom' or 'Advanced' options, since installing software exposes your computer to risk of infection.
Deceptive free software installers used in PrintOnKey adware distribution:
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 PrintOnKey?
- STEP 1. Uninstall PrintOnKey application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove PrintOnKey adware from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove PrintOnKey ads from Google Chrome.
- STEP 4. Remove 'Ads by PrintOnKey' from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 5. Remove PrintOnKey ads from Safari.
- STEP 6. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
PrintOnKey adware 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 "PrintOnKey", select this entry and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted program that causes PrintOnKey ads, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Remove PrintOnKey adware from Internet browsers:
At time of research, PrintOnKey did not install its browser plug-ins on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox, however, it was bundled with other adware. Therefore, you are advised to remove all potentially unwanted browser add-ons from your Internet browsers.
Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by printonkey, 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.
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.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.
In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.
Click the Reset button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, select these entries and click the trash can icon.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by printonkey, 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 plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click "Extensions", in the opened window, remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.
Computer users who have problems with ads by printonkey 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, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....
In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.
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 upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by printonkey, 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.
Commonly, 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.
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