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How to Remove Browser Hijackers From Mac?

A browser hijacker, which is often a result of downloading free software online or intrusive ads, is a frustrating piece of malware. They’re not like typical malware in that, usually, they’re not as malicious (though they can be). But rather, they’re incredibly annoying as they get in the way of normal activities.


How to know if I have a browser hijacker?


You will know if you’re infected with a browser hijacker because you will be constantly redirected to ad-filled sites, particularly with a search engine. You may receive lots and lots of pop-up ads, and get a general feeling of more spam than usual. But, some other symptoms are that your browser settings have been altered – your homepage, default search engine, and even 3rd party extensions being installed against your consent.

Furthermore, every malware is different, so the symptoms can change. If your mac is freezing a lot, slowed down recently, or randomly turns itself off then it’s worth testing the machine to see if it has malware of any sort – browser hijacker or otherwise. To do this, it’s best to run an anti-virus software check on the machine.

How worried should you be?

When you realize you have a browser hijacker, there should be no waiting around in your attempt to remove it. They collect your browser activities, which could include sensitive personal information. Beyond collecting data, they can download other extensions without you knowing. So many, many different parties may be getting free reign on all of your web browsing activity, not to mention how much this slows down your browsing experience. So, whilst many people merely experience them as a nuisance, our most private of data could be breached.


Removing a Browser Hijacker


Below are the four steps to take when dealing with a browser hijacker. There are also some other manual steps that are optional to take in the event you remain infected. But for now, these are the key four steps to removing a browser hijacker.

Step 1: Anti-virus software

First and foremost, you can do the most damage (to the hijacker) in the least amount of time and effort with the help of anti-virus software. Such anti-virus software can automate the scanning of files, finding where the hijacker has intruded and cleared it out. It may not be perfect, but it’s a great place to start.

When using anti-virus software, it’s important to ensure you’re using a highly rated and credible one. Often, scams and malware try to infect a machine by somewhat ironically hiding in plain site and pretending to be anti-virus software. So, never opportunistically see and use one when presented to you – research one that you want to use and download it on your own accord.

Step 2: Check Login items and activity monitor

Your next step is to try and identify the malware in different places. A lot of malware will want to be in effect each time you turn on the Mac, therefore will be activated under the Login startup items. To check, head to System Preferences, Users & Groups, click on your profile then select the Login Items tab. From here, find the name of unfamiliar items and deactivate them by using the minus button. Plus, the more login items you have active, the slower the mac will turn on each time.

Similarly, open the Activity Monitor by going to the Applications folder and then clicking Utilities. From here, the Activity Monitor will show a list of background processes. You can find the names of suspicious programs and force quit them.

You can search for these programs elsewhere on the Mac to properly uninstall them. A good place to look is in both the Applications and Downloads folders. Upon finding them, move to Trash and then clear out the Trash after.

Step 3: Check auto-launch files

Open Spotlight and type in the following locations:

  • /Library/LaunchAgents/
  • /Library/LaunchDaemons/
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

Remove any suspicious files you find here. The anti-virus software may have dealt with these already.

Step 4: Browser settings and extensions

Finally, it’s time to sort out the crux of the problem: the browser. With all browsers that you use, you need to remove suspicious extensions and restore your settings. If you’re unsure of any extension that you see installed, simply Google it on another device to find out more about it. It’s worth removing any extension that you have suspicions about. Plus, having as few extensions as possible is always good practice as this helps keep page loading speeds down to a minimum.

Next up is to check your browser settings and see if they are altered. So for Safari, head to Preferences, General, and check the homepage is fine. Under the search tab, check if the default search engine is fine (i.e. Google or one that you specifically chose before). Under the extensions tab, remove suspicious extensions. Do the same with Chrome, Firefox, and any other browsers you have installed. 

About the author

Atish Ranjan

Atish Ranjan is an established and independent voice dedicated to providing you unique, well researched and original information from the field of technology, SEO, social media, and blogging.

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