HandlerSearch: Detection and Removal Guide (Mac)

Adware is not a necessary  new term, especially in the online world. It describes an ad-supported software that was made to take advantage of browser’s connection to the internet to serve as many advertisements as it can in the essence of generating online profit. One example of adware that exploits internet browser programs like Safari and Google Chrome is named HandlerSearch.

How does HandlerSearch infect the Mac computer?

Mac user may come into contact with HandlerSearch after downloading and installing maliciously modified freeware, shareware, or any third-party application where it is incorporated. This tactic aims to hide the installation of HandlerSearch during the setup process of the free software. It gains access with minimal to no effort using the carrier, while victims will surely find too much difficulty with the removal of this unwanted program.

Actually, Mac user can evade this intrusive penetrating ploy if they only take the extra steps in running the setup through Custom (Advanced) mode. Via this course, Mac users may be able to view the exact contents of the freeware and opt-out for the installation of HandlerSearch app or any inclusions that are not necessary because, aside from this adware, CentralDepart and DynamicPositive may also be part of the bundle. Sadly, nearly all computer users, both PC and Mac clients, are still attached to the traditional way of running the Default setup process, which is able to install all the extra inclusions.

Screenshot of HandlerSearch

Effects of installing HandlerSearch app

Right after Mac user accidentally mount HandlerSearch app on the browser program, it may never take a minute before witnessing various issues. The affected internet software may pop-up an alert stating that HandlerSearch app is trying to access confidential data stored on the browser. In addition, pop-up ads and redirects may start showing up on places where it block web user’s view. These overlaying ads are intentional in influencing Mac user to visit sites that are often involved in the marketing of bogus security applications, fake software updates, or unreliable optimization tools.

The worst part may come sooner if Mac users continue to ignore the presence of HandlerSearch app. By redirecting browser pages to drive-by-download sites and pages, malware infection is bound to happen, and it is executed without their approval. Therefore, avoiding this infection is just a matter of removing HandlerSearch app as early as possible.

Procedures to Remove HandlerSearch from Mac

This area contains comprehensive procedures to help you remove adware and potentially unwanted program from the computer. Guide on this page are written in a manner that can be easily understand and execute by Mac users.

Step 1 : - Scan the Mac Computer with Combo Cleaner

Combo Cleaner is a trusted Mac utility application with complete antivirus and optimization features. It is useful in dealing with adware, malware, and PUP's. Moreover, it can get rid of malicious browser hijacker like HandlerSearch.

1. Download the tool from the following page:

2. Double-click the downloaded file and proceed with the installation.

3. In the opened window, drag and drop the Combo Cleaner icon onto your Applications folder icon.

4. Open your Launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon.

5. Wait until antivirus downloads its latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing HandlerSearch.

Screenshot of Combo Cleaner Dashboard

To fully optimize the features of antivirus and privacy scanners, users may have to upgrade to the premium version.

Proceed with the rest of the removal steps if you are comfortable manually removing malicious objects associated with the threat.

Step 2 : Delete HandlerSearch from Mac Applications

1. Go to Finder.

2. On the menu, click Go and then, select Applications from the list to open Applications Folder.

3. Find HandlerSearch or any unwanted program.

Screenshot of Deleting App

4. Drag HandlerSearch to Trash Bin to delete the application from Mac.

5. Next, go to the Dock, right-click on the Trash icon, and click on Empty Trash.

Step 3 : Remove Browser Extensions that belongs to HandlerSearch

Most adware and unwanted programs use an application called a "browser extension" to be able to take over the settings of internet applications. Therefore, we highly recommend checking and removing the extension that is closely related to HandlerSearch. If it is not present, look for and delete any suspicious browser extension.

Google Chrome

Remove the HandlerSearch Extension from Google Chrome

1. Open the Google Chrome browser.

2. Input the strings below in the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard:

chrome://extensions/

Screenshot of Chrome Extensions in PC

3. Find HandlerSearch or a relevant entry and remove it from Google Chrome.

Safari

Remove Malicious Extension from Safari

1. Open the Safari browser.

2. On the top menu, click Safari > Settings or Preferences.

3. The Safari settings window will open. Please select the Extensions tab.

Screenshot of Safari Extension Removal

4. Locate the suspicious extension and click the Uninstall button to remove it from Safari.

5. You may now close the window and restart Safari.

Microsoft Edge

Remove HandlerSearch from Microsoft Edge Browser

1. Open the Microsoft Edge program.

2. Input or copy and paste the following string in the address bar. Press press Enter on the keyboard:

edge://extensions/

Screenshot of Edge Extension on Mac

3. Look for and Remove or Disable entries for HandlerSearch from the Installed Extensions area.

Screenshot of Edge Extension Removal - Mac

4. You may now close the window and restart the Microsoft Edge browser.

Mozilla Firefox

Uninstall the HandlerSearch Extension from Mozilla Firefox

1. Open the Mozilla Firefox browser.

2. Type or copy and paste the strings below in the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard:

about:addons

Screenshot of Firefox Extension

3. Click on Extensions from the sidebar menu.

4. Look for an entry that pertains to HandlerSearch and Disable or Remove it from the browser using the options button.

Step 4 : Delete Malicious Files that have installed HandlerSearch

1. Go to your Finder. From the menu bar, please select Go > Go to Folder.

2. Input the following string and press Enter on the keyboard.

~/Library/LaunchAgents

Screenshot of Go To Folder

3. You will now see a hidden folder named LaunchAgents. Take note of the following files inside the folder:

  • com.HandlerSearch.plist
  • unknown.service.plist
  • unknown.system.plist
  • unknown.download.plist
  • unknown.update.plist

4. The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. Attackers may use the following file names:

- HandlerSearch, (random characters).plist

If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing HandlerSearch to be present on your Mac. Arranging all items to see the latest ones may also help you identify recently installed unfamiliar files.

5. Please click on "Show items as..."

Screenshot of LaunhAgents Folder

6. To arrange the items in chronological order, click Date Modified.

7. Drag all suspicious files that you may find to Trash.

Important: Take note of all the suspicious files, as you may also delete the same item in another folder as we go on.

8. Please restart the Mac computer.

9. Open another folder using the same method as above. Copy and paste the following string to easily locate the folder:

~/Library/Application Support

Screenshot of Go to Folder

10. Select any suspicious items that you have noted previously. Drag them to the Trash.

11. Repeat the process in the following non-hidden folders (without ~):

/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons
/Library/Application Support

12. Lastly, go to your Finder > Go and open the Applications folder. Look for subfolders with the following names and drag them to Trash.

- HandlerSearch

Optional : For locked files that cannot be removed, do the following:

1. Go to Launchpad > Other folder, open the Activity Monitor.

2. Select the process you want to quit.

3. In the upper part of the window, click the Stop button.

Screenshot of Force Quit

4. Click on Force Quit button.

5. You may now delete or remove the locked file that belongs to HandlerSearch homepage hijacker.

Step 5 : Double-check with Malwarebytes for Mac

1. Download Malwarebytes for Mac from the link below.

2. Locate the downloaded Malwarebytes-Mac.pkg and install it with the default settings.

3. Run Malwarebytes for Mac. It will check for updates and download the most recent version if one is available. This is necessary for finding recent malware threats, including HandlerSearch.

4. Once you are on the Malwarebytes dashboard, please click on the Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes Dashboard

5. After the scan, Malwarebytes for Mac will display a list of identified threats, and HandlerSearch is surely part of it. Be sure to select all items in the list. Then, click the Remove button to clean the computer.

Step 6 : Fixing the Homepage and Search Engine

Google Chrome

Remove HandlerSearch from the Homepage and Search of Chrome

1. Open the Google Chrome browser and type the following on the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard:

chrome://settings

Screenshot of Chrome Settings

2. Go to the left sidebar and click On Startup.

3. Select "Open a specific page or set of pages" in the right panel.

Screenshot of Chrome Startup

4. Locate the unwanted Homepage URL, click on More Actions (3-dot icon), and select Edit.

5. Enter the desired web address as your home page, replacing HandlerSearch. Click Save.

6. To set the default search engine, go to the sidebar, and this time, select Search Engine.

Screenshot of Default Search

7. Click on the Manage search engines and site search button in the right panel.

8. Find the unwanted Search Engine in the list. Click on More Actions, and then click Delete.

9. Go back to the left side bar and click Search Engine.

Screenshot of Search Engine Address Bar

10. In the right panel, choose a valid entry from the "Search engine used in the address bar."

You can now restart the Google Chrome browser to see if the unwanted homepage and search engine related to HandlerSearch are gone.

Safari

Get Rid of HandlerSearch from Safari's Homepage and Search

1. Open your Safari browser.

2. Go to the Safari Menu located in the upper left-hand corner, and then select Settings or Preferences.

3. In the General tab, remove the HandlerSearch item or unwanted URL from the Homepage section. Replace it with your preferred URL to be set as your default homepage.

Screenshot of Safari Home Settings

4. Next, be sure that the "New windows open with" and "New tabs open with" fields are set to "Homepage".

5. Please click on the Search tab, and in the "Search engine" section, select Google or any valid search engine.

Screenshot of Safari Search Settings

6. You may now restart the Safari browser.

Microsoft Edge

Remove HandlerSearch from the Homepage of Edge Browser

1. Open the Microsoft Edge browser on your Mac computer.

2. In the address bar, type or copy and paste the string below, then press Enter on the keyboard:

edge://settings/startHomeNTP

Screenshot of Edge Homepage Settings on Mac

3. Go to the "When Edge Starts" area. Under the "Open these pages" section, click More Actions (3-dot).

4. Select Edit to open the Edit Page window.

5. Input your desired address to replace the homepage settings of HandlerSearch.

Screenshot of Edge for Mac Default Homepage

6. Click the Save button. You may now restart Microsoft Edge for Mac.

Mozilla Firefox

Delete HandlerSearch from the Homepage and Search of Firefox.

1. Open the Mozilla Firefox browser on your Mac computer.

2. Type the following on the address bar, then press Enter on the keyboard:

about:preferences

3. Click Home in the sidebar area.

Screenshot of Firefox Homepage Settings

4. Under "Homepage and new windows", you may choose Firefox Home (Default) or Custom URLs.

5. If you chose Custom URLs, input the desired URL to replace HandlerSearch settings.

6. To configure the default search engine, select Search in the sidebar to display the settings.

Screenshot of Firefox Search Settings

7. Under the Default Search Engine list, please select a legitimate one (i.e., Google).

8. Scroll down to "Search Shortcuts" and select an unwanted search engine.

Screenshot of Deleting Search

9. Click on the Remove button to delete the unwanted search engine. You may now restart the Mozilla Firefox for Mac.

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