Browsing the internet is an integral part of every computer user’s daily routine and large chunk of this activity involves online searching. Because there are millions of users who utilizes search engine for their daily tasks, cyber criminals was able to exploit this to their own advantage.
For so many years, the internet is getting flooded with search engine hopefuls. Unfortunately, most of them were made to control browser application to accomplish illicit acts. One of these suspicious search engines is Search-operator.com. From the homepage design along, we can identify that it belongs to adware family that also developed Protectedsearches.com, Searchincognito.me, Safesearchprotect.com, and many more risky browser hijacker.
These illegal online workers are utilizing software bundling method as primary way to spread Search-operator.com. Actually, browser program called Extension is the sole culprit for the takeover on homepage and other vital section of internet application. By packing the Extension to hundreds of freeware, it is very possible for fraction of web users to acquire the malicious program. During the installation process, freeware never gives user any notices that it will load browser extension. Thus, Search-operator.com’s abrupt appearance is a shocker to most victims.
Search-operator.com remains a resident of homepage and new tab as long as relevant extension is present. Aside from these crucial pages, replacing default search engine with Search-operator.com is part of the unsolicited changes that annoys web user. Because of this bothersome misconduct of Search-operator.com, many users are rushing to eliminate it from the browser. However, the hijacker was designed to keep itself intact and this gives user difficulty in restoring own preferences.
Systematic way to remove Search-operator.com from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Edge is presented below. Proceed with the removal guide in exact order to make sure that no more remains of Search-operator.com are left on the computer.
Search-operator.com Removal Procedure for PC
Below is a systematic instruction that is very useful in getting rid of the potentially unwanted program (PUP) from compromised Windows computer. Aside from removing the malicious browser extension, this guide is also helpful in deleting internet hijacker and pop-ups.
In order to totally eliminate the threat, it is vital to follow the process in exact manner.
Quick Fix - Scan the PC with Combo Cleaner for Windows
Combo Cleaner is a trusted PC security and optimization tool equipped with powerful virus and malware detection engine. This program can get rid of browser hijacker like Search-operator.com through this procedure.
1. Download the application from the following page:
2. Save the file to your preferred location.
3. Double-click the downloaded file CCSetup.exe and install with the default settings.
4. At the end of the setup process, click Finish to run Combo Cleaner.
5. The tool will update the signature file, please wait for this process to complete.
6. To begin checking for threats like Search-operator.com, click on the Start Scan button. Wait for this scan to finish.
7. At the end of the scan process, click on Remove all threats to delete Search-operator.com hijacker including all malicious objects from the computer.
Free features of Combo Cleaner for Windows includes Disk Cleaner, Big Files finder, Duplicate files finder, and Uninstaller. To use antivirus, privacy scanner, and to delete identified threats, users have to upgrade to a premium version.
Please continue with the succeeding removal procedures if your are comfortable to manually get rid of the threat and malicious items linked with it.
Step 1 : Delete Search-operator.com Browser Extension
Most adware and unwanted programs are using a program called browser extension to be able to take over the settings of internet applications. Therefore, we highly recommend to check and remove the extension that is closely related to Search-operator.com.
Remove Search-operator.com Extension from Google Chrome
1. Open Google Chrome browser.
2. Type chrome://extensions/ in the address bar and press Enter on keyboard.
3. Find Search-operator.com or relevant entry and remove it from Google Chrome browser.
Uninstall Search-operator.com Extension from Mozilla Firefox
1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser.
2. Type about:addons in the address bar and press Enter on keyboard.
3. Choose Extensions on sidebar menu.
4. Look for object that is pertaining to Search-operator.com and remove it from the browser.
After deleting the malicious browser extension, it is expected that the hijacker is also gone from the homepage.
Remove Search-operator.com Add-ons from Internet Explorer and Edge Browser
1. Open Internet Explorer program.
2. Go to top Menu and click Tools. Then, select Manage Add-ons from the drop-down list.
3. Look for and Remove or Disable entries of Search-operator.com from Toolbars and Extension. Additionally, delete unwanted URL from Search Providers section.
4. Close the window and restart Internet Explorer.
If Search-operator.com is still present on the IE browser and there are still hijacker, redirects, and pop-ups, another option is to remove the adware from Windows Control Panel.
5. Press Windows Key + R and then, type appwiz.cpl command.
6. Program and Features window will open. Arrange the list in chronological manner with recently installed applications on top. To do this, click on 'Installed On' column.
7. Select Search-operator.com or recently installed unwanted entry. Then, click on Uninstall to remove it from Windows system.
Step 2 : Scan the computer with Sophos Antivirus
1. Download Sophos Virus Removal Tool from the link below. Save the file on your computer where you can easily access it.
2. Once the download completes, browse the location of the file. Double-click to run the program and begin the install process.
3. On first windows of installation wizard, click Next to continue. Then, it will display the program’s License Agreement. You need to Accept the terms in order to proceed. If Windows prompts for User Account Control, please click Yes to proceed.
4. On succeeding windows, click Next or Continue to carry on with the installation. After completing the installation process, Launch Sophos Virus Removal Tool.
5. Internet connection is required when running this scanner in order to download important updates. Make sure that everything is up-to-date to effectively remove malicious program like Search-operator.com.
6. Click the button to carry out the Scan. This will check the system for presence of malicious objects, malware, and viruses. The tool reveals items that were found linked to Search-operator.com and other suspicious entities. Be sure to remove all identified threats.
The above procedures should have totally eliminated the Search-operator.com browser hijacker. However, if you found that there are still remnants of the threat, please proceed to manual removal of associated objects as outlined below.
Step 3 : Scan and Delete Adware with AdwCleaner
In addition to the procedure, we suggest scanning the computer with AdwCleaner tool. Possibly, there are some traces of Search-operator.com on the browser that was not deleted during the preceding steps. This tool will scan the computer and check for presence of malicious applications as well as invalid browser entries that produces hijacking, redirects, and pop-ups.
1. Follow the link below to download the tool called AdwCleaner.
2. When the download has completed, please close all running programs on the computer especially browsers affected by Search-operator.com.
3. Browse the location of the downloaded file and double-click on adwcleaner_Ver.exe to start running the tool. Then, click on Scan button.
4. AdwCleaner searches the computer for malicious programs, extensions, plug-ins, adware, and any items that may be associated to Search-operator.com. It will also check for suspicious entries on browser settings that is associated with the hijacker.
5. Clean or Remove all suspicious and harmful items identified after the thorough scan.
6. After the cleanup procedure, rebooting the computer is required to finalize the removal of detected threats.
In addition to the procedures above, resetting the affected browser program and clearing the cache are extra methods to completely eliminate Search-operator.com. You can execute the guide on resetting internet browser below.
Procedures to Remove Search-operator.com from Mac
This section contains comprehensive guide for Mac users. It will help you remove the subject malicious browser extension from internet software. In the same manner, the procedure is helpful in stopping redirects, pop-ups, and browser hijacking activities.
Procedures on this page are written in a manner that can be easily understand and execute by Mac users.
Quick Fix - 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 extension like Search-operator.com that is responsible for displaying unknown homepage and pop-ups.
To quickly remove Search-operator.com without going through the complicated process, please click on the button to download the removal tool. You may need to purchase full version if you require to maximize its premium features.
Proceed with the rest of the removal steps if you are comfortable in manually removing malicious objects associated with the threat. The following guides are also vital in deleting malicious items from the browser configuration.
Step 1 : Delete Search-operator.com 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 Search-operator.com or any unwanted program.
4. Drag Search-operator.com to Trash Bin to delete the application from Mac.
5. Right-click on Trash icon and click on Empty Trash.
Step 2 : Remove Browser Extensions that belongs to Search-operator.com
1. Locate the add-on or extension that is relevant to the hijacker. To do this, please follow the following depending on affected browser.
Safari - Choose Preferences from the Safari menu, then click the Extensions icon. This will open a window showing all installed extensions.
Chrome - Select Preferences from the Chrome menu, and then click the Extensions link found on the left pane.
Firefox - Choose Add-ons from the Menu. Look at both the Extensions and Plug-ins lists when it opens a new window.
2. Once you have located Search-operator.com or any relevant item, click on Remove or Uninstall, to get rid of it.
3. Close the browser and proceed to the next steps.
Step 3 : Delete Malicious Files that have installed Search-operator.com
1. Select and copy the string below to your Clipboard by pressing Command + C on your keyboard.
2. Go to your Finder. From the menu bar please select Go > Go to Folder...
3. Press Command + V on your keyboard to paste the copied string. Press Return to go to the said folder.
4. You will now see a folder named LaunchAgents. Take note of the following files inside the folder:
The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. It is normally an unfamiliar file name such as the following:
On some occassions, the malware is represented by a domain name that is closely related to the subject. Like in this case, it can be Search-operator.com with associated .com, .net, .org, and so on .
If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing Search-operator.com to be present on your Mac. Arranging all items to see the most latest ones may also help you identify recently installed unfamiliar files. Please press Option + Command + 4 on your keyboard to arrange the application list in chronological order.
Important: Take note of all the suspicious files as you may also delete the same item on another folder as we go on.
5. Drag all suspicious files that you may find to Trash.
6. Please restart the computer.
7. Open another folder using the same method as above. Copy and Paste the following string to easily locate the folder.
8. Look for any suspicious items that are similar to the ones in Step 4. Drag them to the Trash.
9. Repeat the process on the following non-hidden folders (without ~):
Optional : For locked files that cannot be removed, do the following:
1. Go to Launchpad and open Activity Monitor (Under Utilities or Other Folder).
2. Select the process you want to quit.
3. Click on Force Quit button.
4. You may now delete or remove locked files that belongs to Search-operator.com browser extension or homepage hijacker.
Step 4 : Double-check with MBAM Tool for Mac
1. Download Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac from the link below.
2. Run Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac. It will check for updates and download if most recent version is available. This is necessary in finding recent malware threats including the Search-operator.com malware and browser hijacker and pop-up provider.
3. If it prompts to close all running web browser, please do so. Thus, we advise you to PRINT this guide for your reference before going offline.
4. Once it opens the user interface, please click on Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.
5. After the scan, Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac will display a list of identified threats, Search-operator.com is surely part of it. Be sure to select all items in the list. Then, click Remove button to clean the computer.
Step 5 : Delete Search-operator.com Login Items
Some browser hijacker may also install login item into compromised account under System Preferences. This object automatically runs Search-operator.com during user log in.
1. Go to Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
2. Select Users & Groups from the preferences window.
3. You may need to Unlock this area in order to make changes. Click on the Lock icon on lower left corner of the window.
4. Next, select user account that runs Search-operator.com.
5. Click on Login Items tab.
6. Select Search-operator.com, , or any suspicious entries from the list and click on the minus [-] button and confirm your actions. Please see image below for reference.
Optional : If unable to change browser settings, execute these steps:
Some user complains that there is no way to change browser settings because it is grayed out by Search-operator.com. In such situation, it is important to check if there is unwanted profile. Please do the following:
1. Quit any running applications and launch System Preferences from your Dock.
2. Under System Preferences, click Profiles.
3. Select , Search-operator.com or any relevant profile from the left pane. See image below.
4. At the bottom of this window, click minus [-] button to delete the account. Please refer to image above.
5. Close the Profiles window and open the affected browser to change all settings associated with Search-operator.com.
There's More... Reset Internet Browser Apps (PC and Mac)
Cleaning your internet browser from clutter and unwanted add-on/extension is a must when dealing with Search-operator.com. The procedure below discuss on resetting various browsers to its default state.
Restore Google Chrome to Default Settings
Resetting Google Chrome to default settings is helpful in deleting hard-to-remove extension such as from Search-operator.com. This method is highly advisable to perform if you have difficulty in removing unwanted extension.
1. Open Google Chrome Internet browser.
2. On the address bar, type chrome://settings/reset and press Enter key.
3. Under Reset and clean up section, choose Restore settings to their original defaults.
4. Click Reset settings button to clear all entries of Search-operator.com.
5. Close the existing tab and restart Google Chrome. That should have removed Search-operator.com extension and associated objects.
Reset Mozilla Firefox to Default
This section describes how to remove unwanted extension from Firefox that may be related to Search-operator.com. This process can fix many browser issues by restoring Firefox to factory settings without affecting your essential information (bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, and Internet cookies) on the browser. If you desire to remove only specific extension, please see manual removal of add-on from Firefox.
1. Input the string about:support on Firefox web address and press Enter on keyboard.
2. You will now see the Troubleshooting Information page of Mozilla Firefox.
3. You will notice a section on upper-right corner of the screen stating Give Firefox a tune up. Click the Refresh Firefox button.
4. If confirmation window appears, click Refresh Firefox to continue.
5. Firefox browser will close and start the resetting process. When done, it will display a list of restored data. Search-operator.com should be gone by now. Click Finish to open a fresh version of Firefox.
Restore Internet Explorer to Default Settings
1. Open Internet Explorer and navigate to top menu. Click Tools, and then Internet Options.
2. Select Advanced tab on Internet Options window.
3. On lower part of the window, under Reset Internet Explorer Settings area, click the Reset button. Please see image for reference. Your data like favorites, bookmark, and history will remain in the browser. However, this process may delete add-ons by Search-operator.com and other unknown objects. If you prefer to carry out the procedure manually, please add-on removal from Internet Explorer.
Clear the Safari Internet Browser (Mac)
1. Open your Safari browser application.
2. In the Safari menu, click on Preferences from the drop-down list.
3. On Preferences window, please select the Privacy tab.
4. Click on Manage Website Data button.
5. Select unwanted entry like Search-operator.com and click the Remove button. If you choose to Remove All, you may be logout from most visited websites and online services. Therefore, we advise to remove suspicious item one at a time to prevent changing behavior towards your favorite websites.
6. If it prompts, please confirm your actions.
7. Next, we will need to clear the Cache. Back at the Safari Preferences window, choose Advanced tab.
8. Navigate to the bottom and activate Show Develop menu in menu bar.
9. Go to Safari menu, choose on Develop from the drop down list and click on on Empty Caches.
10. Next thing to do is to restore the Homepage to your preference and remove the one from Search-operator.com.
11. Back at the Safari Preferences window, click on General tab.
12. Under Homepage section, type your desired URL to be the default start-up page.
13. Lastly, make sure to have the right Search Engine.
14. Go back to Safari Preferences window and click on Search tab.
15. Select your desired Search tool under the Search engine section.
16. You may not restart Safari browser.