Remove PixelPanel – Mac Adware

A supposedly enhanced tool called PixelPanel is available for Mac OS internet browser apps. However, there are rumors that this dubious app was added to the list of potentially unwanted applications (PUA) because its creators used a number of deceptive strategies to get Mac users to install it.

Distribution methods of PixelPanel adware

The main method used by the individuals behind PixelPanel to spread this malicious browser extension is through various freebies. PixelPanel is packed with free software and hosted on a number of file servers that Mac users frequently access in order to successfully compromise a Mac computer. In most cases, PixelPanel is combined with free creativity suites, media players, internet speed boosters, utilities, download managers, and other free software. This is how attackers know how to draw in potential victims. Until now, this software bundling strategy has been quite effective both in influencing web users and in secretly installing PixelPanel on Mac customers’ computers.

Malicious advertisements that Mac users may occasionally notice while browsing the internet make up the second part of their unexpected plan to spread over the internet. It is a very deceptive advertisement since it frequently displays incorrect information, such as a message informing site users that their version of Adobe Flash Player is out of date and a new one is needed. Because the page was skillfully designed to look like an official Adobe statement, regular Mac users may never be skeptical of this bogus alert. View an example image below.

Screenshot of PixelPanel

PixelPanel is a search hijacker

Users of Mac computers may notice strange browser changes right away when PixelPanel has successfully invaded the computer. Because of this malware, the search results will be directed to unwanted pages by the compromised browser rather than providing accurate results. Unfortunately, there is no meaningful search result, and the website is instead crammed with questionable ads and paid links that frequently infect computers with further adware.

Removing PixelPanel initially is the best way to recover the afflicted internet browser program, whether it is Safari, Google Chrome, or Firefox. Then, as advised in the removal guide, scan the computer with powerful anti-virus and anti-malware software.

Procedures to Remove PixelPanel 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.

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 adware like PixelPanel. You may need to purchase the full version if you want to maximize its premium features.

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.

Install Combo Cleaner

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

5. Wait until your antivirus downloads its latest virus definition updates.

6. Next, click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing PixelPanel.

Combo Cleaner Scanner

7. Free features of Combo Cleaner include Disk Cleaner, Big Files finder, Duplicate files finder, and Uninstaller. To use antivirus and privacy scanner, users have to upgrade to a premium version.

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

Step 1 : Delete PixelPanel 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 PixelPanel or any unwanted program or suspicious item. It could be in disguise as a different file.

Delete Unwanted App

4. Drag PixelPanel 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 PixelPanel

1. Locate the add-on or extension that is relevant to the adware. 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 PixelPanel, 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 PixelPanel

1. Select and copy the string below to your Clipboard by pressing Command + C on your keyboard.

~/Library/LaunchAgents

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.

Command + V

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

  • com.PixelPanel
  • unknown.download.plist
  • unknown.ltvbit.plist
  • unknown.update.plist

The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. Attackers may masks the actual name with following:

- PixelPanel

If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing PixelPanel 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.

Option+Command+4

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.

~/Library/Application Support

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 ~):

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

10. Lastly, go to your Finder and open the Applications Folder. Look for subfolders with the following names and drag them to Trash.

- PixelPanel

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

1. Go to Launchpad, Utilities folder, open Activity Monitor.

2. Select the process you want to quit.

Force Quit Apps

3. Click on Force Quit button.

4. You may now delete or remove locked files that belongs to PixelPanel adware.

Step 4 : Double-check with MBAM Tool for Mac

1. Download Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac from this link:

2. Run Malwarebytes Anti-malware 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 PixelPanel.

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 the Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.

MBAM for Mac

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

Step 5 : Remove PixelPanel from Homepage and Search

Safari

- Open your Safari browser.
- Go to the Safari Menu located in the upper left-hand corner, and then select Preferences.
- Under the General tab, navigate to the Default Search Engine section and select Google or any valid search engine.
- Next, be sure that the "New Windows Open With" field is set to Homepage.
- Lastly, remove PixelPanel from the Homepage field. Replace it with your preferred URL to be set as your default homepage.

Google Chrome

- Open the Google Chrome browser.
- Input the following on the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard : chrome://settings/
- Look for 'On Startup' area on the sidebar.
- Select 'Open a specific page or set of pages'.
- Choose the unwanted homepage, and click on Ellipses (three dots) and select Edit.
- Enter the desired web address as your homepage, replacing the PixelPanel setting. Click Save.
- To set the default search engine, go to the Search Engine area from the sidebar link.
- Click on 'Manage search engines...' button.
- Select the questionable Search Engine and click on Ellipses (three dots). ClickDelete. to remove it from the list.
- Go back to the Search Engine area and choose a valid entry (i.e., Google) from 'Search engine used in the address bar'.

Mozilla Firefox

- Run Mozilla Firefox browser.
- Type the following on the address bar and hit Enter on keyboard : about:preferences
- Click Home on the sidebar area.
- Under "New Windows and Tabs", you may choose Firefox Home (Default) or Custom URLs. - Input the desired URL to replace PixelPanel settings if you chose Custom URLs.
- To configure default search engine, select Search on the sidebar to display the settings.
- Under the Default Search Engine list, please select one (i.e., Google).
- On the same page, you have the option to Remove unwanted search engines.

Optional : If you are unable to change browser settings, execute these steps:

Some users complain that there is no way to change browser settings because they are grayed out by PixelPanel. In such a situation, it is important to check if there is an 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 PixelPanel or any relevant profile from the left pane. See the image below.

Remove Profile

4. At the bottom of this window, click the minus [-] button to delete the account. Please refer to the image above.

5. Close the Profiles window and open the affected browser to change all settings associated with PixelPanel.

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