Remove SearchForWords – Mac Adware

Presented on this page is a description for SearchForWords adware. Useful Quick Fix, effective Removal Guide, and Homepage and Search Cleanup are also included.

SearchForWords is a malicious browser extension that predominantly occupies internet software running on Mac OS environment. This unwanted program is connected to several online suspicious activities including redirection of browser to unwanted web pages. The abrupt take over on search settings and its unwanted redirect to Yahoo instead of the default search engine is also caused by the contamination of SearchForWords adware.

How SearchForWords enters the browser program?

Attackers behind the malicious browser extension are delivering the code to random Mac user via web-based channel. They are utilizing various freeware, shareware, or third party applications as the carrier of SearchForWords and these bundled apps are intended to attack popular browser programs as Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. Links for the exact location of these malicious software packages are then posted on several forums, file-sharing websites, and misleading pop-ups. Web users are easily persuaded to visit the links and download the recommended apps as attackers are enclosing it with attractive contents.

As soon as user runs the setup process of the downloaded freeware, SearchForWords also installs but behind user’s knowledge. This is one intrusive method that majority of adware makers are using because it freely loads the malicious code on target internet software without being detected by user or security applications.

In some cases, SearchForWords was able to penetrate Mac computer directly from malicious ad campaign in forms of pop-up or redirects. The common way to get web user’s attention is by masquerading as system alert that supposedly found issues on the computer caused by an obsolete application (see image below). This fake pop-up warning suggests downloading the software update to fix the issue urgently. Unfortunately, instead of the software update file, it is going to drop SearchForWords or alternative malware like ValidBoost, WebSearchUpgrade, and so on.

Screenshot of SearchForWords carrier

SearchForWords Detection and Removal

Most instances of malware infection are concealed and there is very little chance of detecting it without scanning the computer with security application. For this particular threat, built-in security features of MacOS may pop-up an alert “SearchForWords Daemon will damage you computer” as soon as it identifies the malicious process. Seeing unwelcome changes on settings of homepage and search tool is another sign of SearchForWords infection that is quite noticeable.

As soon as there is a symptom of malware infection, Mac user should deal with it in full urgency. For this reason, we are providing simple yet effective ways to remove SearchForWords from the computer along with efficient anti-virus and anti-malware tools.

Procedures to Remove SearchForWords 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 SearchForWords. You may need to purchase full version if you require 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 antivirus downloads its latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing SearchForWords.

Combo Cleaner Scanner

6. 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 in manually removing malicious objects associated with the threat.

Step 1 : Delete SearchForWords 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 SearchForWords or any unwanted program.

Delete Unwanted App

4. Drag SearchForWords 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 SearchForWords

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 SearchForWords, 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 SearchForWords

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.SearchForWords
  • 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:

- SearchForWords Daemon

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

- SearchForWords Daemon

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 SearchForWords 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 if most recent version is available. This is necessary in finding recent malware threats including SearchForWords.

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.

MBAM for Mac

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

Step 5 : Remove SearchForWords from Homepage and Search

Safari

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

Google Chrome

- Open Chrome browser.
- Type the following on the address bar and press Enter on keyboard : chrome://settings/
- Look for 'On Startup' area.
- Select 'Open a specific page or set of pages'.
- Click on More Actions and select Edit.
- Enter the desired web address as your home page, replacing SearchForWords. Click Save.
- To set default search engine, go to Search Engine area.
- Click on 'Manage search engines...' button.
- Go to questionable Search Engine. Click on More Actions and Click 'Remove from list'.
- Go back to Search Engine area and choose valid entry 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
- On Startup area, select 'Show your home page' under 'When Firefox starts' field.
- Under Home Page field, type the desired URL to replace SearchForWords settings.
- To configure default search engine, select Search on left sidebar to display settings.
- Under Default Search Engine list, please select one.
- On the same page, you have an option to Remove unwanted search engine.

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 SearchForWords. 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 SearchForWords or any relevant profile from the left pane. See image below.

Remove Profile

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 SearchForWords.

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