Remove SmartSearchTool (Mac and PC)

This page contains description and procedures to remove SmartSearchTool. The contents includes Quick Fix for Mac, Mac Removal Guide, Homepage and Search Cleanup, and Removal Steps for PC.

SmartSearchTool browser extension is considered as potentially unwanted application (PUA). At the same time it is categorized as Adware due to its goal of generating revenue using its own ad scheme while exploiting the compromised internet browser. When SmartSearchTool is installed on the computer, users are going to see how dominating this adware is. It is invasive and take over the settings on homepage and search tool that will completely disrespect the choices of web user.

How SmartSearchTool infects the computer?

Just like any other PUA and Adware, this questionable browser extension is employing various schemes to make its way inside the computer. So far, below are the main methods that attackers are utilizing to break into the computer as well as internet application.

Malicious Software Bundles – This is the commonly used method to deploy malware. To deceive users, attackers are going to implant SmartSearchTool to a mixture of freeware, shareware, or even maliciously-modified popular applications. When web users downloads such software, SmartSearchTool gets installed discreetly without taking the permission from users.

Fake Software Update – A number of pop-up ads these days are purporting as system alert in order to persuade web users to download the recommended software update. It claims to have identified conflicts or security issues with obsolete program and the only way to resolve it is to download the proposed software update. Hence, instead of the enhancement app, this procedure will install SmartSearchTool or similar threats as Hyperlink Search, Cybersearch.xyz, and Spark Search.

Misleading Advertisements – Same with software update, this scheme is using deceitful tactics to influence web users to download the suggested program. The pop-up ad usually promotes SmartSearchTool extension that improves online browsing and searching experience of users. Once installed, users will start to experience annoying performances on the browser. Unfortunately, removing the newly added SmartSearchTool extension may be impossible due to permissions it has taken away from user.

Screenshot of SmartSearchTool Hijacker

Eliminating SmartSearchTool Extension

Because the presence of SmartSearchTool on the browser causes different issues especially on searching and browsing, users are left with no other option but to uninstall it. However, they will encounter different difficulties while disabling or removing SmartSearchTool from the browser. In this case, SmartSearchTool may have been manipulated the Manage by your Organization of Google Chrome settings to prevent removal. See the complete guide below for complete solution.

Procedures to Remove SmartSearchTool from Mac

This section contains comprehensive guide for Mac users. It will help you remove malicious browser hijacker from internet application.

Procedures on this page are written in a manner that can be easily understand and execute by Mac users.

Quick Fix - Scan the System 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 SmartSearchTool. 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 it's latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing SmartSearchTool.

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 SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool or any unwanted program.

Delete Unwanted App

4. Drag SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool

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 SmartSearchTool or any suspicious items, 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 SmartSearchTool

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:

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

The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. It is normally an unfamiliar file name such as the following:

- Smart Search Tool

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

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 SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool.

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, SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool. 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 SmartSearchTool 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.

Step 6 : Delete SmartSearchTool Login Items

Some browser hijacker may also install login item into compromised account under System Preferences. This object automatically runs SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool.

5. Click on Login Items tab.

6. Select SmartSearchTool or any suspicious entries from the list and click on the minus [-] button and confirm your actions. Please see image below for reference.

Login Items

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 SmartSearchTool. 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 , SmartSearchTool 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 SmartSearchTool.

SmartSearchTool Removal Procedure for PC

Below is a systematic instruction that is very useful in getting rid of the potentially unwanted program (PUP) from compromised computer.

In order to totally eliminate the threat, it is vital to follow the process in exact manner.

Quick Fix - Scan the computer with Sophos Virus Removal Tool

To remove SmartSearchTool automatically, scanning the computer with this powerful malware and virus removal app is recommended. This scanner does not just uncover known threats like viruses or malware, it is also effective in discovering browser hijacker like SmartSearchTool that slows down online browsing activities.

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.

Screnshot of Sophos Installer

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.

Screenshot of Sophos EULA Page

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 SmartSearchTool.

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 SmartSearchTool and other suspicious entities. Be sure to remove all identified threats.

Screenshot of Sophos Virus Scan

The above procedures should have totally eliminated the browser hijacker. However, if you still find that there are still remnants of SmartSearchTool on internet application, please proceed to manual removal of associated objects as outlined below.

Step 1 : Delete 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 SmartSearchTool.

Remove SmartSearchTool Extension from Google Chrome

1. Open Google Chrome browser.

2. Type chrome://extensions/ in the address bar and press Enter on keyboard.

Chrome URL

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

Uninstall SmartSearchTool Extension from Firefox

1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser.

2. Type about:addons in the address bar and press Enter on keyboard.

Firefox URL

3. Choose Extensions on sidebar menu.

4. Look for object that is pertaining to SmartSearchTool and remove it from the browser.

Remove SmartSearchTool 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.

Internet Explorer Add-ons

3. Look for and Remove or Disable entries of SmartSearchTool from Toolbars and Extension and Search Providers section.

4. Close the window and restart Internet Explorer.

If SmartSearchTool is still present on the IE browser, 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.

Add-Remove Malware

7. Select SmartSearchTool or recently installed unwanted entry. Then, click on Uninstall to remove it from Windows system.

Step 2 : 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 SmartSearchTool on the browser that was not deleted during the preceding steps. This tool will scan the computer and check for presence of malicious applications.

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 SmartSearchTool.

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.

AdwCleaner

4. AdwCleaner searches the computer for malicious programs, extensions, plug-ins, adware, and any items that may be associated to SmartSearchTool.

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.

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