How to remove SearchServiceHelper from Mac

Mac users who read this page will have an idea how dangerous it is to install the SearchServiceHelper application. Therefore, we encourage immediate removal of the said threat by following the sections below like Quick Fix to get rid of the threat, Removal Steps, as well as Homepage and Search Cleanup.

SearchServiceHelper is a suspicious browser extension that is targeting Mac users. It often gets inside the computer via discreet methods that do not require authorization. For instance, it is embedded to the freeware so that when Mac user installs this app, the SearchServiceHelper gets loaded simultaneously. Once inside, it aims to control the internet browser application, particularly Google Chrome. Certain modifications are carried out that manifest changes of operation on the homepage and search engine.

SearchServiceHelper is a PUA

The main spreader of this unknown program is a supposed software update that suddenly pop-ups on the computer. In reality, the pop-up is an online ad that mimics a system alert for the corresponding application. It the image below, it pretends to be an update for Adobe Flash. The window is persuading web users to download the supposed update in order to have better security and privacy controls. Proceeding with this update may download the legitimate program but with an embedded SearchServiceHelper in it. So, it basically installs two separate applications in one setup process. Aside from the mentioned threat, this malicious software bundling scheme could also inject similar PUA as UpgradeActivity, AccessibilityMethod, SmartResultsNavigation, and many more.

Another means to deploy SearchServiceHelper app is via freeware, malicious links, emails, and social engineering campaign. Due to its nature of coming inside the computer uninvited, Mac security experts categorized SearchServiceHelper as a potentially unwanted application (PUA).

Screenshot of SearchServiceHelper carrier

Payload of SearchServiceHelper

Once this unwanted program is inside the Mac computer, it begins to target the internet browser application and install itself as an Extension/Add-on. Certain browser settings modification is carried out in order to control the homepage and search engine. Thus, it designates its own default. This alteration completely supersedes the preferences of Mac users.

When browsing the web or performing an online search, Mac users can spot the changes right away. Instead of the usual search engine, SearchServiceHelper is going to utilize an alternative. An excessive display of ads that meant to generate profit for attackers is another obvious symptom of SearchServiceHelper infection. Unfortunately, these are illicit ads that often contain malicious links, which would later be the cause of malware or virus infection.

For the negative reasons discussed above, we strongly recommend immediate removal of SearchServiceHelper. Follow the guide on this page to get rid of the threat using the efficient guide and powerful virus and malware removal tools.

Procedures to Remove SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper. 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 SearchServiceHelper.

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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper or any unwanted program.

Delete Unwanted App

4. Drag SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper

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 SearchServiceHelper, 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 SearchServiceHelper

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.SearchServiceHelper
  • 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:

- Search Service Helper

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

- Search Service Helper

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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper.

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, SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper. 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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper. 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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper.

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