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).
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.
To successfully remove SearchServiceHelper from your Mac, follow the steps below:
- Quick Fix : Scan the computer with the Combo Cleaner tool.
- Step 1 : Uninstall SearchServiceHelper from the Applications folder.
- Step 2 : Remove malicious browser extensions.
- Step 3 : Delete SearchServiceHelper files from your Mac computer.
- Step 4 : Run another scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
- Step 5 : Remove SearchServiceHelper entries from internet browsers.
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 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.
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 SearchServiceHelper.
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 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 or suspicious item. It could be in disguise as a different file.
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.
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. 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.
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 ~):
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.
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 the most recent version if one is available. This is necessary for 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 the Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.
5. After the scan, Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac will display a list of identified threats, and SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper from Homepage and Search
- 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 SearchServiceHelper from the Homepage field. Replace it with your preferred URL to be set as your default homepage.
- 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 SearchServiceHelper 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'.
- 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 SearchServiceHelper 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 SearchServiceHelper. 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 SearchServiceHelper or any relevant profile from the left pane. See the image below.
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 SearchServiceHelper.