UniversalKey declares itself as a browser extension that helps you get accurate and fast online search results. At first glance, Mac users see this as a very useful tool without realizing the threat it may bring once it is loaded onto the computer. Most of them deemed UniversalKey to be free software that is full of attractive features. Sooner, they will learn that this adware causes so much trouble in their browser and puts their online privacy at risk.
During the setup process, UniversalKey alters various settings in the browser. It changes the configuration on the homepage, which assigns the default search engine to utilize an unwanted website. The adware may also have an effect on how you search the web. Just like most adware, this one also watches over your browsing activities. It gathers vital information relevant to online purchases and product searches.
UniversalKey and the most suspicious browser extensions for Mac, like ObsessionScript and CommonCreative are being spread with the use of shareware. There is a technique called ‘bundling’ wherein several pieces of software and adware are packed into one installation file. This way, UniversalKey or any malicious files are concealed within freeware that is offered by a number of questionable websites.
Most people believed that UniversalKey was a virus due to its aggressive behavior once inside the computer. Technically, this software is categorized as a potentially unwanted program (PUP), which in many cases needed to be installed manually by the user who was tricked by the tempting features of UniversalKey.
Avoid the UniversalKey infection
In order to prevent UniversalKey adware infection on your Mac, it is essential to exclusively download software from reputable sources like the Mac App Store or the official website of the developer. It is also crucial to regularly update your macOS and all installed applications, as these updates often include security patches that safeguard against adware and other types of malware.
To enhance the security of your Mac, make sure to activate its built-in security features, such as Gatekeeper, which prevents the installation of unauthorized software like UniversalKey. Additionally, consider using a reliable antivirus program specifically designed for macOS to detect and eliminate adware. Exercise caution when dealing with email attachments and links, even if they are from familiar contacts, as these are common methods for distributing adware. Always verify the authenticity of such attachments and links before opening or clicking on them.
Procedures to Remove UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey from your Mac, follow the steps below:
- Quick Fix : Scan the computer with the Combo Cleaner tool.
- Step 1 : Uninstall UniversalKey from the Applications folder.
- Step 2 : Remove malicious browser extensions.
- Step 3 : Delete UniversalKey files from your Mac computer.
- Step 4 : Run another scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
- Step 5 : Remove UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey. 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 UniversalKey.
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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey or any unwanted program and suspicious item. It may also disguise itself as a different file with random names.
4. Drag the suspicious file to the 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 UniversalKey
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 UniversalKey, 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 UniversalKey
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 use the following file names:
- Universal Key App, (random characters).plist
If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing UniversalKey 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.
- Universal Key App
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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey.
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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey. 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 UniversalKey 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 UniversalKey.
UniversalKey and "Managed by your organization" Policy
If UniversalKey has set a policy and it was able to restrict making modifications, we recommend executing additional procedures to remove suspicious extensions and the "Browser is managed by organization" policy. Just follow the appropriate solution below and be sure to execute the procedures exactly: