How to Remove UniversalKey (Mac)

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.

Screenshot of UniversalKey

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.

Step 1 : - 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.

1. Download the tool from the following page:

2. Double-click the downloaded file, combocleaner.dmg and proceed with the installation.

3. The installation window will open. Please double-click or drag the Combo Cleaner icon to the Applications folder.

Screenshot of Installer

4. Proceed with the installation. When it displays the Software License Agreement, please click Continue, and then click on Agree in the confirmation window. Continue with the default installation.

5. The program should run automatically after installation. If not, open your Launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon.

6. Wait until antivirus downloads its latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing UniversalKey and other issues on the Mac computer.

Screenshot of Dashboard

7. After the virus and disk scan processes, the tool will display the results. Click on Remove Selected to start cleaning the computer.

To fully optimize the features of antivirus and privacy scanners, users may have to upgrade to the premium version.

If you are comfortable manually removing the adware and other malicious objects associated with it, please proceed with the remaining steps.

Step 2 : 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.

Screenshot of Deleting App

4. Drag UniversalKey to Trash Bin to delete the application from Mac.

5. Next, go to the Dock, right-click on the Trash icon, and click on Empty Trash.

Step 3 : Remove Browser Extensions that belongs to UniversalKey

Most adware and unwanted programs use an application called a "browser extension" to be able to take over the settings of internet applications. Therefore, we highly recommend checking and removing the extension that is closely related to UniversalKey. If it is not present, look for and delete any suspicious browser extension.

Google Chrome

Remove the UniversalKey Extension from Google Chrome

1. Open the Google Chrome browser.

2. Input the strings below in the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard:

chrome://extensions/

Screenshot of Chrome Extensions in PC

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

Safari

Remove Malicious Extension from Safari

1. Open the Safari browser.

2. On the top menu, click Safari > Settings or Preferences.

3. The Safari settings window will open. Please select the Extensions tab.

Screenshot of Safari Extension Removal

4. Locate the suspicious extension and click the Uninstall button to remove it from Safari.

5. You may now close the window and restart Safari.

Microsoft Edge

Remove UniversalKey from Microsoft Edge Browser

1. Open the Microsoft Edge program.

2. Input or copy and paste the following string in the address bar. Press press Enter on the keyboard:

edge://extensions/

Screenshot of Edge Extension on Mac

3. Look for and Remove or Disable entries for UniversalKey from the Installed Extensions area.

Screenshot of Edge Extension Removal - Mac

4. You may now close the window and restart the Microsoft Edge browser.

Mozilla Firefox

Uninstall the UniversalKey Extension from Mozilla Firefox

1. Open the Mozilla Firefox browser.

2. Type or copy and paste the strings below in the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard:

about:addons

Screenshot of Firefox Extension

3. Click on Extensions from the sidebar menu.

4. Look for an entry that pertains to UniversalKey and Disable or Remove it from the browser using the options button.

Step 4 : Delete Malicious Files that have installed UniversalKey

1. Go to your Finder. From the menu bar, please select Go > Go to Folder.

2. Input the following string and press Enter on the keyboard.

~/Library/LaunchAgents

Screenshot of Go To Folder

3. You will now see a hidden folder named LaunchAgents. Take note of the following files inside the folder:

  • com.UniversalKey.plist
  • unknown.service.plist
  • unknown.system.plist
  • unknown.download.plist
  • unknown.update.plist

4. 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 latest ones may also help you identify recently installed unfamiliar files.

5. Please click on "Show items as..."

Screenshot of LaunhAgents Folder

6. To arrange the items in chronological order, click Date Modified.

7. Drag all suspicious files that you may find to Trash.

Important: Take note of all the suspicious files, as you may also delete the same item in another folder as we go on.

8. Please restart the Mac computer.

9. Open another folder using the same method as above. Copy and paste the following string to easily locate the folder:

~/Library/Application Support

Screenshot of Go to Folder

10. Select any suspicious items that you have noted previously. Drag them to the Trash.

11. Repeat the process in the following non-hidden folders (without ~):

/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons
/Library/Application Support

12. Lastly, go to your Finder > Go and open the Applications folder. Look for subfolders with the following names and drag them to Trash.

- Universal Key App, (random characters)

Optional : For locked files that cannot be removed, do the following:

1. Go to Launchpad > Other folder, open the Activity Monitor.

2. Select the process you want to quit.

3. In the upper part of the window, click the Stop button.

Screenshot of Force Quit

4. Click on Force Quit button.

5. You may now delete or remove the locked file that belongs to UniversalKey homepage hijacker.

Step 5 : Double-check with Malwarebytes for Mac

Use Malwarebytes for Mac to do another scan to make sure the machine is already clear of viruses, malware, and adware. This efficient anti-malware application allows you to detect things that other security software was unable to recognize.

1. Download Malwarebytes for Mac from the link below.

2. Locate the downloaded Malwarebytes-Mac.pkg and install it with the default settings.

3. Run Malwarebytes 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.

4. Once you are on the Malwarebytes dashboard, please click on the Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes Dashboard

5. After the scan, Malwarebytes 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 6 : Fixing the Homepage and Search Engine

Google Chrome

Remove UniversalKey from the Homepage and Search of Chrome

1. Open the Google Chrome browser and type the following on the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard:

chrome://settings

Screenshot of Chrome Settings

2. Go to the left sidebar and click On Startup.

3. Select "Open a specific page or set of pages" in the right panel.

Screenshot of Chrome Startup

4. Locate the unwanted Homepage URL, click on More Actions (3-dot icon), and select Edit.

5. Enter the desired web address as your home page, replacing UniversalKey. Click Save.

6. To set the default search engine, go to the sidebar, and this time, select Search Engine.

Screenshot of Default Search

7. Click on the Manage search engines and site search button in the right panel.

8. Find the unwanted Search Engine in the list. Click on More Actions, and then click Delete.

9. Go back to the left side bar and click Search Engine.

Screenshot of Search Engine Address Bar

10. In the right panel, choose a valid entry from the "Search engine used in the address bar."

You can now restart the Google Chrome browser to see if the unwanted homepage and search engine related to UniversalKey are gone.

Safari

Get Rid of UniversalKey from Safari's Homepage and Search

1. Open your Safari browser.

2. Go to the Safari Menu located in the upper left-hand corner, and then select Settings or Preferences.

3. In the General tab, remove the UniversalKey item or unwanted URL from the Homepage section. Replace it with your preferred URL to be set as your default homepage.

Screenshot of Safari Home Settings

4. Next, be sure that the "New windows open with" and "New tabs open with" fields are set to "Homepage".

5. Please click on the Search tab, and in the "Search engine" section, select Google or any valid search engine.

Screenshot of Safari Search Settings

6. You may now restart the Safari browser.

Microsoft Edge

Remove UniversalKey from the Homepage of Edge Browser

1. Open the Microsoft Edge browser on your Mac computer.

2. In the address bar, type or copy and paste the string below, then press Enter on the keyboard:

edge://settings/startHomeNTP

Screenshot of Edge Homepage Settings on Mac

3. Go to the "When Edge Starts" area. Under the "Open these pages" section, click More Actions (3-dot).

4. Select Edit to open the Edit Page window.

5. Input your desired address to replace the homepage settings of UniversalKey.

Screenshot of Edge for Mac Default Homepage

6. Click the Save button. You may now restart Microsoft Edge for Mac.

Mozilla Firefox

Delete UniversalKey from the Homepage and Search of Firefox.

1. Open the Mozilla Firefox browser on your Mac computer.

2. Type the following on the address bar, then press Enter on the keyboard:

about:preferences

3. Click Home in the sidebar area.

Screenshot of Firefox Homepage Settings

4. Under "Homepage and new windows", you may choose Firefox Home (Default) or Custom URLs.

5. If you chose Custom URLs, input the desired URL to replace UniversalKey settings.

6. To configure the default search engine, select Search in the sidebar to display the settings.

Screenshot of Firefox Search Settings

7. Under the Default Search Engine list, please select a legitimate one (i.e., Google).

8. Scroll down to "Search Shortcuts" and select an unwanted search engine.

Screenshot of Deleting Search

9. Click on the Remove button to delete the unwanted search engine. You may now restart the Mozilla Firefox for Mac.

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