Remove ZenSearch.com and Zen Search homepage (Removal Guide)

ZenSearch is a browser hijacker, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will set your browser homepage and set your default search engine to ZenSearch.com.
[Image: ZenSearch.com virus]
ZenSearch will display advertisements and sponsored links in your search results, and may collect search terms from your search queries. The ZenSearch infection is used to boost advertising revenue, as in the use of blackhat SEO, to inflate a site’s page ranking in search results.

ZenSearch it’s technically not a virus, but it does exhibit plenty of malicious traits, such as rootkit capabilities to hook deep into the operating system, browser hijacking, and in general just interfering with the user experience. The industry generally refers to it as a “PUP,” or potentially unwanted program.

ZenSearch got on your computer after you have installed a freeware software (video recording/streaming, download-managers or PDF creators) that had bundled into their installation this browser hijacker. This browser hijacker is also bundled within the custom installer on many download sites (examples: CNET, Brothersoft or Softonic), so if you have downloaded a software from these websites, chances are that the ProductRecallAlert tooolbar was installed during the software setup process.

For example, when you install DivX Player, you agree to change your browser homepage and set your default search engine to ZenSearch.com.
[Image: ZenSearch.com redirect]
However when you uninstall DivX Player from your computer, your web browser’s default settings will not be restored. This means that you’ll have to remove ZenSearch and ZenSearch.com from your favorite web browser manually.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this ZenSearch. Be very careful what you agree to install.
Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

How to remove ZenSearch browser hijacker (Virus Removal Guide)

This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove ZenSearch from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, STOP and ask for our assistance.
STEP 1: Uninstall ZenSearch program from your computer
STEP 2: Remove ZenSearch from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome
STEP 3: Remove ZenSearch browser hijacker with AdwCleaner
STEP 4: Remove ZenSearch virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
STEP 5: Double-check for the ZenSearch infection with HitmanPro

STEP 1 : Uninstall ZenSearch program from your computer

In this first step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious program that might be installed on your computer.

  1. To uninstall ZenSearch from your computer, click the Start button, then select Control Panel, and click on Uninstall a program.
    If you are using Windows 8, simply drag your mouse pointer to the right edge of the screen, select Search from the list and search for “control panel“. Or you can right-click on a bottom left hot corner (formerly known as the Start button) and select Control Panel from there, then select Uninstall a program.
    [Image: Uninstall a program]
  2. When the Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and uninstall ZenSearch and any other recently installed or unknown programs from your computer.
    [Image: Uninstall ZenSearch from Windows]

If you are having issues while trying to uninstall ZenSearch, you can use Revo Uninstaller to completly remove the unwated programs from your machine.

Depending on what program has installed the ZenSearch.com browser extension, the above program may have a different name or not be installed on your computer. If you cannot find any unwanted or unknown programs on your machine, then you can proceed with the next step.


STEP 2 : Remove ZenSearch from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome

Remove ZenSearch from Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the gear icon [Image: icongear.jpg] (Tools for Windows XP users) at the top (far right), then click again on Internet Options.
    Internet Options in IE
  2. In the Internet Options dialog box, click on the Advanced tab, then click on the Reset button.
    Reset Internet Explorer
  3. In the Reset Internet Explorer settings section, check the Delete personal settings box, then click on Reset.
    Internet Explorer back to its default settings to remove ZenSearch
  4. When Internet Explorer finishes resetting, click Close in the confirmation dialogue box and then click OK.
  5. Close and open Internet Explorer.

Remove ZenSearch from Mozilla Firefox

  1. Remove ZenSearch extensions from Firefox
    At the top of the Firefox window, click the orange Firefox button, then select Add-ons.
    Firefox addon menu
    Select the Extensions tab, then remove ZenSearch 1.0 and any other unknown extensions from Mozilla Firefox.
    [Image: ZenSearch Firefox extension]
  2. Reset your default search engine and homepage from Ask.com to their default.
    To reset your search engine and homepage to their default, we will use the SearchReset extension.This add-on is very simple: on installation, it backs up and then resets your search preferences and home page to their default values, and then uninstalls itself. This affects the search bar, URL bar searches, and the home page.
    You can download SearchReset from the below link, and then we will just need to install it to revert Firefox to its default settings.
    SEARCHRESET DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open another web page from where you can download the SearchReset Firefox extension)
    [Image: SearchReset extension]

Remove ZenSearch from Google Chrome

  1. Remove ZenSearch extensions from Google Chrome.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button on the browser toolbar, select Tools and then click on Extensions.
    Google Chrome Extensions
    In the Extensions tab, remove ZenSearch 1.0and any other unknown extensions by clicking the trash can [Image: Remove an extension from Chrome] icon.
    Basically, if you have not installed an extension, you should remove it from your web browser.
    [Image: ZenSearch Chrome extension]
  2. Set Google Chrome default search engine from Ask.com to Google.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button, then select Settings and click on Manage search engines in the Search section.
    In the Search Engines dialog that appears, select Google and click the Make Default button that appears in the row.
    [Image: ZenSearch Chrome redirect]
    Search for ZenSearch.com in the Search Engines list, and click the X button that appears at the end of the row.
    [Image: ZenSearch Chrome removal]
  3. Change Google Chrome homepage from ZenSearch.com to its default.
    ZenSearch has modified your Google settings to open their webpage whenever you start your browser, so we will need to revert this change.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button, then select Settings and click on One the New Tab page in the On Startup section.
    [Image: Change Google Chrome homepage to its default]

STEP 3: Remove ZenSearch browser hijacker with AdwCleaner

The AdwCleaner utility will scan your computer and web browser for the ZenSearch malicious files, browser extensions and registry keys, that may have been installed on your computer without your knowledge.

  1. You can download AdwCleaner utility from the below link.
    ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will automatically download AdwCleaner on your computer)
  2. Before starting AdwCleaner, close all open programs and internet browsers, then double-click on the AdwCleaner icon.
    Picture of AdwCleaner Icon
    If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run AdwCleaner, please allow it to run.
  3. When the AdwCleaner program will open, click on the Scan button as shown below.
    Picture of AdwCleaner Scan button
    AdwCleaner will now start to search for the ZenSearch malicious files that may be installed on your computer.
  4. To remove the ZenSearch malicious files that were detected in the previous step, please click on the Clean button.
    Picture of AdwCleaner Clean button
  5. AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or data as the program will need to reboot the computer. Please do so and then click on the OK button. AdwCleaner will now delete all detected adware from your computer. When it is done it will display an alert that explains what PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and Adware are. Please read through this information and then press the OK button. You will now be presented with an alert that states AdwCleaner needs to reboot your computer.
    Please click on the OK button to allow AdwCleaner reboot your computer.

STEP 4: Remove ZenSearch virus from with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free uses industry-leading technology to detect and remove all traces of malware, including worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware, and more.
It is important to note that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware works well and should run alongside antivirus software without conflicts.

  1. You can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free from the below link, then double-click on the icon named mbam-setup.exe to install this program.
    MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK(This link will open a download page in a new window from where you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free)
  2. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the setup process, then at the last screen click on the Finish button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware final installation screen]
  3. On the Scanner tab, select Perform quick scan, and then click on the Scan button to start searching for the ZenSearch malicious files.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Quick Scan]
  4. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer for ZenSearch as shown below.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scanning for ZenSearch virus]
  5. When the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan has finished, click on the Show Results button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan results]
  6. You will now be presented with a screen showing you the computer infections that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has detected. Make sure that everything is Checked (ticked), then click on the Remove Selected button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware removing ZenSearch]

STEP 5: Double-check for the ZenSearch infection with HitmanPro

HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner, designed to rescue your computer from malware (viruses, trojans, rootkits, etc.) that have infected your computer despite all the security measures you have taken (such as anti virus software, firewalls, etc.). HitmanPro is designed to work alongside existing security programs without any conflicts. It scans the computer quickly (less than 5 minutes) and does not slow down the computer.

  1. You can download HitmanPro from the below link:
    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Double-click on the file named HitmanPro.exe (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or HitmanPro_x64.exe (for 64-bit versions of Windows). When the program starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below.
    HitmanPro scanner
    Click on the Next button, to install HitmanPro on your computer.
    HitmanPro installation
  3. HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for ZenSearch malicious files.
    HitmanPro detecting for ZenSearch virus
  4. When it has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found as shown in the image below. Click on the Next button, to remove ZenSearch adware.
    HitmanPro scan results
  5. Click on the Activate free license button to begin the free 30 days trial, and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
    [Image: HitmanPro 30 days activation button]

Your computer should now be free of the ZenSearch infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future, and perform regular computer scans with HitmanPro.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove ZenSearch from your machine, please start a new thread in our Malware Removal Assistance forum.

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ABOUT STELIAN PILICI

I am the creator and owner of MalwareTips.com.
My area of expertise includes malware removal and computer forensics. I'm active in the various online anti-malware communities where I do researches for new malware threats as they are released.
I live in Bucharest (Romania), where I run my own local computer repair shop.
I repair both hardware and other operating systems related issues, however most of my business is malware related problems.

You can follow me on Google+ , and I will keep you up-to-date with the latest computer infections and malware threats.

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