Remove Adware, Browser Hijackers and Malware from Safari Browser

When the Safari browser is infected with malware, your homepage or search engine might change without your consent, or you’ll see pop-up ads and unwanted advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing. This guide teaches you how to remove adware, browser hijackers, and other malware from Safari by following easy step-by-step instructions.

If your Safari browser is constantly being redirected to unwanted sites or advertisements are popping up while you browse the Internet, then it is possible that you have malware installed on your Mac.

Image: Safari browser redirected to fake update page
Image: Safari browser redirected to fake update page

Is my Safari browser infected with malware?

When the Safari browser is infected with malware, your homepage or search engine might change without your consent, or you’ll see pop-up ads and unwanted advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing. The most common types of browser infections are browser hijackers, malicious extensions, and adware. Let’s take a look at each of these threats:

  • Browser hijackers are not something new and malware developers have been using this technique for years to generate traffic to their sites, gather search terms, and redirect users to websites from where they’ll receive a commission or some sort of revenue. In most cases, the browser hijacker will change your browser search provider to generate advertising revenue by using Yahoo Search, Bing Search, or Google Search for its search results.
    Image: Safari browser redirected by browser hijacker
    Image: Safari browser redirected by browser hijacker
  • Adware is unwanted software designed to throw advertisements up on your screen, most often within a web browser. These ads will overlay the content on the page and when you click on a link, it will just open a pop-up to another advertisement. When a malicious program displays advertisements it will either display them in pop-up windows, directly on a web page you are visiting, or will appear as videos, banners, moving ads, or like folded down the page in the top right corner of the website. Also, you might experience new tabs opening, a change in your home page, findings from a search engine you never heard of, or even a redirect to an NSFW website.
    Image: Safari browser redirected by adware
    Image: Safari browser redirected by adware
  • Malicious browser extensions are offered through advertisements and once installed can collect private data about your browsing habits, or change your browser settings. If you see a new browser extension that you don’t remember installing, there’s a good chance there’s malware on your system.

Here are a few typical signs that your Safari browser is infected with malware:

  • Advertisements appear in places they shouldn’t be.
  • Your browser search engine is changed without your consent
  • Your web browser’s homepage has mysteriously changed without your permission.
  • Web pages that you typically visit are not displaying properly.
  • Website links redirect to sites different from what you expected.
  • Browser popups appear which recommend fake updates or other software.
  • Other unwanted programs might get installed without your knowledge.

Why am I seeing pop-up ads and redirects in Safari?

You are seeing pop-up ads and redirects in your Safari browser because your Mac is either infected with malware or another site is redirecting you to these pages.

In most cases, malicious Safari browser extensions or programs are being distributed using malicious advertisements or are bundled with other free software that you download off of the Internet, leaving the user puzzled about where it came from.

If you are unsure how a Safari extension was installed or are concerned unwanted programs may be installed on your Mac, you can use the removal guide below to remove them.

This guide was written to help people remove malware from their Safari browser, so if you’re just looking for a way to block redirects or pop-up ads on a specific site, then you can install an adblocker like AdGuard.

How to remove Malware from Safari (Virus Removal Guide)

This malware removal guide may appear overwhelming due to the number of steps and numerous programs that are being used. We have only written it this way to provide clear, detailed, and easy-to-understand instructions that anyone can use to remove malware for free.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubts at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.

To remove malware from Safari, follow these steps:

STEP 1: Remove malicious Profiles from your Mac

Profiles are used by IT admins in businesses to control the behavior of their Macs. These profiles can configure a Mac to do many different things, some of which are not otherwise possible.
When it comes to home users, adware and browser hijackers are using the configuration profile to prevent users from removing malicious programs from the computer. This also prevents the user from changing that behavior in the browser’s settings.
In this first step, we will check your Mac to see if any configuration profiles are installed. To do this, follow the below steps:

  1. Open “System Preferences”

    From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  2. Search for “Profiles”

    When the System Preferences window opens, search for the Profiles icon.
    Search for Profiles in System Preferences

    If there isn’t a Profiles icon, you don’t have any profiles installed, which is normal and you can continue with the next steps.
  3. Remove the malicious profiles

    If there’s a Profile icon, click on it and select any suspicious profile that you want to remove, and then press the – (minus) button. Click Remove to remove the profile.
    Remove malicious profiles from your Mac


STEP 2: Remove the malicious programs from Mac

In this second step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious apps and files that might be installed on your Mac. Sometimes adware or malicious programs can have usable Uninstall entries that can be used to remove these them.

  1. Quit the malicious programs

    On the Apple menu bar, in the top-right corner, if you see any unknown or suspicious icon, click on it and then select Quit.

  2. Open “Finder”

    Click the Finder application on your dock.
    Open Finder

  3. Click on “Applications”

    In the Finder left pane, click on “Applications“.
    Click on Applications

  4. Find and remove the malicious app.

    The “Applications” screen will be displayed with a list of all the app installed on your device. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious app, right-click it, and then click “Move to Trash”.

    Look out for any suspicious program that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program. Here are some known malicious programs: SearchMine, TakeFresh, TopResults, FeedBack, ApplicationEvents, GeneralOpen, PowerLog, MessengerNow, ImagePrime, GeneralNetSearch, Reading Cursors, GlobalTechSearch, PDFOnline-express, See Scenic Elf, MatchKnowledge, Easy Speedtest, or WebDiscover.

    Find malicious programs and Remove It

  5. Click “Empty Trash”

    On the dock, right-click on the trash icon and select “Empty Trash”. Doing so deletes the Trash’s contents, including the program that you just sent to the Trash.
    Empty Trash

  6. Find and remove the malicious files

    • Click the desktop to make sure you’re in the Finder, choose “Go” then click on “Go to Folder“.Go to Folder mac
    • Type or copy/paste each of the below paths into the window that opens, then click Go.
      • /Library/LaunchAgents
      • ~/Library/LaunchAgents
      • /Library/Application Support
      • /Library/LaunchDaemons

      Type the commands in the Go to Folder window

    • Look out for any suspicious files that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program. Here are some known malicious files: Here are some known malicious files: “com.adobe.fpsaud.plist” “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, or “com.myppes.net-preferences.plist”. When you find a malicious file move it to the Trash.

STEP 3: Use Malwarebytes for Mac to remove browser hijackers, adware, and other malware

In this third step, we will download, install and run a scan with Malwarebytes for Mac to find and remove browser hijackers, adware, malicious browser extensions, and other malware from your Mac.

Malwarebytes for Mac is an on-demand scanner that is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free, and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

  1. Download Malwarebytes for Mac.

    You can download Malwarebytes for Mac by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES FOR MAC DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes for Mac)
  2. Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.

    When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the setup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.

    Double-click on setup file to install Malwarebytes

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.

    When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes for Mac Installer which will guide you through the installation process. Click “Continue“, then keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process.

    Click Continue to install Malwarebytes for Mac

    Click again on Continue to install Malwarebytes for Mac for Mac

    Click Install to install Malwarebytes on Mac

    When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen. Click the “Get started” button.

  4. Select “Personal Computer” or “Work Computer”.

    The Malwarebytes Welcome screen will first ask you on what type of computer are you installing this program, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
    Select Personal Computer or Work Computer mac

  5. Click on “Scan”.

    To scan your Mac with Malwarebytes, click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes for Mac will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for malware.
    Click on Scan button to start a system scan Mac

  6. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will scan your computer for the Safari malware. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Wait for Malwarebytes for Mac to scan for malware

  7. Click on “Quarantine”.

    When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malware that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.
    Review the malicious programs and click on Quarantine malware

  8. Restart computer.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
    Malwarebytes For Mac requesting to restart computer
    When the malware removal process is complete, you can close Malwarebytes and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 4: Remove malicious browser extensions and reset settings

In this final step, we will reset the browser back to its default settings to remove any malicious browser extension, unwanted search engine, or spam browser notifications.

SafariChromeFirefox

Remove malware from Safari

To remove malicious browser extensions, unwanted search engines, or spam browser notifications from Safari we will go through its settings.

  1. Go to Safari’s “Preferences”.

    On the menu bar, click the “Safari” menu and select “Preferences”.
    On the Menu bar Click on Safari then Preference

  2. Check Homepage.

    This will open a new window with your Safari preferences, opened to the “General” tab. Some browser hijackers may change your default homepage, so in the Homepage field make sure it’s a web page you want to use as your start-up page.

    Change Homepage in Safari

  3. Click “Extensions”

    Next, click on the “Extensions” tab.
    Click on Extensions MacOS

  4. Find and uninstall malicious browser extensions.

    The “Extensions” screen will be displayed with a list of all the extensions installed on Safari. Scroll through the list and search for any unknown or suspicous extension, and then click on “Uninstall” to remove it.

    Look out for any suspicious browser extension that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine extension. By default, there are no extensions installed on Safari so it’s safe to remove any extension.

    Click on Uninstall to remove  malicious browser extension

  5. Remove spam push notifications.

    Click Preferences, click Websites, then click Notifications. Deselect “Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications”.

    Deselect Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications

If the above steps didn’t help you remove a browser hijacker or malicious extension from Safari, you can follow the below steps:

  • Workaround for greyed out Safari’s homepage

    In some cases, after being changed by browser hijackers or malware, Safari’s home page can become stuck (greyed out). You will be able to edit the Homepage field in Safari’s preferences, but the change will not stick. This appears to be a bug, and there is an odd workaround. Try this:

    1. In Safari, choose Preferences from the Safari menu.
    2. In the window that opens, click the General icon (if necessary)
    3. Enter your desired home page in the “Homepage” field, but DO NOT press return!
    4. At the top of the window, click any of the other icons (eg, Tabs, AutoFill, etc).
    5. You may see a prompt asking for confirmation for changing the home page. If so, confirm.
    6. Switch back to the General page and check to make sure the home page has been changed.
  • Delete Safari’s preferences file to remove malicious changes

    Some malicious programs are known to install managed preferences to set the homepage and search engine settings in Safari. If the above options didn’t help you remove the malicious redirects, we’ll need to delete Safari’s preferences. To do this, follow the below steps:

    1. Quit Safari
    2. Click the desktop to make sure you’re in the Finder, choose “Go” then click on “Go to Folder“.
      Go to Folder mac
    3. Type or copy/paste the following path into the window that opens, then click Go: ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist
    4. If the file is found, delete it, then re-open Safari

Remove malware from Chrome for Mac

To remove malicious browser extensions, unwanted search engines, or spam browser notifications from Chrome for Mac we will reset the browser settings to their default.

  1. Open Chrome’s “Settings” menu.

    Click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Settings“.
    Click on the Chrome menu button then on the Settings button MacOS

  2. At the bottom, click “Advanced”.

    Chrome’s “Settings” should now be displayed in a new tab or window, depending on your configuration. Next, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Advanced” link (as seen in the below example).
    Click on the Advanced button MacOS

  3. Under the section “Reset,” click “Reset”.

    Chrome’s advanced settings should now be displayed. Scroll down until the “Reset and clean up” section is visible, as shown in the example below. Next, click on the “Reset settings to their original defaults” button.
    Scroll down and click on the Reset button MacOS

  4. Confirm by clicking “Reset”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, click on the “Reset Settings” button.
    Click on Reset Settings to restore Google Chrome to its default settings MacOS

If the above steps didn’t help you remove malicious browser extensions from Chrome for Mac, you can follow the below steps:

  • Remove the unwanted policies created by malware from Chrome

    In many cases, changes to Chrome may not be fixed with a simple browser reset. In such a case, it’s very possible that a malicious program has created unwanted policies on your browser. You can check if any unwanted policies are loaded into the browser by typing chrome://policy into the URL bar.
    To reset these policies, follow these steps:

    1. Open a new Terminal window. To do this, go to Finder > Go > Utilities > Terminal
    2. Enter the following commands, pressing enter after each line:
      • defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageIsNewTabPage -bool false
      • defaults write com.google.Chrome NewTabPageLocation -string “https://www.google.com/”
      • defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageLocation -string “https://www.google.com/”
      • defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderSearchURL
      • defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderNewTabURL
      • defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderName
      • defaults delete com.google.Chrome ExtensionInstallSources
    3. After running these commands, quit Chrome if you haven’t already done so, then launch it again and check chrome://policy to see if the same keys are still present (you may need to click the “Reload policies” button for changes to show up). If they’re gone, you should be able to change your search engine and home page back to your preferred defaults in Chrome’s settings.
  • Remove the “Managed by your organization” policy from Chrome

    Some malicious programs are known to install managed preferences to set the home page and search engine settings in Chrome. To check for these, do the following:

    1. Quit Chrome
    2. Click the desktop to make sure you’re in the Finder, choose “Go” then click on “Go to Folder“.
      Go to Folder mac
    3. Type or copy/paste the following path into the window that opens, then click Go: /Library/Managed Preferences/
    4. Paste the below path into the window that opens, then click Go:
      Look for the following files, where [username] is your username:

      • com.google.Chrome.plist
      • [username]/com.google.Chrome.plist
      • [username]/complete.plist

      These may be legitimate, so open these files with TextEdit and see if they have links to the troublesome site in them. If they do, delete them and restart Chrome.

  • Uninstall Google Chrome from your computer

    If the above options didn’t help you remove the malicious redirects, it is easier to completely remove Chrome and all data, then reinstall the browser. To do this, click the Finder icon, from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder, then paste one of the below paths into the window that opens.
    You will need to delete all of the below items, but before doing this be aware that this will delete all data for all Google apps you have installed, such as your bookmarks, so you will need to export them before doing this.

    • /Applications/Chrome.app
    • /Library/Application Support/Google/
    • /Library/Google/
    • ~/Library/Application Support/Google/
    • ~/Library/Google/
    • ~/Library/Preferences/com.google.Chrome.plist

    Note: The “~” indicates that it’s the current user’s Library which is often invisible in recent versions of macOS. To get to it you must hold down the Option (sometimes labeled Alt) key down and select Library from the Finder’s Go menu.

    After deleting all of the above files, restart your device. You can now download and re-install Google Chrome on your device. You will need to import any exported bookmarks or other data, and may need to reinstall any other Google apps that you use.

Remove malware from Firefox for Mac

To remove malicious browser extensions, unwanted search engines, or spam browser notifications from Firefox for Mac we will reset the browser settings to their default. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history, and open tabs.

To quickly reset Firefox, you can enter about:support into Firefox’s address bar to go the Troubleshooting Information page, then click on “Refresh Firefox” to restore the browser settings
  1. Go to the “Help” menu.

    Click on Firefox’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Help“.
    Click on the Firefox Menu button then select Help MacOS

  2. Click “More troubleshooting information”.

    From the Help menu, click on “More troubleshooting information“.

    If you’re unable to access the “Help” menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting information page.

    Troubleshooting Information option in Firefox MacOS

  3. Click on “Refresh Firefox”

    Click the “Refresh Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
    Click on the Refresh Firefox button MacOS

  4. Confirm.

    To continue, click on the “Refresh Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
    Click again on Refresh Firefox button macos

  5. Click on “Finish”.

    Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on the “Finish“.

Your old Firefox profile will be placed on your desktop in a folder named “Old Firefox Data“. If the reset didn’t fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created. If you don’t need this folder any longer, you should delete it as it contains sensitive information.

Your Mac computer and browser should now be free of browser hijackers, adware, malicious browser extensions, and other malware. If your current antivirus allowed a malicious program on your Mac, you might want to consider purchasing the full-featured version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to a malicious program from your Mac, please ask for help in our Mac Malware Removal Help & Support forum.

If we have managed to help you, please share this guide to help others.