Security

How to Get Rid of a Browser Hijacker on Mac

Do you need to remove a browser hijacker from your Mac?

 

Browser hijackers are unpleasant pieces of malware. They can slow your Mac down, expose you to malicious advertising and software, and put your private information at risk.

 

Basically, browser hijackers are a cybersecurity nightmare, so you should get rid of browser hijackers on your Mac as soon as you notice them.

 

Do your web searches use an unfamiliar search engine? Is your Mac plagued with advertising and pop-ups? If so, you may have a browser hijacker.

 

In this article, we’ll explain browser hijackers, how to recognize them, and, most importantly, how to delete a browser hijacker from Mac systems.

Before we begin:

 

Are you concerned about browser hijackers on your Mac? MacKeeper’s Antivirus can help. Offering real-time malware protection, virus scans, and other dedicated cybersecurity tools, MacKeeper can keep your system safe from attacks.

 

How to use MacKeeper’s Antivirus to keep your Mac safe from malware:

  1. Download MacKeeper and follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
  2. Open MacKeeper, and choose Antivirus from the sidebar.
  3. Select Start Scan.
  4. If MacKeeper finds any threats, choose to Delete them.

What is browser hijacking on Mac

Browser hijackers are a form of malware. They take control of your web browser and redirect you to other search engines and websites. They may also steal your personal information.

 

Browser hijackers change your browser preferences. They usually reroute your web searches to their own search engine. They may change your default homepage, show you malicious advertising, and redirect you away from some web pages.

 

In short, they’re incredibly annoying. Whether you’re using the internet for work, social media, or online shopping, you may be unable to access the information and sites you need.

 

But more than that, browser hijackers can cause serious harm. They can direct you to malicious websites, which may install more malware on your Mac.

 

They may also access your personal information, including passwords and banking details saved in your browser. Some browser hijackers may install a keylogger on your Mac, which allows hackers to see everything you type.

Examples of browser hijackers

Unfortunately, there are quite a few browser hijackers out there. Some don’t target Macs, but many do.

 

Some browser hijackers include:

  • The Bing redirect virus
  • Search Baron
  • Conduit or Search Protect
  • Ask toolbar
  • CoolWebSearch
  • GoSave
  • Babylon toolbar
  • OneWebSearch
  • SourceForge Installer
  • Sweet Page

Note from our experts: You may be able to identify a browser hijacker by seeing where it redirects you or which search engine it uses.

Before you delete a browser hijacker from your Mac, it’s good to know which one affects you. Check out our article on how to remove Search Baron from Mac, or read more about the Bing redirect virus.

How does browser hijacking work on Mac

When a browser hijacker is installed on your Mac, it starts to change your preferences. It changes your browser preferences, including the homepage and default search engine. Some also install additional toolbars, bypass ad blockers, or install keyloggers to track your actions.

 

No one intends to install a browser hijacker. They’re usually bundled with legitimate software or accidentally downloaded when you click on a pop-up ad.

 

However, it was installed, so it’s important to make sure that you remove the browser hijacker from your Mac as quickly as possible.

The goal of browser hijacking attacks on Mac

Browser hijacking has a few potential goals:

  • To show you more advertising
  • To influence you to download more malware
  • To track your online activity
  • To steal your personal information

Symptoms of browser hijacking on Mac

Luckily, there are usually some very obvious symptoms of browser hijacking. They may include:

  1. New toolbars or extensions in your web browser—that you don’t remember installing
  2. A different default search engine
  3. Pop-up ads
  4. Redirected search
  5. Pages loading more slowly
  6. Unknown toolbars
  7. Leaked confidential information
  8. A different default homepage
  9. Browser Hijacker

If you notice any of these signs, you may need to delete a browser hijacker from Mac.

 

Here, we’ve explained the symptoms of browser hijacking in more detail.

1. New toolbars or extensions

Do you have new toolbars on your web browser? Or new extensions?

 

Extensions and toolbars can be really useful. However, hackers can also use them as part of browser hijacking. Do you trust all the toolbars and extensions installed on your Mac’s browsers?

2. The search engine has been changed

Your web browser usually uses a legitimate search engine for your web searches—probably something like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.

 

You probably recognize what your usual search engine looks like. If it’s changed, it could be a sign that you have a browser hijacker.

3. Increase pop-up ads

Thankfully, pop-up ads are rare these days. Many people use ad blockers to avoid them, and lots of web browsers include their own pop-up blockers.

 

However, a browser hijacker may cause pop-up ads. If you suddenly see pop-ups when you haven’t before, it could be a sign that you need to delete a browser hijacker from your Mac.

4. Redirected search

What happens if you start to search the web using a legitimate search engine, such as Google? Do you see a search results page from Google, or does your browser redirect you to another page?

 

Browser hijackers usually redirect you to their own search results page. The results displayed may not be helpful and could lead you to malicious websites—where you may download more malware. So, it’s important to remove browser hijackers from Mac as quickly as possible.

5. Slower loading of the web page

Are web pages loading slower than usual for you? Browser hijackers tend to cause your browser to slow down.

Tip from our team: You can use another device to check if a problem with your WiFi or network causes this. Try to load the same webpage on another device. If it loads quickly, the problem may be with your MacBook.

6. Unintentionally installed toolbars

Does your web browser display toolbars that you don’t remember installing?

 

If they aren’t part of a browser update or related to a legitimate app, this could be a sign that you need to look into browser hijacker removal on your Mac.

7. Your confidential information has been leaked

Have you noticed that your confidential information has been leaked? You may have noticed unusual activity on your bank account, unexpected logins to online accounts, or even received notification that you’ve been caught up in a data breach.

 

If you don’t know how your personal information was leaked, it could be due to a browser hijacker.

Important: 

 

If you’re concerned about data breaches, MacKeeper’s ID Theft Guard can help you maintain control of your online identity. ID Theft Guard can check for current data leaks and offers real-time monitoring to alert you of future data breaches.

 

How to use MacKeeper’s ID Theft Guard:

  1. Open MacKeeper, and choose ID Theft Guard from the sidebar.
  2. Select Open.
  3. Choose Scan new email to monitor your email address, enter your email address, and click Start Scan. Follow the on-screen prompts if your email has been involved in any breaches.
MacKeeper’s home screen, with ID Theft Guard shown in the sidebar. How to spot symptoms of browser hijacking on Mac. Has confidential information been leaked?
Step 1. Open MacKeeper, and choose ID Theft Guard from the sidebar
MacKeeper’s ID Theft Guard home screen, with Open highlighted. How to spot symptoms of browser hijacking on Mac. Has confidential information been leaked?
Step 2. Select Open
MacKeeper’s ID Theft Guard, with the option to enter email address. How to spot symptoms of browser hijacking on Mac. Has confidential information been leaked?
Step 3. Choose Scan new email, enter your email address, and click Start Scan. Follow the on-screen prompts

8. The default homepage has changed

When you open your web browser, you expect to see your homepage. This might be Google, your organization’s website, or any other page you regularly visit.

 

However, if your default homepage has changed without authorization, it could be a sign of a browser hijacker.

9. Invisible browser hijacker

Unfortunately, not all browser hijackers show symptoms. However, these browser hijackers may still be harvesting your data and accessing your personal information.

 

Because of this, we recommend that you regularly check Mac for malware. Sometimes, a malware scan will identify an issue before you notice symptoms.

How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac

Manual browser hijacker removal on Mac can be complicated, but it is possible.

 

However, if this seems too daunting, skip to the next section of the article to learn how to use antivirus software to automatically remove browser hijackers on your MacBook.

1. Stop the browser hijacker process

Stopping the browser hijacker process means it won’t be active when you delete it.

  1. Open the Activity Monitor—go to the Launchpad and search Activity Monitor.
  2. Look for any suspicious processes. Select them, and choose the Stop button.
  3. Confirm that you want to Force Quit the process.
Mac’s Launchpad, with Activity Monitor shown, along with the Dock. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: stop the browser hijacker process.
Step 1. Open the Activity Monitor
Mac’s Activity Monitor. The Stop process button is highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: stop the browser hijacker process.
Step 2. Look for suspicious processes. Select them, and choose Stop
Mac’s Activity Monitor, with the Quit Process dialog box open. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: stop the browser hijacker process.
Step 3. Force Quit the process

2. Clear the system DNS cache

Clearing or flushing the DNS cache can remove corrupted information from your temporary files.

  1. Open Terminal—go to Launchpad and search Terminal.
  2. Enter the command sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder and press Enter. You may need to enter your admin password.
Mac’s Launchpad, with Terminal shown, along with the search bar and Dock. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: clear the system DNS cache.
Step 1. Open Terminal
Mac’s Terminal, with a command shown to clear the DNS cache. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: clear the system DNS cache.
Step 2. Enter the command sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder and press Enter

3. Remove suspicious apps from Mac

To delete a browser hijacker from a Mac, you need to uninstall it. You can either use Finder or a dedicated uninstaller, like MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller.

 

How to remove suspicious apps using Finder:

  1. Open Finder, and choose Applications from the sidebar.
  2. Look through the list of apps. Right-click on any that look suspicious, and choose Move to Bin.
  3. Empty the Bin by right-clicking the Bin icon in your Dock and choosing Empty Bin.
Mac’s Finder, with the Applications folder open and highlighted in the sidebar. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: remove suspicious apps.
Step 1. Open Finder, and choose Applications from the sidebar.
Mac’s Finder, with the right-click menu open on a file. Move to Bin is highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: remove suspicious apps.
Step 2. Right-click on any suspicious apps, and choose Move to Bin
Mac’s Dock, with the Bin shown. The right-click menu is open and Empty Bin is shown. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: remove suspicious apps.
Step 3. Right-clicking the Bin icon and choose Empty Bin

How to remove suspicious apps using MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller:

  1. Open MacKeeper, and choose Smart Uninstaller from the sidebar.
  2. Select Start Scan.
  3. When the scan is complete, choose Applications and look through the list. Select any suspicious apps, and click Remove Selected.
MacKeeper’s home screen, with Smart Uninstaller highlighted in the sidebar. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: remove suspicious apps.
Step 1. Open MacKeeper, and choose Smart Uninstaller from the sidebar
MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller, with Start Scan highlighted in the sidebar. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: remove suspicious apps.
Step 2. Click Start Scan
MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller, after a scan, with Remove Selected highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: remove suspicious apps.
Step 3. Choose Applications. Select any suspicious applications, and click Remove Selected

4. Delete the hijacker from the browser

Although the previous steps may have removed the hijacker from your browser, it’s important to check whether any files remain.

Note from us: If you use multiple web browsers, you will need to do this step for each browser.

We’ll explain how to reset settings and remove suspicious extensions, focusing on four of the most common Mac browsers. You can also read our article on how to clear browser cache.

4.1. Get rid of hijackers from Safari

Unfortunately, Safari doesn’t offer a one-click solution to reset settings. However, you can still empty the cache and reset your preferences manually.

  1. In Safari, go to Safari menu > Settings.
  2. Under Advanced, ensure the option Show features for web developers is checked. Close the Settings window.
  3. Go to Develop > Empty Caches.
  4. Under Safari > Settings, choose Privacy, and click Manage Website Data.
  5. Choose Remove All, and click Done.
  6. Go to the Extensions tab and check for any suspicious extensions. Choose to Uninstall them.
Safari on Mac, with the Safari menu open. Settings is selected. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 1. Go to Safari menu > Settings
Safari’s Advanced settings, with Show Features for Web Developers checked. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 2. Under Advanced, ensure the option Show features for web developers is checked
Safari’s Develop menu, with Empty Caches selected. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 3. Go to Develop > Empty Caches
Safari’s Privacy Settings, with Manage Website Data highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 4. Under Safari > Settings, choose Privacy, and click Manage Website Data
Safari’s Manage Website Data screen, with Remove All highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 5. Choose Remove All, and click Done
Safari’s Extension Settings, with Uninstall highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 6. Go to the Extensions tab, and check for suspicious extensions. Choose to Uninstall them

4.2. Remove hijackers from Chrome

Chrome makes it very easy to reset your settings and remove extensions. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the menu (three dots) > Settings.
  2. Choose Reset Settings from the sidebar and click Restore settings to their original defaults.
  3. Confirm that you want to Reset Settings.
  4. Go to menu > Extensions. Choose Manage Extensions.
  5. Look through your extensions for anything suspicious. Click Remove.
Chrome for Mac, with the menu open and Settings highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 1. Go to the menu (three dots) > Settings.
Chrome for Mac’s Settings, with the Reset Settings screen open. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 2. Choose Reset Settings and click Restore settings to their original defaults
Chrome’s Reset Settings screen, with the Reset Settings dialog box open. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 3. Confirm that you want to Reset Settings
Chrome for Mac, with the menu open and Extensions highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 4. Go to menu > Extensions. Choose Manage Extensions
Chrome for Mac’s Extensions screen, with one extension shown. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 5. Look through your Extensions for anything suspicious. Click Remove

4.3. Delete hijackers from Firefox

Like Chrome, Firefox also makes it simple to reset settings:

  1. Go to menu (three lines) > Help > More troubleshooting information.
  2. Select Refresh Firefox, and confirm that you want to Refresh Firefox.
  3. Choose the Extensions button (puzzle piece).
  4. Choose Extensions, and look through your extensions for anything suspicious. Click the three dots next to an Extension and select Remove.
Firefox’s Help menu, with More Troubleshooting Information highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 1. Go to menu (three lines) > Help > More troubleshooting information
Firefox’s Troubleshooting Information, with Refresh Firefox highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 2. Select Refresh Firefox, and confirm that you want to Refresh Firefox
Firefox’s home screen, with the Extensions button (puzzle) highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 3. Choose the Extensions button (puzzle piece)
Firefox’s Manage Your Extensions screen, with a menu displayed. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 4. Choose Extensions, and look for anything suspicious. Click the three dots next to an Extension and select Remove

4.4. Remove hijackers from Opera

Opera also makes it easy to remove malicious extensions and changes. Do the following:

  1. Go to Opera menu > Update & Recovery.
  2. Select Recover.
  3. Choose whether to keep your data or reset all data, as well as Opera settings. In most cases, you should be able to keep your data—but if you still notice signs of a browser hijacker, reset all data. Click Recover.
  4. Go to the Extensions menu (cube) > Manage Extensions.
  5. Choose to Remove any unnecessary extensions.
Opera for Mac, with menu open, and Update & Recovery highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 1. Go to Opera menu > Update & Recovery
Opera’s Update & Recovery screen, with Recover highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 2. Click Recover
Opera’s Update & Recovery screen, with the Recovery dialog box option. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 3. Choose an option and select Recover
Opera’s toolbar, with the Extensions button (cube) selected. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 4. Go to the Extensions menu (cube) > Manage Extensions
Opera’s Extensions screen, with several extensions shown. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete hijacker from the browser.
Step 5. Choose to Remove any unnecessary extensions

5. Reinstall your browser (optional)

If you want to be really certain that you’ve completed the browser hijacker removal on Mac, you could uninstall and reinstall your browser. To uninstall your browser, follow the instructions from step 3, but uninstall your browser instead.

 

Next, you’ll need to download and install your browser again.

 

Where to download web browsers:

6. Delete hijackers-related files from MacBook

Even after taking the above steps, malware can leave files behind. Use a Mac cleaner to ensure no unpleasant extra files lurk on your MacBook.

 

How to use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup:

  1. In MacKeeper, choose Safe Cleanup from the sidebar. Click Start Scan.
  2. After the scan is complete, choose Clean Junk Files or click on sections to look at individual files.
MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup screen, with Start Scan highlighted. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete related files from your MacBook.
Step 1. In MacKeeper, choose Safe Cleanup. Click Start Scan
MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup screen, after a scan, with results shown. How to manually remove a browser hijacker from Mac: delete related files from your MacBook.
Step 2. After the scan is complete, choose Clean Junk Files

Automatically get rid of browser hijackers from your MacBook via MacKeeper

If the above steps look too complicated or daunting, you may be relieved to know that there’s an easier way to get rid of browser hijacker from Mac. Everyone should know how to get rid of viruses on Mac, and the best way is usually to use dedicated antivirus software. MacKeeper’s Antivirus makes browser hijacker removal on Mac quick and easy.

 

How to remove browser hijackers using MacKeeper:

  1. Open MacKeeper, and choose Antivirus from the sidebar.
  2. Select Start Scan.
  3. When the scan is complete, follow the on-screen instructions and Delete any threats.
MacKeeper’s home screen, with Antivirus highlighted in the sidebar. How to Automatically get rid of browser hijackers from your MacBook via MacKeeper.
Step 1. Open MacKeeper, and choose Antivirus from the sidebar
MacKeeper’s Antivirus home screen, with Start Scan highlighted. How to Automatically get rid of browser hijackers from your MacBook via MacKeeper.
Step 2. Click Start Scan
MacKeeper’s Antivirus. after a scan has been completed. How to Automatically get rid of browser hijackers from your MacBook via MacKeeper.
Step 3. When the scan is complete, follow the on-screen instructions and Delete any threats

How to prevent a browser hijacking on Mac

You may have heard people say that Apple products can’t get viruses. But is that true?

 

Can MacBooks get viruses from websites? Unfortunately, yes, they can.

 

However, there are some actions we can take to avoid browser hijacking. Use reliable antivirus software, and make sure that you have real-time protection enabled. Scan your system for malware regularly. Avoid clicking on suspicious online advertising. Only download software from reliable sources. Update your macOS regularly for added security.

 

While it’s possible to get rid of a browser hijacker from your Mac, it’s obviously much better to avoid them if at all possible.

Conclusion

Browser hijackers can pose a real risk to your computer and your privacy. Fortunately, there are ways to spot them and remove browser hijackers from Mac computers. If you suspect that you have a browser hijacker, take action immediately.

 

MacKeeper’s Antivirus can help with browser hijacker removal on Macs and keep you safe from other forms of malware. With real-time antivirus monitoring, it will let you know as soon as a threat has been detected and offer a one-click solution to remove malware and help keep your Mac safe.

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