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Remove Default Search virus (Removal Guide) - Free Instructions

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Browser Hijackers

Default Search virus – a browser hijacker that might take over your Google Chrome or another web browser

Default SearchDefault Search is a potentially unwanted application that is difficult to eliminate

Default Search is a potentially unwanted application[1] that typically arrives on the system unexpectedly and changes the settings of the installed web browser. Besides setting homepage address to and appending a customized search engine, the virus also appends the “Managed by your organization” status to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or another web browser.

Due to browser hijacking practice, users are forced to use a customized search engine, which pulls all search results from Yahoo and injects sponsored links into them. In other words, if you are using Default Search as your main provider, you will be shown ads at the top of search results, whether you like it or not. It is also important to note that the PUP secretly gathers information about users' online habits and shares it with third-parties for more profits.

Name Default Search 
Type Browser hijacker, potentially unwanted program
IP address 
Distribution Software bundles, deceptive ads, fake updates, third party websites
Symptoms Unknown extension or application is installed on the system; homepage and new tab address are set to; a customized search engine is applied; search results are filled with sponsored links; overall increased amount of advertisement
Risks Installation of other potentially unwanted programs, information disclosure to unknown parties, financial losses
Removal You can uninstall potentially unwanted programs by following the manual guide below or by scanning the computer with powerful anti-malware
Optional steps Computer infections can cause significant damage to system files or disrupt default or user-set settings. To revert these changes and remediate the OS, perform a full system scan with ReimageIntego repair software

As mentioned in the introduction, the Default Search virus typically shows up on the system uninvited – users find it one day when they open their web browser. While it is widely believed that such apps simply install themselves, it is not true at all, and it is a consequence of users' actions.

Most commonly, software bundling is at fault – a deceptive marketing technique that allows offering optional components within a single installer. Nonetheless, the Default Search browser hijacker can also be installed through other means, as some PUPs are delivered through legitimate sources (such as Google Chrome web store), or fake update prompts for Flash Player or other popular software.

Instead of seeing the regular or another provider that they have chosen, users will quickly see that all the searchers are being redirected to Yahoo. While it is a legitimate search provider, and that is precisely where the results are pulled from, it has nothing to do with the Default Search hijack. The hijacker authors simply participate in the company's affiliate program, where almost anyone can enroll. If you prefer Yahoo, simply set it as your default engine, so you can avoid unwanted ads being shown to you constantly.

It is also important to note that the Default Search virus gathers various info about users who have it installed. For example, the following data might be collected, shared, or sold:

  • IP address
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • Unique device identifiers
  • Search terms
  • Browsing history
  • Links clicked, etc. 

The app belongs to a broader family of potentially unwanted programs that set the “Managed by your organization” setting on the web browser, preventing an easy Default Search removal. The feature, which is also used by Custom Search, Comet Search, and Mazy Search, is typically used by corporations to set restrictions to certain workstations and is not meant to be used by browser hijackers. With the help of this setting, developers can receive profits from pay-per-click and other schemes as long as the app is installed on the system.

Default Search hijackDefault Search is a browser hijacker that changes homepage to and inserts sponsored links into users' searches

This creates a rather frustrating experience for end-users, however, as not only they have to deal with altered browser settings, inability to find relevant information, and background data tracking, but are also unable to remove Default Search virus easily.

Since the PUP typically comes as an extension, its termination can be performed when it is removed from the web browser. For more information on that, please check the bottom section of the article. Keep in mind that if you found the PUP on your machine seemingly out of nowhere, there could be other threats that are invisible to you. Thus, you should scan your computer with anti-malware (such as SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes) and then repair virus damage with ReimageIntego.

An easy way to prevent PUP installation

As already explained, potentially unwanted programs arrive on the system seemingly out of nowhere. Stealthy distribution mechanics are very common among PUPs – that is precisely one of the reasons for their name. Most commonly, such apps provide very little to no benefit for end-users and sometimes might even posses malicious qualities (for example, scareware[2] apps attempt to intimidate users by showing fake scan results about the system's health to make them purchase the license, which seemingly then removes all the bogus problems).

Thus, it is always a good idea to avoid browser hijackers, adware, and other suspicious programs. Here are some tips from experts:[3]

  • Always download apps and their updates from official sources;
  • When dealing with third-party websites, be aware that software bundling is extremely common;
  • Never download anything from sites that offer pirated software or cracks, as you could infect your machine with threats like Mmpa ransomware;
  • Research the app you are about to install – read forum posts, user reviews, etc.;
  • Always pick Advanced/Custom settings during the installation instead of Recommended/Quick ones;
  • Install powerful security software that would detect and warn you about PUPs and malware.

Default Search redirectDefault Search redirects all searches to Yahoo

Wondering how to remove Default Search virus? Follow these steps

Many users start searching for Default Search removal instructions, as they cannot do so in a regular way. Since the app comes as an extension, all you would have to do usually would access the settings of your web browser and delete the extension that hijacked it. Unfortunately, the setting to delete the add-on is usually grayed out. Thus, the first thing you should do is reset your web browser – we explain how below.

If you are unsuccessful, you should go to the following location on your machine and delete the “Google” folder:


This should allow you to remove Default Search once and for all. If still no luck, however, you should employ SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner, Malwarebytes, or another anti-malware that would do the job for you. In case your machine is having issues after all the malware and PUPs are deleted, you can attempt to fix virus damage with ReimageIntego.

You may remove virus damage with a help of ReimageIntego. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes are recommended to detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Supported versions Compatible with OS X Supported versions
What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

To remove Default Search virus, follow these steps:

Uninstall Default Search from Windows systems

Uninstall potentially unwanted programs from Windows:

  1. Click Start Control Panel Programs and Features (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs). Click 'Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features' (if you are 'Windows XP' user, click on 'Add/Remove Programs').
  2. If you are Windows 10 / Windows 8 user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once Quick Access Menu shows up, select Control Panel and Uninstall a Program. If you are 'Windows 10 / Windows 8' user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once 'Quick Access Menu' shows up, select 'Control Panel' and 'Uninstall a Program'.
  3. Uninstall Default Search and related programs
    Here, look for Default Search or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  4. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'
  5. Remove Default Search from Windows shortcuts
    Right click on the shortcut of Mozilla Firefox and select Properties. Right click on browsers' icon and select 'Properties'
  6. Go to Shortcut tab and look at the Target field. Delete malicious URL that is related to your virus. Select 'Shortcut' tab and delete '' or other suspicious URL

Repeat steps that are given above with all browsers' shortcuts, including Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Make sure you check all locations of these shortcuts, including Desktop, Start Menu and taskbar.

Remove Default Search from Mac OS X system

If your macOS is displaying some infection symptoms, proceed with the following guide:

Remove Default Search from Applications folder:

  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for Default Search-related entries.
  3. Click on the app and drag it to Trash (or right-click and pick Move to Trash)Uninstall from Mac 1

To fully remove Default Search, you need to access Application Support, LaunchAgents, and LaunchDaemons folders and delete relevant files:

  1. Select Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Enter /Library/Application Support and click Go or press Enter.
  3. In the Application Support folder, look for any dubious entries related to Default Search and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the Default Search-related entries.Uninstall from Mac 2

Erase Default Search from Internet Explorer (IE)

Remove dangerous add-ons:

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top-right corner of the browser
  2. Pick Manage Add-ons.
  3. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for Default Search and other suspicious plugins. Click on these entries and select Disable.Remove add-ons from Internet Explorer

Change your homepage if it was altered:

  1. Open IE and click on the Gear icon.
  2. Select Internet Options.
  3. In the General tab, delete the Home page address and replace it by your preferred one (for example,
  4. Click Apply and then select OK.Reset IE homepage

Delete temporary files:

  1. Press on the Gear icon and select Internet Options.
  2. Under Browsing history, click Delete…
  3. Select relevant fields and press Delete.Clear temporary files from Internet Explorer

Reset Internet Explorer:

  1. Click on Gear icon > Internet options and select Advanced tab.
  2. Select Reset.
  3. In the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete Default Search removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Delete Default Search virus from Microsoft Edge

Delete unwanted extensions from MS Edge:

  1. Select Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and pick Extensions.
  2. From the list, pick the Default Search-related extension and click on the Gear icon.
  3. Click on Uninstall at the bottom.Remove extensions from Edge

Clear cookies and other browser data:

  1. Click on the Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and select Privacy & security.
  2. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  3. Select everything (apart from passwords, although you might want to include Media licenses as well, if applicable) and click on Clear.Clear Edge browsing data

Reset MS Edge if that above steps did not work:

  1. Press on Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Click on More details arrow at the bottom of the window.
  3. Select Details tab.
  4. Now scroll down and locate every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right-click on each of them and select End Task to stop MS Edge from running.Reset MS Edge

If this solution failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method. Note that you need to backup your data before proceeding.

  1. Find the following folder on your computer: C:\\Users\\%username%\\AppData\\Local\\Packages\\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  2. Press Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all folders.
  3. Right-click on them and pick DeleteAdvanced MS Edge reset 1
  4. Now right-click on the Start button and pick Windows PowerShell (Admin).
  5. When the new window opens, copy and paste the following command, and then press Enter:

    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\\AppXManifest.xml” -VerboseAdvanced MS Edge reset 2

Instructions for Chromium-based Edge

Delete extensions from MS Edge (Chromium):

  1. Open Edge and click select Settings > Extensions.
  2. Delete unwanted extensions by clicking Remove.Remove extensions from Chromium Edge

Clear cache and site data:

  1. Click on Menu and go to Settings.
  2. Select Privacy and services.
  3. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  4. Under Time range, pick All time.
  5. Select Clear now.Clear browser data from Chroum Edge

Reset Chromium-based MS Edge:

  1. Click on Menu and select Settings.
  2. On the left side, pick Reset settings.
  3. Select Restore settings to their default values.
  4. Confirm with Reset.Reset Chromium Edge

Get rid of Default Search from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Attempt to clean Firefox and then reset it to remove Default Search hijacker from your browser:

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Mozilla Firefox, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Add-ons Extensions. Click on menu icon and select 'Add-ons'
  2. Here, select Default Search and other questionable plugins. Click Remove to delete these entries. Select 'Extensions' and look for malicious entries. Click 'Remove' to get rid of each of them
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the menu (top right corner), choose Options General.
  4. Here, delete malicious URL and enter preferable website or click Restore to default.
  5. Click OK to save these changes. When in 'General' tab, delete malicious URL from 'Home Page' section or click on 'Restore to Default' button. Click 'OK' to save changes
  6. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    Click on the Firefox menu on the top left and click on the question mark. Here, choose Troubleshooting Information. Click on menu icon and then on '?'. Select 'Troubleshooting Information'
  7. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete Default Search removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Eliminate Default Search from Google Chrome

  1. Delete malicious plugins
    Open Google Chrome, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Tools Extensions. Click on menu icon. Select 'Tools' and 'Extensions'
  2. Here, select Default Search and other malicious plugins and select trash icon to delete these entries. Look for malicious entries and delete each of them by clicking on the Trash bin icon
  3. Change your homepage and default search engine if it was altered by your virus
    Click on menu icon and choose Settings.
  4. Here, look for the Open a specific page or set of pages under On startup option and click on Set pages. After clicking on menu and 'Settings', select 'Set pages'
  5. Now you should see another window. Here, delete malicious search sites and enter the one that you want to use as your homepage. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  6. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  7. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  8. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  9. Scroll down to the end of the page and click on Reset browser settings. When in 'Settings', scroll down to 'Reset browser settings' button and click on it
  10. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete Default Search removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Uninstall Default Search from Safari

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for Default Search or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Open your Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu section. Here, select Preferences as it was displayed previously and select General.
  4. Here, look at the Homepage field. If it was altered by Default Search, remove unwanted link and enter the one that you want to use for your searches. Remember to include the "http://" before typing in the address of the page. When in 'General', delete malicious URL and enter your desired domain name
  5. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  6. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete Default Search removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

About the author
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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