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How to remove Ecosia? (2019 guide)

removal by Olivia Morelli - - | Type: Browser Hijackers – a search engine with good intentions, although might be spread with the help of software bundling

Ecosia is a search engine and a browser plugin developed by German-based firm and was first introduced in 2009. The idea of the application is to monetize on people's searches and serve them ads based on their web browsing habits, and then use most of the profits to plant trees around the world. While the idea seems extremely noble, Ecosia is also added to browser hijacker category, as it alters the homepage, new tab URL, as well as a search engine of Google Chrome or another browser.

Users might also find their web browser settings changed to after they install free applications from third-party sites. This is due to a technique called software bundling, a marketing scheme used to trick users into installing potentially unwanted apps.

Questions about virus

There are plenty of potentially unwanted programs on the world wide web that claim to be extremely useful in one way or another just to gain the revenue from the information tracking, redirects to affiliated sites and intrusive ads displayed on most domains that users visit. In any case, planting trees while searching the web might seem like an attractive idea, but questions like “Is Ecosia legit?”, “Is Ecosia a virus”, “Is Ecosia a scam?” are still floating around the internet up to this day.

Name Ecosia
Type Browser hijacker
Sub-type Potentially unwanted program
Appearance This browser extension can be installed on browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, etc.
Distribution Bundles, unsecured third-party sources
Deletion Reimage can help you to get rid of this extension and the modified search engine

Developers present this program as a free search tool that generates advertising-based revenue for planting trees. According to the information, they have already planted more than 59 million trees with the help of millions of active users in Indonesia,[1] Madagascar, Nicaragua, Peru, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania. Despite the ambitious and generous goal to plant a billion trees by 2020, is still considered a potentially unwanted program (PUP).

The popularity of this browser extension is really stunning. We had performed research and found out that people have been making searches about this app even in various different languages and terms! Furthermore, the search engine name has even been typed into Wikipedia and presented in detail. Ecosia wiki claims that this application is:[2]

an Internet search engine based in Berlin, Germany, that plants trees by donating 80% or more of its surplus income to non-profit organizations that focus on reforestation and conservationism.

Despite its nice promotion, there are many different types of reviews on the Internet. Some users are doubtful if this engine is safe to use, and others argue if this search engine is better for the environment than Google.[3] Even though this type of app appears not to be malware we can not close our eyes to the fact that it deserves the name of a browser hijacker due to the web browser settings modification, as well as possibly dubious infiltration techniques.

Ecosia extension
Ecosia extension is used to collect all browsing-related details, such as PC's IP address, its location and similar details

First of all, we noticed that this hijacker is very popular on Chrome, so it has also earned the name of Chrome. After taking over the web browser, i.e. performing unwanted changes to the search engine, homepage, and new tab URL sections, this hijacker starts displaying sponsored content through search results. 

Another problem of this extension might be Ecosia tracking. This means that the browser hijacker can also be used for tracking users' searches, visited sites, IP address, and similar browsing-related information. Collected data helps in setting the behavioral marketing[4] strategy and the only way to prevent it is to perform Ecosia removal from the computer and web browser apps.

This browser extension might also deliver an intrusive, aggressive, and in some cases, even dangerous commercial content. By dangerous we mean various scamming deals that try to swindle your money or personal information. Also, they might accidentally redirect you to infectious pages. To protect yourself from redirects caused after clicking one of its ads, you should remove Ecosia from your computer. This can be done with the help of Reimage.

Additional problems caused by this browser hijacker

One of the main questions users might be asking is whether or not Ecosia actually does what it claims – plants trees for the acquired revenue. While it does openly display their financial reports, it is not a public company, so no verification for this information exists.

No matter that Ecosia claims that it is powered by Bing search, the Privacy Policy of this search site notifies that it might alter search results. Thus, in the top of the search results, you might find plenty of commercial content. As a result, finding useful information might be complicated.

Indeed, the idea of the project is beautiful. However, it’s better to uninstall Ecosia and donate the money directly to organizations that solve various environmental problems. Be aware that there are plenty of organizations that claim good deeds but in reality only care about benefits, claiming something entirely different.

Therefore, while the answer to the question “Is Ecosia a virus” is a no, its legitimacy can still be doubted on.  Ecosia is still considered a potentially unwanted program (PUP) that has been promoted by promising to plant trees around the world

The questionable infiltration method of this search engine

No matter that this search engine has an official website, its developers have also been applying a controversial distribution strategy, called “software bundles” or simply “bundling”.[5] This software marketing method allows adding PUP as an additional component to software packages.

Many programs that can be freely downloaded from P2P networks, file-sharing sites, torrents, and other insecure sources are bundles that include various PUPs. This virus exactly like that. If you have noticed it on your computer, you must have downloaded some freeware or shareware under Quick/Recommended settings.

The problem with such setup is that it rarely inform about third-party applications included in a software package. However, installing programs under these settings, users give indirect permission to download the whole bundle. Meanwhile, Advanced/Custom installation wizard reveals what additional apps were added in the package and allows stopping their installation.

In order to avoid undesired programs, you have to always opt for this setup and carefully follow each of the steps.

Getting rid of Ecosia browser hijacker

Technically, Ecosia is not a virus. It’s a potentially unwanted program. However, due to negative features and ability to show up on the browser unexpectedly, this PUP was named as a virus. No matter that it cannot cause huge damage to the computer, you should not keep this hijacker installed on your computer.

To remove Ecosia virus, you have either manual or automatic removal options. You should select one of them as soon as it makes the appearance on your system because it can cause additional problems. Besides, our team has prepared provided illustrated removal instructions. Follow them carefully and make sure that you delete all hijacker-related entries entirely.

If manual Ecosia removal seems complicated, you should opt for the second option. Automatic elimination method offers to delete the hijacker with anti-malware program.

Visual representation of Ecosia removal

Ecosia might be bundled with freeware and shareware, which means that users might not always notice when the potentially unwanted program sneaks into machines. Besides, its claims of planting trees constantly cannot be verified – it might be just another program that seeks to gain revenue by users clicking on various sponsored links.

If you decided that Ecosia search engine is not for you and would like to keep browsing the web by using reputable sources like or, you should uninstall the program. In this video, we show which steps need to be taken in order to delete Ecosia from all browsers and go back to the original search engine and homepage.

You can remove virus damage automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner, Malwarebytes. We recommend these applications because they detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove virus, follow these steps:

Erase from Windows systems

To remove this hijacker from Windows, check the list of installed programs and uninstall suspicious entries that might be related to the browser hijacker.

  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 and related programs
    Here, look for 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 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.

Uninstall from Mac OS X system

To remove Ecosia from Mac, you have to delete suspicious applications from the system. Make sure you check every questionable app that you can find in the list.

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'

Remove from Internet Explorer (IE)

Reset IE browser in order to get rid of hijacker-related entries.

  1. Remove dangerous add-ons
    Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top right corner of the browser and choose Manage Add-ons. Click on menu icon and select 'Manage add-ons'
  2. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for and other suspicious plugins. Disable these entries by clicking Disable: Right click on each of malicious entries and select 'Disable'
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the gear icon (menu) on the top right corner of the browser and select Internet Options. Stay in General tab.
  4. Here, remove malicious URL and enter preferable domain name. Click Apply to save changes. Delete malicious URL, enter your desired domain name and click 'Apply' to save changes
  5. Reset Internet Explorer
    Click on the gear icon (menu) again and select Internet options. Go to Advanced tab.
  6. Here, select Reset.
  7. When in the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again

Delete virus from Microsoft Edge

To clean Microsoft Edge after the hijack, follow the steps below.

Reset Microsoft Edge settings (Method 1):

  1. Launch Microsoft Edge app and click More (three dots at the top right corner of the screen).
  2. Click Settings to open more options.
  3. Once Settings window shows up, click Choose what to clear button under Clear browsing data option. Go to Settings and select 'Choose what to clear'
  4. Here, select all what you want to remove and click Clear. Select 'Clear' button
  5. Now you should right-click on the Start button (Windows logo). Here, select Task Manager. Open the start menu and select 'Task Manager'
  6. When in Processes tab, search for Microsoft Edge.
  7. Right-click on it and choose Go to details option. If can’t see Go to details option, click More details and repeat previous steps. Right-click 'Microsoft Edge' and select 'Go to details' Select 'More details' if 'Go to details' option fails to show up
  8. When Details tab shows up, find every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right click on each of them and select End Task to end these entries. Find Microsoft Edge entries and select 'End Task'

Resetting Microsoft Edge browser (Method 2):

If Method 1 failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method.

  1. Note: you need to backup your data before using this method.
  2. Find this folder on your computer: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  3. Select every entry which is saved on it and right click with your mouse. Then Delete option. Go to Microsoft Edge folder on your computer, right-click every entry and click 'Delete'
  4. Click the Start button (Windows logo) and type in window power in Search my stuff line.
  5. Right-click the Windows PowerShell entry and choose Run as administrator. Find Windows PowerShell, right-click it and select 'Run as administrator'
  6. Once Administrator: Windows PowerShell window shows up, paste this command line after PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> and press Enter:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml -Verbose}
    Copy and paste a required command and press 'Enter'

Once these steps are finished, should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

Eliminate from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Remove Ecosia browser extension, as well as other add-ons that may have been installed to Firefox. Then, reset the browser. It helps to delete tracking cookies.

  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 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 removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Get rid of from Google Chrome

To fix Chrome, look up for suspicious extensions and uninstall them. There might be installed some tracking cookies. Thus, you should remove them as well by resetting the browser.

  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 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 removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Erase from Safari

Follow the steps below to terminate the hijacker from Safari entirely.

  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 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, 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 removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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