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Remove PDFSearchz (Removal Instructions) - Free Guide

removal by Lucia Danes - -   Also known as PDF-Searchz | Type: Browser Hijackers

PDFSearchz – a potentially unwanted application that hijacks your searches

PDFSearchzPDFSearchz is a browser hijacker that inserts ads into your searches

PDFSearchz is yet another creation of potentially unwanted program developers. Since it mainly spreads via software bundles and other deceptive channels, many users find the extension on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or MS Edge, seemingly out of nowhere. Once installed, it would perform several browser changes, including modification to the homepage and new tab address (it is set to portal.pdf-searchz.com). After the hijack, the PUP would redirect all searches to Yahoo, insert intrusive ads, and track user activity for marketing purposes.

Name PDFSearchz 
Type Browser hijacker, potentially unwanted program
IP address 104.27.169.69 
Distribution Software bundles, deceptive ads, fake update prompts
Symptoms An extension or application is installed on the system; homepage and new tab address are set to portal.pdf-searchz.com; search results redirect to search.yahoo.com; a customized search engine is appended to the homepage; search results are filled with sponsored links and ads
Risks Installation of other potentially unwanted programs, privacy risks due to information gathering practices, 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 normal settings. To revert these changes and remediate the OS, perform a full system scan with Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego repair software

PDFSearchz hijacker belongs to a broader group of PUPs that are most commonly rebranded and distributed as a new product. Previously-released apps include HDSportSearchs, MovieSearches, FunSearchToday, and many others. These apps are almost virtually identical, as the only difference is the icon used to promote them. Otherwise, the functionality remains the same – to hijack user browsers and deliver sponsored content, earning profits in the process.

And, since PDFSearchz most commonly gains access to users' computers in deceptive methods such as software bundling, the developers include several attributes to make people keep it installed for as long as possible. For that, the hijacker inserts seemingly useful features, such as a cryptocurrency converter or a calculator. However, don't let these features deceive you – there is very little use of them.

Since the so-called PDFSearchz virus engages in the browser modifications, users always find the portal.pdf-searchz.com as their homepage, new tab, and search engine address. When used, users will quickly notice that Google is redirecting to Yahoo, and that search results look nothing like they are used to.

Despite Yahoo being a legitimate and trusted search engine, the browser hijacker inserts sponsored links to unknown websites. Since they are placed at the top of search results, users are likely to click on them, generating profits for the developers though the pay-per-click[1] scheme. The only way to stop this behavior is to remove PDFSearchz from their web browsers or computers.

PDFSearchz hijackPDFSearchz is a potentially unwanted program that redirects all searches to Yahoo

Another deceptive trait of a browser hijacker is that it is set to spy on users' online behavior. With the help of cookies, web beacons, and similar technologies, the developers of the app are capable of spying on users' searches, visited websites, clicked links, IP address, ISP provider, and much more. This behavior is described on portal.pdf-searchz.com's Privacy Policy page:[2]

Non-Personal Information may be automatically transmitted by the user's device. When using our Service, we assign your device with a log file, a cookie (session or persistent), web beacons or other related technologies, to collect Non-Personal Information with respect to your activity in connection with our Service.

While in most cases the PDFSearchz hijack is related to an extension that is likely to be clipped to the web browser, it might be difficult to eliminate, as previous members of the hijacker family used to apply “Managed by your organization” feature. This would prevent users from uninstalling the extension easily.

However, there are ways to bypass this when attempting PDFSearchz removal. In most cases, users should be able to delete the extension in a regular way. If not successful, you should try to clean the web browser as instructed in the guidelines below. It is also recommended to scan the machine with anti-malware tools and then attempt repair Windows damage with Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego.

PUPs spread through software bundles – use correct installation settings of freeware

Most users are aware that malicious programs exist somewhere on the internet and by now know that downloading suspicious executables can be dangerous. However, potentially unwanted applications are being spread around regularly, and what users describe as “stealthy installation” is not that mysterious after all. This is because PUP authors and distributors employ software bundle packages to install apps behind less cautions users' backs. 

While bundles can be encountered on most third-party sites,[3] freeware apps are where the issue lies. The main goal of distributing “free” software is showing visitors ads or making them install applications that never intended in the first place (there is no such a thing as completely free software unless it is open source). To slip in PUPs, developers employ pre-ticked boxes, fine print text, misleading button placements, and other tricks that would make users not notice the optional components within the installer.

PDFSearchz distributionPDFSearchz can be found on various websites as well as software bundles downloaded from third-parties

Therefore, it is vital to be vigilant when installing new apps on the system. You should never rush through steps, read the installation instructions carefully, and, most importantly, always choose the Advanced or Custom settings rather than Recommended ones. If the latter is chosen, you automatically agree to install apps you know nothing about. Also, a robust security application can warn you about PUPs, so you should keep an updated anti-malware on your system at all times.

PDFSearchz removal options

As mentioned above, you will most commonly encounter a browser hijacker as an extension that is appended to your web browser. Thus, to remove PDFSearchz hijack from your system, you need to locate and eliminate the unwanted add-on. This way, you will get rid of the changed browser settings and redirects to sponsored sites. To find out how to clean your web browser and delete extensions, you can check the instructions provided below. In case the browser hijack is not related to the extension, you can also look for programs installed on your Windows or Mac system.

If you struggle with PDFSearchz removal for some reason, you can try to reset your web browser and scan the machine with a powerful anti-malware tool, such as SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes. This way, you could also find and delete other potentially unwanted applications and malware that could be completely invisible otherwise.

You may remove virus damage with a help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego. 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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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 PDFSearchz, follow these steps:

Eliminate PDFSearchz from Windows systems

Uninstall potentially unwanted programs from a Windows computer:

  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 PDFSearchz and related programs
    Here, look for PDFSearchz 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 PDFSearchz 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 'http://isearch.babylon.com...' 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.

Erase PDFSearchz from Mac OS X system

If your macOS is showing too many ads, try to eliminate all the browser hijackers and adware from your system:

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

Remove PDFSearchz from Applications folder:

  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for PDFSearchz-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 PDFSearchz, 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 PDFSearchz and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the PDFSearchz-related entries.Uninstall from Mac 2

Get rid of PDFSearchz 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 PDFSearchz 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, Google.com).
  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 PDFSearchz removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Delete PDFSearchz 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 PDFSearchz-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

Remove PDFSearchz from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

You should attempt to uninstall PDFSearchz from Firefox by deleting the extension from the 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 PDFSearchz 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 PDFSearchz removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Uninstall PDFSearchz from Google Chrome

In case you are unable to get rid of the extension manually, you can attempt to reset 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 PDFSearchz 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 PDFSearchz removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

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

Protect your privacy – employ a VPN

There are several ways how to make your online time more private – you can access an incognito tab. However, there is no secret that even in this mode, you are tracked for advertising purposes. There is a way to add an extra layer of protection and create a completely anonymous web browsing practice with the help of Private Internet Access VPN. This software reroutes traffic through different servers, thus leaving your IP address and geolocation in disguise. Besides, it is based on a strict no-log policy, meaning that no data will be recorded, leaked, and available for both first and third parties. The combination of a secure web browser and Private Internet Access VPN will let you browse the Internet without a feeling of being spied or targeted by criminals. 

No backups? No problem. Use a data recovery tool

If you wonder how data loss can occur, you should not look any further for answers – human errors, malware attacks, hardware failures, power cuts, natural disasters, or even simple negligence. In some cases, lost files are extremely important, and many straight out panic when such an unfortunate course of events happen. Due to this, you should always ensure that you prepare proper data backups on a regular basis.

If you were caught by surprise and did not have any backups to restore your files from, not everything is lost. Data Recovery Pro is one of the leading file recovery solutions you can find on the market – it is likely to restore even lost emails or data located on an external device.

About the author
Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

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