How to Remove AssistiveDisplaySearch on Mac

macOS is equipped with various tools to improve not just Mac’s performance, but also to optimize your browsing experience. However, there are also a lot of applications claiming to perform functions not covered by the built-in tools, and this is what malicious third-parties take advantage of.

Optimization tools and malicious extensions are some of the common forms that malware takes when infecting computers. This is because most people would not suspect utilities like these to be malicious.

AssistiveDisplaySearch is one of those tools posing as useful software for your Mac. But instead of helping, it actually brings more harm to your computer. Let’s get to know more about AssistiveDisplaySearch in this article and how you can get rid of it from your computer.

What Is AssistiveDisplaySearch on Mac?

AssistiveDisplaySearch is a potentially unwanted program (PUP) that is also categorized as an adware program and targets mostly Mac operating systems. Once it infects your Mac, its first goal is to initiate some changes to the settings of macOS and your installed browsers. Since Safari is the default browser on most Macs, this browser is the most affected. However, AssistiveDisplaySearch is also known to target other web browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

The first thing that you’ll notice is the presence of suspicious and persistent ads. The ads won’t go away even if you close them. You might also be overwhelmed by browser redirects, new browser windows, pop-ups, and banners when browsing the internet.

AssistiveDisplaySearch’s main goal is to generate ad traffic for its clients. So if you click an ad generated by the adware, the authors will get paid. AssistiveDisplaySearch’s primary aim is to utilize this adware for monetization purposes, so they don’t care about the security level of the websites being promoted. Because of this, never click the ads generated by this Mac adware because you might be redirected to dangerous websites. Some promoted websites might also present misleading information in an attempt to make you install a rogue application or give up your personal information.

If you think the AssistiveDisplaySearch adware has infiltrated your Mac, you should take immediate action to remove this threat from both your infected system and browser.

How Is AssistiveDisplaySearch Distributed?

App bundling is the most popular way of distributing this PUP/adware. When you install freeware or shareware from untrusted sources, there is a huge chance that it comes with an extra PUP. You’ll be able to notice or catch this bundled app when you go through every step of the installation process and read all the instructions. Sadly, most people prefer the Quick Install option, making it easier to miss the additional software installed along with your download app.

Clicking malicious ads or visiting infected websites can also trigger the download and self-installation of the AssistiveDisplaySearch malware. You might not even be aware that the malware has been installed on your Mac because of the sneaky manner with which it has been installed.

AssistiveDisplaySearch is also distributed actively via scam emails containing links to websites where this malware is hosted or via malicious attachments. So when you receive any suspicious email, even if it’s from someone you know, don’t click on the attachments or links in the email.

How Does AssistiveDisplaySearch Work?

Since AssistiveDisplaySearch is considered adware for macOS, then it is not a malicious program. It is not a Mac virus, but it brings a certain level of threat to your Mac because it lowers online security through the generation of bogus ads. Ads displayed by AssistiveDisplaySearch may redirect you to poorly secured or even shady websites that might endanger your overall system security or expose your sensitive data.

You might also notice that your browser settings have been modified. The default search engine, home page, and new tab page are usually changed to a URL that is promoted by the adware. And no matter what you do, you can’t change them back. If you try to do so, the values set by the adware comes back after some time.

But aside from delivering ads, the adware also triggers various tracking technologies to spy on your online activities and send them to the malware’s servers. Some of the information harvested from your Mac includes usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data.

Stay secured by deleting AssistiveDisplaySearch from your Mac and all affected browsers using the AssistiveDisplaySearch removal instructions below.

How to Get Rid of AssistiveDisplaySearch on Mac

Here’s a summary of the AssistiveDisplaySearch virus on Mac:

Name: AssistiveDisplaySearch / Assistive Display Search
Type: Adware/PUP/browser hijacker
Description: A malicious software that hijacks Safari and other browsers installed on macOS to generate annoying ads.
Symptoms: Browser settings (homepage, new tab page and search engine) have been modified. Slow browsing experience may occur due to an increased number of ads.
Distribution: Email scams, Malvertising, Bundled Packages

In order to remove AssistiveDisplaySearch from your Mac, you need to delete all the entries created by the adware. To do this, you need to combine automatic and manual removal approaches. But before you do so, here are some of the preparatory steps you need to take:

  • Back up your files to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
  • Optimize your Mac by getting rid of junk files and unnecessary files using a Mac cleaner.
  • Charge your Mac in case the removal process takes a long time to complete.

Once you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to move on to the main solutions:

Step 1: Stop All AssistiveDisplaySearch Processes.

Make sure that AssistiveDisplaySearch is completely closed by quitting all its processes. You can do this via Activity Monitor on your Mac. Find all processes related to AssistiveDisplaySearch and end them before proceeding.

Step 2: Uninstall AssistiveDisplaySearch Adware.

  1. On Finder, click the Go > Applications. You should see a list of all the apps currently installed on your Mac.
  2. Find the app associated with AssistiveDisplaySearch. Right-click on the app, then choose Move to Trash.
  3. To completely get rid of AssistiveDisplaySearch, empty your Trash. 

Step 4: Delete AssistiveDisplaySearch Login Items.

  1. Open System Preferences, then choose Accounts.
  2. Click on the Login Items tab. This will show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in.
  3. Look for any login items created by the AssistiveDisplaySearch adware.
  4. Highlight the entry you want to stop from running automatically, and then click on the (-) icon to delete it.

Step 5: Delete Leftover Files.

  1. Click on Go > Go to Folder from the Finder menu.
  2. Copy and paste the following paths below one by one to open them:
    • /Library/LauchAgents/
    • ~/Library/LaunchAgents
    • /Library/LaunchDaemons
  3. Delete malicious items in these folders related to AssistiveDisplaySearch.

Step 6: Remove AssistiveDisplaySearch From Safari.

1. Delete suspicious extensions

Launch the Safari web browser and click on Safari from the top menu. Click Preferences from the drop-down menu. Click on the Extensions tab at the top, then view the list of currently installed extensions on the left menu. Look for AssistiveDisplaySearch. Click the Uninstall button to remove the extension. Do this for all your suspected malicious extensions.

2. Revert changes to your homepage

Open Safari, then click Safari > Preferences. Click on General. Check out the Homepage field and see if this has been edited. If your homepage was changed by AssistiveDisplaySearch, delete the URL and type in the homepage you want to use. Make sure to include the HTTP:// before the address of the webpage.

3. Reset Safari

Open the Safari app and click on Safari from the menu at the upper-left of the screen. Click on Reset Safari. A dialog window will open where you can choose which elements you want to reset. Next, click the Reset button to complete the action.

Summary

AssistiveDisplaySearch and other Mac-based malware are proofs that macOS is not immune to attacks. You can protect your Mac by diligently practicing safe internet habits, installing a trustworthy antivirus, and getting rid of threats as soon as they are detected.

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