Monday, August 03, 2009

MyWebSearch Hijacked Firefox on Mac? Here's how to remove it

This post is mostly relevant to Mac OS X. If you are affected by this browser redirect hijack on Windows, this Post should help. If that does not work, the following browser hijack solution may still be helpful to you as well.


If this article is helpful to you, the best way to let me know is through comments. Of course, I dare not ask you to click on Google Ads :-)

If you are facing browser location bar search hijack problem from Comcast, follow instructions here to disable DNS helper from Comcast - you will need your comcast.net user id - http://dns-opt-out.comcast.net/help-index.php

This morning, I was browsing through TrafficSwarm, a traffic generation website where one browses other sites to get credits to get traffic on your site.

One of the web sites listed in their advertisements for credits pointed to a website that lured me into providing an auto layout design tool along with smileys (Unfortunately, at the time, I did not realize that this nasty browser redirect hijack tool MyWebSearch was behind it, and do not remember the website that dished this out to me, Sorry about that).

I downloaded this Firefox extension naively and as soon as it restarted Firefox, all browsing came down to a halt while I saw a new web search tool bar was added to my Firefox toolbar. This toolbar was never mentioned in the download page. Now, I was trying to figure out if Comcast had an outage or my router was out, etc only to realize a few minutes later that Safari was working fine (helps to have multiple browsers :) ).

I uninstalled this extension and Firefox was happy again and launched and got on with my work.
A couple of hours later, I typed a search query into the location bar :


I would usually get Google search results or a direct website hit based on their "I'm feeling Lucky" algorithm. Instead I got this :


Basically, my browser was hijacked by MyWebSearch to do browser redirection to their site. Now I went through all of the Firefox system preferences to see if I could change back my default search engine to Google but could not find any that pertained to that. More googling later someone suggested looking at about:config for something unrelated.

I went to the (now well known) configuration location for Firefox by typing "about:config" on the location bar. Searching for "defaultSearch" in the filter bar, gave me "Google" as the default engine.

Darn it, where did they put their redirect hijack config in ?

Puzzled, I now put in "myweb" in the filter bar and lo and behold, there was this nasty user set setting below that showed, how this trojan hijacked by browser without asking me.



I clicked with two fingers on the track pad (the one that brings up pop up menus on Macs), and selected "Reset" for both the lines.

And now it was set back to the default :

And now the search result is back to Google :

Glad this nasty episode of browser redirect hijack is over.

If you are in a similar situation, hope this entry helps you.

Or best yet, be warned about how browser hijack can affect you. I see all around the web people struggling with this even more when it comes to Windows as it never seems to go away completely.

57 comments:

  1. THANK YOU!!!!!! U SAVE MY COMPUTER!!!
    WISH I COULD REPAY U. HAVE A GREAT LIFE! (srry if it sounds weird, its a thing i say 2 ppl)

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  2. @Jonathan
    Glad to be of help - just thought of sharing the goodness after I went through much frustration with this trojan.

    @Anonymous
    Thanks for the comment and glad to be of help. I guess one way to return the favor is to click on an ad. :-)

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  3. Wish I could say the same but unforunately after I reset the two, i close firefox and it comes back

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  4. Hi Steve
    Sorry this has not worked for you. I am hoping you followed all the steps here but are still seeing it. Did you completely quit Firefox and restart it ? I know that in Mac one has to actually do a "command" Q to quit out of Firefox completely.
    Could you share here what the values of the two parameters are currently? And is the tool bar uninstalled?

    I hope I can help you.

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  5. I followed step by step, and was set to default which was google. Then after I command Q, and restart, it and i do a search it comes back as mywebsearch. I go back into about:config and search my websearch, and its back in the same spot unfortunately. If you like I could do a quick screencast if you like. This fix seems to fix some of the readers default search but does not remove the mywebsearch installation. If you have any other suggestions, let me know, I will definitely check back periodically!!

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  6. I removed it. I did a workaround. I backed up all my firefox extentions using the addon FEBE, exported anything else added, removed firefox thoroughly through appcleaner (freeware), then used febe again and imported everything back in. mywebsearch is all gone

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  7. Wow, Steve! A lot of work to clean out the mess.
    Thanks for sharing the steps here and glad it has worked out for you

    This is a special case where the steps I outline did not work out but given the success others have had with the steps I described, I wonder what was different in your environment that made you go through far more involved steps.

    A blog entry on that perhaps ? :-) Link back here once you have it

    Cheers !

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  8. Steve
    I tried your further steps using FEBE and AppCleaner and one thing that I have been noticing since I posted this blog entry - sluggish firefox performance after a couple of page loads - is gone after a new install using your steps.

    So you are my savior :-) Thank you so much.

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  9. this was great - my results for the search were slightly different (maybe a newer OS or a stealthier trojan) - either way it helped... thanks.

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  10. I've tried your step-by-step instruction with no avail.

    I'm afraid my filter bar search isn't finding the items that I need to find. I am running mac/os leopard and have tried searching various websites and various searching methods on my comp. I really think mywebsearch has done critical hacking to firefox itself because I can't seem to locate a user preference with usual search methods. Please advise.

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  11. Hi Kwame
    Sorry to hear you still have the issue. Not sure if you have seen this but I came across this forum posting on Mozilla that refers to my blog entry but also has some suggestions wrt preferences that may be relevant.

    http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/forum/1/478246

    I hope that post can help you. Perhaps you could post a follow up on that thread. There may be a way out of it.

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  12. I am following your instructions but my first line is different. It says:

    greasemonkey.scriptvals.none/Rich Text Editor for DelphiForums.Smileys;http://ffextensionguru.com/gofirefox...

    Is that safe to reset?

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  13. THANK YOU!!! This worked like a charm. That was 2 weeks of confusing hell I was in with mywebsearch.

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  14. Aaaah thank you! I was putting up with this for a while mostly because I was just too lazy to figure out how to fix it but I just couldn't take it anymore...easier than I thought it would be to get rid of, your article was a big help!

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  15. OH MY GOD THANK YOU!!! I have been searching for this solution for over 2 weeks! I had looked in the about:config before as well and it never dawned on me to search for myweb!!! SERIOUSLY THANK YOU!!

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  16. You are the man!!! That worked perfect. Thank You!!!

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  17. This was the magic bullet! I tried every control panel fix, browser tool fix, etc. This finally solved my problem. Thank you.

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  18. worked perfectly, evil mywebsearch! i know your secretly collecting my search information so you can it to china! why? im not sure! what are your motives mywebsearch?!

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  19. so i just attempted the steps as given and when I went to the about:config on the url and searched myweb, it only had one line (one program), so i double finger clicked and reset as it said in the steps. when i did, it reset my google bar on the top right side of the page. the problem is the mywebsearch bar is still on my page near the upper left side (under the url bar). i'm obviously missing some step here, can you help me out? i will look at this site everyday since i do not want this to become a huge problem. let me know if you need more info from me. i appreciate your help, thanks! (just fyi i don't have an account that's why this is being sent as anonymous).

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  20. Hi I'm having trouble. Where is the filter bar?

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  21. Thank you so much, this has been driving me crazy for weeks, and you're the first person I've come across to give the correct advice for Mac users.

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  23. OMG - finally! I've been trying to figure out how to get rid of that damn mywebsearch re-direct and nothing worked. Now it's all back to how I want it, thanks to your article.

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  24. Thanks so much for posting this! I was having the same issue, but my nemesis was yahoo. It was driving me crazy!

    In appreciation, I followed a few of your ad links. And now I know the secrets of mind control. Well, I would, If I'd only taken advantage of their fabulous offer. :)

    So, that's a double-header for me... firefox is fixed and I got a few chuckles from a crazy ad. Yay!

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  25. Thanks FeederGoldfish. Glad the post helped and thanks for the clicks :-)

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  26. Thank you so much. I've tried getting rid of this stinking thing for 3 weeks. I've read many other 'helpful' articles, but they've only led to frustration and confusion. I even went to mindspark.com, the creators of mywebsearch, and followed their instructions on how to remove their own program, nada... Your solution was SIMPLE!!!

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  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Steve YOU ARE THE MAN!!!

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  28. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    Steve... YOU ARE THE MAN!!!

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  29. For those still having trouble don't forget to go to >tools>add-ons and remove the myweb tool bar first.

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  30. Worked great! Thanks so much!!

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  31. Thank you. That thing has been bugging me for a month.

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  32. Like a charm....thank you, thank you. I truly appreciate you posting this fix!

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  33. Very helpful! Thank you for sharing this!!

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  34. Thank you so much. I have been working on this for a year. I basically just gave up on using the location bar. Firefox has the most intuitive location bar search.

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  35. OMG .... can't thank you enough .... you are the man!!!!

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  36. How can I donate through PayPal?
    I need an e-mail.

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  37. Yes indeed you need an email address and a credit card/bank account to sign up for Paypal. You can sign up here : http://bit.ly/dkKeod

    Thank you very much for the thought of contributing - I appreciate even that :-)

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  38. ohmygosh thank you so much I looked online for a while and finally found this. the mywebsearch thing was really ruining my internet experience.

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  39. But how do you remove mywebsearch from Safari? I'm at my wits end. Don't have firefox, but it has hijacked Safari on my Mac.

    There is NO discussion of this out there I can find and I beg for your help.

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  40. Unfortunately, on my Mac, Safari stopped working about a year ago after a Mac software update and the folks at Apple could not figure it out. Reinstalling the browser did not help and since then I have moved to Chrome and Firefox alternatively and I am quite happy with Chrome.

    I am sorry I have no context into the inner workings of Safari. If I come across any link on that I will post it here.

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  41. THANK YOU SO MUCH... I've had this problem for some longgggg months now

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  42. You are very welcome. :)

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  43. thank you!!!!! you are the best!!!!

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  44. Thank you so much it was driving me crazy getting this crap off my machine! Awesome thank you thank you!

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  45. Could u help me to find filter bar?

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  46. Great!!!! It worked for me...
    I did not wanted to uninstall and reinstall firefox..
    before this I have tried usning revo uninstaller to uninstall mywebsearch but it was not removed completely.. so I manually removed all the registry entries for mywebsearch... still no go..
    but this method worked and it is so simple..
    Thanks..

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  47. Thank's! You realy helped me with this MWS scam

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  48. I have no idea what You are talking about. Can You dumb it down, please. I mean, A LOT!

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  49. type "about:config" where the URL is listed - then it shows you all the preferences. then look for what she mention or ALSO TRY - browser:startup.homepage_override.......
    For me the redirect was inserted there (browser:startup.homepage_override.mstone) . I just typed over the 'Value' with the correct homepage URL. (for me" my.earthlink.net")

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  50. Thank you very much.

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  51. Thank you very very very much. Had it with Yahoo. Problem solved!

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  52. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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