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Remove CoolNewTabTheme virus from macOS

A new adware outbreak is giving Mac users a hard time with unauthorized browser redirects to Yahoo Search via malicious URL.

Mac malware strains such as the Cool New Tab Theme browser hijacker heavily rely on users’ slip-ups. Social engineering works, and cybercriminals probably know it better than ethical hackers and penetration testers. Combined with a good deal of technical trickery, this abuse vector has an extraordinarily high success rate. For instance, booby-trapped programs distributed on questionably safe web resources can be a temptation to install due to their purported bells and whistles, but the aftermath of this momentary impulse is likely to make users frown in the long run. Downloading and installing an application or browser add-on off of unofficial software marketplaces is a common route leading to a dangerous sharp turn. Unfortunately, sometimes even legitimate app repositories can be riddled with potentially unwanted applications (PUAs). This is the case with the infection under scrutiny, which forwards a victim’s browser to

Chrome redirected via

Until recently, it was arriving at Mac computers under the guise of an extension called “Emoji Keyboard” available on the Chrome Web Store. It’s no longer available there, but the culprit keeps spreading via alternative channels. The above-mentioned extension isn’t the only one that causes a takeover of one’s Internet preferences. Some Mac users have reported the same predicament take root after they added a dark mode add-on to the browser. Whereas there are plenty of similar apps to choose from, many people fall for exaggerated product descriptions that are part of the malefactors’ plan. This particular entity is no longer listed on the official Chrome store, probably courtesy of the proprietor’s strict content verification practices. And yet, the operators of this malvertising hoax appear to be busy launching concurrent campaigns.

No matter how exactly the dodgy extension ends up inside a system, its ultimate goal is to incessantly redirect the browser to From there, the web navigation leaps further to Essentially, this evil scheme turns out to be a knockoff of the infamous Yahoo redirect virus haunting Macs for years. There are different implementations of the forcible browser rerouting process. Another notorious persona of this ruse relies on a network of associated sub-domains interwoven with a sketchy web service called Safe Finder. The recent technique with the Cool New Tab Theme adware at its core could be a game-changer in this cybercrime environment. Only time will tell whether the black hats plan on switching entirely to the fresh tactic. In the meanwhile, Mac users are increasingly complaining of the sudden overhaul of browser settings that pushes a new intermediate domain bolstering the old scheme.

Cool New Tab Theme virus reroutes the browser to

As previously mentioned, the logic of the attack involves a PUA camouflaged as a nifty browser extension. The above examples (emoji and dark mode add-ons) are just several instances – in fact, there are many more. The troublemaker can as well be a search enhancement tool, a streaming video downloader, or a nice-looking browser theme. Some users pay little attention to technicalities such as the permissions approval, only to discover that the ostensibly handy app they have just installed wreaks havoc with their system in addition to delivering the alleged features. Once inside a Mac computer, the pest adds a configuration profile that extends its impact beyond the web browser it’s originally designed for. The most conspicuous symptom is that Google Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox start redirecting to[search terms]. The fragment in brackets is what’s being typed in the address bar during web searches.

This isn’t the landing page, though. It simply dispatches the further flow of the traffic so that the affected web browser ultimately returns Yahoo Search results. At that point, the Yahoo Hosted Search (YHS) framework kicks in, the one that allows the perpetrators to monetize their unethical activity of capturing and redistributing Mac users’ traffic. When trying to revert to correct preferences, the victims mostly fail because the underlying malware maintains persistence and re-applies the rogue settings at the browser level after what seems to be a successful fix. This is why the effective remediation is a matter of disabling the malicious components at different layers of the plagued system. The following sections will explain what should be done to stop the Cool New Tab Theme virus from hijacking a browser.

Cool New Tab Theme virus manual removal for Mac

The steps listed below will walk you through the removal of this malicious application. Be sure to follow the instructions in the specified order.

  1. Expand the Go menu in your Mac’s Finder bar and select Utilities as shown below.

    Go to Utilities

  2. Locate the Activity Monitor icon on the Utilities screen and double-click on it.

    Select the Activity Monitor

  3. In the Activity Monitor app, look for a process that appears suspicious. To narrow down your search, focus on unfamiliar resource-intensive entries on the list. Keep in mind that its name isn’t necessarily related to the way the threat is manifesting itself, so you’ll need to trust your own judgement. If you pinpoint the culprit, select it and click on the Stop icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

    Stop malicious process

  4. When a follow-up dialog pops up asking if you are sure you want to quit the troublemaking process, select the Force Quit option.

    Select the Force Quit option

  5. Click on the Go menu icon in the Finder again and select Go to Folder. You can as well use the Command-Shift-G keyboard shortcut.

    Use the Go to Folder feature

  6. Type /Library/LaunchAgents in the folder search dialog and click on the Go button.

    Open /Library/LaunchAgents folder

  7. Examine the contents of the LaunchAgents folder for dubious-looking items. Be advised that the names of files spawned by malware may give no clear clues that they are malicious, so you should look for recently added entities that appear to deviate from the norm.

    As an illustration, here are several examples of LaunchAgents related to mainstream Mac infections: com.pcv.hlpramc.plist, com.updater.mcy.plist, com.avickUpd.plist, and com.msp.agent.plist. If you spot files that don’t belong on the list, go ahead and drag them to the Trash.

    Root-level LaunchAgents folder contents

  8. Use the Go to Folder lookup feature again to navigate to the folder named ~/Library/Application Support (note the tilde symbol prepended to the path).

    Open ~/Library/Application Support folder

  9. When the Application Support directory is opened, identify recently generated suspicious folders in it and send them to the Trash. A quick tip is to look for items whose names have nothing to do with Apple products or apps you knowingly installed. A few examples of known-malicious folder names are UtilityParse, ProgressMatch, SystemSpecial, and IdeaShared.

    Application Support folder contents

  10. Enter ~/Library/LaunchAgents string (don’t forget to include the tilde character) in the Go to Folder search area.

    Open ~/Library/LaunchAgents directory

  11. The system will display LaunchAgents residing in the current user’s Home directory. Look for dodgy items related to Cool New Tab Theme virus (see logic highlighted in subsections above) and drag the suspects to the Trash.

    Contents of LaunchAgents folder in user’s home directory

  12. Type /Library/LaunchDaemons in the Go to Folder search field.

    Go to /Library/LaunchDaemons

  13. In the LaunchDaemons path, try to pinpoint the files the malware is using for persistence. Several examples of such items cropped by Mac infections are com.pplauncher.plist, com.startup.plist, and com.ExpertModuleSearchDaemon.plist. Delete the sketchy files immediately.

    LaunchDaemons folder contents

  14. Click on the Go menu icon in your Mac’s Finder and select Applications on the list.

    Go to Applications screen on Mac

  15. Find the entry for an app that clearly doesn’t belong there and move it to the Trash. If this action requires your admin password for confirmation, go ahead and enter it.

    Drag malicious app to the Trash

  16. Expand the Apple menu and select System Preferences.

    Select System Preferences

    Open System Preferences

  17. Proceed to Users & Groups and click on the Login Items tab.

    Proceed to Users & Groups

    The system will display the list of items launched when the computer is starting up. Locate the potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-” (minus) button.

    Delete unwanted login item

  18. Now select Profiles under System Preferences. Look for a malicious item in the left-hand sidebar. Several examples of configuration profiles created by Mac adware include TechSignalSearch, MainSearchPlatform, AdminPrefs, and Chrome Settings. Select the offending entity and click on the minus sign at the bottom to eliminate it.

    Select Profiles under System Preferences

    Remove malicious configuration profile from Mac

    If your Mac has been infiltrated by adware, the infection will most likely continue to hold sway over your default web browser even after you remove the underlying application along with its components sprinkled around the system. Use the browser cleanup instructions below to address the remaining consequences of this attack.

Get rid of redirects in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by Cool New Tab Theme virus should be restored to their default values. Although this will clear most of your customizations, web surfing history, and all temporary data stored by websites, the malicious interference should be terminated likewise. The overview of the steps for completing this procedure is as follows:

  1. Remove virus in Safari
    • Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list

      Go to Preferences in Safari

    • Once the Preferences screen appears, click on the Advanced tab and enable the option saying “Show Develop menu in menu bar”.

      Advanced tab under Safari Preferences

    • Now that the Develop entry has been added to the Safari menu, expand it and click on Empty Caches.

      Empty Caches in Safari

    • Now select History in the Safari menu and click on Clear History in the drop-down list.

      Clear history in Safari

    • Safari will display a dialog asking you to specify the period of time this action will apply to. Select all history to ensure a maximum effect. Click on the Clear History button to confirm and exit.

      Select all history to clear

    • Go back to the Safari Preferences and hit the Privacy tab at the top. Find the option that says Manage Website Data and click on it.

      Manage Website Data option under Privacy tab

    • The browser will display a follow-up screen listing the websites that have stored data about your Internet activities. This dialog additionally includes a brief description of what the removal does: you may be logged out of some services and encounter other changes of website behavior after the procedure. If you’re okay with that, go ahead and click on the Remove All button.

      Confirmation dialog

    • Restart Safari
  2. Get rid of virus in Google Chrome
    • Open Chrome, click the Customize and control Google Chrome (⁝) icon in the top right-hand part of the window, and select Settings in the drop-down

      Chrome Settings

    • When on the Settings pane, select Advanced
    • Scroll down to the Reset settings section.

      Reset settings in Chrome on Mac

    • Confirm the Chrome reset on a dialog that will pop up. When the procedure is completed, relaunch the browser and check it for malware activity.

      Here’s how to reset settings in Chrome on Mac

  3. Remove virus from Mozilla Firefox
    • Open Firefox and go to Help – Troubleshooting Information (or type about:support in the URL bar and press Enter).

      Open Firefox and go to Help

      Select Troubleshooting Information

    • When on the Troubleshooting Information screen, click on the Refresh Firefox button.

      Refresh Firefox on Mac

    • Confirm the intended changes and restart Firefox.

Get rid of Cool New Tab Theme virus using Combo Cleaner removal tool

The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove Cool New Tab Theme virus. This technique has substantial benefits over manual cleanup, because the utility gets hourly virus definition updates and can accurately spot even the newest Mac infections.

Furthermore, the automatic solution will find the core files of the malware deep down the system structure, which might otherwise be a challenge to locate. Here’s a walkthrough to sort out the Cool New Tab Theme issue using Combo Cleaner:

  1. Download Combo Cleaner installer. When done, double-click the combocleaner.dmg file and follow the prompts to install the tool onto your Mac.

    Download Combo Cleaner

    By downloading any applications recommended on this website you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. The free scanner checks whether your Mac is infected. To get rid of malware, you need to purchase the Premium version of Combo Cleaner.

  2. Open the app from your Launchpad and let it run an update of the malware signature database to make sure it can identify the latest threats.
  3. Click the Start Combo Scan button to check your Mac for malicious activity as well as performance issues.

    Combo Cleaner Mac scan progress

  4. Examine the scan results. If the report says “No Threats”, then you are on the right track with the manual cleaning and can safely proceed to tidy up the web browser that may continue to act up due to the after-effects of the malware attack (see instructions above).

    Combo Cleaner scan report – no threats found

  5. In case Combo Cleaner has detected malicious code, click the Remove Selected Items button and have the utility remove Cool New Tab Theme threat along with any other viruses, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), or junk files that don’t belong on your Mac.

    Combo Cleaner – threats found

  6. Once you have made doubly sure that the malicious app is uninstalled, the browser-level troubleshooting might still be on your to-do list. If your preferred browser is affected, resort to the previous section of this tutorial to revert to hassle-free web surfing.

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