The following tutorial demonstrates how to remove the SearchApp – Entertainment malware from your computer.
The SearchApp – Entertainment browser hijacker is unwanted software that changes the browser’s settings without your consent. This software is notorious for replacing your existing homepages or search engines with alternatives you did not choose, usually to redirect to scam sites to force more advertising revenue or to collect data in the hopes of better targeting future ad revenue.
You may find the SearchApp – Entertainment browser hijacker is reversed easily with browser settings changes that can be done manually, such as resetting the browser or removing extensions. Other browser hijackers can be more arduous to reverse and require scans run with malware removal software packages designed to target them.
Browser hijackers may also contain spyware, including software keyloggers designed to steal passwords by watching what keys you press. Thus, you should promptly remove such hijacker infections from your computer to ensure its health.
Tips to Avoid Malware in the Future
If you have malware on your computer, you can always install an antimalware program and run a scan to try to remove it. But some experts suggest that even if you do that, it is not a given that all malware can be removed—once it gets access to your system, some of its associated files may prove close to impossible to extract.
So naturally, that means you should try preventing the malware from getting on your computer in the first place.
Here are some of the most common ways you can avoid getting malware on your PCs:
- Be cautious when downloading. You can anticipate finding malware on some websites more than others. If you are using a reliable web browser, it should already provide timely protection by alerting you to sites littered with threats upon visiting them—do not ignore those warnings. What’s more, try not to visit any websites that you think maybe untrustworthy: Torrenting sites may offer handy legal files, and the founders are not necessarily evil, but you need to remember that random people around the world are uploading each of those files, including the directories of such sites riddled with illegal movie files. A notorious niche for malware is sites that host or share torrents for this reason—not everyone is interested in helping you download free files without getting something in return. Often that return comes in the form of malware tucked away within the files you download, tricking you into thinking that they are only movies.
- Install (full paid versions of) third-party antimalware programs if you can. If your operating system is not providing adequate protection from malware threats, you ought to look into third-party programs. They will not always protect you in real-time for free, but the paid versions often do. That means if the program detects the file you are about to download is malware, it lets you know about it with a warning. At this stage, Microsoft Windows does not automatically block potentially unwanted programs, so third-party protection for malware may still be sensible to use.
- Keep all data and personal information safe. The malware only becomes a problem when it nestles its way into your operating system, and in the precise location that its developer had set out for it. Simply being on your computer does not necessarily mean you encounter computer woes; it is what it does from that position that dictates your computer’s outcome. Moreover, not all malware is trying to cause computer problems. Sometimes it wants to snoop on your data instead. To keep prying malware at bay, look into ways of keeping your data safe, such as using file encryption. Windows 10 comes with EFS for encrypting individual files and also BitLocker encryption for the full disk.
- Keep your software up to date. It does not matter what software you have; if it is outdated, then it may also be insecure. Simply being outdated software does not necessarily open up new avenues for vulnerabilities. Rather, new updates potentially close old vulnerabilities. It can be said with certainty that your software is safe to continue using if you know there are no vulnerabilities. However, if antivirus or manufacturers find vulnerabilities, updates are critical. If you do not want to follow the news every day, it is best to keep updating and know that you are safe. That means ensuring your operating systems are updated with their regular over-the-air software update rollouts. For Windows users, that means keeping the Windows Update automatic updates enabled, so the automatic updates can arrive when Microsoft has them prepared for your machine. Additionally, only uninstall a Windows update if you know your PC has an issue with its current software version.
- Keep networks secure. All your computers (desktops, laptops, smartphones), and other peripherals such as printers, when connected to WiFi, are often connected to the same network. Ensure a secure network with a password. Otherwise, your WiFi connection will be open. The best security today is with WPA or WPA2 encryption. You typically do not have much to worry about here, as all competitive WiFi providers automatically implement it. But make sure it stays that way after you begin using it by not disabling the encryption.
- Do not use open WiFi. You have heard the warning: stay away from that open WiFi you get at airports, unless you need it. The idea behind this warning is because the connection is considered public that it also means people with malicious intent have easy access to it. Thus, the information on your smartphones, tablets, and laptops cannot be properly protected with open WiFi connections.
Method One: How to Remove SearchApp – Entertainment Browser Hijacker by Resetting Browser to Default Settings and Cleaning Up Browser
If you see some of these problems, you might have malware installed on your computer. If the malware is secluded to the browser, you should be able to remove it by resetting the browser’s settings.
- Pop-up ads continuously interrupting your web browsing experience
- New browser tabs loading websites which differentiate from your defaults selected
- Unwanted web browser extensions and toolbars keep coming back
- The web browser redirects to webpages or ads that you did not request
- Fake alerts regarding a virus or an infected device
You can avoid this unwanted software in the future by only downloading files from secure sites.
Do step 1, step 2, or step 3 depending on what it is that you would like to do.
1. To Reset Google Chrome
Here is how you can reset the browser settings from the Settings and more menu in Google Chrome:
a. Click on the Settings and more (Alt+F) three-dotted menu icon, and then click on the Settings link from the menu. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
b. Scroll down and then click on Advanced at the bottom of the page. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
c. Under the Reset and clean up heading, click on the Restore settings to their original defaults link. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
d. From the Reset settings overlay, click on the Reset settings button. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
e. Under the Reset and clean up heading once again, click on the Clean up computer link. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
f. Next to where it says Find and remove harmful software, click on the Find button. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
You can now close the Google Chrome web browser and continue using your computer if you like.
2. To Reset Mozilla Firefox
Here is how you can reset the browser settings from the Settings and more menu in Firefox:
a. Click on the Settings and more three-lined menu icon, and then click on the Help link. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
b. Click on the Troubleshooting Information link. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
c. Click on the Refresh Firefox button. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
d. Click on the Refresh Firefox button when you get the confirmation dialog box.
You can now close the Mozilla Firefox browser and continue using your computer if you like.
3. To Reset Microsoft Edge
Here is how you can reset the browser settings from the Settings and more menu in Microsoft Edge:
- As of January 2020, the new Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge browser has been made generally available, and it comes with a built-in Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) blocker. It will not have helped you in preventing any malware yet because Microsoft has the Potentially Unwanted Program blocker turned off by default. The reason for this is because it’s still debated whether a PUP is indeed malware since some PUPs can prove useful to some people, hence the term “potentially” in Potentially Unwanted Program.
- In times past, you would have had to reset the Microsoft Edge browser from the Settings application in Windows 10. That did not make much sense if Microsoft wanted people who use other operating systems to use their web browser. And since alternative operating systems are gaining additional market share, it meant that many Mac users, in particular, could not reset Edge. In the updated Chromium-powered version of Edge, Microsoft has made a change so you can now reset the browser from its settings, similar to what you would find with Google Chrome. They have also removed the option to reset the browser from the Settings app.
b. From the Settings menu, click on the Reset Settings link. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
Note: You only see the left Settings menu that you need is you have expanded the browser window so that it is large enough to show up.
c. Under the Reset settings heading, click on the Restore settings to their default values link. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
d. From the Reset settings overlay, click on the Reset button. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
You can now close the Microsoft Edge browser and continue using your computer if you like.
While resetting and cleaning up your web browser may remove the malware from the browser directly, it is possible, depending on the malware, that there are still associated malicious files leftover on the Windows operating system. These leftover files can cause malware to change the browser’s settings again. If you need to take further action because you suspect malware is continuing to change your browser’s settings, you ought to continue with another method below that either removes the malware via a built-in antivirus like Microsoft Defender or a third-party antimalware program.
Method Two: How to Remove SearchApp – Entertainment Search Hijacker by Manually Scanning Files, Folders, and Drives with Windows Defender
Windows 10’s default antivirus program, Microsoft Defender, (known as Windows Defender before the Windows 10 November 2019 Update) doubles as very good antivirus and antimalware protection. The term “antimalware” is a more modern version of the term “antivirus” because a multitude of malicious programs exist today rather than computer viruses alone. Microsoft Defender finds all sorts of malware and is antimalware that keeps the traditional antivirus name to avoid confusion. That said, Microsoft Defender still might not remove a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) on your computer until you enable the PUP protection first. If you tried an antivirus/antimalware scan with Microsoft Defender and the malware was not found, you can try enabling the PUP protection and try again before installing third-party software on your computer.
Note: The terms “Potentially Unwanted Programs” (PUPs) and “Potentially Unwanted Applications” (PUAs) are interchangeable. When referring to misleading software installed as a bundle or without users’ consent, common antimalware programs use the term “PUP;” however, Microsoft prefers “PUA” in Windows 10.
The Windows Security app currently has seven areas that work together to keep your computers protected from harmful threats. They are as follows:
- Virus & Threat Protection is where you can run scans, view the threat history, set up ransomware protection, and access other settings and notifications such as the Controlled folder access that comes with Microsoft Defender Exploit Guard and when you sign in to Microsoft OneDrive.
- Account Protection helps users protect their identity when they sign in to Windows with the new Account Protection pillar in the Microsoft Security app. Account Protection offers some additional chances to secure an account outside of the traditional password, including Windows Hello facial and fingerprint recognition of a PIN for faster sign-in.
- Firewall & Network Protection manages the Microsoft Defender firewall settings and allows you to monitor networks and internet connections.
- App & Browser Control shows Microsoft Defender SmartScreen settings and exploit protection mitigations.
- Device Security gives greater insight and access to device security settings.
- Device Performance & Health shows drivers, storage space, and other issues with Windows Update, plus keeps the device clean and up to date by installing the latest version of Windows 10.
- Family Options offers parental controls and tips to manage your children’s online experience and how to keep kids safe online.
Note: Windows 10 allows you to create system restore points, perform a system restore, change the system restore point creation frequency, and delete system restore points. This collection of tutorials details everything you need for creating, performing, and managing restore points. A restore point is a Windows recovery option that lets you load the operating system at a previous time, which is helpful for when you are stuck due to unsuccessful troubleshooting attempts. Windows’ System Restore is not always turned on by default in Windows 10, so if you haven’t heard of the feature before today, you may not have any restore points created that can help you.
Part One: How to Enable/Disable Microsoft Defender PUA Protection in Windows 10
When removing Potentially Unwanted Programs from your computer with the default Microsoft Defender antivirus, you should enable PUP protection first. Here is how to do that:
Option One: How to Enable/Disable Microsoft Defender PUP Protection Using Windows PowerShell
1. Open an elevated Windows PowerShell. See this tutorial to read all the different ways in which you can open the elevated version of the Windows PowerShell: How to Open Elevated Windows PowerShell in Windows 10
2. If you are prompted by User Account Control, click on the Yes button.
3. Type one of the following commands into the Windows PowerShell window, depending on what you want to achieve, and then press the Enter key on your keyboard to execute it:
To Enable Microsoft Defender PUA Protection:
Set-MpPreference -PUAProtection 1or
Set-MpPreference -PUAProtection Enabled
To Disable Microsoft Defender PUA Protection (Default):
Set-MpPreference -PUAProtection 0or
Set-MpPreference -PUAProtection Disabled
Audit Mode – detects PUPs, but does not block them:
Set-MpPreference -PUAProtection 2or
Set-MpPreference -PUAProtection AuditMode
4. Restart the computer before attempting to run a new Microsoft Defender antivirus scan that searched for extra PUPs.
You can now close the Windows PowerShell window and continue using your computer if you like.
Option Two: How to Enable/Disable Microsoft Defender PUA Protection Using Local Group Policy Editor
- You can only use this option from the Local Group Policy Editor starting from Windows 10 version 1809.
- The Local Group Policy Editor is only available in Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10.
- Though Microsoft changed the name Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender in Windows 10 version 1909, as of yet, the Local Group Policy Editor has not been updated to reflect this change. Should there come a time when the following path no longer works, try exchanging Windows Defender for Microsoft Defender in the Local Group Policy Editor where applicable.
1. Open the Local Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc). See this tutorial to read all the different ways in which you can open the Local Group Policy Editor: How to Open Local Group Policy Editor in Windows 10
2. Using the Local Group Policy Editor’s left pane, navigate through to the following location:
Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender Antivirus
3. With Windows Defender Antivirus selected, click on Configure detection for potentially unwanted applications from the right pane. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
4. From the Configure detection for potentially unwanted applications policy, select either Not Configured (to turn off Windows Defender PUP protection), Enabled (to turn on Windows Defender PUP protection), or Disabled (to turn off Windows Defender PUP protection). (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
Note: If selecting Enabled, a drop-down menu appears in the Options window that offers additional options to configure the group policy if you like. For example, from the drop-down menu, you can select Blocked which means the Configure detection for potentially unwanted applications policy will be enabled, and the potentially unwanted programs will be blocked from being downloaded onto your computer. It is suitable for most people to select Blocked from the drop-down menu in the Options window to stop PUPs getting onto your computer in future.
You can now close the Local Group Policy Editor and continue using your computer if you like.
Part Two: How to Manually Scan Files, Folders, and Drives with Microsoft Defender in Windows 10
Windows 10 provides the latest antivirus protection with Windows Security. Your device will be actively protected from the moment you start Windows 10. Windows Security continually scans for malware (all types of malicious software), viruses, and security threats. In addition to this real-time protection, updates are downloaded automatically to help keep your device safe and protected from threats.
Some features differ if you are running Windows 10 in S mode. Because this mode is streamlined for tighter security, the Virus & threat protection area has fewer options. However, that does not mean it is less secure—the built-in security of this mode automatically prevents viruses and other threats from running on your device, and you will receive security updates automatically.
Microsoft Defender automatically scans your system periodically, so it should pick up and remove any malware on your computer by itself over time. If you need a quick solution, Microsoft Defender also allows for manual scans so that you can scan any location on the operating system immediately.
Note: The Microsoft Defender antivirus application shown below comes out of the box on all versions of Windows 10, the latest version of Windows operating system. If you are running an older version of Windows, such as Windows 7, then you can skip to one of the next parts that shows you how to install a third-party antimalware application instead.
Option One: How to Scan with Microsoft Defender Using Context Menu
Here is how you can run an antivirus scan with the built-in Microsoft Defender antivirus program from the context menu of a file or folder:
- The Windows Security is available in all versions of Windows 10 after version 1703.
- While Microsoft has changed the name from Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender as of Windows 10 version 1909, most locations around Windows, including the context menu via File Explorer, still list the older Windows Defender name. Should there come a time when the following path no longer works, try clicking on Scan with Microsoft Defender… instead of Scan with Windows Defender… from the context menu instead.
1. From File Explorer, select the drive, folder, or file that you suspect may contain the potential malicious program.
2. Right-click on Scan with Windows Defender from the context menu. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
3. When the scan completes, Windows Security will open and show you the results. The total time for the scan to complete will vary. Scanning drives will take the longest, while scanning individual files the quickest. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
- The Windows Security application used to be called the Windows Defender Security Center in previous versions of Windows 10. All the settings within the app remained the same after the name change.
- Starting with Windows 10 version 1803, the app has two new areas: Account protection and Device security.
a. If there are no threats found, Windows Security will let you know as much in the same region where it previously show you the scan was underway. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
b. If there are threats found, however, it will let you know there are threats found, as well as the threat names and location in the same area. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
4. To remove any threats found, click on the Start actions button. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
Note: Clicking on Start actions will result in Windows Security removing the threat immediately.
You can now close the Windows Security app and continue using your computer if you like.
Option Two: Scan with Microsoft Defender Using Windows Security
Here is how you can run an antivirus scan with the built-in Microsoft Defender antivirus program from the Windows Security app:
1. Open Windows Security. See this tutorial to read all the different ways in which you can open Windows Security in Windows 10: How to Open Windows Security in Windows 10
2. Click on the Virus & threat protection icon in Windows Security’s Security at a glance page. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
3. Do step 4, step 5, step 6, or step 7 depending on what it is that you would like to do.
4. To Run a Quick Scan with Microsoft Defender
a. Click on the Scan now button. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
5. To Run a Full Scan with Microsoft Defender
a. Select Full scan and then click on the Scan now button. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
6. To Run a Custom Scan with Microsoft Defender
a. Select Custom scan and then click on the Scan now button. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
b. Select the file, folder, or drive that you want to scan and then click Select Folder. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
7. To Run an Offline Scan with Microsoft Defender
a. Select Windows Defender Offline scan and then click on the Scan now button. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
8. Microsoft Defender starts scanning the option that you chose. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
9. When the scan completes, you get the results in numbers. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
10. If there are threats found, however, it will let you know there are threats found, as well as the threat names and location in the same area. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
11. To remove any threats found, click on the Start actions button. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
Note: Clicking on Start actions will result in Windows Security removing the threat immediately.
You can now close the Windows Security app and continue using your computer if you like.
Option Three: How to Scan with Microsoft Defender Using Windows PowerShell
Here is how you can run an antivirus scan with Microsoft Defender from the Windows PowerShell:
1. Open the Windows PowerShell. See this tutorial to read all the different ways in which you can open the Windows PowerShell application in Windows 10: How to Open Windows PowerShell in Windows 10
2. Type the command below that best suits your needs and then press the Enter key on your keyboard to execute it.
Update and Quick scan:
Update-MpSignature; Start-MpScan -ScanType QuickScan
Start-MpScan -ScanType QuickScan
Start-MpScan -ScanType FullScan
You can now close the Windows PowerShell window and continue using your computer if you like.
Option Four: How to Scan with Microsoft Defender Using Command Prompt
Here is how you can run an antivirus scan with Microsoft Defender from the command line:
Note: Though Windows Defender has been renamed to Microsoft Defender, Microsoft has not yet updated the commands to reflect this change. Should there come a time when the following commands no longer work, try exchanging Windows Defender for Microsoft Defender in the commands where applicable.
1. Open the Command Prompt. See this tutorial to read all the different ways in which you can open the Command Prompt application in Windows 10: How to Open Command Prompt in Windows 10
2. Type the command below that best suits your needs and then press the Enter key on your keyboard to execute it. (Click to enlarge the screenshot below.)
Update and Quick scan:
"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -SignatureUpdate & "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -Scan -ScanType 1
"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -Scan -ScanType 1
"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -Scan -ScanType 2
Method Three: How to Remove SearchApp – Entertainment Search Hijacker Using Malwarebytes
If scanning with the Windows Security antimalware protection doesn’t remove the SearchApp – Entertainment search hijacker, you can try installing third-party antimalware tools instead, such as Malwarebytes, and see if that removes the search hijacker instead. You can also use an antimalware program such as Malwarebytes to remove the extensions and all other related files remaining on your computer, so you don’t have to do any of it manually.
The iOS version will be very similar, apart from needing to use the Apple App Store in place of the Google Play Store. You will not have any problems finding it because your iOS software only comes with the Apple App Store.
1. Download the Malwarebytes for Windows from the Malwarebytes website.
2. If prompted by your web browser with a message that says “This type of file can harm your computer. Do you want to keep the executable (.exe) file anyway?,” click on the Keep button.
3. If you are prompted by User Account Control asking “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device,” click on the Yes button.
4. Click on the Scan Now button to begin scanning the computer for malware and other potentially unwanted programs. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
5. Wait for the scan to complete. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
6. Select all of the malware and potentially unwanted programs that you want to be removed from the computer and then click on the Quarantine Selected button. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
7. You may get a message from Malwarebytes letting you know that all selected items have been removed successfully, but the computer must be restarted before the removal process can be completed. Select the Yes button to reboot your computer now. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
8. Upon signing back in to your computer, the Malwarebytes interface will open and let you know that the scan and quarantine are complete. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
Note: You can also export the scan results by clicking on Export summary from the main Malwarebytes results page and then clicking on the Export button from the scan report. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
You can now close the Malwarebytes interface and continue using your computer if you like.
Do I Have to Complete All the Methods Before the Malware Is Removed?
No, you do not—unless otherwise stipulated. Your computer will often be removed from all malware by using one of the methods available. It’s when you try one method, and the malware remains that you should try another method in the tutorial.
Are the Methods Listed in Order of What Should Work Better?
Not necessarily. We sometimes put the Windows Security before third-party applications because if you use Windows, you might prefer solving the problem without having installed another program on the computer. Windows Security is also free to use for your duration of using the operating system, which could mean more convenience to you.
Nevertheless, if you prefer using third-party programs, or your computer is not running Windows, then you can skip the Windows Security method and try using the third-party program recommendations instead.
Do I Have to Complete All Parts of the Windows Security Tutorial?
No, you do not. We have listed all the different ways you can run an antimalware scan with Windows Security for your convenience, but you only need to choose one of the methods to remove the malware.
Sometimes you may need to be able to get access to all options of running an antimalware scan—especially if your computer is currently being affected by the malware—which is why we have listed all the ways you can run scans with Windows Security.
Why Do You Have a Tutorial for Android but Not for iOS?
Both apps should be very similar, so we chose one app for the tutorial at this time. We may update it in the future if and when the tutorials differ enough to require separate tutorials for both platforms.
Since Android is currently the more open operating system of the two—and therefore potentially more susceptible to malware—it makes sense that in theory, more people will potentially get malware on Android than iOS at this time. What’s more, you also get far more applications to choose from on the Google Play Store than with Apple’s App Store because Android has more users.
That said, the only reason Android is more open is that people choose to open it—it does not automatically come that way out of the box. So we are not necessarily suggesting that iOS is naturally more secure than Android.
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