SmartCaptcha Virus

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SmartCaptcha is a type of software application that looks like a regular browser extension for Windows-compatible browsing programs. Usually, SmartCaptcha gets embedded in the system in a very inconspicuous way and its presence comes as a surprise to users.

SmartCaptcha Virus
The SmartCaptcha Virus

This is because SmartCaptcha is what is known as a browser hijacker and these types of code are considered by most to be potentially unwanted programs or PUPs. In other words, there’s hardly a user out there who would actually prefer to have such software on their computer, as they don’t really offer any useful functionality for the end user. Furthermore, if anything they actually take away from one’s browsing experience by means of imposing their changes on the infected browsing program.

So whether you’re currently using Chrome, Edge, Firefox or some mainstream browser, you have likely already come to experience some rather obvious changes in its behavior and appearance.

Typically, software like SmartCaptcha or Smart Captcha will replace the default search engine with a new one and it may even set it as the new browser homepage. In addition, software of this type has a tendency to install ad-generating components in the browser in question, which enables it to display popups, box messages, banners and other types of online adverts directly on your screen during browsing sessions.

And if you are among the many users who have simply tried to change their browser settings back to their original state, then you’ve likely also discovered that it simply cannot be done. This is because as long as SmartCaptcha exists in your system, it will always override any changes you make to the configurations. And the developers of such software know that such behavior will rarely be greeted with open arms, so they hardly ever include an obvious uninstallation option. Instead, users have to try and remove the pesky ad-generating program manually, which is often more difficult than it may sound.

For this reason our team of professionals has compiled a free removal guide for SmartCaptcha, and you can find it on this page, just below the current post.

Other reasons you may want to remove SmartCaptcha

Being a typical PUP, SmartCaptcha provides more than just one reason for end users to want to uninstall it from their computers. And its annoying behavior is just scratching the surface of it.

In the long run, the presence of a browser hijacker like this one may result in a decreased quality of your computer’s overall performance. The constant generation of online ads and other background activities that SmartCaptcha may be running can consume a lot of your PC’s resources (read RAM and CPU), and that, in turn, could lead to overheating, system crashes, programs lagging and freezing up, etc.

But what’s even more harrowing is the potential of landing infections with viruses and malware as a result of SmartCaptcha’s activity. The frequent page redirects to dubious web locations may at some point land you on a page or website that’s been tampered with by hackers. And that could lead to attacks from highly dangerous malicious programs like ransomware and Trojan horse viruses.



Type Browser Hijacker
Detection Tool

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Remove SmartCaptcha Virus

To try and remove SmartCaptcha quickly you can try this:

  1. Go to your browser’s settings and select More Tools (or Add-ons, depending on your browser).
  2. Then click on the Extensions tab.
  3. Look for the SmartCaptcha extension (as well as any other unfamiliar ones).
  4. Remove SmartCaptcha by clicking on the Trash Bin icon next to its name.
  5. Confirm and get rid of SmartCaptcha and any other suspicious items.

If this does not work as described please follow our more detailed SmartCaptcha removal guide below.

If you have a Windows virus, continue with the guide below.

If you have a Mac virus, please use our How to remove Ads on Mac guide.

If you have an Android virus, please use our Android Malware Removal guide.

If you have an iPhone virus, please use our iPhone Virus Removal guide


Some of the steps will likely require you to exit the page. Bookmark it for later reference.

Reboot in Safe Mode (use this guide if you don’t know how to do it).



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Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time and go to the Processes Tab (the “Details” Tab on Win 8 and 10). Try to determine which processes are dangerous. 


Right click on each of them and select Open File Location. Then scan the files with our free online virus scanner:

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    After you open their folder, end the processes that are infected, then delete their folders. 

    Note: If you are sure something is part of the infection – delete it, even if the scanner doesn’t flag it. No anti-virus program can detect all infections. 


    Hold together the Start Key and R. Type appwiz.cpl –> OK.


    You are now in the Control Panel. Look for suspicious entries. Uninstall it/them.

    Type msconfig in the search field and hit enter. A window will pop-up:


    Startup —> Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer or otherwise look suspicious.


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    Hold the Start Key and R –  copy + paste the following and click OK:

    notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts

    A new file will open. If you are hacked, there will be a bunch of other IPs connected to you at the bottom. Look at the image below:

    hosts_opt (1)

    If there are suspicious IPs below “Localhost” – write to us in the comments.

    Open the start menu and search for Network Connections (On Windows 10 you just write it after clicking the Windows button), press enter.

    1. Right-click on the Network Adapter you are using —> Properties —> Internet Protocol Version 4 (ICP/IP), click  Properties.
    2. The DNS line should be set to Obtain DNS server automatically. If it is not, set it yourself.
    3. Click on Advanced —> the DNS tab. Remove everything here (if there is something) —> OK.

    • After you complete this step, the threat will be gone from your browsers. Finish the next step as well or it may reappear on a system reboot.

    Right click on the browser’s shortcut —> Properties.

    NOTE: We are showing Google Chrome, but you can do this for Firefox and IE (or Edge).


    Properties —–> Shortcut. In Target, remove everything after .exe.

    Browser Hijacker Removal Instructions

    ie9-10_512x512  Remove SmartCaptcha from Internet Explorer:

    Open IE, click  IE GEAR —–> Manage Add-ons.

    pic 3

    Find the threat —> Disable. Go to IE GEAR —–> Internet Options —> change the URL to whatever you use (if hijacked) —> Apply.

    firefox-512 Remove SmartCaptcha from Firefox:

    Open Firefoxclick  mozilla menu  ——-> Add-ons —-> Extensions.

    pic 6

    chrome-logo-transparent-backgroundRemove SmartCaptcha from Chrome:

    Close Chrome. Navigate to:

     C:/Users/!!!!USER NAME!!!!/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data. There is a Folder called “Default” inside:

    Rename the Folder to Backup Default

    Rename it to Backup Default. Restart Chrome.


    Type Regedit in the windows search field and press Enter.

    Inside, press CTRL and F together and type the threat’s Name. Right click and delete any entries you find with a similar name. If they don’t show up this way, go manually to these directories and delete/uninstall them:

    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—–Random Directory. It could be any one of them – ask us if you can’t discern which ones are malicious.
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—-Windows—CurrentVersion—Run– Random
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—Internet Explorer—-Main—- Random

    If the guide doesn’t help, download the anti-virus program we recommended or try our free online virus scanner. Also, you can always ask us in the comments for help!


    About the author


    Violet George

    Violet is an active writer with a passion for all things cyber security. She enjoys helping victims of computer virus infections remove them and successfully deal with the aftermath of the attacks. But most importantly, Violet makes it her priority to spend time educating people on privacy issues and maintaining the safety of their computers. It is her firm belief that by spreading this information, she can empower web users to effectively protect their personal data and their devices from hackers and cybercriminals.

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