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How to Safely Remove Malware From Your Mac

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Joseph Steinberg
How to Safely Remove Malware From Your Mac

Browsing the web on your Mac is great until it gets infected with malware. Knowing what to look out for and the ways that you can remove malware from your Mac are key to staying safe online and keeping your private information protected.

There are various ways that your computer can get infected but luckily, it’s not too difficult to spot the symptoms of what’s been installed on your devices without your knowledge. Browsing the web on your Mac is great until it gets infected with malware.

Knowing what to look out for and the ways that you can remove malware from your Mac are key to staying safe online and keeping your private information protected.

There are various ways that your computer can get infected but luckily, it’s not too difficult to spot the symptoms of what’s been installed on your devices without your knowledge. 

Finding Out if Your Mac Has Malware

Knowing whether your Mac is infected with malware shouldn’t be too difficult. While they might mask as antiviruses or video players, malware infections can be easy to spot if you know what to look for.

There a few giveaways or even stressors that your Mac will exhibit that can help you recognize a malware infection before confirming it with antivirus software or your own investigation.

Some of the most obvious signs are as follows:

  • An unexpected and unexplained drop in your Mac’s overall performance
  • Spontaneous reboots or app crashes
  • Unwarranted and suspicious-looking updates
  • Even more ads appearing than usual 

The Removal Process:

Pop-Ups 

Everyone hates pop-ups and we can all agree that the internet is better off without them. That isn’t to say they’re going away, though.

Whether you opt for third-party apps or not, most browsers come with their own form of protection against pop-ups and deliver a web experience that’s near enough free of them.

While these integrated tools are effective, they might not be able to prevent all pop-ups so another app working alongside is recommended. 

Google Chrome

To enable your pop-up blocker in Google Chrome, you’ll need to:

  1. Click the ‘More’ menu icon in the top right corner of the browser
  2. Select Settings
  3. Select ‘Advanced’ from the bottom of the page
  4. Under ‘Privacy and Security’, open the ‘Content Settings’ tab
  5. Enable ‘Pop-Up Blocker’ 

Google Chrome lets its users know when a pop-up has been blocked with a small icon marked with a red X. If there’s a mistake and you’d like to accept the pop-up, simply click the icon and opt for the link to be shown.

This can be done on a one-time or permanent basis. Chrome users can easily allow pop-ups for trusted sites in the same section as detailed above. 

Safari

Putting a block on pop-ups with Apple’s Safari is pretty straightforward:

  1. Select the ‘Safari’ menu
  2. After ‘Preferences’, find the ‘Security’ tab
  3. ‘Tick the ‘Block Pop-Up Windows’ box 

Safari doesn’t have an integrated tool for allowing pop-ups on trusted sites, so they’re either blocked or not.

It’s recommended to have them blocked, though, as most pop-ups, if not virtually all of them, are adverts or spam. 

Tip: Hold the ‘Shift’ key when clicking the Safari icon to prevent all previous tabs from reopening, including the pop-up. 

Mozilla Firefox

Turning on the pop-up blocker for Firefox users works a little differently: 

  1. Select the top right ‘Settings’ gear icon
  2. Click the ‘Options’ button
  3. Under the ‘Privacy & Security’ tab, select ‘Block Pop-Up Windows’

Just like Chrome, Firefox lets its users set permissions for certain sites to allow pop-ups. This can be done under the ‘Exceptions’ tab or while browsing with the ribbon next to the gear icon in the top right of your Firefox window.

This shows the pop-ups that have been blocked and lets you temporarily or permanently allow them for the site you’re visiting. Always be sure on the site you’re allowing pop-ups for before giving permission. 

Malware 

Removing Malware Manually 

Malware comes in all shapes and sizes and can mask itself as harmless files and applications. If you’re lucky enough to know the source of the malware, there are steps you can take to remove it, though getting rid of it entirely would require using a robust uninstaller.

Removing the bulk of the malware infecting your Mac can be done in a few simple steps: 

  1. Launch your ‘Activity Monitor’
  2. Search through ‘Processes’ for the app that’s causing your system issues
  3. Quite the process
  4. Go to ‘Applications’
  5. Move the bad app to ‘Trash’
  6. Go to ‘Trash’ and delete the contents
Tip: Search your recently downloaded files for anything you don’t recognize. It may even appear harmless and might likely be hiding as a video or music file. 

Removing Boot Malware

Malware is adaptive and can be used to attack a person or business in a number of ways. Some programs are designed to target your boot process and load up automatically when you launch your Mac device.

Thankfully, these can be found really easily and removing them is quick. Only a few steps are required: 

  1. Go to the ‘Apple Menu’ and select ‘System Preferences’
  2. Click the ‘Users & Groups’ page
  3. Select the appropriate username (apps can be removed for one or all profiles)
  4. Choose the ‘Login Items’ tab at the top
  5. De-select all the applications you don’t want operating

Agents and Daemons

Mac has plenty of programs and effective tools running in the background to keep it performing as well as it should. Though they both perform differently, neither is free from being potentially infected with malware and they make an ideal, discreet place for hackers to stash malicious applications.

This allows the infected application to launch automatically and do damage from within your system, whether stealing data or your money. 

Removing From Mac Startup

  1. Go to ‘Finder’
  2. Then to ‘Folder’
  3. Search for ‘/Library/LaunchDaemons’
  4. Search for ‘/Library/LaunchAgents’ or ‘~/Library/LaunchAgents’ to retrieve the same data on Launch Agents
  5. Delete all PLIST files that seem suspicious or problematic
  6. Once completed, reboot your Mac

Adware

Adware is annoying but can be potentially dangerous, depending on which extensions are installed on your browser. Whether it’s to help you save money or enhance your email experience, Adware can be packaged in all different ways but is designed to take your money and data, first and foremost.

Apple lists many adware extensions as a risk to its users so if you’d like to review your extensions, you only need to follow a handful of steps:

Safari

  1. Go to ‘Preferences’
  2. Select ‘Extensions’
  3. Review your extensions and remove anything suspicious looking 

Chrome

  1. Go to ‘Settings’
  2. Select Extensions
  3. Adjust your extensions 

Firefox

  1. Select the top right ‘Settings’ gear icon
  2. Click ‘Tools’
  3. Go to ‘Add-ons’
  4. Uninstall extensions

Other Tips

Beyond using software and a few methods for manual removal, there are still other measures that can be taken to ensure your Mac stays free of malware for good.

Honestly, they’re mostly just common sense and should make up a part of your regular efforts towards cybersecurity. 

  • Restore your Mac using the Time Machine Feature: Apple’s Time Machine feature allows users to go back to a point where their system has no infection. Just choose a date that’s before the malware was installed and it’ll take just a few minutes to restore. 
  • Keep Your Mac Software up to Date: Keeping your OS up to date as well as any other important security tools that you have installed on your Mac is key to keeping them performing properly. Old systems can’t always compete with new hacking methods. 
  • Perform a Full System Cleanup: Performing a full system cleanup can be made a lot easier with software, but certain measures can be taken to perform it manually. Deleting unknown and old files, emptying out the trash folder frequently, and checking boot items routinely. 
  • Make use of Leading Antivirus Software: There are so many great providers out there offering high-quality antivirus solutions. Choosing a decent provider isn’t too difficult since there are some well-known, long-standing names in the industry as well as newer companies that are already making waves. 

Bottom Line 

As long as you’re able to follow these key steps, removing malware from your Mac shouldn’t be too difficult.

Anyone that’s serious about their protection online should be running regular checks to ensure their system isn’t infected with malware or other serious types of cyberattacks.

Be sure to employ leading and high-quality cybersecurity solutions to run alongside your manual system checks to provide total and effortless protection.