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How to remove adware from Macs

Many people associate viruses with PCs, but Macs are very much capable of being a victim to them too. Whilst somewhat less common, downloading alien software is possible on pretty much any device that is connected to the internet.

How to remove adware from Macs

Adware specifically refers to viruses that cause an excess of adverts. Usually, this looks something like your Chrome or Safari browser is displaying lots of pop-up ads, or generating new windows in the background, with the aim to get you to click on them. These can often be malicious ads that are looking to take your financial information, so we must get rid of adware on Mac as soon as it is detected.

Before starting, though, we must also understand the other symptoms of adware. A common one is that you will constantly be redirected to unexpected websites or a search engine that isn’t your usual one. Your homepage may change, new extensions may appear, and your device may be showing signs of slowing down. So, with all that in mind, let’s dive into how to get rid of adware on Mac.

Content Summary

Activity Monitor
Login Items
Removing .plist files
Empty Trash
Scanning Software
Fix Your Browser

Activity Monitor

Firstly, open up your activity monitor so you can see if there are applications you don’t recognise. If there are, forcibly quit them and take a note of their name. Open Finder, head to Applications, and look for Apps with that name or similar. If you find them, drag them to Trash.

macOS Activity Monitor

Login Items

Next, do the same for Login Items, which are the Apps that automatically open when turning on your Mac. Open System Preferences, then click on Users & Groups. Press your Mac profile and then select Login Items.

Look for anything suspicious or that you don’t recognise. Delete it by pressing the (-) button, meaning that it will no longer start when your Mac boots. Again, take a note of the name and find it within Apps if you can for a proper deletion.

macOS Login Items

Removing .plist files

Head to Go, then Go to Folder, and paste in ~/Library/LaunchAgents. Delete the files ending in “.plist”, and do the same for the other locations:

  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents
  • ~/Library/Application Support
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons

Empty Trash

Hopefully by now, you have deleted the malicious adware, but it will still be lingering in your Trash. Right-click the Trash icon in your dock and empty it fully.

Scanning Software

So, this has been a fair manual way to go about things. It is possible to download software for Mac that can scan the entire device for viruses, malware, and delete them within a click of the button. This can be better at spotting them than a person (not guaranteed), and is much faster. Plus, they can also delete cache and clear up memory. Just be careful about which software you choose to run, as less than credible ones can be counter-productive and clog up the Mac.

Fix Your Browser

Now, you need to undo all of the stuff the adware has messed up – even if you have successfully deleted it. The three things you need to fix are the default homepage and search engine, which may have been changed, and remove any extensions that were installed by the adware. Do this for all browsers, Safari, Chrome, and any others.

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