You are having major computer problems. Every time you click on a link, a popup window with advertisement comes up. If this sounds familiar, then your Mac is probably infected by a virus known as an adware. In this article, I will show you the steps to remove a virus from your Mac.
What Is A Mac Virus?
An adware is a type of malware, the latter being a category of computer virus. An ad-ware is an unwanted piece of soft-ware which installs itself surreptitiously, often claiming to provide you with great yet unnecessary services like cleaning your computer, or downloading movies, etc. and which in fact will pollute your computer experience with random ads appearing consistently as popups or inline banners.
Symptoms of A Virus on a Mac
Here are some symptoms that you need clean up your Mac:
- You see advertising banners appear on webpages that are not supposed to have any (e.g. ads come up on Google search page – not the results page, that’s normal).
- Random pop-ups appear while you are browsing online, whether you clicked on a link or not.
- While you click on a link to go to a specific website, you are redirected to another one.
- There is a weird search engine in your browser which you never wanted.
Types of Apple Viruses
We started seeing random pop-up ads on Mac much more consistently this year. We have so far cleaned up at least two dozen student machines and a few faculty computers. The original adware we identified was listing itself as VSearch and could be found in the Activity Monitor of an infected computer.
Since then, various other viruses have reared their ugly heads. They do not always show up in the same places either. Although many browser extensions we reviewed are very helpful, MacVx definitely isn’t. MacVx, a seemingly legitimate browser extension, pretends to let you “watch what you want when you want”, but in fact it serves so many ads, it prevents you from using Google Drive.
Here is a long -yet I’m afraid incomplete- list of adwares which you want to delete if you find them on your computer:
- Amazon Shopping Assistant by Spigot Inc.
- Awesome Screenshot
- Ebay Shopping Assistant by Spigot Inc.
- Search Protect Searchme by Spigot, Inc.
- Shopper Helper Pro
- Slick Savings by Spigot Inc.
If you see any evidence that one of these is installed, follow the steps below.
Steps To Remove A Virus From Your Mac
Download An Antivirus for Mac
Digging into system files is not for everyone. You might, with reason, be afraid to wreck havoc on your machine. Many programs advertise on the market a solution to clean your Mac. We do not recommend using any of those. In particular, please stay clear of Mac Cleaner.
We use a very solid app which does a great job at removing advertisements and viruses on your Mac. MalwareBytes for Mac will automatically scan your Mac and remove adware that are listed in its database.
Here are the steps to clean up viruses:
- Go over to theMalwareBytes for Mac website.
- Download the program.
- Install the free version on your Mac.
- Run it on your computer, it will scan for adware and offer you to remove what it finds.
Although it does not run a real-time scan like a traditional anti-virus, this donationware is a good way to get rid of Apple viruses once the bad programs have been installed.
Malwarebytes added a premium version which you are allowed to try for 30 days. The free version of the program is perfectly adequate to clean up a virus on your Mac. Our colleagues at Wirecutter have also reviewed a lot of antivirus programs for Mac, and they came up with the same recommendation.
Deleting A Virus On Your Apple Computer
Beyond the work of a Mac antivirus solution, you may have to take additional steps to clean up your computer. These steps will differ depending on the specific malware you need to remove.
Step 1: Check your Browser Extensions
The first place you should look is your browser extensions. In Chrome, click on Chrome in the top menu bar > Preferences > Extensions. Review the list carefully and take the time to remove any extension which does not look familiar.
Step 2: Review the Activity Monitor
The second place where you can investigate is the Activity Monitor. Launch the spotlight in the top right corner of your screen (the keyboard shortcut for the spotlight is command + space) and search for Activity Monitor. From the Activity Monitor you cannot uninstall anything, but you can identify a bad piece of software running on your system.
Step 3: Inspect System Files
The deep cleaning takes place when you remove the adware from your system files. In order to launch themselves automatically, Mac adwares install themselves in common Mac system folders where you can track them. In your Finder menu, click on Go > Go to Folder and visit these 4 locations:
If you see any of the adware listed above in any of these locations, go ahead and remove each adware entry. You will want to proceed with caution, they are also important files in these folders. You can find a detailed procedure on which file to remove in Apple support pages.
If you are dealing with adware issues or if you’ve successfully managed to remove these problems, share your experience in the comment section below.