How to Remove Malware on Mac | How to Remove Viruses and Malware from Mac?

Is your Mac acting crazy or weird all of a sudden? Is it suddenly freezing up? Are you noticing performance drops? Are you seeing funny pop-ups all over your web pages?

If you answered yes to any one of the questions, then your precious Mac might be infected by something called Malware.

Don’t worry I’m here to help you.

Contrary to popular belief, macOS can still get infected with malware. Don’t get me wrong macOS is one of the most famous and secure operating systems available thanks to Apple’s constant security updates. It is a secure system but like all systems, there are multiple ways to exploit the system and inject it with Malware.

So let me take you through how to remove Malware on Mac.

Related: How to Delete Spyware on Your Mac

How to Remove Malware on Mac

Malware can be fatal if your system that is infected contains all your private information and personal data. There are a number of ways Malware can enter your Mac. This can range from clicking on a random link to installing malicious software that can infect your Mac.

But first, let’s get into what Malware is and how these dangerous pieces of code/apps can damage your Mac.

What is Malware?

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

Malware is malicious code that is designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. They can seem like legitimate applications but can cause a lot of havoc in the background.

In most cases, a user is not even aware that their system is infected. Malware can enter a system in the following ways:

  • By Browsing (suspicious) Websites
  • Downloading Applications from Unknown Web Pages
  • Email Attachments

How to tell if your Mac has Malware

If your Mac suddenly became extremely slow and sluggish, started frequently crashing or displaying error messages, and your only source of entertainment is the whirring of your fans, you may be suspicious that you have installed malware on your system. 

The sudden appearance of irritating pop-up windows or additional toolbars and applications that you didn’t remember installing is another sign. These are signs that you could have an infection on your Macintosh.

However, it is not always the case that a virus is to blame. Although Mac viruses do exist, there are a few notable reports of malware and viruses in recent years. However, there are a few reasons why Mac viruses do not typically take root. Mac malware is extremely uncommon. 

One reason is that Apple’s macOS is extremely secure, and another is that it is extremely difficult for a virus to spread from one Mac to another.

Signs your Mac has a virus

  • You discover that there is a new toolbar in your browser that you did not install. 
  • Your Mac suddenly becomes sluggish or lagging in everyday use, as if there is some software running in the background that is consuming resources.
  • All web pages are overlaid with advertisements, even those that you don’t expect to see ads, like Wikipedia. 
  • Going to your favorite sites doesn’t always work, as if something is randomly redirecting you to spam advertising pages. 
  • Advertising windows pop up on your desktop, seemingly unrelated to any browsing you’re doing or any program that’s running. 
  • Typically, these toolbars claim to make it easier to search or shop. You find that any web searches are unexpectedly redirected away from your usual search engine to some other one.
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They do not necessarily indicate that your Mac is infected with malware or a virus. For instance, there are a thousand reasons why a Mac runs slowly.

Types of Malware

 Malware is classified based on its behavior.  Following are the most common types of malware that are known to the digital world.

  • Trojan – A Trojan is a destructive kind of malware that has been there since the dawn of computers. It will generally disguise itself as a genuine application and infect the computer and can hide in applications, games, etc.
  • Spyware – Spyware as the name suggests steals all the information present on your Mac. It can install a keylogger (to read all keystrokes), access your webcam, etc.
  • Rootkit – Rootkits when injected can take administrative control of your device. It can also conceal other malware such as keyloggers.
  • Worms – A worm is a type of malware that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers.
  • Botnet – This malicious app will end up turning your Mac into a shadow bot so others users can get access to your information via a virtual copy of your Mac.
  • Ransomware – A typical ransomware file will deny access to a bunch of applications on your Mac, it’s even been known to lock you out of your system so you can’t access any of your personal data.
  • PUP – Another kind of malware is PUP (potentially unwanted programs). Here, your Mac will be infected with unknown applications that can steal your data or financial information from the Mac.
  • Backdoor Infection – A backdoor malware file will provide the hacker with access to your Mac. They will be able to remotely access and control your Mac from anywhere in the world.

Examples of Malware on Mac

Here are some fine examples of Malware that have infected Mac’s in the past. These were dangerous forms of Malware in their time and caused quite a bit of damage.


How to Remove Malware on a Mac

KeRanger is a type of ransomware that infected many Mac systems in 2016. KeRanger ransomware was hidden in Transmission (a popular torrent client) and had infected around 7000 computers. 

It was activated when the user would install the above application. The application would then encrypt all files and users could decrypt the files by paying ransomware to the cybercriminals.


How to Remove Malware on a Mac

CallMe is a Trojan that was designed to run on Mac systems. It spreads itself through Microsoft word documents and installs a backdoor. Hackers using this backdoor access can take full control of your system.


How to Remove Malware on a Mac

XcodeGhost is a modified version of Apple’s Xcode development tool which acted as malware. It was discovered in 2015 and was considered the first full-scale attack on Apple’s App Store. Once the infected application was installed, the malware would do its damage by stealing data, taking control of the device, etc.

How to scan a Mac for viruses

The simplest method is to use software to do a virus scan on your Mac. Fortunately, there are many tools available, some of which are free, that will scan your Mac for infections.

You can download the free Bitdefender Virus Scanner from the Mac App Store as one alternative. (If you don’t mind spending a little money, Bitdefender’s commercial version is something to think about.)

Step 1 Open the Bitdefender Virus Scanner.

Step 2 Click the Update Definitions button. 

Step 3 Once that’s completed click the Deep Scan button.

Step 4 Follow the instructions to allow the app full access to your Mac’s hard disk.

Another choice is CleanMyMac X, which in addition to other functions, provides a virus scan. Currently available for £29.95 per year (RRP: £34.95), this solution is one of our go-to Mac utilities for tasks like clearing up disc space by eliminating unused files.

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Step 1 Open CleanMyMac.

Step 2 Click Smart Scan.

Step 3 Wait while it scans. The results of the scan can be found in the Protection section.

Step 4 Click Remove to get rid of any malware.

You can scan for and remove viruses from your Mac using any of the top options from our roundup of the best Mac antivirus software. Installing one of them should ensure that you never fall victim to a virus again.

These are excellent choices since they will check your Mac for viruses and then eliminate them. But to find or get rid of viruses on your Mac, you don’t always need to use a virus scanner.

How to Remove Malware on Mac

Now that you know what Malware is and how they have infected macOS in the past, here’s how you can remove Malware from your Mac

Perform a System Update on your Mac

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

To combat the constant threat of malware and viruses, Apple releases security updates every now and then to fix all the issues related to the current and even future threats.

To update your Mac to the latest system software you can follow these steps:

  • Click on the Apple Menu and select the About this Mac option.
  • Click Software Update. You’ll be taken to the App Store. If you’re not running the latest version of macOS, you’ll see a software update waiting to be installed.
  • Click Update and follow the instructions. 

If you are running the latest version of macOS and no update is available, restart your Mac. When it restarts, it will scan for known malware and remove it.

Uninstall Suspicious Applications

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

Sometimes without your knowledge, some applications can get installed which can be malware in disguise. To remove such applications you can follow the below steps:

  • Open Finder (resembles a blue face on the dock)
  • Click the Applications menu that is present on the left side of the Finder window.
  • Scroll through the list of programs and uninstall the one which you didn’t install or don’t want.
  • Once you selected the application. You can delete it using the following ways based on the type of application.

If it’s inside a folder, then you can use the uninstaller that is bundled with it. You need to open the uninstaller and follow the onscreen instructions to remove the program.

If it is a standalone program then you can just click and drag the program toward the Trash Icon or press the Command+Delete key. This will move the program from the system to the Trash.

You can then click and hold the Trash icon, which will display two options i.e Open and Empty Trash. You can click on Empty Trash to completely remove the program from the Trash.

Remove Safari/Chrome Extensions

Malware can also be installed through browser extensions. To remove these extensions you can follow these steps:

  • Open the Safari Application. 
  • Click on the Safari menu and choose Preferences.
  • Click on the Extensions tab and look through the list of extensions. If you see one you didn’t install or don’t want, click on it and press the Uninstall button. 
  • Repeat for every extension you want to uninstall.

You can follow the above steps for Chrome too.

Scan your Mac with an Antivirus or Malware Removal Tool

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

Even though Apple doesn’t recommend installing antivirus software on your Mac (because they want you to use their own built in XProtect security application).

Following are my personal favorites and well known antivirus’s for a Mac system.

Kaspersky Antivirus

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

Kaspersky Antivirus can detect and remove all sorts of viruses and malware. It is also coupled with a built-in firewall that can keep you secure when you’re online.

This antivirus comes with ransomware protection and uses counter measures against webcam hijacking. It might be a bit expensive but will be worth it in the long run as the virus database is updated regularly.

ESET Cyber Security for Mac

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

I have been a fan of Eset antivirus when I was using my Windows system. When I bought a mac, the first thing I did was buy the Eset Cyber Security. It comes with ransomware protection and also detects malware that is designed for Windows and Linux.

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The best part about this security application is that it takes minimal resources so that your work is never impacted.

CleanMyMac X

How to Remove Malware on a Mac

CleanMyMac X is not an antivirus but more of a cleaner tool. Nevertheless, it does an excellent job of removing malware with its malware removal tool.

It also includes a built-in monitoring tool called Malware Monitor that acts as a gatekeeper by monitoring your mac in real-time for the risk of spyware or any unauthorized presence. 

How to Remove Malware on Mac – FAQs

I think my Mac may still be infected with Malware. What do I do?

Yup, there are chances that your macOS may still get infiltrated with malware even though you have tried all the steps listed above. There may be bits and pieces of malware that would be hiding within the macOS that can wreak havoc at any given time. That’s why it’s best to have a reputed antivirus application running on your Mac so that it can keep you up to date regarding any vulnerabilities in the system.

How to avoid getting another Malware on your Mac?

If you have antivirus software running on your Mac, but you were still infected with malware, then it’s time to switch over to another antivirus software. Whatever you do, don’t blindly rush in to buy antivirus software just because it states that it removes malware. Since there are a bunch of bogus antivirus applications doing their rounds on the web, it’d best to stick to known programs like CleanMyMac X, Norton, or even Kaspersky.

If all else fails, would resetting my Mac to its factory settings get rid of malware?

Yes, it does but it’s not recommended to reset your Mac to its factory settings as you would lose all the data stored on it, including personal files and information. What you can do before wiping your Mac clean is to first backup your data onto iCloud or any other cloud service and once you have reset the Mac to its factory settings, you can restore the backup file that you created and you will have all your data back on your Mac sans the malware.

Conclusion: How to Remove Malware on Mac

Even though Mac is known for its secure system, experienced users do know that no system is virtually secure. Though Apple may refrain you from buying an antivirus, it’s always better to take some kind of precaution so that you won’t regret it later.

Always make sure that you are careful when browsing online or downloading any files so that your mac can always be safe and sound.

As the famous saying goes “Prevention is better than cure”, we need to make sure we follow it in our digital life too. 

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