How to get rid of malware on a Mac
Once upon a time, Mac owners could take great pleasure in the fact that, for the most part, malware creators general left them alone. It was true that there has been malware for Macs for a long time, but there was so little of it that, generally speaking, common sense was enough of a safeguard. Those days, sadly, are over and now Macs are very much a target for Malware creators. With that in mind, here is a guide to getting rid of malware on a Mac.
First of all, make sure your issue is actually malware
It's great that Mac owners are now much more aware of cybersecurity and are taking steps to protect their computers against attack, but it’s also important to remember that performance issues can be caused by a number of reasons, not just by viruses, even when you’re talking about highly-specced computers like the average Mac. In other words, before you start panicking about malware, try showing your Mac a bit of love and giving it a clean-up and tune-up. You may find, it’s just getting overloaded, especially if it’s getting older.
Try downloading a good antivirus program
The bad news is that virus-creators are getting a whole lot more sophisticated and so you may find that your computer will block you from downloading and/or installing an antivirus program. On the other hand, you have nothing to lose but your malware and there’s still a fair amount of malware which is annoying rather than deadly sophisticated, so it’s definitely worth a try.
Clean up your internet act
Clean up your cookies, clean up your internet cache and, arguably most of all, clean up your browser extensions. Browser extensions, as the name suggests, are “mini-programs” which extend the functionality of your browser and, as premium devices, Macs can hold a lot of them and while that can be very useful, it can also make it possible for certain forms of malware to slip past undetected.
The easiest way to address this is to go through your browser extensions (again, if you did this in the first stage) and narrow them down to ones you know you really need or ones you really love. Get rid of everything else and hope that one of them was your virus. If it wasn’t and you do need or want it, you can always install it again.
Either create a new account, restore to a previous point in time, or check your apps
If you still have virus issues then these are your last three options and your order or preference will depend on how you use your computer and what you intend to do with it afterwards.
Creating a new account
This won’t solve your problem but it can get around it. Basically there is a lot of Mac malware which is linked to a user account. If you can create a new account then you can essentially just move on yourself and leave the virus trapped in the old one. This is especially useful if most of your apps and data are in the cloud and your Mac is just your access point to them. The only issue here is that your computer will still have the virus, so you might want to treat this option as a bridge to keep you going until you have time for one of the other approaches.
Restore to a previous point in time
This will solve your problem, just at the price of anything you’ve put on your actual computer since the virus struck. Again, if most of your apps and data are in the cloud, then it could be a reasonable option.
Go through your apps and look for the virus
This can be a painful process and you will need to do it thoroughly, which basically means that it will take as long as it takes. You need to go through each and every one of your apps, plus your Application Support, Launch Agents and Launch Daemons. These are typically spread around three main locations:
Your applications folder
Your ~/Library folder
Your main library folder
Sometimes the name will be a giveaway, although more often than not it’s the installation date which provides the real clue. The key point to note, however, is that you have to get rid of each and every bit of the virus to be sure it’s gone. Then download and run a good antivirus app just to be totally sure.
Then stop the problem from happening again
By this point, you’ve probably had enough of virus-hunting to head to this page right now and download our robust antivirus which will make sure that you never need to do it again!