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How to Find and Remove Malware from Your Mac

Malware (short for malicious software) is any kind of software that is purposely designed to damage your computer or steal your sensitive data, such as your bank details. While Macs used to be better protected against malware than Windows PCs, that has changed over the past few years. If you’re concerned about your security, here’s how to find and remove malware from your Mac.

Can Macs Get Malware?

Yes, Macs can absolutely get malware. You can install malware on your Mac by visiting unsafe websites, clicking on links in suspicious emails, and more. In fact, since more and more people are using Mac these days, cybercriminals are now targeting Macs more than Windows PCs.

Apple is always upgrading its security system to strengthen your Mac and keep malware away. But malware always finds a way through the security system. So, it is a good idea to download an anti-malware program to find any malware hiding on your computer and remove it.

How to Find Malware on Your Mac

If you suspect that your Mac has malware, you should download an anti-malware. There are several different anti-malware programs you can use to find malware on your Mac, but the top choice for Mac users is Malwarebytes.

  1. Go to malwarebytes.com and click Free Download. You can also pay for a premium version of the app that will constantly check for malware in the background and stop it before it can damage your Mac.
    download malwarebytes free
  2. Then click Allow on the prompt that will appear. The application will then begin downloading. If you don’t see this message, scroll down the page, and click “click here.”
    how to remove malware from mac
  3. Open the downloaded file. It should be named “Malwarebytes-Mac…” You can find it in the Downloads folder on the bottom right of your screen.
    how to remove malware from mac
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the app. You will need to enter your Mac password (the same one that you use to sign in to your Mac) to install the app.
  5. Once the app is installed, click Get Started and answer the questions asked. If you don’t want to pay for the premium version, make sure to click Use Malwarebytes Free. You will then be asked to enter your email address, but you can just click Open Malwarebytes Free instead.
    how to remove malware from mac
  6. Then click Scan. Malwarebytes will then search through your computer for every threat it can find. This might take a while, depending on the size of your computer and how much malware the app finds.
    how to remove malware from mac
  7. Then click Quarantine if any malware is found. This will stop those apps from running on your Mac. You can also de-select any apps that you want to continue to run. Any programs that are quarantined will automatically be deleted after 90 days by default. You can change the time period by clicking on the gear-shaped icon in the top-right corner of the home page.
    how to remove malware from mac
  8. Finally, click Restart if prompted.
How to Find Malware on Your Mac

How to Remove Malware from Your Mac Using MalwareBytes

If you found malware during a scan with MalwareBytes, you can manually delete the quarantined files by going to Detection History. Then select the files you want to remove, and then click Delete.

  1. Open MalwareBytes and click on Detection History.
    malwarebytes detection history
  2. Select the items you want to delete under Quarantined items. You can select all files by clicking the box at the top of the list next to Name.
  3. Finally, click Delete.
How to Remove Malware on Your Mac Using MalwareBytes

If you already know that there are malicious apps installed on your Mac, you can remove them manually.

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How to Remove Malware on Your Mac Manually

To remove an app manually, go to Utilities > Activity Monitor. Then select the app that you want to remove and click Stop. Then, right-click on your app in the Applications folder and select Move to Trash. Finally, empty your trash to remove the program.

  1. Open your Applications folder and go to Utilities. You can also open this folder by clicking on your desktop and hitting the Command + Shift + U keys on your keyboard at the same time.
  2. Then open the Activity Monitor.
    activity monitor
  3. Select the app in the CPU tab. You can use the search bar on the top right corner of the window to look for them. Or, you can search through the list for any applications you don’t recognize.
  4. Click the Stop button. This is the grey X button in the top-left corner of the window.
    activity monitor stop process
  5. Then select Quit.
  6. Next, locate the app in your Applications folder. You can open this folder by clicking on your desktop and hitting the Command + Shift + A keys on your keyboard at the same time.
  7. Right-click on the app and select Move to Trash. You might be required to enter your password.
    move app to trash
  8. Finally, right-click on the trash and select Empty Trash. The malware will not be removed until this step is done. You might have to enter your Mac’s password again at this point.
How to Remove Malware on Mac Manually

Your anti-malware software should be able to find and remove any malware. But if you want to make sure your malware is completely removed, you can also check to see if it is still in your login items.

How to Remove Malware apps from Login Items

To remove malware from Login Items, go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items > “—” all suspicious apps > Restart your computer.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Then select System Preferences.
    Apple Menu System Preferences
  3. Choose Users & Groups. This is the button with the icon of two profiles.
    system preferences users and groups
  4. Go to the Login Items tab. Make sure you have selected the correct user in the left sidebar.
    login items
  5. Select all suspicious apps and click the minus sign (—). To select multiple apps, press the Shift key on your keyboard while clicking all chosen apps.
    remove login items
  6. Finally, restart your computer.

Now that you know how to remove malware from your Mac, check out our article on how to prevent malware on your Mac.

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Updated on March 26, 2021

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