If your Mac is constantly being redirected to suspicious sites or your browser homepage and search engine have been changed without your consent, then it is possible that you have a malicious program installed on your computer.
Can Macs get infected with malware?
Adware, browser hijackers, and unwanted apps are these days able to infect even the macOS operating system. These types of infections are designed specifically to make money. They generate web traffic, collects sales leads for other dubious sites, and will display advertisements and sponsored links within your web browser.
Once an adware program is installed on your computer, whenever you will browse the Internet, unwanted advertisements will pop-up on your screen or your browser settings will be changed.
When a malicious program is installed on a computer, common symptoms include:
- Advertisements appear in places they shouldn’t be.
- Your web browser’s homepage has mysteriously changed without your permission.
- Web pages that you typically visit are not displaying properly.
- Website links redirect to sites different from what you expected.
- Browser popups appear which recommend fake updates or other software.
- Other unwanted programs might get installed without your knowledge.
This guide was written to help macOS users remove adware and browser hijackers from their devices, if your just looking for a way to block or remove advertisements from the sites you visit, then you can use a free browser extension like Adblock.
How did my computer get infected with malware?
Malicious apps or browser extensions are installed by the users, whether that is knowingly or not. Often, these types of programs are offered through advertisements or bundled with other software, leaving the user puzzled where this software came from.
Unfortunately, some free downloads do not adequately disclose that other software will also be installed and you may find that you have installed a malicious program without your knowledge.
You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs. Be very careful what you agree to install.
Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.
To remove adware and check your computer for other malicious programs, please use the free malware removal guide below.
How To Remove a Virus, Pop-ups, Adware, or Malware from macOS
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, STOP and ask for our assistance.
To remove a Virus, Pop-ups, Adware, or Malware follow these steps:
- STEP 1: Remove malicious apps from Mac
- STEP 2: Uninstall malicious extensions from Safari, Chrome, or Firefox
- STEP 3: Use Malwarebytes Free to remove adware and other malware
STEP 1: Remove malicious apps from Mac
In this first step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious app that might be installed on your device.
Click the Finder application on your dock.
Click on “Applications”
In the Finder left pane, click on “Applications“.
Find and remove the malicious app.
The “Applications” screen will be displayed with a list of all the app installed on your device. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious app, right-click it, and then click “Move to Trash”.
Look out for any suspicious program that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program. Here are some known malicious programs: TakeFresh, TopResults, FeedBack, ApplicationEvents, GeneralOpen, PowerLog, MessengerNow, ImagePrime, GeneralNetSearch, Reading Cursors, GlobalTechSearch, PDFOnline-express, See Scenic Elf, MatchKnowledge, Easy Speedtest, or WebDiscover.
The malicious program may have a different name on your computer. If you cannot find any malicious programs on your computer, you can continue with STEP 2.
Click “Empty Trash”
On the dock, right-click on the trash icon and select “Empty Trash”. Doing so deletes the Trash’s contents, including the program that you just sent to the Trash.
Some malicious programs may also create a new group policy for your device, so we need to remove these unwanted changes.
- Go to System Preferences.
- Click Profiles.
- The list will include an item “AdminPrefs“. Select this and click the remove “–” button in the lower-left corner.
If there isn’t a Profiles icon, you don’t have any profiles installed, which is normal.
Next, click the desktop to make sure you’re in the Finder, choose Go > Go to Folder, then go to the below folders and delete the files or folders related to that program.
STEP 2: Uninstall malicious extensions from Safari, Chrome, or Firefox
Go to Safari’s “Preferences”.
On the menu bar, click the “Safari” menu and select “Preferences”.
This will open a new window with your Safari preferences, opened to the “General” tab. Some browser hijackers may change your default homepage, so in the Homepage field make sure it’s a web page you want to use as your start-up page.
Next, click on the “Extensions” tab.
Find and uninstall the malicious extension.
The “Extensions” screen will be displayed with a list of all the extensions installed on Safari. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious extension, and then click on “Uninstall” to remove it. By default, there are no extensions installed on Safari.
Look out for any suspicious extension that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember installing or that doesn’t sound like a genuine browser extension. Here are some known malicious extensions: TakeFresh, TopResults, FeedBack, ApplicationEvents, GeneralOpen, PowerLog, MessengerNow, ImagePrime, GeneralNetSearch, Reading Cursors, GlobalTechSearch, PDFOnline-express, See Scenic Elf, MatchKnowledge, Easy Speedtest, or WebDiscover.
The malicious extensions may have a different name on your computer. If you cannot find any malicious programs on your browser, you can continue with STEP 3.
Google Chrome has an option that will reset itself to its default settings. Resetting your browser settings will reset the unwanted changes caused by installing other programs. However, your saved bookmarks and passwords will not be cleared or changed.
Open Chrome’s “Settings” menu.
Click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Settings“.
At the bottom, click “Advanced”.
Chrome’s “Settings” should now be displayed in a new tab or window, depending on your configuration. Next, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Advanced” link (as seen in the below example).
Under the section “Reset,” click “Reset”.
Chrome’s advanced settings should now be displayed. Scroll down until the “Reset and clean up” section is visible, as shown in the example below. Next, click on the “Reset settings to their original defaults” button.
Confirm by clicking “Reset”.
A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, click on the “Reset Settings” button.
In many cases, changes to Chrome may not be fixed with a simple browser reset. In such a case, it’s very possible that a malicious program has created unwanted policies on your browser. You can check if any unwanted policies are loaded into the browser by typing chrome://policy into the URL bar.
To reset these policies, follow these steps:
- Open a new Terminal window. (Finder > Go > Utilities > Terminal)
- Enter the following commands, pressing enter after each line:
defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageIsNewTabPage -bool false
defaults write com.google.Chrome NewTabPageLocation -string "https://www.google.com/"
defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageLocation -string "https://www.google.com/"
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderSearchURL
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderNewTabURL
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderName
- After running these commands, quit Chrome if you haven’t already done so, then launch it again and check chrome://policy to see if the same keys are still present (you may need to click the “Reload policies” button for changes to show up). If they’re gone, you should be able to change your search engine and home page back to your preferred defaults in Chrome’s settings.
If resetting the Google Chrome policies didn’t fix the issue, it will be easier to completely remove Chrome and all data, then reinstall the browser. To do this, click the Finder icon, from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder, then paste one of the below paths into the window that opens.
You will need to delete all of the below items, but before doing this be aware that this will delete all data for all Google apps you have installed, such as your bookmarks, so you will need to export them before doing this.
After deleting all of the above files, restart your device. You can now download and re-install Google Chrome on your device. You will need to import any exported bookmarks or other data, and may need to reinstall any other Google apps that you use.
If you’re having problems with Firefox, resetting it can help. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history and open tabs.
Go to the “Help” menu.
Click on Firefox’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Help“.
Click “Troubleshooting Information”.
From the Help menu, click on “Troubleshooting Information“.If you’re unable to access the “Help” menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting information page.
Click on “Refresh Firefox”
Click the “Refresh Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
To continue, click on the “Refresh Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
Click on “Finish”.
Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on the “Finish“.
STEP 3: Use Malwarebytes Free to remove adware and browser hijackers
Malwarebytes Free is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.
Download Malwarebytes Free.
You can download Malwarebytes for Mac by clicking the link below.MALWAREBYTES FOR MAC DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes for Mac)
Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.
When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the setup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.
When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes for Mac Installer which will guide you through the installation process. Click “Continue“, then keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process.
When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen. Click the “Get started” button.
Select “Personal Computer” or “Work Computer”.
The Malwarebytes Welcome screen will first ask you on what type of computer are you installing this program, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
Select “Use Malwarebytes Free”.
You’ll be then prompted to select between the Malwarebytes Free and the Premium version. The Malwarebytes Premium edition includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and ransomware protection, however, we will use the Free version to clean up the computer.
Click on “Use Malwarebytes Free“.
Click on “Scan”.
To scan your computer with Malwarebytes, click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for malware.
Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.
Malwarebytes will scan your computer for adware and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
Click on “Quarantine”.
When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.
Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
Your computer should now be free of malicious programs. If your current antivirus allowed a malicious program on your computer, you may want to consider purchasing the full-featured version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to a malicious program from your computer, please ask for help in our Malware Removal Assistance for Mac forum.