Warning: run Mac virus scan to avoid getting infected
Macs don’t get viruses, right?
Wrong, sadly. That’s one of the myths spread among users that we are about to debunk.
How safe is your Mac from viruses?
Here is the thing, your Mac may be safer from malware than the average Windows PC, thanks to its Unix core and Apple’s default security settings. But it’s not 100% immune. All it takes is one thoughtless click on a link in a phishing email or a website, and your Mac gets infected.
So answering the Mac-virus question - YES, Mac can get a virus! But the great news is that performing a Mac virus scan is simple, so getting rid of viruses is not that big of a deal.
Before you scan Mac for viruses, here are a few things to check first. Below you can find the list with several tell-tale signs that your Mac has been infected. See if your Mac displayed any of these symptoms.
5 Obvious signs that your Mac is infected
#1. Mac behaving erratically
The most obvious sign that your Mac was infected is when it starts behaving not like it used to. This behavior can involve Mac suddenly freezing or restarting, browser redirecting and overall performance slowing down.
#2. Browser changes a homepage
Another sign you’ll notice right away without running a virus scan is that your browser suddenly and continually changes the homepage. That is abnormal behavior, so watch out!
#3. Fake security alerts popping up on Mac
If you're seeing fake pop-ups telling you your Mac needs an urgent update or your data is in danger, the chances are high that your Mac's infected with scareware.
#4. Mac’s speed suddenly dropped
Some viruses run processes that hog CPU cycles and leave little capacity for the tasks you want to carry out.
#5. Adverts or pop-ups keep showing up
Adware viruses are explicitly designed to show adverts in the hope that you’ll click on them. Have you noticed software appear on your Mac that you didn’t deliberately install? That’s what I’m talking about - the sign telling you a virus checkup is required.
Viruses come in all sizes and shapes. They appear in browser extensions, others run in the background, but some appear as applications in your Applications folder. Before explaining how to scan for viruses on Mac, check these five tell-tale signs.
If any of the above is true, it’s possible that your Mac has a virus, but remember, don’t panic! It may be relatively easy to remove.
How to run a virus scan on Mac (automatically and manually)
Some drivers prefer cars with a manual and some with automatic transmission. Same with Mac users: some prefer tracking viruses automatically with specialized tools, some manually.
How to check for viruses on Mac automatically
Several Mac virus scanners allow you to check your system. However, it’s vital that you don’t just google ‘free Mac antivirus software.’ Many sites that claim to offer free antivirus tools host viruses themselves. And you can end up making the problem worse.
I recommend using reputable tools. My personal favorite is CleanMyMac X. CleanMyMac X detects thousands of malware threats, including adware, spyware, worms, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, etc. When it finds something suspicious, it offers immediate removal.
Here’s how to scan your Mac for malware and viruses:
- Download CleanMyMac X (free edition here) and launch the app.
- Click on the Malware Removal tab.
- Click Scan and then click Remove.
The Protection monitor in CleanMyMac's Menu is another thing I love about the app. With its help, I can easily see if my Mac in under malware attack.
How to get rid of suspicious apps
I hope my simple tutorial on how to check viruses on Mac was handy. The next logical step is - to remove them! Again, If you find an application you didn’t intend to install, you should get rid of it. But don’t just drag it from your Applications folder to the Trash. That won’t remove every trace of it from your Mac.
Applications store files in several different places in your Mac’s Library folders. You could track them down and remove them manually, but it’s quicker and easier to use a dedicated uninstaller I mentioned earlier, CleanMyMac X. That way, you can remove every application trace, and no stray files will be left behind.
- Download CleanMyMac for free here.
- Launch it from your Applications folder.
- In the Utilities section, click on Uninstaller.
- Look through the list of applications until you see the one you want to get rid of. Check the box next to it.
- Press the Uninstall button.
If you want to use built-in tools to check your Mac for malware, viruses, or suspicious apps, I’ve fetched a list right here that you can use.
Apple protects its macOS users with a unique built-in technology called XProtect. It has an extensive database of virus signatures that scan Macs for malware. Since it’s already built into your system, it runs by default without your involvement. But remember, this is only a basic level of protection that won’t help with serious threats.
How to scan Mac for viruses manually
Application or process can stop your system from being responsive. When that is the case, Activity Monitor comes in handy. It allows you to track down troublesome apps or processes, check for the most significant energy consumers, and monitor CPU disk usage. You can also use it to detect malware.
Follow these steps to run Activity Monitor:
- Go to Applications > Utilities.
- Open Activity Monitor and click % CPU column to see processes and apps with high CPU use. Quit those by pressing the X button in the upper-left corner.
- Find any other suspicious process and simply google it to see if it’s malware.
If you want to look for viruses hidden within apps, then try auditing your Applications folder:
- Go to the Applications folder.
- Find any suspicious app you don’t recognize.
- Check it with Google, and delete it if necessary.
How to prevent your Mac from getting a virus
Scanning Mac for malware is one thing. But prevention is always better than cure so, if you want to make sure that every virus scan returns a clean bill of health, here’s what to do.
- Never click a link in an email unless you’re 100% sure where the email has come from and where the link will take you. For example, reputable companies and banks won’t ask you to click a link to log into an account.
- Never download anything unless you’re confident about what it is. That includes movie files, software updates, games, and anything else you’re unsure about.
- Keep your Mac updated with the latest version of macOS. That doesn’t mean you have to be running the newest OS, but if you’re running, say, Sierra, make sure you install the latest updates when they become available.
Scanning your Mac for threats is very easy. To check Mac for malware, you can download the free version of CleanMyMac X, an Apple notarized app. With its help, you get rid of any applications you didn’t intend to download and scan your whole system for malware very quickly and easily. Give it a go.