What is KNCTR and how can I remove it from my Mac?

Adware is not just an inconvenience. It can slow down your Mac, make it behave erratically and may also install other malware. KNCTR is one example that’s been plaguing web browsers for a few years now. In this article, we’ll explain what it is and tell you how to get rid of it.

What is KNCTR?

It’s an adware program that once downloaded and installed, displays unwanted pop-up adverts on web pages. These aren’t the same ads you would normally see on the web, and they aren’t related to content you’re interested in. They are simply designed to make money for the hacker. The adverts are disguised as money-off coupons or links to free stuff. Of course, when you click on the link, you are taken somewhere else entirely and more malware is downloaded to your Mac. 

How did KNCTR get on my Mac?

The most common method, as with lots of adware, is bundling. Bundling happens when a software program you choose to download brings with it other programs you don’t want, or even know about. It’s a tactic used by the proprietary download managers that a lot of free software download sites insist you use to download apps from their site.

How do I know if I’ve downloaded it?

The most obvious sign is that you will start to see adverts with text like “Powered by KNCTR” or “Ads by KNCTR” underneath or next to them. However,  there are a number of other tell-tale signs. These include:

  • Random web page text turning into hyperlinks
  • Websites opening without your choosing to navigate to them
  • Your Mac slowing down or freezing regularly
  • Your web browser crashing

How can I avoid installing adware like KNCTR?

Be vigilant! As I said earlier, this kind of adware is most commonly downloaded by bundling itself with other software. To avoid that, don’t download software from any site that insists you use their own download manager. In addition, follow this advice:

  • Don’t click on a link in an email, instant message, or on a website unless you are sure where it leads.
  • Keep your operating system up to date.
  • Keep your apps up to date.
  • Be careful about installing browser extensions – satisfy yourself that they’re safe first.

How to get rid of KNCTR from your Mac

Remove KNCTR using CleanMyMac X 

If you want to clean your room you normally use a vacuum cleaner. And if you want to remove something from your computer, you use the most appropriate computer cleaning tool. CleanMyMac X by MacPaw has been gaining popularity among Mac users and, according to the developer, is able to remove KNCTR.

KNCTR usually persists on your Mac in form of these:

  • Login items
  • Launch agents
  • Browser extensions

Conveniently enough, CleanMyMac X can scan all these directories.

  1. Launch CleanMyMac X — it has a free version you can download.
  2. Go to the Optimization tab > Login items
  3. Check the box next to any items that look suspicious.
  4. Press Remove.

In the same way, click on Launch Agents and Extensions. 

The great thing about doing it that way is that you can get rid of extensions in several browsers at once, without having to launch each browser separately. 

Delete the application

There are a number of different steps needed to get rid of this adware. Follow each of the steps below. If all of that seems like a lot of effort, there’s some great news and a way to do it much more quickly after the instructions below. 

Go to your Applications folder and locate the app you downloaded from the software download site just before you notice the adware. Drag it to the Trash. If you find any other applications in the folder that you didn’t install, drag this to the Trash, too.

Manually remove launch agents and other files

Dragging an app to the Trash doesn’t get rid of it completely, even when you empty the Trash. So, take these extra steps.

  1. In the Finder, click on the Go menu. 
  2. Type this into the box: ~/Library/LaunchAgents
  3. Look for any launch agents that have the letters ‘knctr’ in them
  4. Drag them to the Trash.
  5. Return to the Go menu and type this: /Library/LaunchDaemons.
  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4.

If that seems like a lot of work to uninstall apps and remove launch agents, there is a simpler method. CleanMyMac X allows you to uninstall all the files related to an app with a couple of clicks. It also has a module that can get rid of launch agents. Speaking of CleanMyMac X, it can also help with the next steps, removing browser extensions, but first, the manual method.

How to remove browser extensions in Safari

  1. Click on the Safari menu and choose Preferences.
  2. Select the Extensions tab and look for any that you didn’t choose to download.
  3. If you find one, click on it and press Uninstall.

Tip: CleanMyMac X has a Malware Removal tool that allows you to delete hidden adware programs. Some of them try to disguise as other apps but CleanMyMac X can nevertheless spot them by analyzing certain strings of their code.

How to remove extensions in Google Chrome

  1. Type “chrome://extensions” into the address bar in Chrome.
  2. Look for any extensions you don’t recognise or that look suspicious.
  3. If you see one,  press Remove next to it.

How to remove extensions in Firefox

  1. Click on the three lines to the right of the address bar in Firefox.
  2. Choose “Add-ons” then “extensions"
  3. Look for any suspicious extensions.
  4. Click on one and choose Remove.

KNCTR is adware that arrives on your Mac thanks to the download managers used by software download sites. These sites bundle other applications with the one you choose to download. And this extra software very often comes with nasty malware, like KNCTR. Once installed, KNCTR tries to get you to click on adverts by offering fake discounts and more-off coupons. If you do click, you’ll be directed to a site where you will find more malware and the hacker will be rewarded by being paid for your click.

Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to remove. And the easiest way of all is to use CleanMyMac X to get rid of it and the browser extensions it installs.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.