How to Clear a Virus From Your Mac in 2023

  • Macs are not immune to viruses; key signs include slow performance, browser changes, and frequent ads.
  • Remove Mac viruses manually by checking applications, Activity Monitor, and browser settings.
  • You can also use Time Machine for system restoration.
How to Clear a Virus From Your Mac

Maybe you’ve heard people say that one of the greatest advantages of Macs over Windows is that they can never be infected with viruses. Well, that’s a misconception. I used to believe the same thing until a few years ago when my MacBook became infected with a virus. The virus caused my MacBook to regularly contact a remote server every 60 minutes, seeking commands from attackers. Since then, I have taken the time to learn how to identify viruses on Macs and how to remove them.

Waiting until your Mac is completely damaged by a virus before taking action is not a good option. It is essential to learn how to identify if your Mac has viruses and how to eliminate them. The knowledge I will share below will greatly contribute to the well-being of your MacBook.

How Do I Know if My Mac Has a Virus?

While some malware can remain undetected on your system for months, others are more aggressive and noticeable. Regardless, be vigilant for the following signs on your Mac as they indicate the presence of malware:

Sluggish Performance

If your computer is significantly slower than usual, it could be a sign that someone is using it for cryptocurrency mining. However, make sure to check your storage space as well, as full storage can also cause slowdowns.

Unauthorized Changes in Your Browser

If your browser suddenly has a new homepage or extension that you didn’t install, it’s likely that your browser has been hijacked to redirect you to third-party sites.

Frequent Appearance of Ads

Persistent ads popping up on your screen are typical indicators of adware. While not necessarily harmful, adware generates profits from ad clicks without sharing any proceeds with you.

Unsolicited Security Alerts

If you receive security alerts without initiating a scan on your Mac, it’s likely a sign of scareware. Scareware is a type of malware designed to frighten you into installing more malware.

Spam Sent From Your Accounts

If your friends receive spam messages from your social media accounts, it’s highly probable that your Mac has been infected with a virus.

Inability to Access Personal Files Accompanied by Warning Notes

If you encounter warnings preventing you from accessing certain personal files, it is a strong indication that your computer is infected with a virus.

Please note that your Mac exhibiting one or more of the above signs is not a foolproof method to determine if it has a virus. The most reliable way to search for viruses on a Mac is by using a reputable antimalware program.

How Do I Clear a Virus From My Mac Without an Antivirus?

While using an antivirus is generally the easiest and most effective method to detect malware, it is not always the most affordable option. Here are some ways to detect malware on your Mac without relying on an antivirus:

1. Check for Unwanted Applications

Sometimes malware sneaks into your system alongside legitimate software. However, it’s important to remember that if you find an app on your Mac that you didn’t download, it is likely to be malware. To check if your Mac has a virus, follow these steps:

  1. Open Finder and navigate to the Applications folder.
  2. Scroll through the list of apps and remove any unfamiliar or suspicious ones.
  3. Empty the Trash to completely remove the deleted apps.
  4. Additionally, check for any hidden files related to the deleted apps and remove them as well.

2. Identify Malware in Activity Monitor

In many cases, it is necessary to stop malware from running on your system before attempting to remove it. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.
  2. Scroll through the list of apps and pay attention to any applications with unusually high memory usage or CPU.
  3. Select the “X” button in the top-left corner of the window to close the selected app.
  4. Search for the app name in Finder and delete it.
  5. Empty the Trash to ensure the deleted app is completely removed.

3. Check Your Browser Settings and Remove Unknown Extensions

It is important to review your browser settings and remove any unknown extensions, as hijackers often use these extensions to divert traffic and steal your data. While the process is similar for most browsers, the following steps specifically outline how to remove unwanted Safari extensions:

Time needed: 1 minute

  1. Open Safari and go to Preferences or Settings.

    Open Safari and go to Preferences or Settings

  2. Click on the General tab.

    Click on the General tab

  3. In the Homepage section, verify the homepage address. If it is unfamiliar, change it to your preferred address.

    Check the Homepage address

  4. Go to the Extensions tab and uncheck the boxes next to any suspicious extensions.

    Click on the Extensions Tab

  5. Click on Uninstall to remove the selected extensions.

    Click on Uninstall to delete the extension

4. Remove Suspicious Login Items

In many instances, malware begins its activity silently upon logging into your Mac. Prevent this by following these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the top menu.
  2. Go to System Preferences.
  3. Select Users & Groups.
  4. Choose the Login Items tab.
  5. Click on the lock icon in the pop-up window’s lower-left corner.
  6. Check the boxes next to any suspicious login items.
  7. Click on the minus sign (-) to remove the selected items.
  8. Finally, click the lock icon again to confirm and save your new settings.

5. Clear Your Downloads Folder

There is a possibility that malware might be lurking among the files in your Downloads folder. To ensure your safety, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new folder and move any necessary files from your Downloads folder to the new location.
  2. Once you have safely transferred your files, go ahead and clear out your Downloads folder.
  3. Remember to empty the Trash to completely remove the files.

6. Use Time Machine

If you have been regularly backing up your Mac using Time Machine, you can take advantage of its powerful feature to restore your system to a state prior to the virus infection. Follow these steps:

  1. Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  2. Access the Time Machine feature through the menu bar or System Preferences.
  3. Navigate to the date and time before the virus infection occurred.
  4. Select the backup and initiate the restore process.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the restoration.

Note: It is crucial to have regular backups in place for Time Machine to be effective in restoring your Mac to a previous state. Check here for more ways to avoid malware and harmful apps on Mac.

How Do I Run a Virus Scan on My Mac?

Intego is an antivirus product line-up exclusively designed for Macs, setting it apart from other antivirus software that originated for Windows and later expanded to macOS. Intego offers a range of features that make it highly recommended for Mac protection. Go to the Intego website and download the VirusBarrier software. Here is an in-depth review of Intego and its various capabilities:

1. VirusBarrier – Malware Scanner

A capable malware scanner is a must-have for every Mac owner, and Intego’s VirusBarrier excels in this regard. It is capable of detecting various types of threats to your system, including adware, Trojans, ransomware, and other forms of malware.

Additionally, Intego’s VirusBarrier goes beyond Mac protection by allowing you to scan your iPhone, iPad, and other externally connected devices, ensuring they are also free from malware. The software offers essential features such as real-time protection, an antivirus scanner, and the ability to schedule scans.

The malware scanner provided by Intego includes both a quick scan and a full scan feature. The quick scan is designed to efficiently scan your Mac in less time compared to the full scan. This time-saving feature is achieved by focusing on scanning the most vulnerable files and directories, while the full scan scans all files and directories on your system.

Once the scan is complete, the scanner displays the scan results, which include the total number of files scanned and a list of detected threats. You are then presented with options to choose how to handle the identified files using the following features:

  1. Trust: By selecting this option, you indicate that you trust the detected threat and want to take no further action.
  2. Quarantine: Choosing this option isolates the file in a manner that prevents it from infecting other files on your Mac.
  3. Repair: This option completely removes the threat from your device, ensuring its eradication.

In addition to the malware scanning capabilities, the virus barrier feature of Intego offers additional protection measures. It includes an option to alert you if you encounter a phishing website, providing an extra layer of security. Moreover, it scans your email for any potential malware, enhancing your overall protection.

2. Washing Machine – Optimizing Your Mac

If you’ve been using Macs for a while, you may have encountered instances where your Mac becomes slow, unresponsive, and in need of optimization. While you can manually optimize your Mac, it can be a time-consuming and tedious process.

Intego’s Washing Machine feature offers a solution by cleaning and optimizing your Mac for a better user experience. There are three options available to optimize your Mac using the Washing Machine feature:

  1. Reclaim: This option scans all files and folders on your device and provides a detailed report. You can analyze the scanned files and select the ones you want to delete. The Washing Machine then removes the selected files, freeing up space on your system and optimizing its performance.
  2. Duplicates: With this option, the Washing Machine scans your device for duplicate files, identifying copies of the same file. You can choose to delete the duplicates, thereby freeing up storage space on your Mac. Additionally, the Washing Machine tool allows you to preview files directly from the application.
  3. Organize: This feature helps you tidy up your computer by scanning and arranging your files into folders. You can also reorganize your documents using the Organize feature, resulting in a well-arranged home screen.

3. Net Barrier – Network Firewall

A network firewall serves the purpose of safeguarding your computer against network-based attacks. Intego’s Net Barrier tool is specifically designed to block suspicious incoming or outgoing connection requests, enhancing your network security.

With Net Barrier, you have the ability to specify which applications are allowed to access the network and block others. It is advisable to block applications that store sensitive information, such as messaging or work-related apps.

Intego has effectively incorporated valuable and practical features into its network barrier, making it a highly useful tool. This feature becomes particularly beneficial when connecting to public networks, where security risks are more prevalent.

4. Personal Backup

You may already be familiar with Apple’s Time Machine feature, which provides device backups. Intego’s Personal Backup offers the same functionality with additional benefits. With the Personal Backup tool, you have the option to back up specific files and folders to an external device or a cloud server. The tool includes the following three options:

  1. Synchronize: This option is particularly useful when working with multiple devices. It replicates your actions across all connected devices, saving you time and effort.
  2. Bootable Backup: This feature creates a local backup of each file on both your Mac and external device, ensuring comprehensive data protection.
  3. Restore: As the name suggests, this option allows you to restore selected backups onto your Mac, ensuring a seamless recovery process.

Go to the Intego official website and check out their full range of products.


Whether you want to protect your Mac, optimize it, or create backups safely, Intego can help you regardless.
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Checking and removing viruses on a Mac is crucial for maintaining the security and optimal performance of your device. While Macs are not immune to viruses, being aware of the signs of infection and regularly scanning your system can help detect and remove malware.

Using reliable antivirus software and practicing safe browsing habits are essential steps in safeguarding your Mac against potential threats. Stay vigilant and take proactive measures to keep your Mac virus-free.

One of Mac’s most common malware is the Redirect virus. Check here to learn how to remove the Redirect virus from your Mac.

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