One icky thing I’m seeing more frequently these days is adware installed on Macs. Let’s say that you’re surfing along and decide you want to use a third-party program, so you Google its name and find a site that offers a download. But when you install it, all of a sudden your browser’s home page has changed, the search engine you were using has been replaced (and may be redirecting you to places you don’t want to go!), and you’re seeing pop-up ads everywhere. Yuck.
Removing all of the pieces that these crappy, invasive programs install on your system is not difficult to do by hand as long as you’re familiar with your Mac’s file system and know where to find, for example, your /Library/LaunchAgents folder, but it’s much easier to use an automated tool to clean stuff up. If that’s the way you want to go, I recommend AdwareMedic by The Safe Mac (donationware). This nifty little utility scans your system very quickly, alerts you if it finds any adware, and offers to clean it out for you. So to get started, go to the page I linked above and click on the giant “Download” button.
(Note that if your system redirects you to a different site when you click that, your adware may be preventing you from installing the program; if that’s the case, check out The Safe Mac’s suggestions for what to do or just paste the disk image’s URL into your browser to download it directly: http://www.adwaremedic.com/AdwareMedic.dmg.)
Once the file has finished downloading, open the disk image from your Downloads folder.
Like most programs, AdwareMedic instructs you to drag its icon to your Applications folder to install it, but you don’t actually have to do that if you don’t wanna. Just double-click on the AdwareMedic icon, and you can run it directly from the disk image.
If you click on “Scan for Adware” on that screen, you can, well, scan your system for adware. Surprise, surprise.
One other thing that makes The Safe Mac so useful is that the developer, Thomas Reed, also has a manual removal guide up on the site, which is handy if you’re running an OS X version earlier than 10.7 or if you just don’t want to run AdwareMedic for some reason. But in any case, if you find the program or the site helpful, consider donating to The Safe Mac to help Mr. Reed churn out more great utilities!