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How to Check Your Mac for Virus and Get Rid of It?

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 15, 2024 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

Q: How do I get rid of a Trojan virus on my Mac?

"Someone please help me as my Mac has been infected by a Trojan virus! Do I need an antivirus for Mac or can I do Mac virus clean up with some native features?"

This is one of the many queries of Mac users about getting their system infected by a virus. While Mac systems are extremely secure, they are not foolproof and can be comprised of a severe security attack. In a situation like this, you can do a virus check on Mac to know the present security status of the system. Later, you need to perform Mac virus removal by choosing the right technique. If left unchecked, it can cause permanent damage to your data and the system storage itself. In this guide on how to get rid of viruses on Mac, we will help you clean your system in different ways.

Part 1: Can Mac Get Infected by a Virus

A lot of Mac users believe that their systems can never be infected by a virus – which is a common misconception. Just like every other operating system (like Windows), macOS also has its vulnerabilities. Although the newly released macOS versions are more secure than ever, they can still be infected by malware.

For instance, in 2012, Flashback malware infected more than 600,000 Mac systems worldwide. More recently, in 2017 and 2018, Proton and Mami virus hit thousands of Mac computers. Ideally, the impact would depend on the intensity of the security attack and the vulnerability of the macOS. In 2015, BitDefender analysts released a report that stated macOS X has more vulnerabilities than all the recent Windows versions combined.

In a nutshell, macOS can be infected by a virus attack. Most of these attacks are caused online or through a connected medium like USB or Bluetooth.

Part 2: How to Check for Virus on Mac

Before we discuss how to remove virus from Mac, it is important to cover the basics. Essentially, you should do a virus check on Mac regularly to make sure if your system is infected by malware or not. To do this, you can simply use a dedicated Firewall or antivirus tool on your Mac and enable the real-time scan. In this way, it will keep scanning your Mac system in the background and would let you know as soon as any virus is detected.

Apart from that, the following are some of the telltale signs that are related to the presence of unwanted malware on the system.

Since the native feature does not provide a direct solution to detect malicious entities, you can try an alternative. There are several third-party applications like BitDefender, Malwarebytes, ClamXAV, etc. that can help you scan your Mac instantly.

Part 3: How to Get Rid of Virus on Mac?

If your Mac is showing either of the above-listed signs or a third-party tool has detected a virus on it, then you need to be alert. Here are some suggested techniques on how to get rid of malware on Mac that you can also apply.

Fix 1: Quit any Malicious App

First things first – you need to make sure that no malicious application should be running on your Mac. To do this, you can take the assistance of Mac's Activity Monitor and force quit the application.

  1. To get the Activity Monitor, you can go to the desktop and visit Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor to open it. You can also look for it on Mac's Spotlight search as well.
  2. Once the Activity Monitor window is launched, try to look for any malicious entity. This can be any app that you have not installed previously.
  3. Simply select it and click on the "Force Quit" button adjacent to it to shut down the app from running in the background.

Quit any Malicious App

Fix 2: Remove Unwanted Apps

Quitting any malicious app from the system is not enough. If you want to delete the virus on Mac, then consider uninstalling the application altogether.

  1. Simply go to the Finder > Applications and have a look at the entire list of the installed apps. From here, try to identify all the apps that are suspicious or from unreliable sources.
  2. After that, just select the app, right-click, and click on the "Move to Trash" option from the context menu. Confirm your choice to permanently remove the app.

Remove Unwanted Apps

Fix 3: Remove Infected Files and Clean Mac's Trash

Apart from applications, a malicious entity can be present in any folder as well. Also, if one file has been infected, then the malware can propagate to other sources too. To fix this and learn how to get rid of the virus on the Mac, make the hard choice of deleting the infected content.

  1. Simply go to Finder and browse to the location where the infected files or folders are present.
  2. Select the infected data, right-click, and move it to trash.
  3. Afterward, go to the desktop and from the Finder, choose to "Empty Trash". You can also right-click the Trash icon from the dock and empty it from here as well.

Remove Infected Files and Clean Mac's Trash

Fix 4: Remove Browser Extensions and Plugins

A lot of people don't realize it, but most of the security threats origin from one or another online source. Unreliable browser plugins are considered as one of the common sources of these malware attacks. Therefore, to learn how to check the virus on the Mac, have a look at the installed extensions and get rid of any suspicious entity.

  1. Launch Safari on your Mac and from its menu, go to the Preferences option.
  2. Now, go to the Extensions tab to have a look at all the installed extensions and plugins. Just click on the "Uninstall" button to remove the extension you no longer want.
  3. In the same way, you can launch Chrome, Firefox, or any other browser and get rid of unreliable add-ons and plugins from them too.

Remove Browser Extensions and Plugins

Fix 5: Clear Browser Data

Apart from extensions, malware can enter your Mac in other forms as well. For instance, it can be disguised as a cache, temp, or log file as well. To do a Mac virus clean up, make sure that you also remove all the existing data from your browser. While this will also wipe its saved account data and cache, it will also make your system more secure.

  1. Launch Safari on your system and go to its Settings > Preferences > Privacy.
  2. From here, click on the "Remove all website data" button and confirm your choice to wipe the saved Safari data.
  3. Similarly, you can go to Chrome or Firefox as well and clear their data from your Mac.

Clear Browser Data

Fix 6: Create a New User Profile

If you are not able to do an entire Mac virus removal, then consider escaping it instead. To do this, you can just create a new user profile on your Mac. Though, make sure that you delete all the login items in advance so that the virus will not have the needed permissions. Here's how to get rid of the virus on Mac by creating a new profile.

  1. From Mac's Finder, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups
  2. Now, click on the lock icon and enter the admin account credentials to access these settings.
  3. After that, click on the Add User button and enter the relevant details to create a new profile. I would recommend giving the new account admin rights as well since you would no longer use the present profile.

Create a New User Profile

  1. Additionally, on the Users & Groups window, you can visit the Login Items section. Select the saved login items and delete them from the respective profile.

Create a New User Profile

Fix 7: Turn on Firewall and Other Restrictions

Apart from learning how to remove a virus on the Mac, you should take some immediate preventive measures. This is because a lot of malicious entities have a recurring tendency. To keep your Mac virus-free, you can turn on its firewall and enable a few other restrictions.

  1. Firstly, go to Finder > System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
  2. As the Security & Privacy window will open, go to the Firewall tab and turn it on. You can further visit the Firewall Options to customize the security features.

Turn on Firewall and Other Restrictions

  1. Additionally, you can go to the "General" tab of the Security & Privacy window to make some changes. For instance, you can disable automatic login or make sure that you install apps only from genuine sources.

Turn on Firewall and Other Restrictions

Fix 8: Repair the Disk

Apple might not have included a lot of inbuilt tools to provide complete virus protection for Mac, but it does have a smart solution to repair the disk. With the help of its Disk Utility application, you can perform a first aid operation on the system's hard drive. This would act as an ideal Mac virus removal free solution too.

  1. Go to Mac's Finder and visit Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. As the Disk Utility window will open, select your hard drive from the sidebar. Mostly, it is listed as the Macintosh HD.
  3. On the right, you can view all kinds of operations that you can perform on the drive. Just click on the "First Aid" button to scan your disk and repair it in case of any unwanted damage.

Repair the Disk

Fix 9: Format the Hard Disk

If none of the above-listed solutions can delete the virus on Mac, then consider wiping its storage entirely. Needless to say, this will delete all the saved data from your Mac's hard drive. Though, it will also get rid of the existing malware in the process as well. To learn how to remove virus from Mac by clearing its disk, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Mac's Finder > Applications > Utilities and launch the Disk Utility tool from here.
  2. From the sidebar, select your Mac's disk to get various options on the right. After that, click on the Erase icon from the provided options on the toolbar.

Format the Hard Disk

  1. As the following pop-up would appear, click on the "Security Options".

Format the Hard Disk

  1. This will let you decide how you wish to format the drive. Consider increasing the level of security and click on the "Erase" button to confirm your choice.

Format the Hard Disk

Fix 10: Use a Third-party Firewall

If neither of the native features can do Mac virus removal, then you should consider using a third-party tool instead. There are several reliable antivirus applications for Mac like Kaspersky, BitDefender, Malwarebytes, ClamXAV, and so on. These applications will let you perform an in-depth scan of the system's storage and can even clean your Mac from malicious files as well. If you want, you can also enable their real-time scan to do a 24x7 virus protection for Mac.

Use a Third-party Firewall

Part 4: How Virus Infects Your Mac?

Any malicious entity like a malware or virus can affect your Mac in more ways than you can imagine. If left unchecked, it can even get rid of your saved data, exploit your personal files, and even corrupt the Mac storage. Once the virus enters the Mac system from an external source, it can go to its core firmware components as well. The following are some of the major kinds of malicious entities that can affect your Mac.

This is one of the most commonly found malicious entities on a Mac. Ideally, it would generate unwanted pop-ups while browsing or would redirect you to certain websites without your permission. The main motive is to generate more ad revenue or clicks for the perpetrator.

These are extremely harmful malware that would keep running in the background without getting noticed. Most of the sniffers are keyloggers that would maintain a record of the strings that you have typed. In this way, they try to hijack your accounts by retrieving your passwords.

As the name suggests, Trojan Horse appears to be an authentic application, but in reality, it is a fake malware. Once the Trojan Horse is installed, it would infect your system adversely. For instance, MacDownloader is a popular Trojan Horse that disguises to be something else and tries to steal Keychain data instead.

This is one of the deadliest kinds of malicious threats that your system can suffer from. Without your knowledge, it would run low-level execution codes on your system. This can format the hard disk, take screenshots, corrupt your data, access your mic/webcam, or even install programs without your permission.

These are the most recent kinds of attacks that would keep your important files as a "ransom". It would encrypt your important files and will let you decrypt them only if you send cryptocurrency to the hackers as a ransom. For example, KeRanger is popular ransomware that affected several Mac systems in 2016.

Part 5: How to Recover Mac Data After a Virus Attack

Too often, while doing Mac virus removal, we end up deleting the infected data or format the corrupted drive. Sometimes, even a deadly malware can delete some folders on its own too. If you wish to get these deleted or lost files back, then consider using Recoverit Mac Data Recovery by Wondershare. An extremely reliable and user-friendly data recovery tool, it runs on every leading version of macOS. By following a simple click-through process, you can recover your photos, videos, audios, documents, and every major data type.

Step 1: Select a location to scan

Firstly, launch the Recoverit Mac application and select where you wish to look for your lost content. You can select any partition or the entire Mac's hard drive before clicking on the "Start" button.


Step 2: Scan the hard drive

Once the scan is started, just wait for a few minutes for it to be completed. There is an on-screen indicator that will let you know the current status of the scan. Try not to halt the process is between if you want to get comprehensive results.


Step 3: Recover your data

In the end, all the recovered data would be displayed on the native interface. You can even preview your photos, videos, and documents here. Now, just select the files of your choice and click on the "Recover" button to save them to a secure location.


This brings us to the end of this extensive guide on how to get rid of a virus on Mac. Now when you know not one, but ten different techniques to perform virus protection for Mac, you can easily keep your system safe. Apart from listing ways on how to recover virus from Mac, we have also discussed things like can Mac gets viruses or how to do a virus check on Mac. Not just that, we have also provided a quick tutorial to retrieve the deleted data on Mac after a malware attack. Keep Recoverit Data Recovery application installed on your Mac as it would come handy to you on different occasions to get back your lost content.

People Also Ask

Q: Do I Need Antivirus for Mac?

A: If your Mac suffers from regular security threats, then consider installing an anti-virus from a reliable source. Alternatively, you can always rely on the native firewall of the system or take some preventive security measures to avoid a malware attack.

Q: Can I recover infected data?

A: Yes, you can get back your lost and corrupted data by using Recoverit Mac Data Recovery. The tool is easy to use and supports every major type of data. Since its basic version is available for free, you can have a hands-on experience of the tool without spending a dime.

Q: Is there a virus scan on Mac?

A: As of now, there is no ideal way to perform a real-time virus scan on Mac. All you can do is enable its firewall and it will inform you as soon as it would detect malicious activity on the system. Apart from that, you can always use any third-party anti-virus tool to perform a real-time scan.

Q: How do you know if your Mac has a virus?

A: Your system would show numerous suspicious activities if it has been infected by a virus. For instance, its processing would be slow, unwanted apps might be installed, ads would pop-up on the screen, and so on. The firewall might also detect the presence of any suspicious entity on the system.

Recoverit author

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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