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How to Remove Adware From Macs | Ultimate Tips To Protect Your Mac From Unwanted Ads

What is Adware

Adware is a type of malware that bombards your computer with unwanted advertising. In this article, you'll find useful tips on how to get adware from Macs without professional help.

If your Mac starts to show you unwanted pop ups, this means it contracted adware. It's true that Apple laptops are less prone to viruses and malware than PCs, but sometimes they still fall prey to adware. In this article, you'll get to know what is malware, in which way it is dangerous for your device and how to get rid of it. Before you proceed make sure to check out these simple steps on how to remove adware from your computers, as well.

What Type of Adware Is The Most Frequent on Macs

Adware is one of the most dangerous forms of malware that you will come across. It can seem harmless at first, but in reality, it is just trying to trick you into downloading it and then installing other malicious programs on your computer. The most common adware on your Mac usually displays as pop ups, intrusive banners and plug ins

How to Detect That Your Mac Is Affected by Malware

These are the most common symptoms of the problem:

When working on your laptop, you see pop up ads everywhere. In your browser, they are way too numerous and annoying

Your browser has considerably slowed down and often crashes

You notice plugins, extensions and toolbars in your browser that you didn't add intentionally

The homepage and search engine settings of your browser are different from the one that you selected yourself

Websites that used to function properly are now displayed with bugs and pop ups

Weblinks redirect you to diverse unknown pages

Unwanted apps automatically install themselves on your laptop

If you detect 3 or more of these symptoms, take a free hard drive and save on it all the important content that you have on your Mac: documents, photos, videos, music, etc. After that, run a scan of the whole computer and let your antivirus detect the places where adware installed itself.

Mind that only the latest versions of antiviruses are able to detect all the threats. Update your antivirus regularly and always keep it enabled. Such apps as MacKeeper, for instance, identify potential threats long before they target you and ward them off. Programs that function proactively are much safer and more efficient than the ones that send you a warning only when adware tries to sneak into your device.

After the antivirus detects adware, allow it to erase unwanted files. However, this won't be the end and you'll need to perform certain actions manually. First, go to the browser settings and reset the homepage. Then, check the lists of extensions, apps, device profiles, LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents. Follow these steps to block pop up windows, remove adware from your Mac, along with malicious ads. Consider installing an anti malware, too, for better protection.

As for the other malicious software, we covered the malware vs spyware differences separately.

Why You Should Check the Apps

When you download new apps from diverse websites, their files might contain adware or other types of unwanted programs. Therefore, it is recommended to download any Mac software from the site of its developer or from an official store.

Open the list of the apps installed on your Mac and read it carefully, trying to detect the ones that you didn't install deliberately. On the internet, you can find lists of the most widespread adware apps. But the information changes too often, so please use these lists only as approximate references. The main criteria should be your own memory. Mac adware tends to disguise itself as useful content — photo editors, multimedia players or even antiviruses. Don't let them fool you!

Once you notice a suspicious item, right-click it and move to trash. After sending all the unwanted apps to the trash bin, empty it and restart your Mac.

always check the apps

What to Do with Extensions

Extensions modify the work of your browser. They send orders to show you specific banners, change your homepage field or redirect you to certain websites. You should go to the settings of your web browser, open the list of extensions and manually uninstall the ones that you don't find essential for your work.

How to Delete Excessive Device Profiles

The Profiles section is located in the System Preferences. But you won't see it if there are no profiles added. Private users don't need them — they are used mostly for business software installed on numerous devices. Inspect the list of the profiles and manually delete the ones that seem suspicious to you. But please be careful: if you erase a useful profile by mistake, some of your Mac software might stop running.

What are LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents

These are programs that run in the background and ensure that the system functions smoothly. LaunchAgents run only on behalf of logged-in users, while LaunchDaemons run on behalf of any specified user or the root user. Both of them don't require any additional input from you — unless they don't contribute to spreading adware.

You can find LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons in your Library folders. Inspect them just as you inspected your apps and delete the suspicious ones. However, it might be tricky to identify which Daemons and Agents you need and which ones you can safely get rid of. You should be cautious in order not to accidentally delete the necessary items that keep your useful apps running.

The safest way in this case is to delete the unwanted items with the help of the above-mentioned MacKeeper or any similar program that can find and remove malicious malware and adware on your Mac. They accurately detect which daemons and agents you don't need and erase them, leaving all the required files intact.

What if You Don’t Have an Antivirus

Try to download it as soon as possible. Opt for a multifunctional program capable of solving multiple problems: keeping you protected from malware, freeing empty space on your hard drive, blocking pop ups, safely deleting your apps, etc. However, you might fail to install such an app because adware will try to redirect that download. In this case, restart your Mac in the safe mode and disable all the browser extensions. Another possible solution is to download the app on another computer and transfer it to your Mac with the help of a flash drive. Once you install the antivirus, keep it always enabled, update it regularly and run scheduled scans. This should keep your Mac adware-free. It's always easier to prevent troubles rather than invest time, funds and effort into solving them.

How Can You Manually Remove Adware From Your Mac

Before going on the Internet to download a program that can remove your adware, you should try to do it manually. First, you should find the Go on your status bar and click on Utilities. In the Activity Monitor you'll see a listing of suspicious applications. Force quit on all of them and then find the Applications option that is also in the drop tab of Go. After moving the malware to Trash, restart your Mac and empty the Trash folder. This should help you remove adware from your Mac.

How to Change Security Preferences in Safari and Chrome

Chrome, as well as Safari can warn and protect you from dangerous sites. It's advisable to always enable Safari protection, and you can do that by clicking on the Safari button in the top-left corner, going to Safari Preferences, then clicking on the Privacy and Security icon. This way you can customize your settings as you wish. You can also go to the Extensions tab to see if something unfamiliar to you is installed, or General tab to check the box for downloading safe files only.

For Chrome, you just need to click on those three horizontal lines or dots in the top-right corner, go to advanced settings, then on Safety check. When there, you will see the Security and Site settings that you can change. This should block pop ups and pop up windows. You should also check your search engine settings and homepage.

How To Check Your Homepage and Search Engine Settings

Sometimes, adware can change your search engine and homepage. To check if this is the case, go to General tab in the Safari browser settings. You can also do this in Chrome settings in the On Startup and Default Browser. If the URL in the box next to Homepage is different from what you want, just enter the URL of the desired website. This should do the trick!


1. How do I get rid of adware and pop-up on my Mac?

There are a few ways to remove adware and pop-ups from a Mac. One is to use an antivirus software such as Sophos, which will detect and remove the adware and pop-ups. Another way is to use the Terminal application to delete the files associated with the adware or pop-ups. Finally, you can use a third-party application such as CleanMyMac to scan your Mac for and delete the adware or pop-ups.

2. How do I get rid of adware on Safari Mac?

There are a few ways to remove adware from Safari on a Mac. One way is to open Safari, click on the Safari menu at the top of your screen, and select Preferences. Then, click on the Extensions tab and drag the unwanted extension to the Trash icon. You can also open Finder, locate the application that's causing the problem, and drag it to the Trash.

3. How do I get rid of adware on my Mac Chrome?

Eliminate undesirable programs on Chrome (Windows, Mac)

1. To begin, open Chrome.
2. In the upper right-hand corner, click More. Settings.
3. In the bottom-right corner, click Advanced.
4. Click Clean up computer under Reset and clean up.
5. Select the Find option.
6. If prompted to delete undesirable software, click Remove. It is possible that you will be prompted to reboot your computer.

4. How do you check if Mac is infected?

There are a variety of ways to check for infection on a Mac, but the most common and reliable is to use an antivirus program. Other methods include checking system logs and folders for strange files or behavior, scanning for malware in Activity Monitor, and using a third-party app like Malwarebytes. If you're not sure how to do any of these things, your best bet is to consult with an IT professional or search online for specific instructions.

5. How do I scan my Mac for viruses and malware?

There are a number of ways to scan your Mac for viruses and malware, but the most common is to use an antivirus program. Programs like Avast! or Norton Antivirus can scan your computer for infections, and will also provide protection from future infections. You can also use Apple's built-in malware protection, called Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper will scan for malware before it installs an app, and will also check apps downloaded from the internet.


Even though adware is not the most dangerous type of malware, it's irritating, slows down your web browser and ruins your browsing experience. The process of getting rid of it boils down to two basic operations: detecting where the adware hides and erasing it. For this, you can use your regular antivirus, if it's modern enough and updated to the latest version. The same antivirus will keep you protected from any new potential adware — but mind that you'll need to keep the app always enabled.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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