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 rid of adware on your Mac without professional help.
If your Mac starts to show you unwanted advertising, 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.
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 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 of your browser is different from the one that you selected yourself
Websites that used to function properly are now displayed with bugs
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 settings of your browser and reset the homepage. Then, check the lists of extensions, apps, device profiles, LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents.
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 software. Therefore, it is recommended to download any 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. 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.
What to Do with Extensions
Extensions modify the work of your browser. They send orders to show you specific banners, change your homepage or redirect you to certain websites. You should go to the settings of your 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 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. 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, 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. It's always easier to prevent troubles rather than invest time, funds and effort into solving them.
Even though adware is not the most dangerous type of malware, it's irritating and it slows down your browser. 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.