Using Malwarebytes to remove unwanted malware

What is malware? It’s not technically a virus in that it does not replicate or spread to other computers. And malware does not erase files or do serious damage to your computer. It simply displays false messages that interfere with the normal operation of your Mac.

Those false messages could insert themselves into normal websites. They might change your default homepage or your search engine. Messages may even tell you a virus has infected your Mac and offer to remove it with antivirus software. Do not install antivirus software offered this way. It’s not legitimate and almost certainly makes things worse. It could be a phishing scheme – a ploy to get you to enter your credit card information so the people behind the adware can sell it for purposes of fraud.

Sound scary? Remember that this may all be nothing more than annoying messages, and if you simply remove the malware everything may very well go back to normal.

Removing malware with Malwarebytes

Seeing signs of malware on your Mac? We recommend a free tool call Malwarebytes. It’s what the Apple Genius Bar uses. Note: If we’ve worked on your computer in the past, you might already have Malwarebytes. Look for Malwarebytes in your Launcher, Applications folder or Spotlight search. If it’s there, skip to step 5.

  1. Open the Safari web browser. Type at the top of the page. Be sure to type the entire address, then click Free Download.
  2. Or only if you are unable to use Safari, click the Launchpad icon. Look for an alternate browser like Google Chrome or Firefox. You may need to click the dots at the bottom of the screen to find one. Then click to launch, type and click for the free download.
  3. Click the Downloads icon in the dock.
  4. Run the Malwarebytes-Mac installer, then follow the steps to complete the installation. 
  5. Open the Malwarebytes app (from Launcher, Applications or Spotlight). Click Scan.
  6. The app checks your drive for malware. Wait for this process to finish.
  7. If malware is found, it’s listed in the next window. We recommend selecting everything and removing all malware.
  8. When the malware is removed, restart the computer. Then open Safari or another web browser and try going to a web site. If everything is OK, you’re done.
  9. If your web browser automatically opens to a web page you didn’t expect, you might need to change the default page. Click the Apple menu and choose Force Quit… Then select Safari or the browser and force it to quit. When you reopen the browser, it may ask if you’d like to reopen windows. Click No. Now check the default page. In Safari, click the Safari menu and choose Preferences, then click General. Type a complete web site in the Homepage box. The default for Macs is
  10. If web searches take you to an unfamiliar page, change the default search engine. In Safari, click the Safari menu and choose Preferences, then click Search. The default search engine is Google.

Should you pay for Malwarebytes Premium? The free Malwarebytes provides a simple way to scan and remove existing malware from your computer. After 30 days, you’ll see a message explaining premium features have expired. With a premium subscription, MalwareBytes runs full-time, monitoring and removing future threats before they cause problems. If you’re careful how you download software, you may ignore the upgrade message and run Malwarebytes manually every month or so. Want better protection? Subscriptions start at $60/year for 3 computers. You can purchase the upgrade inside the Malwarebytes app or at their website.

Read more about malware and how to avoid it.

Learn more about security & troubleshooting.

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