Detect & Remove Adware from Mac OS X Easily with AdwareMedic
Adware is generally something most Mac users won’t have to worry about, but that doesn’t mean that OS X is entirely immune to the potential nuisance, and nobody likes it when their browser has been hijacked by that type of junk. If you’re at all concerned about adware impacting your Mac and web browsing, you can easily scan, detect, and remove some of the most frequently encountered (although still rare) adware found in OS X using an excellent free utility called AdwareMedic.
AdwareMedic currently detects and handles 24 different families of adware, and the app will update it’s detection list each time you launch it to handle future findings. It’s effective and extremely easy to use, making it an appropriate addition to a general Mac maintenance routine, particularly if you or someone else is noticing some weird behavior while browsing the web.
How user friendly is AdwareMedic? You’ll have downloaded the app and completed a scan of the Mac for adware in a minute or two at most, regardless of your technical proficiency.
How to Scan and Remove Adware from Mac OS X with AdwareMedic
You will find that AdwareMedic is extremely easy to use on any OS X machine, the entire process in basically three simple steps:
- Get AdwareMedic free from the developer here and mount the DMG, you’ll want to copy the app to your /Applications/ folder if you plan on using it more than once
- Launch AdwareMedic and choose “Scan for Adware” – the scan is generally quite fast and won’t take long to complete depending on a variety of factors, it can take seconds or minutes, either way be sure to let it run until it has finished the detection scan
- Quit when finished detecting / removing adware* – if adware junk is found, AdwareMedic will handle it
* You’re most likely to see a “No adware found!” message, however in the event some adware is found it will remove it for you, or show you what steps to take if any are necessary.
Keep in mind that adware, or malware, and other junkware for that matter, is generally less common in OS X than Windows, typically with the exception of users who willingly install lots of questionable software from questionable sources (for example, interacting with dubious banners on adult sites, or downloading apps from questionable sources which bundle other junk with an installer). Do be aware that adware is mostly just a nuisance that does things like redirecting your web browser to other sites you didn’t intend on visiting, or injecting junk flashing banners here and there, while malware can be a lot more serious. Both can be problematic at varying levels though, which is why AdwareMedic is so great to be offered for free.
The Mac does take precautions at multiple levels to prevent the varying kinds of disruptive junk from onboarding itself to OS X, ranging from an auto-updated malware detection list, Gatekeeper, to automatic disabling of old versions of Flash and Java, but it’s not perfect, and it’s still possible to inadvertently install something sketchy. If you’re interested, you can learn a lot more about how malware works in OS X at a very technical level, or just follow some general precautions to ward the stuff off to begin with. Perhaps the best way to keep any computer safe from adware and malware in general is to never install questionable software, and avoid apps that you did not specifically intend to install from a source that is trustworthy. That’s the case regardless of what operating system you’re on, with Macs offering no exception to reckless user behavior.
Update: The AdwareMedic has become “Malwarebytes Anti-Malware’, the functionality is basically identical and everything works the same, it will scan and detect malware and adware in Mac OS X and remove it, or provide instructions to remove it, it’s still a free download and easy to use.
You’ll find that anti-malware apps like this focus on the obvious apps, whereas some of the nuisance ware apps or cleaner type apps won’t be included since they don’t fit the malware label. Nonetheless, you can usually remove the cleaner utilities and other type of apps with a little work, a prominent example of this is removing MacKeeper which requires some specific instructions, but typically you can remove the other cleaner type apps with simple uninstallation methods, like dragging them into the Trash.
Keep in mind that AdwareMedic requires a modern version of OS X, it works fine in OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion, and all other modern releases. Heads up to CultOfMac for this excellent find.