How to Get Rid of Adware on Mac: Step-by-Step Action Plan

Apple’s macOS can boast about its resilience to virus infections, yet remains vulnerable to browser hijackers, adware, and unwanted software. Irritating toolbars, extensions which show ads and sponsored links, malicious adware that manifests as pop-ups with infection warnings — all of these litter your Mac and are usually disguised in free software bundles. What makes them so effective is the fact that you unintentionally agree to install them when quickly running through app installers. In others words, you give permission for this adware to be installed and run on your Mac.

If you happen to be dealing with adware or unwanted extensions on your Apple computer, follow the tips below to eliminate them completely as well as prevent the issue from reoccurring in the future.

How to Stop Pop Ups on Mac

Before jumping into software removal, take steps to block pop up ads on Mac and minimize the number of advertising banners and unwanted website redirects. Most malicious programs use pop-up ads to catch your eye and then trick you (or scare you) into installing more adware on your computer.

Whenever you encounter a pop-up ad, always take the time to close it. Don’t fall for flashy buttons, intimidating numbers or infection warnings. Instead, take a moment to examine the window and locate the X button to close the ad, which is usually located in the upper right or left corner. If you have been redirected to a standalone page, then close the entire tab, browser window, or even force quit your browser by holding Command-Option-Esc keys if you have to.

Block pop-ups in Safari

Follow these steps to prevent ads from popping up in Safari:

  1. Open Safari > Preferences;
  2. Go to Security tab;
  3. Check the Block pop-up windows box.

safari pop up windows

Block pop-ups in Google Chrome

To make sure pop-ups are not allowed in Chrome, you will have to do the following:

  1. Open Chrome > Settings;
  2. Scroll down and click Advanced;
  3. Tick the Protect you and your device from dangerous sites setting;
  4. Click on Content Settings > Pop-ups;
  5. Ensure Blocked is selected;
  6. Head to Content Settings > Ads;
  7. Set it to Block on sites that tend to show intrusive ads.

chrome popups settings

Block pop-ups in Firefox

Here is how you can disable pop-ups in Firefox for Mac:

  1. Open Firefox > Preferences;
  2. Switch to Privacy & Security module;
  3. Scroll down to Permissions section;
  4. Check the Block pop-up windows box.

firefox popup block

Safari Adware Removal Tips

When adware is installed, it will sometimes mess with your browser homepage – the one you see on startup – or change your preferred search engine used for finding things online. It’s important to check these settings when dealing with adware. In Safari, head to Preferences > Search and check the Search engine section.

safari pop up windows

Next, look through the list of browser extensions in Preferences > Extensions and uninstall those that don’t belong there. If you keep seeing unwanted sponsored ads, then dealing with the obtrusive adware may require a browser reset to accomplish the mission.

  • Open Safari;
  • Click on History in the menu bar and choose Clear History;
  • Select all history and hit Clear History.

reset safari mac

This will erase website data as well as all history. Your saved passwords and entries will be removed as well.

How to Get Rid of Adware on Chrome

To successfully vanquish adware from Chrome you will be following a similar strategy to the one described above. Begin by checking your startup page settings, go to Google > Settings and check for pages in the On startup section.

homepage chrome mac

Continue by revising currently installed Chrome extensions which can be found in More Tools > Extensions. It’s recommended to remove all extensions that you do not use instead of just disabling them.

Finally, much like the case with Safari, you will need to reset your browser if uninstalling suspicious extensions didn’t solve the problem.

  • Open Google Chrome > Settings;
  • Expand Advanced settings and scroll down to the very bottom;
  • Click on Reset settings > Reset to revert your browser to its original defaults.

How to Remove Adware from Firefox

Firefox is no different from the browsers covered above. To make sure nothing’s altered your Firefox home page, you will need to open Firefox > Preferences and check for Home page settings within the General tab. While you’re at it, switch to Search tab on your left and check your Search Engine settings. Once that’s done, head over to Add-ons > Extensions and uninstall everything that looks suspicious. Alternatively, you can run a Firefox Refresh as described in the Mozilla Support article.

Locate and Erase Adware Programs

Lastly, you may need to dive into your Mac’s files to precisely root out malicious software that may still be running. You can approach the task manually or grab a trustworthy third-party application to do the job.

In order to complete the task manually, you will have to check a list of specific system directories that are known to contain adware files. Open Finder and hold Shift-Command-G, copy and paste the following directories one by one, hit Go. Drag the contents to Trash in case any of the files or folders are present on your Apple computer:

  • /System/Library/Frameworks/v.framework
  • /System/Library/Frameworks/VSearch.framework
  • /Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/Jack
  • /Library/InputManagers/CTLoader/
  • /Library/Application Support/Conduit/
  • ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/ConduitNPAPIPlugin.plugin
  • ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/TroviNPAPIPlugin.plugin
  • /Applications/
  • /Applications/
  • /Applications/
  • ~/Applications/
  • /Applications/Genieo
  • /Applications/InstallMac
  • /Applications/Uninstall Genieo
  • /Applications/Uninstall IM
  • /usr/lib/libgenkit.dylib
  • /usr/lib/libgenkitsa.dylib
  • /usr/lib/libimckit.dylib
  • /usr/lib/libimckitsa.dylib
  • /Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/com.genieoinnovation.macextension.client
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Genieo/
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.genieoinnovation.Installer/

If you don’t find any items within the folder, then your Mac is free from this specific type of adware. Whenever your attempt to delete the file is unsuccessful, use the built-in Activity Monitor app to Force Quit all associated processes. You should be able to freely delete the item afterward.

With a bit of time at hand, provided solutions should make it easy for you to handle the issue. After getting adware off your Mac, ensure your browser preferences are set to block pop-ups. You can also install additional software to maintain your Mac, erase old temporary data, uninstall troublesome apps, etc. However, to have your Mac free of hijacking apps, always pay special attention to what you agree to when installing new software.