How to Remove Keyloggers From Your Mac Featured Image

How to Remove Keyloggers From Your Mac: 5 Best Ways

Safeguard your Mac by removing keyloggers with these methods.

Written by

Reviewed by

Last updated: December 20, 2023

Expert verified

SVG Image

TL;DR

To remove keyloggers from your Mac, follow one of these methods:

  1. Use Activity Monitor to look for suspicious processes with high CPU usage.
  2. Check Full Disk Access, Screen Recording, and Accessibility permissions in Privacy & Security settings for unauthorized apps.
  3. Review your Login Items in System Settings under General.
  4. Locate and remove unusual PLIST files in /Library/LaunchAgents/ and /Library/LaunchDaemons/.
  5. Check the Library and Applications folders for any suspicious items.

Ever get the feeling that someone’s tracking your every keystroke on your Mac? If you’re noticing your Mac’s sluggish performance or weird pop-ups, it could be a keylogger — malicious software that records your keystrokes, capturing passwords and sensitive info. I’ve been there, and I can help. Let’s see how to remove keyloggers from your Mac and keep it secure from future threats.

Before We Begin 

Malicious websites, phishing emails, or downloaded software can install keyloggers on Mac. Download MacKeeper to scan your Mac for malware and detect any keyloggers. By detecting malware, you can remove the keylogger(s) and any other threats from your Mac and keep it secure.

What Are Keyloggers on Mac?

Keyloggers on Macs are a type of surveillance software designed to secretly record the keystrokes you make on your keyboard. They operate in the background, often without your knowledge, capturing every keystroke. This includes:

  • Personal messages
  • Passwords
  • Credit card numbers
  • Other sensitive information.

There are various reasons why keyloggers might be installed on a Mac:

  1. 🦹‍♂️ Malicious Intent: Some keyloggers are used by cybercriminals to steal sensitive data for identity theft, financial fraud, or other malicious activities.
  2. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Parental Control or Monitoring: Parents might use keyloggers to monitor their children’s online activities for safety reasons.
  3. 🏢 Employer Surveillance: In some cases, employers might install keyloggers to monitor employee activities on company computers.
  4. 🕵️‍♂️ Personal Surveillance: They might also be used in personal relationships for unwarranted surveillance.

Protect Your Mac Against Keyloggers With MacKeeper

Why You Can Trust MacBook Journal verify badge We always conduct first-hand research and verify every method or solution we present, ensuring you receive reliable and effective advice. Learn more about our process.

To keep your Mac safe from keyloggers and other malware, be careful about where you download programs from and use trusted antivirus software. I recommend using MacKeeper. It scans your Mac to find malware, including keyloggers. After the scan, it’ll list all issues, like suspicious activities or corrupted apps, so you can easily remove them.

Here’s how to run a virus scan on your Mac to identify and remove keyloggers using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and click the Antivirus option in the Security menu.
click antivirus under the security section
  1. Click the Start Scan button to scan your Mac.
click start scan in mackeeper antivirus
  1. Wait for the scan to complete.
  2. MacKeeper will detect potential threats, including keyloggers, and display the results in a list. If MacKeeper detects any keyloggers, follow the instructions to remove them from your system.
  3. If there are no threats on your Mac, you’ll get the No threats found message. Click Restart to exit.
click restart to finish the process

How to Check and Remove Keyloggers on Your Mac

While the quickest way to identify and remove keyloggers from your Mac is using MacKeeper, there are other ways, too. Below, I have shared some other methods to identify and remove keyloggers from your Mac.

1. Use Activity Monitor to Check for Suspicious Processes 

Activity Monitor is a built-in tool that allows you to check all your processes. You can use it to look for any methods with suspicious names or high CPU usage. Sometimes, keyloggers hide in plain sight, and doing a thorough search of the Activity Monitor reveals them.

To check for suspicious processes using Activity Monitor and remove keyloggers from your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Activity Monitor application by going to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor or searching for it using Spotlight (Command ⌘ + Spacebar).
type activity monitor in spotlight search
  1. Once the Activity Monitor window is open, click the CPU tab to view the list of processes running on your Mac.
click the cpu tab in activity monitor
  1. Look for any processes that seem suspicious or unfamiliar in the CPU tab and if you find a suspicious process, select it, and click the i icon in the top menu to view more information about the process.
click a suspicious program and tap the i button
  1. In the process information window, you can see details such as the process name, process ID, CPU usage, memory usage, and more. Look for any information that seems unusual or suspicious. If the program is suspicious, click Quit to end it.
click the quit button
  1. Alternatively, you can force quit it by clicking the x button in the top menu.
close a program in activity monitor

2. Check Your Mac’s Privacy & Security Settings

Keyloggers on your Mac need certain permissions to work. To spot them, look at your Privacy & Security settings. Here, check for any odd or unapproved apps with access to things like Full Disk Access, Screen Recording, or Accessibility.

Revoking these permissions can disable the keylogger’s functionality. Here’s how to remove keyloggers from your Mac using the Privacy & Security feature:

  1. Access the Apple menu and choose System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click the Privacy & Security category.
click privacy and security in system settings
  1. Under the Privacy section, examine different tabs, like Full Disk Access, Screen Recording, Accessibility, etc.
examine different options under privacy and security
  1. If something seems suspicious, toggle it off to disable it.
toggle off a suspicious item in full disk access

3. Check Your Mac’s Login Items

Keyloggers often start when you turn on your Mac. To keep your Mac safe, check the Login Items in your user account and remove anything that looks suspicious. MacKeeper, a tool for cleaning and optimizing your Mac, can help manage these startup or login items.

Here’s how you can use MacKeeper to check and remove login items on your Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper if you haven’t already.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and access the Login Items feature in the left sidebar.
tap login items under performance
  1. Click Start Scan.
tap start scan
  1. After the scan, the Login Items feature will display a list of programs set to launch automatically when you log in to your Mac.
  2. Carefully review this list for any suspicious or unfamiliar applications.
  3. If you identify any suspicious items in the list, select the checkbox next to the app’s name and click the Remove Selected Items button.
select the login items you want to delete and tap remove selected items

This will prevent the app from launching at startup, which can help delete malicious software and remove keyloggers from your Mac.

MacKeeper’s Login Items feature can manage startup items, but it may not be sufficient to fully remove keyloggers or other malware. It’s essential to use MacKeeper’s Antivirus feature to scan your system and ensure comprehensive protection.

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides scanning your Mac for keyloggers and removing login items, MacKeeper can help uninstall apps on Mac, delete duplicate files on Mac, and block annoying ads. If you want to learn more about these amazing features, check out my detailed MacKeeper review.

Alternatively, you can change your Mac’s startup programs using System Settings:

  1. Launch the System Settings app from the Dock.
launch the system settings app from the dock
  1. Click General and select the Login Items tab.
click general and select the login items tab
  1. Select an item and click the Minus (-) icon to delete it.
select an item and click the minus icon to delete it
  1. If a suspicious item is there in the list and you remove it, this should remove keyloggers from your Mac.

4. Remove PLIST Files

Keyloggers can hide as launch agents or daemons, which are processes that start when you turn on your Mac or log in. They use PLIST files to set themselves up. To stop keyloggers, you can delete these PLIST files. This stops them from starting automatically.

Here’s how to find and remove these PLIST files and get rid of keyloggers on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Go in the menu bar and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Explore the following locations:
/Library/LaunchAgents/
type library launchagents
/Library/LaunchDaemons/
type library launchdaemons
  1. Find and remove any PLIST files with unusual file names.
find and remove any plist files with unusual file names

5. Check the Library and Applications Folders for Suspicious Items

Although rare, if your Mac is heavily infected, you might find odd files in your Library and Applications folders. To keep your Mac safe, it’s good to check these folders for anything strange that might be keyloggers or other bad software.

Here’s how to look through your Library and Applications folders and get rid of any weird files:

  1. Open a Finder window.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Go in the menu bar and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Type the following path in the text field and hit Enter.
/Library
type library
  1. Additionally, investigate all subdirectories in the folder, such as Application Support, for any questionable items. To display hidden files and folders, press Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + Period (.) in the Finder window.
macbook pro command shift period
  1. If you find any suspicious folders or files, select them, right-click, and tap Move to Bin. 

Steps to Take After Removing Keyloggers 

Keyloggers can steal your passwords, so right after getting rid of them, change all your passwords on your Mac. Once you’ve removed the keyloggers and updated your passwords, here are some more steps to make sure your Mac stays secure:

1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. It makes it harder for attackers to gain access even if they have your password.

To enable two-factor authentication on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left corner of the screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Apple ID and select Password & Security.
click apple id and select password and security
  1. Click Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.

If you have already verified a number, you may not be able to click the Two-Factor Authentication option.

click turn on two factor authentication
  1. Follow the prompts to set up two-factor authentication. It typically involves entering your phone number and verifying it with a code sent via text message or phone call.
  2. Once two-factor authentication is set up, you will be prompted to enter a verification code whenever you sign in to your Apple ID on a new device or make specific changes to your account.

2. Update Your macOS

Outdated macOS or any software is prone to malware and keyloggers. Updating your Mac and software ensures your Mac runs smoothly and any security vulnerabilities are patched.

Here is the easiest method to update your macOS:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update.
click general and select software update
  1. If there are any available updates, you will see them listed in the Software Update window. Click Update Now to install all available updates.
click the update now button
  1. If prompted, enter your administrator password to authorize the updates.
  2. Wait for the updates to download and install. This may take some time, depending on the size of the updates.
  3. Once the updates are installed, you may be prompted to restart your Mac. Click Restart to complete the installation process.

Common Symptoms of Keyloggers on Your Mac

If you suspect there’s a keylogger on your Mac, watch out for these common symptoms:

  1. 🐢 Slower Performance: If your Mac is running slower than usual, keyloggers may be using up system resources.
  2. 🚨 Unusual Activity: Watch for odd behaviors like unexpected pop-ups or programs starting or closing on their own.
  3. 🔍 Unfamiliar Processes: Check the Activity Monitor for any processes you don’t recognize.
  4. 🖱️⌨️ Erratic Mouse or Keyboard Activity: If your mouse cursor moves on its own or you see strange keystrokes.
  5. 🛡️ Security Software Alerts: Antivirus or security software might give warnings about suspicious activity.
  6. 🌐 Strange Network Activity: Look out for unusual data transmissions or high network usage, which could be a keylogger sending data.
  7. 🔑 Issues Logging into Accounts: If you’re having trouble with passwords or getting locked out of accounts, it could be a keylogger.
  8. 📁 File Changes: Unexpected changes in files or settings, especially in system areas, can be a sign.

Keep Your Mac Safe From Keyloggers

Stopping malware like keyloggers before they start is key. Here are easy tips to remove keyloggers and keep other malware away in the future:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I detect if my Mac has a keylogger? 

    If your Mac has a keylogger, you can detect it with anti-virus software, by checking for suspicious processes in the Activity Monitor and looking for unfamiliar login items. It’s important to regularly scan your Mac for any signs of malware, including keyloggers.

  2. How can I remove a keylogger from my Mac?

    To remove a keylogger from your Mac, you can use anti-virus software to detect and remove the malware, manually delete any suspicious files or processes, or reinstall your operating system. It’s essential to back up your important files before attempting to remove any malware.

  3. Can keyloggers steal my passwords and other sensitive information? 

    Yes, keyloggers can record every keystroke you make on your computer, including passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information. Cybercriminals can then use this information for identity theft or other malicious purposes.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

Total
0
Shares
You May Also Like