How to Run a Virus Scan on Mac Featured Image

How to Run a Virus Scan on Mac

Written by

Reviewed by

Last updated: September 6, 2023

Expert verified

SVG Image

If you own a Mac, you might believe your device is immune to viruses and malicious software. While it is true that Macs are generally less prone to malware than Windows PCs, they are not completely immune. Viruses and other forms of malware can still infect your Mac, potentially causing serious damage to your device and compromising your data.

So, it is essential to regularly run virus scans on your Mac to detect and remove any malicious software that may have infiltrated your system. In this post, I’ll guide you through the steps to run a virus scan on Mac and provide tips for preventing future infections.

Before We Begin

While Mac systems may be less prone to virus infections than Windows PCs, they are still vulnerable. Download MacKeeper to do an in-depth scan of your Mac at any time. This trustworthy software will make your Mac virus-free and prevent malicious agents from compromising your data.

What Is a Mac Virus?

A Mac virus refers to a malicious software program specifically designed to target and infect Mac computers, manufactured by Apple Inc. These viruses are similar to other types of computer viruses but are designed to exploit vulnerabilities in the macOS operating system.

Mac viruses can be spread through various means, such as email attachments, malicious downloads, compromised websites, or even through social engineering techniques.

Once a Mac computer is infected, the virus can carry out a range of malicious activities, including stealing sensitive information, corrupting or deleting files, hijacking web browsers, or even taking control of the entire system.

Apple has implemented security measures in its operating system, such as Gatekeeper and XProtect, to mitigate the risks, but it’s still essential to remain vigilant, practice safe browsing habits, and keep your systems and software up to date to minimize the chances of infection.

How to Know If Your Mac has Virus?

Some common ways your Mac can become infected with a virus or malware include downloading and installing untrusted software, visiting malicious websites, or opening email attachments from unknown senders.

Here are some signs that your Mac may have been infected with a virus:

  • 🐌 Slow Performance: If your Mac suddenly runs slower than usual, it could be a sign of a virus infection.
  • 🚫 Pop-ups and Unwanted Ads: If you see more pop-ups and ads than usual, or if they appear in places they normally wouldn’t, it could be a sign of a virus infection.
  • 🤔 Strange Behavior: If your Mac behaves strangely, such as opening and closing applications on its own, it could be a sign of a virus infection.
  • 🔒 Security Alerts: If you receive security alerts from your Mac’s operating system or antivirus software, it could be a sign of a virus infection.
  • 💽 Unexplained Disk Activity: If your Mac’s hard drive is working harder than usual, even when you’re not using it, it could be a sign of a virus infection.

One-Click Protection Against Malware Using ‌MacKeeper’s Antivirus

MacKeeper is a comprehensive software that offers various features to improve your Mac’s performance and security. One of its key features is the ability to run a thorough antivirus scan to detect and remove any potential malware or spyware that could harm your system. 

Running regular antivirus scans is crucial to ensure the safety and security of your data, especially if you frequently use the internet or download files from unknown sources. Here’s how to run an antivirus scan using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and navigate to the Antivirus tab in the left sidebar.
click antivirus under the security section
  1. Initiate an instant virus scan by clicking the Start Scan button.
click start scan in mackeeper antivirus
  1. If any viruses are detected during the scan, click the Fix Items button to resolve the issues.
  2. If your system is threat-free, you’ll see a No threats found message. You can tap the Restart button to run the scan again.
no threats found in mackeeper antivirus
  1. Enable real-time antivirus protection to safeguard your Mac from future threats by clicking the Enable button.
click enable to allow real time protection

Once you have configured your security settings, MacKeeper will continue to operate in the background, diligently scanning for threats and actively blocking any malicious activity.

How to Run a Virus Scan on Mac Manually

Running a virus scan on a Mac is essential to protect your data as well as the performance of the system. There are several ways to run a virus scan on your Mac, including built-in options and third-party software. Here are three methods to consider:

1. Using Activity Monitor to Quit Suspicious Processes

While Activity Monitor is not designed specifically for virus detection, it can detect suspicious processes that may indicate a virus or malware infection on your Mac.

Here’s how to check for viruses using Activity Monitor:

  1. Open Activity Monitor by going to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor or searching for it using Spotlight.
launch activity monitor from utilities
  1. In the Activity Monitor window, click the CPU tab to view the processes currently running on your Mac.
click the cpu tab in activity monitor
  1. Look for any processes you don’t recognize or use a lot of CPU resources. You can sort the processes by CPU usage by clicking the % CPU column heading.
click the cpu tab to view each application s percentage of cpu usage
  1. If you find a suspicious process, click to highlight it, and tap the i button at the top of the window to open the process information panel.
click i in the top bar of activity monitor
  1. In the process information panel, look for information about the process, such as the name of the process, the user who is running it, and the location of the executable file.
process information in activity monitor
  1. If you’re unsure whether a process is safe, you can do a quick web search for the name of the process to see if it’s associated with any known viruses or malware.
  2. You can force quit the suspicious process by clicking the X button at the top of the window.
click the x button in the windows upper left corner

While Activity Monitor is a helpful tool for detecting suspicious processes, it’s not a substitute for antivirus software or a comprehensive security solution. Always run a full scan with reputable antivirus software like MacKeeper and take other security measures to protect your Mac and data.

2. Removing Unwanted Login Items

By removing suspicious login items and profiles, you can prevent potentially harmful programs or scripts from automatically launching when you start up your Mac and potentially compromising your system’s security.

To delete suspicious login items and profiles on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and tap System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select General and click Login Items in the right menu.
click general and select the login items tab
  1. Here, you’ll see the items that launch when you start up your Mac.
  2. Review the items that automatically launch when you log in to your Mac. If you see anything suspicious, select the item, and click the button to remove it from the list.
select an item and click the minus icon to delete it
  1. Once you have removed any suspicious login items, restart your Mac.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to take this long way to remove login items, you can use MacKeeper to do it for you. To remove login items using MacKeeper, you can follow these steps:

  1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
  2. Click Login Items under Performance in MacKeeper.
tap login items under performance 1
  1. Click Start Scan.
tap start scan 1
  1. You will see a list of all the items that open when you log in to your Mac. Select unnecessary items from the list and click Remove Selected Items.
select the files you want to delete and tap remove selected items 1
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up.
tap remove on the pop up 1
  1. It will remove your selected items from the system startup list. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
tap rescan 1

How to Prevent Viruses on Mac

Prevention is the key when it comes to keeping your Mac safe from virus infections. Taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of your Mac getting infected by viruses or malware.

Here are five methods you can use to avoid viruses on your Mac:

1. Keep macOS Up-to-Date

One of the best ways to avoid viruses is to keep your software up-to-date. It includes your virus-scanning software, your operating system, and other applications. Software updates often include critical security patches that can help prevent infections.

To update your macOS, follow these steps:

  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 any updates are available, click Update Now to install them.
click the update now button

2. Avoid Risky Websites

Another common way Macs become infected with viruses is by visiting risky websites. These include websites that offer illegal downloads, adult content, or free software that seems too good to be true. To avoid dangerous websites, follow these tips:

  • 🌐 Stick to well-known websites for downloading software, music, or movies.
  • 🛡️ Use a reputable ad-blocker to avoid clicking on malicious ads.
  • 📧 Be wary of email or social media messages that contain links to unfamiliar websites.

3. Use Firewall

Macs have a built-in firewall that can be enabled to provide your computer with an additional layer of security. The firewall is designed to block unauthorized access to your computer from the internet or other networks. When enabled, the firewall monitors all incoming and outgoing network traffic and allows or blocks connections based on the rules you have set up.

To enable the firewall on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Networks and go to the Firewall option.
click network select firewall
  1. Toggle on the Firewall option if it is not already turned on.
toggle on firewall on mac
  1. Enter your admin ID and Password and click Unlock.
enter your administrator password when prompted and tap unlock

Once the firewall is enabled, it will automatically block incoming connections that are not explicitly allowed.

4. Keep Your Apps Up to Date With MacKeeper

One of MacKeeper’s notable features is the Update Tracker tool, which helps you keep your Mac up-to-date by notifying you of available software updates. It scans your system for outdated software and provides a list of available updates, allowing you to keep your Mac’s software up-to-date with just a few clicks.

Here’s how to update apps on your Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and click the Update Tracker tab in the left sidebar.
click update tracker under performance 1
  1. Click Scan for Updates.
click scan for updates 1
  1. MacKeeper will scan your Mac for outdated apps and display a list. To select an app, check the little box next to it or click Check All to select all apps.
select individual apps or click check all 1
  1. Click Update All.
click update all in update tracker 1
  1. Wait for the updates to complete. Depending on the number and size of updates, this can take a while.
wait for the updates to complete
  1. You’ll get an Update Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to update more apps.
click rescan to run the scan again 1

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides running a virus scan, updating apps, and removing login items from your Mac, MacKeeper offers a variety of features to enhance your Mac’s performance and security. Check out my detailed review of MacKeeper to learn more about its features.

5. Keep a Backup of Your Data

To safeguard your Mac against virus infections, creating a backup of your important documents is a wise step. With the Time Machine feature on your Mac, you can easily back up your files to an external hard drive. By frequently backing up your data, you can retrieve previous versions of your files in case a virus damages or locks them.

Here are the steps to backup your Mac using Time Machine:

  1. Connect an external hard drive or SSD to your Mac.
external hard drive connected to macbook
  1. Click the Apple icon in the menu bar and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Time Machine.
click the time machine icon
  1. Tap the Add Backup Disk button and choose the external hard drive you connected.
click the add add backup disk button in time machine
  1. Once selected, Time Machine will automatically start backing up your data. Completing the first backup may take a while, but subsequent backups will be faster.

Enhance Your Mac’s Security By Keeping It Virus-Free

Regularly scanning your Mac for viruses is essential to ensure its safety and security. However, after removing all viruses from your system, it’s crucial to maintain its optimal performance. You can follow these tips for further optimization:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I run a virus scan on my Mac while using it?

    Yes, you can run a virus scan on your Mac while using it, but it may slow down your system performance. It’s better to run a virus scan when you’re not using your Mac or don’t need it for any important tasks.

  2. How often should I run a virus scan on my Mac?

    You should run a virus scan on your Mac at least once a week. However, if you frequently download files from the internet or use your computer for work, it’s a good idea to run a virus scan more often.

  3. Can a Mac get a virus from downloading files or email attachments?

    Yes, a Mac can get a virus from downloading files or email attachments. To avoid this, only download files from reputable sources and be cautious of email attachments from unknown senders.

Hashir Ibrahim


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.



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!

You May Also Like