How to Manually Update Your Mac’s Virus Definitions

Even though the virus and malware attack on Mac is significantly lesser than its PC counterpart, that doesn’t mean you should be down on your guard. The recent Mac Defender issue has caused many people to panic and Apple has to respond with a security update to patch the loophole. Even then, that doesn’t mean you are safe from all other attacks. As an end user, it is your role to make sure that your system (particularly virus definition) is is up to date.

While Apple does release new batch of definition files in its daily updates, some users have reported that the files have not been automatically updating the way that they should. This procedure shows you how to check if your virus definition files are up to date, and if not, how you can update them manually.

1. In the Spotlight, search for “terminal“. Open the Terminal app.

mac-spotlight-find-teminal

2. Copy and paste this command:

mac-terminal-with-command-entered

4. In the code that comes up, you should see a last modification date in the code. If this date is today, you do not need to update. If it is not today, then you need to update your virus definitions manually. The date line should look like this:

mac-terminal-date-line

You are going to love this one because it is so simple. Just follow these steps:

1. Open your System Preferences.

2. Click on the “Security Preferences” pane.

3. Uncheck the box next to the word “Automatically update safe downloads list”.

Security-check-box

4. Re-check the box.

There you have it. You will have your files automatically updated. You might want to double check your system with the same command to see if the file is is up to date. If you see today’s date, then you are good to go. If not, you might need to check your Mac for 1. virus that prevent the system for auto-update, 2. software defects.

There you have it, the best way to make sure that your system is up to date on the virus definitions that are available to you.

Image credit: ?rakaz

3 comments

  1. Thanks katie,

    I have a Macbook pro that I just got this Dec 2011.  I followed your step by step instructions but no matter what, the date in my terminal bash has not change.  I attempted your instructions twice on the 31st of Dec but the terminal still shows the 19th of Dec.  Is that because there might be no latest update?  I am new to Mac and have not installed any Virus def.  I thought that by buying the macbook pro it came with a mac base virus def unlike pc.  I am to think this to be correct?

    • It could be that there is no latest update. As long as you have checked the box “Automatic update safe download list”, you are safe.

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