How to Remove Suspicious Apps from Your Mac

Many viruses and other malware find their way on to your computer posing as legitimate applications. For example, Similar Photo Cleaner is a program that seems handy at first. It claims to hunt down duplicate photos on your Mac and automatically delete them, freeing up disk space. This sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Unfortunately, the program is more than a little misleading. The app is configured to autostart, launching all manner of pop-ups and redirecting your browser to ads, all meant to scare you into thinking your Mac is on the verge of calling it quits.

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Of course, this isn’t the case, and this so-called “app” is simply adware/spyware. However, trying to remove the app from your Mac is a test in patience. Trying to exit the app is virtually impossible, as it prevents your system from doing so by constantly “scanning” your machine.

How Do These Apps Get on Your Machine in the First Place?

Often times, unwanted apps are often are bundled in with other software that you download and install. Think back and ask yourself how often you read the terms and conditions during an install. Chances are, you didn’t. Most of the time this isn’t that big of a deal; however, some software (usually of the free variety), bundle in other software as a way to generate revenue.

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It’s a fairly common practice that has been around for a long time. After all, most of us have found a search engine toolbar mysteriously appear in our browser at one point or another. We often click through various installation screens without noticing that other unwanted (and potentially malicious) software is being installed as well.

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Apps

In the case of Similar Photo Cleaner (and many others), removing the app is not a simple process. These apps are designed to integrate themselves into your system and never leave. Fortunately, there is a way to scrub them from your machine. To get started, click anywhere on your desktop. In the status bar at the top of your screen click “Go.” In the drop-down panel that appears, select “Utilities.” Next, find and select “Activity Monitor.” Alternatively, you can type “Activity Monitor” into Spotlight and launch the app from there.

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When the Activity Monitor window opens, find the app in question and kill the process. Do so by clicking on the “X” button found in the top-left of the Activity Monitor window. This will prompt a pop-up box to appear asking if you want to force quit the program. Go ahead and force quit, as this will allow you to remove the application.

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Click “Go” once again and select “Applications.” Find the app you want to remove, and either right-click the icon and select “Move to Trash,” or simply drag it to the Trash bin in the dock. Finally, empty your machine’s trash, and say goodbye to the unwanted app for good.

How to Prevent Automatic Reinstalls

Unfortunately, apps like this are a nuisance and have a tendency to reinstall themselves on your machine. Leftover files that are not removed when deleting the app can be used to reinstall the app on your machine the next time you boot your Mac. In order to prevent this from happening, you’ll need to stop the app from automatically starting. To do so, begin by clicking on the Apple icon in the status bar.

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In the drop-down menu that appears, click on “System Preferences.” When the System Preferences window appears, click on “Users & Groups.” Here you’ll want to select your account (if there is more than one account associated with your Mac). Next, click on the “Login Items” tab. Doing so will present you with a list of programs that automatically start when your turn your Mac on. Scan the list to see if there are any unwanted or suspicious apps. When you find an unwanted app, select it by clicking on it, and hit the “-” button to remove it. This will prevent that app from automatically starting.

Have you been the victim of suspicious software that simply wouldn’t go away? If so, how did you manage to get rid of it? Let us know in the comments!

One comment

  1. I know how to find and force quit apps via Activity Monitor, but HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT APPS TO LOOK FOR? I don’t know the names of every malware app that’s out there. Is there some online site that has such a list?

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