If your Mac seems to be getting hit with a ton of pop ups and extra advertisements as of late, there’s a good chance you are dealing with something we like to call “adware.” The good thing about adware is that it isn’t as inherently malicious or dangerous as other types of malware—like viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, keystroke loggers, and more. In fact, sometimes, adware isn’t even labeled as malware at all, and is instead classified as a PUA, or a “potentially unwanted application.”
With that said, adware, like tracking cookies, can be a invasion of privacy, for how it collects information on your browsing habits and uses it to hit you with targeted ads. Furthermore, since adware usually presents ads in the form of pop-up pages, redirect websites, extra ads injected into your Google searches, and other irritating formats, it can become a major irritation as you browse the web, and will sometimes even feel like a virus for how invasive it can be. (Tracking cookies, by comparison, will usually only offer targeted ads on banners or sidebars.)
Adware on Your Browser: How it Got There and How to Delete It
The good news with adware is that, unlike many other types of malware, it doesn’t always infect your computer. On the contrary, in some cases, when Mac users are noticing a lot of popup ads, it could just be because a piece of adware has been installed on their browser itself. Adware can make its way into Safari and other browsers by way of toolbar installations, extension downloads, and more, and most often takes the form of browser extensions.
The other good news is that, if you are dealing with adware that is just affecting your internet browser, it can be pretty easy to get rid of. For instance, Apple has an official support guide to help Mac users—specifically those who are using Safari—to identify and eliminate adware on their browser. The tutorial also identifies a few common extensions that can function as adware—such as Cinema-Plus Pro, FlashMall, Omnibar, and any extensions from Spigot, Inc. Deleting extensions on Safari is easy: simply select the extension in question and then click “Uninstall.” Check Apple’s tutorial for a full list of Safari extensions that are known to act as adware and cause popup advertisements.
What about an Adware Infection on the Computer Itself?
If you check the extensions on your web browser and don’t find any suspicious installations—or if uninstalling questionable extensions doesn’t solve your popup problem—then there’s a chance that your computer is infected with a piece of adware software. These types of infections will usually result in unwanted ad injections on any browser you might use, and like other types of malware, typically come bundled with freeware or other downloads.
Luckily, Apple is also pretty on top of things in terms of the types of adware programs you might expect to find infecting a Mac. The tutorial linked in the above section, for Safari adware extensions, also includes a list of common Mac adware programs, where to find them on your system, and how to delete them. Potential adware infections include programs like Downlite, VSearch, Conduit, Trovi, MyBrand, Search Protect, Buca Apps, Genieo, InstallMac, LaunchAgents, and more. You’ll find most of these either in the Applications folder or in the system library, but you will want to check Apple’s support page to make sure that you 1) delete the right files, and 2) do so in such a way that they will really be deleted for good.
Try an Adware Removal Program
If you don’t want to manually remove different pieces of adware from your Mac—whether because you don’t have time to go digging around on your hard drive for unwanted malware, or because you don’t trust yourself to make changes to the system library, you might consider downloading a program like to do the job automatically. Visit our website at www.securemac.com to learn more about apps that might be able to do the trick.