How to Remove Spyware from Mac

Tips • March 3, 2023

remove spyware mac

No other operating system matches up to Mac when it comes to protection against spyware. It has incredible in-built security systems that keep your device safe from malware attacks.

Even though it is rare for Mac to get infected, it is still not fully immune. Worms, adware, Trojans, and other spyware have been common reports from Mac users lately.

If you have been experiencing issues, don’t fret. There are measures you can take to get rid of them and keep your Mac clean. In this article, you will learn what spyware is, the common types, how to detect them, and how to remove spyware from Mac.

RELATED: A Practical Guide to Securing Your Mac

Key takeaways

  • Adware, Keyloggers, and Trojans are going to be the biggest spyware threats for your Mac
  • Although Mac is relatively safe compared to PCs, it is still vulnerable to spyware
  • Third-party spyware removal will help keep your Mac protected
  • To further protect your Mac, use a VPN, antivirus software, update your Mac, and avoid unknown links

What is spyware?

Spyware is malicious software that implants in your device with intention of spying on your every move online and stealing your data. It then sends this data to third parties without your knowledge or consent.

This data may be your emails, text messages, files and documents, videos, pictures, and other media from your cam, web browsing habits, and financial details among others. Some notorious types of spyware are;


The pop-up ads that automatically display on your screen and redirect you to other websites or install weird programs when you are online or browsing the internet are usually caused by the adware.

Even though adware is considered highly unlikely to cause harm to your Mac, they are inconvenient and mostly frustrating.


Keyloggers are one of the most harmful spyware. They are designed to monitor and record every key you strike on your keyboard. This means the party behind this software can see and access your sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and credit card information following your keylogging trail.


Trojans are also dangerous. They are disguised as legit programs and software like file and movie updates, and fool you into downloading them. Once they are installed, these hackers can access your computer and actually perform whatever functions they want.

They can delete files, modify documents, access your accounts (if they have the credentials), and alter the contents of your device.

Can Mac get spyware?

Mac may be relatively safe compared to its alternatives but is not 100% secure. Apple is doing its best to ensure its products are not vulnerable to spyware. Unfortunately, it is the users who play a big role in spyware attacks on their own devices.

You put your computer at risk when you are not careful enough and end up downloading and installing software that is infected. This may not happen to your knowledge, but it still happens.

How to protect your Mac from spyware attacks

Install reliable antivirus software

Antivirus software is designed to scan, detect, and remove corrupted software from your device. Good antivirus software would offer protection against spam, spyware, and viruses. It can also be your web protector and act as a firewall. The 3rd-party antivirus software tools like those below have the ability to detect and remove spyware.

  • MacKeeper – This most popular software offers tons of performance features, security, and privacy beyond basic spyware protection, with a wide range of features and built-in VPN.
  • CleanMyMac X – Notarized by Apple, CleanMyMac X has a large toolset for Mac maintenance and offers great integration with the Mac ecosystem.
  • CCleaner – Comes with free version and a paid professional package. Some features you get with the paid versions include health check, customer clean, browser plugins, disc analyzer, anti-spyware, anti-virus and more.
Avoid clicking on unknown links

Most likely, spyware gets access to your device because you granted permission yourself, obviously unknowingly. This happens when you get emails with seemingly exclusive deals and offers and when curiosity gets the better of you, you click these links.

Unknowingly to you, you have just granted access and admin privileges to some hackers. It doesn’t just happen in your emails and inboxes. Be careful when browsing the net too, and don’t click on strange pop-up ads.

Always keep your Mac updated to the latest version

MacOS has in-built security systems that help prevent and remove spyware. Every updated version comes with even better and stronger tools for these functions. To update your mac;

  • Go to the Apple menu
  • Click “About this mac”
  • Click “software update”

The latest version will then be installed. If your Mac is already up to date, there won’t be any updates available, but you can then restart your device to scan and remove any malware present.

Check your Downloads folder

Go to the downloads file on your device and check for any unfamiliar files that you didn’t download. This especially includes apps. Uninstall and delete them. Make sure they don’t land in “trash” as this wouldn’t remove them completely. Use software like CleanMyMac X to completely get rid of them.

Use a VPN

If you are always moving with your laptop and working from different places, chances are you will end up using public Wi-Fi. A VPN is another extra layer of security much more convenient when you are using public internet connections. It encrypts your data, so even if the Wi-Fi is compromised, your device is still intact and safe.

Try factory resetting

I have found that in most cases factory resetting has helped with the issue of malware. If it is just your system that has been infected, then yes, factory resetting can remove spyware from your device.

I would warn that if your backup and recovery partitions have been affected, it won’t make a difference. Neither will it help if your device had been infected with malware that allowed administrator-level access to your mac. Speaking from experience, it is best to use anti-spyware software that you trust.

Save your Mac from harm

Spyware and malware are scary and have the potential to ruin you by disclosing the most sensitive data from your device. Luckily, it is not that hard to keep away from them, or even get rid of them in case they find their way into your Mac.

If you are wondering how to remove spyware from your Mac, you can choose to use any of the software discussed above. Don’t forget to also follow the tips explained to protect your Mac from spyware attacks.