How to Check for Viruses Using Built-In Tools in macOS

Posted on February 8, 2018 - by Darryl MacLeod - in Updating Your Security Policies

It’s important to routinely check your computer for viruses.

You may have been led to believe that you don’t have to worry about computer viruses on your Mac. And, to some extent, there’s truth to that. Although your Mac can still be infected with malware, Apple does have built-in malware detection and file quarantine capabilities. These are designed to make it less likely that you’ll download and run malicious software.

If you’re on a Windows 10 computer, learn how you can check for viruses here.

Apple introduced malware detection to the Mac OS starting with Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6). Because of this system, called File Quarantine (occasionally referred to as XProtect), apps that are known malware cannot be opened at all. Instead, you’ll see a message offering the option to toss the app in the trash.

To make sure your Mac malware database is always up to date you’ll want to verify that your Mac always automatically installs security updates and related system data files.

Automatically Check For Viruses

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Open the App Store preference
  3. Make sure that you check Automatically check for updates and Install system data files and security updates.

This should keep your Mac free from most malicious software, although it’s important to note that it does not make it impossible for malicious software to be installed on your Mac. So it’s always best to be cautious when downloading software from unknown sources.

And never, never click “install” or dismiss a warning message if something looks suspicious. You don’t want to run the risk of infecting your entire company with a virus that gets into your local network.

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About the author

Darryl MacLeod is an information security expert, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.