How to Detect a Virus on a Mac Laptop

By Mario Calhoun

Mac computers are known for being nearly virus-free, but it is possible for your computer to catch a virus if you have an older operating system or do not update your security definitions on a regular basis. Your computer can also spread viruses through email if you send attachments to an unprotected computer. Antivirus software is available online and at most computer stores for Macs, and is your best option for protecting your computer from malicious software.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-virus software

Step 1

Purchase anti-virus software. Download a copy online. Many downloadable programs allow you to test the software for a limited time, which is also known as a trial period. When the trial period is up, purchase a license to unlock other features and continue using the software.

Step 2

Purchase a hard copy from a retail electronic store. Hard copies include instructions and a registration code, and is ideal to have in case you lose information from hard drive failure and need to reinstall the software. Insert the installation disc into your DVD or CD drive, and follow the onscreen instructions to complete the installation and registration process. Most software offers a yearlong subscription to virus definition updates to keep your computer up to date on software threats.

Step 3

Run the antivirus program. Click "Finder" icon on your computer dock, followed by clicking "Applications" on the side of the new window, then double-click the icon of the antivirus program. Alternatively, click the "Go" button at the top of your screen and select "Applications" from the drop-down menu. Double-click the antivirus icon to run the program.

Step 4

Select "Full System Scan." A full system scan checks every folder for viruses and other potentially harmful software. A full system scan can take between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your hard drive. Run a full system scan weekly to protect your computer.

Step 5

Run a daily quick scan. A quick scan checks only specific folders for viruses, rather than thoroughly checking each file on your hard drive. Scan folders that you add content to on a regular basis, as they are most susceptible to viruses.

Step 6

Select "Clean," "Erase" or "Quarantine." Your antivirus program will ask for your permission before taking action against a virus. Select "Clean" to attempt to remove the virus from the file. If cleaning doesn't remove the virus, select "Erase." This option will delete the infected file from your computer, whereas quarantine isolates the infected file so that it won't continue to damage your computer.