How do I remove MacKeeper from my Mac? It's impossible to delete Antivirus software from my Mac, help!

Antivirus software isn't like other programs, so some care needs to be taken when uninstalling it from your Mac. Many antivirus programs are designed to resist deletion, in case a virus attempts to circumvent the software.

(Deleting other programs on a Mac, of course, is super easy. It's a case of dragging and dropping the file from the Applications folder to the Trash and letting go. This leaves behind a few preferences files, but they are small so most people won't notice them. If you like to keep your Mac clean then invest in a program like AppZapper to remove programs and their preferences file from OS X.)

But removing antivirus software, such as MacKeeper, calls for more advanced methods.

This is one of several in-depth Macworld articles dealing with Mac security. If you're looking for AV buying advice, read our roundup of the Best Mac antivirus, and Do get Macs get viruses?; general advice can be found in our Mac security tips; and those who have been hit by a malware attack should try How to remove Mac viruses and How to remove Mac ransomware.

How to safely uninstall Mac OS X antivirus software

The best way to remove antivirus software safely is to find out what the maker of the antivirus software has to say on the matter. Open the antivirus software and click Help to find the instructions. This usually opens built-in help, or links you to the antivirus online support. Read through the instructions to find the procedure for removing the software (check below for a list of help pages for common antivirus programs).

Removing Mac OS X antivirus software typically involves quitting the antivirus software that is running, then running an uninstaller program provided by the company. This removes the antivirus engine and the schedules. You may then safely delete the program.

How to remove MacKeeper from your Mac

MacKeeper is proving to be controversial. Here's how to remove MacKeeper from your Mac:

  1. Open MacKeeper.
  2. Quit MacKeeper.
  3. Open the Applications folder and drag MacKeeper to the Trash.
  4. Enter your admin password.
  5. A pop-up window appears asking if you want to Uninstall the rest of the components.
  6. Click Uninstall MacKeeper.
  7. Choose Go > Go to Folder from Finder.
  8. Enter ~/Library/Application Support.
  9. Find a file called NoticeEngine.plugin. Drag it to the Trash.
  10. Restart your Mac (Apple > Restart).

How to get a refund from MacKeeper

Have you downloaded MacKeeper? You might be able to get a refund.

People who bought the disputed Mac antivirus suite are filing for refunds due to a proposed class-action settlement against the application’s former developer, Ukraine-based ZeoBIT, filed in May 2014.

The class-action suite claims that MacKeeper falsely flagged security and performance problems in order to get consumers to pay $39.95 for the full version. It is these intimidating tactics that have boosted MacKeeper’s reputation as scareware.

MacKeeper was sold by the original developer in April 2013. The new owners are German corporation, Kromtech Alliance. The new owners have been trying to improve MacKeeper’s reputation.

IDG News Service’s Jeremy Kirk writes that 513,330 people in the US bought MacKeeper for $39.95, which means that ZeoBIT would have collected more than $20 million in revenue in the US alone.

All those people in the US who bought MacKeeper are eligible for a refund and as of 26 September, 78,652 claims had been filed. You can file a claim here (but you need to be US based).

ZeoBIT is hoping to settle out of court for $2 million (a fraction of the revenue collected). Of this, only about $1.25 million will go towards the settlement fund. With so many people having applied for a refund, it is likely that the refunds will be around $15 each.

ZeoBIT’s attorney’s filed court papers highlighting that the lawsuit never contended that MacKeeper was “completely worthless.”

Read next: Do iPhones get viruses?

How to remove ClamXav completely from your Mac

How to remove ClamXav antivirus from your Mac

Here is how to remove the popular (or in some cases, unpopular) ClamXav antivirus program from Mac OS X.

  1. Quit ClamXav (choose ClamXav > Quit).
  2. Click the ClamXav Sentry icon in the menu bar and choose Quit ClamXav Sentry.
  3. Open the ClamXav disk image file that you used to install ClamXav. If no you longer have it, open the ClamXav Downloads pages and click Download.
  4. Double-click the ClamAV Engine REMOVER icon.
  5. Click Open.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Enter your password and click OK.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Open the Applications folder (choose Go > Applications from Finder).
  10. Drag the ClamXav application icon to the Trash (or to a removal program like AppZapper).

This script will then safely remove ClamXAV from your system

How to remove Sophos from your Mac

Here's how to remove Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition:

  1. Open the Applications folder (Go > Applications).
  2. Look for a program called Remove Sophos Anti-Virus.
  3. Follow the uninstaller steps.
  4. Restart your Mac (Apple > Restart).

Note that other versions of Sophos (such as Business Edition) place the removal tool in a different position. You can find it by choosing Go > Folder and enter /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/. You should find the uninstaller. If you still can't find it you can download the Sophos uninstaller from this link.

How to remove Norton Security for Mac

Follow these steps to remove Norton Security for Mac:

  1. Open the Applications folder (Go > Applications) and double-click Norton Security.
  2. Click Norton Security.
  3. Select Uninstall Norton Security and Uninstall.
  4. Enter your admin password.
  5. Click Install Helper.
  6. Click Restart Now.

Removal tools for common OS X antivirus software

Here are help pages, with uninstallation instructions, for common OS X antivirus programs: