Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Fast, Accurate, and Doesn’t Adversely Impact Your Mac's Performance

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.
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Let’s start with the obvious: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac needs a new name. It's excessively long and doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. In fact, it's more like a tongue twister that tries to trip you up every time you say it. I prefer the old name, Adware Medic; simple, easy to say, and describes what it does.

Yes, that’s right; last year, Malwarebytes bought the only anti-adware app I've ever recommended, rewrote the program, dropped support for OS X 10.7 and earlier, and then released it under its new tongue-twisting name.

Which brings us to the real question, one I've been wondering about since Adware Medic was originally purchased: is it still the clean, ultra-fast, safe, non-intrusive adware detector that I originally praised? Or did Malwarebytes upgrade the app to the point that it's a bloated anti-everything app?

Let’s find out.

Pro

  • Scans for adware and malware manually; no scheduling to set up.
  • No background processes running to suck the life from your Mac.
  • Able to remove most adware and malware that targets Macs.
  • Always scans with the latest malware signature files.
  • Still free for personal use.

Con

  • May require manual intervention by the user to complete some adware/malware removal.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me put one issue to rest. Aside from the new name, Malwarebytes has left well enough alone, and capitalized on the work of Thomas Reed, who wrote Adware Medic, and who is now the director of Mac offerings at Malwarebytes.

Although not confirmed, it's rumored that Malwarebytes will continue to offer the basic free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac that I'm reviewing here, along with a planned business version, and a pro version for consumers that will offer some updated features and automation.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac Installation

The app is supplied as a downloadable disk image file (.dmg); just double-click the file to mount the image on your Mac.

Once mounted, you can treat the image as any other drive that is connected to your Mac.

Installation only requires dragging the app from the image file to your Mac’s /Applications folder. With the installation complete, you're ready to launch the app.

I always like to mention if there are any quirks to watch out for when uninstalling an app. In this case, there is one. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac includes a built-in uninstaller located in the app's Help menu. So, instead of simply dragging the app to the trash, you need to launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac and then select the uninstall option from the Help menu.

Using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac

Anti-Malware for Mac opens as a single-window app that contains three buttons:

  • Scan: Scans for malware and adware on your system.
  • Next Steps: This is a link to Malwarebytes' support page, with instructions for what to do if you need additional help in removing a detected bit of rogueware. It also has information on what do to if Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac didn't find any malware, but you're still experiencing problems.
  • Get Help: This button simply opens the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac documentation in PDF format. It’s a good read, and I suggest you start with this last button.

    As you can see, the app's main function is wrapped up in a single Scan button. Pressing the scan button will start the app searching your Mac for files that match up to the current malware/adware signature files maintained by Malwarebytes.

    If any matches are found, the app will display them. Those that the app can successfully remove will be marked with a checkmark. It's also possible you'll see items listed as malware/adware, but with the checkbox not checked. This can occur if the item could cause problems if removed. For example, some adware injects itself into browser preference files. Deleting the preference file will remove the malware/adware, but will also cause the browser to reset to its original default conditions.

    You may wish to open the browser and write down the preference settings, so you can easily recreate them before you place a check mark on the item for Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac to remove.

    Final Thoughts

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac is still the only anti-anything app I recommend for the Mac. The reason I like this app is because it doesn't put any performance burden on the Mac by running continuous background checks, examining files on the system. Nor does it use any of the other common invasive techniques for detecting malware-type activity. This may seem like a con, but in my book, it's a big plus, because it puts you in control of determining when to run a scan.

    The upshot of this non-intrusive method is that not only does your Mac not become over-burdened with background tasks, but the time it takes for the app to run a scan is amazingly fast. On my 1 TB Fusion drive, the scan was over in roughly three seconds. I actually couldn’t get a good read with the stopwatch; the scan was just too fast.

    And after all, isn’t that what we want in an anti-malware product? Something that doesn't hurt our Mac’s overall performance, won't affect any other activities, and is fast and accurate to use. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac scores big on all of these criteria.

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac is free.

    See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks