One of the more controversial pieces of software available for OS X is a package called MacKeeper, which by fairly aggressive and widespread scare-tactic advertising has many Mac users convinced it is required software for keeping their systems safe, clean, and in proper working order. Any claims that this or similar software are requirements are false, but unfortunately many who have tried the software may find that even after removing it, they still have remnants of it on their systems that issue various notices about how their systems are critically unsafe, with recommendations to re-activate and re-install the software.
If you have installed this software on your Mac, then there is a way to remove it and all of its contents from your system, which will take a little digging around on your Mac, but which should be quite doable for most people.
1. Backup your Mac
First, be sure you back up your Mac by updating or creating a Time Machine backup or a system clone. Even though this backup will contain the MacKeeper files, it will ensure your system is restorable in case something goes wrong.
2. Turn off all MacKeeper security features
MacKeeper includes a numbers of security options, such as file encryption and safe browsing, so be sure to open MacKeeper and completely turn these features off. This will ensure your “secured” files are accessible once MacKeeper is removed. After doing this, close the program and again update your Time Machine backup to ensure all files are properly backed up.
Now for the fun part: remove all of the following files from your system, which seem like a lot, but they can be accessed primarily through the Finder just like any other file. There are several places these files are located, so we will go through each location separately. At most you may be required to supply your administrative password when removing some of these files, and will only need to use special tools like the Terminal for a couple of the files:
The Applications Folder
Go to your Applications folder and remove the MacKeeper.app program located in there. As with all the files here, do this by dragging it to the trash (select it and press Command-delete), followed by emptying the trash.
Your Home Library Folder
For the files in your home library, open the Go menu in the Finder, and then press the Option key to reveal the Library if it’s not already present. Selecting this will open the Library folder, in which you can locate and remove the following files (note that “Library” here indicates the folder opened from the Go menu):
Library > Application Support > MacKeeper Helper Library > Caches > com.zeobit.MacKeeper Library > Caches > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.Helper Library > Caches > com.mackeeper.MacKeeper Library > Caches > com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.Helper Library > LaunchAgents > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.Helper.plist Library > LaunchAgents > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.plugin.Backup.agent.plist Library > LaunchAgents > com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.Helper.plist Library > Logs > MacKeeper.log Library > Logs > MacKeeper.log.signed Library > Preferences > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.plist Library > Preferences > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.Helper.plist Library > Preferences > com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.plist Library > Preferences > com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.Helper.plist
Keep in mind that these files will need to be removed for every user account that has been logged into while MacKeeper has been installed, especially if the program has been run under that account.
Your Documents Folder
Choose “Documents” from the Go menu in the Finder, and then locate and remove the MacKeeper Backups directory.
Your Mac’s Global Library folder
Now open the Go menu and choose “Computer,” in which you will see your hard drive (e.g., “Macintosh HD”). Open this drive, and then then locate and remove the following files and folders in the Library folder you see here:
Macintosh HD > Library > Application Support > MacKeeper Macintosh HD > Library > LaunchDaemons > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.AntiVirus.plist Macintosh HD > Library > LaunchDaemons > com.zeobit.MacKeeper.plugin.AntiTheft.daemon.plist
The Hidden System Files
The last step is to remove some hidden files in system folders that are not directly accessible in the Finder. To do this, in the Finder press Shift-Command-G or choose “Go To Folder” from the Go menu. Then type “/private/tmp/” and press Enter to open this hidden folder. In here, remove the file called “com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.Installer.config.” Next, repeat this step but type “/private/var/db/receipts/” instead, and then remove the following files:
com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.affid.pkg.plist com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.affid.pkg.bom com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.pkg.plist com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.pkg.bom
A last file to remove is a hidden preferences file, which is most easily dealt with by running the following command in the Terminal utility (copy and paste it if needed, and then supply your password when prompted–your password will not show when typed):
sudo rm /Library/Preferences/.3FAD0F65-FC6E-4889-B975-B96CBF807B78
4. Restart your Mac
After all of these files have been removed, reboot your Mac to ensure all running MacKeeper processes are shut down and are not launched again by the scripts and configuration files you just removed. At this point, your system should be clear from the MacKeeper software.
As of this writing, MacKeeper’s version is 3.4.2
Would AppCleaner do the job?
no, i tried but this works, and appcleaner not
A couple of months ago i was caught in the Vortex of McKeeper claims and regardless of all the claims for keeping systems safe, clean, and in proper working McKeeper ultimately destroyed my MacOS 10.9.5 to the point of where i was forced to completely erase the hard drive.
Contact with the developers was futile because their attitude is that it is never the developers fault.
The problem i still have with those Russians is that they follow me relentlessly by popping up at various web sites trying to sell me the programme.
Thank you for confirming my judgment (“culturally biased and ethnically prejudiced attacks”). The people behind MacKeeper are not Russians, but from Kiev in Ukraine (if you’ve ever heard of that place). But they have now been settled in California for years, and that I’d consider that a much greater security risk (ever heard of NSA spying programs etc.?).
I have also had a 10.9.5 installation utterly destroyed a little while ago, and I also ended up reformatting my HD (and getting rid of Mavericks), I even posted my irate comments here on MacIssues. However, I didn’t have MacKeeper installed on that machine. But who was the guilty part?… None other than APPLE SOFTWARE UPDATE itself!
Considering you think it wise to keep data you want to keep in your Trash, and used MacKeeper to delete data you actually want to delete so you won’t have to empty the trash, thus being able to keep the data you store in the Trash, I’m not the least bit surprised you managed to bork an install of Mavericks without the help of MacKeeper. You did it on your own!
Face and palm.
Thanks for another great expert opinion. I’d hate to make you feel bad trying to explain the rationale behind my management of the trash.
Topher, is this really the current level of attendance on MacRumors?
Sorry, Topher, I can only disagree with you on this one. I used MacKeeper for several years, and I was quite satisfied with it as an application. It did what it had to do, like find (PC) viruses on my HD, and it ran smoothly where other apps has been a hassle. At the time, I spent lots of time defending it against the most unfair, culturally biased and ethnically prejudiced (and competitor-promoted) attacks on forums and blog comments around the net. I still read plenty of uninformed (or misinformed) stuff everyday. But: I never — ever — saw an inkling of MacKeeper adware, popups or whatever it is that’s “aggressive” that so many people seem to be complaining about (if it really is a problem, I’d tell anyone to use Adblock+, NoScript and a few more utilities)
So why did I stop using it? Essentially because their customer support were, and probably still are, total nincompoops, assuming you even got a response. When software updates or virus protection renewals failed to register, or when one only of the two accounts was active while the other one stubbornly remained off the hook, or when the virus protection feature had stopped working months earlier because there had never been a warning that the subscription had run out, the response I was getting from their “support” was anything but helpful: an 8-year old could have seen that they didn’t know what they were talking about (typical MK Support response: uninstall and reinstall it).
More time than I cared to waste went with that. But I did not uninstall it, as some of its features could still be useful — primarily the feature that allows you to “superdelete” single files or single folders (say, to make space on your HD) without having to delete the whole trash (FileXaminer has it too, but it doesn’t work properly). I seldom use it, but when I need it, I need it.
I physically removed any library item related to launching MacKeeper at bootup, I deactivated within the application’s settings anything that would imply connecting over the net, and for good measure I told LittleSnitch to deny any connection to kromtech, zeobit and the lot — which it does perfectly well whenever I happen to launch MacKeeper. Only detail, at this point, is that when you launch MacKeeper anew, it automatically places a LaunchAgent file in your library that would then have MK start up at next bootup. But, thanks to the script you yourself once provided us with, I get a warning that allows me to immediately go and erase the troublesome file from the LaunchAgents folder.
I did not say it was malware, and haven’t judged its services beyond countering notions of it as a requirement, as it most definitely has been advertised in numerous areas (generally on underground ‘warez’ sites) as a requirement, often using full-screen popup windows to demand your attention. This and the program’s history have promoted the aggressive nature of its advertising campaign. Beyond this, the instructions here are for those who simply do not want it on their systems anymore. I don’t fault those who wish to try it, and don’t care to judge its services–they may work for some folks, and not for others. While as with any service there may be redundancies and differences in quality between vendors, and it’s up to the consumer to decide. The spurring point for this article was the all-too-common request from folks asking me how to remove the software.
Fair enough, Topher.
If you don’t want to say it’s malware, I will.
And to the guy claiming MacKeeper “did what it had to do, like find (PC) viruses on my HD”: That did not happen.
Guy? Whatever… At any rate, I’m glad to be exchanging opinions with such great experts that know better than I do what was happening om my HD years ago. Yours amazed,
Just in case MacKeeper users are not aware, there is currently a class action settlement in progress. For more details visit: https://yenchasoftwaresettlement.com/
I am not sure how aggressive it is, I can only speak of my experience and I can say it is not a good one. I am a writer and totally blind, the computer is my eyes for almost every thing and my work tool and I use a screen reader which is been highly affected by this whole mackeeper episode.
I am not even sure how it showed up on my computer. I was getting the adds, and probably one of the times that I was trying to close their full page add which is not fully accessible to the blind with a lot of buttons and links without any name, I might have unknowingly accept something because it was installed on my applications and it has created a lot of problems with my screen reader to the point I am considering reformatting.
My problem is that I skipped stepped one, because I deleted from my applications to see if it would go away. But other things are still happening. So do I need to reinstall it in order to follow all the steps? I don’t want to get locked out of my computers and files. If I do have to reinstall, how do I would about doing that since I am not really sure how, given that I don’t know how it got in here in the first place. I would be extremely grateful for any extra advise. thanks.
“…primarily the feature that allows you to “superdelete” single files or single folders (say, to make space on your HD) without having to delete the whole trash…”
I need to know if I’m understanding this statement correctly. While holding documents in your Trash you actually want to selectively and securely delete other documents that are not in the trash? This implies that you put data in your trash that you don’t want to delete.
If so, do you also like to keep produce you might want to eat in the trash under your kitchen sink?
People who like to use the Trash as a holding bin for data they don’t want to actually delete are the prime demographic that Zeobit-Kromtech targets for their scam-ware. This demographic also must think it’s a new day every time they blink.
Today I had a little fun with the “experts” that represent MacKeeper.
On a 2012 Mac Pro I installed OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 on a brand new 2-TB hard drive. I then applied the few patches that were available from Apple. I then installed MacKeeper. Of course MacKeeper found the condition of this system to be “serious.” I went round-and-round with the “expert” via chat trying to get him to explain to me how this unused system could be considered to be “serious.” Of course he could not explain this issue and repeatedly tried to change the subject.
I then performed the above experiment again, except this time I did it with a hard drive that is failing and is putting out SMART errors galore. MacKeeper failed to pick up the fact that the hard drive this system was installed on was about to fail. But MacKeeper still thought the same 727 MB of data that MacKeeper deemed to be “serious” was all that was wrong.
MacKeeper is a scam. End of story. Period.
@gskibum: having played with computers for thirty years or so, I’m not sure I need to take any lessons as to how i manage my Trash (folder). And: it’s fine to use analogies, but please use sensible ones. Thank you.
This said, MacKeeper may well have changed their approach to certain things since I’ve dropped them, but I personally never did get anything close to such dire warnings as described by you and others describe.
30 years of use means nothing
Like the man in his 50’s that managed to rear-end me while I was stopped at a red light – all in broad daylight – you could both use a few pointers on how to conduct your affairs.
fyi- from a fairly clueless user obviously compared to you guys- ;-)- (meant only with respect to all) just wanted to share my experience with this today- I too had the exact same experience after downloading the “demo” (as it turned out to be though you aren’t told that-unless in some small footnote I missed) I was given the exact same “serious” condition warning with over 1500 supposed files involved. (don’t remember exact words as I got rid of it using this helpful info) I was immediately HOUNDED by a supposed “apple expert” in a chat off to the side who was pushing hard and fast for me to quickly continue but picking a paid level to “save my data that was at risk of being lost forever….any minute now…” 😉 and more to that effect. That alone made my hair go up in warning and I immediately chastised myself for installing something without first researching it which I NEVER do…live and learn..and reinforce the reasons for your normally careful practices with any purchase or download…even if “free”.
Thanks for the post for those of us who’d have NEVER gotten rid of some of those files…not all were there but MANY were- esp. the ‘private’ ones….though I was told no file existed with the last step with the Terminal Utility. I as I said am fairly clueless with all this so I even tried both with capital O and with the number 0 even though there was no “/” as appears in a 0 in that type. If that is explained well enough to those of you who are probably shaking your heads 😉 haha But was nice to know I at least checked for any and all files that COULD even possibly cause a problem. As I saw one person post in my reading this afternoon…they said it best by asking why you would want to give your business to a company who even MAY cause a problem when there are others that do the same thing that do not have a plethora of controversy out there!! Why reward such suspicious hard court press tactics? BTW, when I mentioned this to the agent who was acting dumbfounded to hear that ANY speculation even existed and tried to point me to a single youtube review from a customer (hello? how stupid would you have to be to look at reviews provided by the company you are researching?) but I suppose that is their target audience…and he also used the EXACT same words one of you used above referring to “culturally biased attacks from competitors” in defense of what I “might” be seeing online. That would also be enough to send me running- seeing the same words in defense of something that has legitimate concerns voiced by those who have NO financial stake in any of these businesses. …just average ‘joes’ like me who don’t know better and have NO nefarious intentions, just truly don’t trust it after all we read online..and please know that not being a computer guru doesn’t mean that you are incapable of being a savvy consumer who is fully capable of doing your due diligence….which again, I didn’t do this go round…so rare and EACH time it bites me in the you know what!!
Topher – for one, I am delighted you drew attention to this product. Like others, I was sucked in by the marketing campaign when it first surfaced , purchased/installed the product, much to my chagrin. I too had much difficulty in removal, (just wish your deletion method was available then). So pleased to be rid of it – it certainly has no place in my Mac system. If it happened to me, I’m sure others have been affected. I don’t care which nationality wrote the program – it’s just a bad piece of work, badly represented by a strong and aggressive marketing campaign
Great article. Thanks.
I would take issue with one thing here- that it’s “controversial”. There’s no controversy. It’s unnecessary and harmful. The king of crapware.
@ Tingo: Have you ever heard the expression, where there’s smoke, there’s fire? If you felt called upon to defend MacKeeper so assiduously, did it ever occur to you that there might be more than prejudice involved in criticism of the product? Or that, just because people did not share your opinion or experience with it that they might not be as ignorant as you suppose? Why, if the developer’s tech support is so incompetent, would you think their programming skills are any better? Or their business ethics? If they cannot handle your registration properly, why would you trust the app to look after your Mac?
MacKeeper is thoroughly despised by a great many people for good and sufficient reasons, your opinion notwithstanding. Topher would not call it malware on principle, but those of us who’ve encountered MacKeeper are free to disparage it as we see fit. The best that can be said of MacKeeper is that it’s pestilential adware, not to say scare-ware.
There is a donationware app called DetectX (http://sqwarq.com/detectx/) that can find most, if not all, MacKeeper files, among other potentially problematic application files – if you don’t have the patience to follow Topher’s thorough procedure. Another good tool that does similar work is AdwareMedic (http://www.adwaremedic.com/index.php), also donationware, that can suss out other adware on your system. I’ve used them both and, in my experience, they do no harm. They don’t actually remove any files; they simply locate them so you can remove them manually if you wish to.
@B. Jefferson Le Blanc. The “logic” of your argument is indeed faultless: What I wisely determine to be “people” say that it is so -> Hence it is true -> Thus I SHALL add my voice to the pack.
By this reasoning, alleged witches were burnt at the stake for centuries, coloured people were lynched by the thousands, Roma aka. Gypsies steal small children and sell them to the Jews who eat them, and my country is part of a coalition that wants war at any cost, because the Russians, the Iranians, the Chinese, the Iraqi, the Libyans, the Syrians, the Martians, whoever (sorry, the list is endless these days) are being aggressive towards us. Why, everybody says so, don’t they?
I suppose that by your argumentation we’re all living in the best of all possible worlds. It just depends on who says so.
Wrt. the incompetence of the developer’s tech support (I’d mentioned customer support) is so incompetent being related to their programming skills, I wonder if you have ever come across any of the zillions of postings complaining about Apple’s support? My my, and you’re still using a Mac!
Great article Topher! I will go as far as saying Mackeeper is malware. Folks, please know, if there is a program that claims to boost performance on your mac and needs to constantly run in the background to do so, it’s likely not helping. How can it, if its taking precious cpu cycles away from your poor mac! 🙂
As Topher says, the real problems with MacKeeper are that: (a) their advertising techniques are misleading and relentless (b) they misrepresent what their tools do and find in order to inflate their perceived usefulness, and (c) they use several tricks to complicate the full removal of their software.
Having said that, as tingo says MacKeeper isn’t really malware, it is just undesirable-ware, something you don’t want to mess with because chances are it’s going to create more headaches than any problems it would solve.
One important note: MacKeeper earned its dreadful reputation mostly by the actions of its developers, but there was an additional source that wasn’t their fault: right around the time they started with their deceptive advertising (2011), there was a famous piece of real malware for the Mac called Mac Defender (and its variant, Mac Guard):
People naturally associated the real malware (Mac Defender) with the legitimate-yet-crappy-behaving utility (MacKeeper), reinforcing the notion that the latter was actual malware.
Well said! I found all of that to be easily confirmed in multiple places today but all manner of people. Fair and factual it seems. Love the “undesirable-ware”…;-)haha
Just to say – now when you grab MacKeeper to the Trash there is an auto message that pops up to ask why you’re removing the app – if you press the uninstall button on this dialogue box it does all of the above for you (I carried this out and went through the above process to check all files were in fact gone)…
I, too, got that uninstall box that I read I’d get- I clicked it and it disappeared (the box) so I never checked “why” but when I looked for these files afterwards- they were almost all still there!! SO not sure why in my case it didn’t delete them, but thought I’d comment to those who might just trust that the “uninstaller” would take care of esp. the “hidden” files..there were many still there!! So thanks again for the easy to follow instructions!! Saved the rest of my evening 😉
I need help after I followed all the instruction, I couldn’t do the last part. What do I do now? And there’s a broken mackeeper icon still in my bin and i can’t delete it.
Thanks for the article. In the hidden Receipts folder I am seeing a whole bunch of other mackeeper files that you do not list. I wonder if they should be trashed as well. Is it safe to assume that any file from mackeeper should be removed, or is it possible to do damage by removing certain ones?
I did too- I just decided to delete ALL files that were MacKeeper…each in that part required my admin password which wasn’t mentioned as well but I figured I should proceed…;-)
On my system (10.9.5) the four files in /private/var/db/receipts/ that you list under the hidden system files heading where com.zeobit.mackeeper….etc
None of the tips work.
Thanks! This worked excellent.
Thank you for posting this–it seems to have worked! I would have never found all those files hidden everywhere without this!
A momentary lapse of reason compelled me to give Mackeeper a go.
Once the application installed Norton popped up with a virus warning and deleted files.
I was left with “Mackeeper” pop ups that quickly became a frustration.
I thought I’d give the install another go. Norton again deleted files telling me it’s found a virus.
On this occasion the Mackeeper app did launch.
During the setup phase I had a popup with a message from a technical assistant. He was friendly and wanted to assist with setup. So, I figured I’d give it a go.
I was having all sorts of problems with install and lost connection with the tech support guy so I gave up.
I don’t believe I was having any problems as such, so why I chose to install in the first place, I can’t answer.
So….. Popups continued and I was getting a message saying “sharingd was to access Mackeeper password keychain” (something like that)…
I searched the net for the meaning of this popup. Unfortunately alot of negativity surrounded Mackepper in general, so I decided to come looking for a fix to get rid of everything Mackeeper once and for all.
This guide has “so far” fixed my problems so thank you very much to whoever put this fix together.