Incessant popup alerts on Mac saying “Your computer is low on memory” aren’t necessarily caused by insufficient RAM and could be a symptom of malware activity.
|Name||“Your computer is low on memory” popup virus|
|Type||Popup Virus / Scareware|
|Action||Fake low memory popups, fraudulent permission requests,|
browser redirects, total system slowdown
|Removal tool||Download Now|
Whereas hypocrisy is one of the scourges of human relationships, there is a similar thing in cyberspace. Some malware strains and online scams mimic legitimacy to trick users into downloading dangerous code, granting permissions, or giving away sensitive information. As far as Mac threats go, the use of misleading popup alerts that say, “Your computer is low on memory. To free up some memory, please close a few applications” is a common example of such a hoax in action. Cybercrooks have come up with this scheme to give their victims a heads up about a serious performance problem that – you guessed it – isn’t actually there. Let’s zoom into this issue to shine the light on the attackers’ goals, the differences from real macOS low random-access memory (RAM) notifications, and the ways to address the nuisance.
The wiki facet of low memory Mac popup warnings
In an ideal world, a notification saying, “Your computer is low on memory” can be interpreted unambiguously. It means that the Mac has reached its threshold of available RAM. This frustrating situation typically occurs when the user launches multiple instances of resource-intensive applications such as graphics editing software or video games. In some cases, opening dozens of tabs in a web browser with multimedia content in them will end up draining memory as well. Simply put, macOS responds to heavy-duty circumstances this way.
Fake “Your computer is low on memory” alerts
But, this matter has a shadier side. Several samples of Mac malware can feign such warnings to elevate their privileges or dupe victims into downloading extra nasties. Their authors know that the average user will rush headlong into identifying memory hogs to fix the problem, only to slip up unwittingly. These alerts contain no interaction elements other than a single “Close” button. When clicked, it may trigger an additional dialog saying that some strange app wants access to control Safari or another web browser (see image below).
Sometimes, closing “Your computer is low on memory” popup grants full disk access to the malicious program without any other explicit permission requests. These notifications can also be a source of drive-by downloads hidden in plain sight. Mac adware, Trojans, or fake optimization software can thereby get the green light to infiltrate the system, and the user stays clueless about it. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the fake alert frenzy itself starts with a malware attack, in the first place. When this tampering is underway, a sure-shot method to tell it from a trustworthy macOS alerting routine is to open the Activity Monitor, click the “Memory” tab, and look at the amount of free RAM. If it’s more than a few gigabytes, then the issue is definitely caused by a harmful application.
Mac adware and scareware are the usual suspects
What types of Mac threats can imitate the low memory scenario? There are a few, and some of them are interrelated. A browser redirect virus flagged as Search Marquis, which redirects to Bing via searchbaron.com and double-dealing advertising networks, is known to play this trick on infected machines to try and boost its privileges. A notoriously intrusive knockoff system optimization tool called MacKeeper is often to blame for this activity, too. To top it off, these attacks can overlap within the same Mac.
What makes things worse is that these malicious apps have an unnerving track record in terms of persistence. Not only do they hoodwink the victim into granting high-level permissions in the system, but they also add a configuration profile that twists the web search settings and makes it impossible to specify the correct preferences in the usual way. The following steps will help bypass this hindrance and fix “Your computer is low on memory” Mac popup issue called forth by malware.
Remove “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus from Mac manually
First things first, every infection instance boils down to a specific rogue app underlying it. Therefore, the starting point of the fix is to find and delete the malicious program that’s causing your Mac computer to act up. This could be easier said than done, though – some viruses are sneaky and don’t leave an obvious system footprint in an attempt to avoid detection.
The steps below will walk you through the best practices of spotting and removing “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus from your Mac.
- In the Finder’s Go pull-down menu, click Utilities
- Select Activity Monitor
- Take a look at the running processes and try to identify the malicious one. Its name isn’t likely to have anything in common with “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus, therefore you should focus on resource-intensive entries that look unfamiliar and way out of place.
- Once you spot the suspect, select it and click Stop in the upper left of the Activity Monitor screen. Follow on-screen prompts to force quit the unwanted item. Note that you may have to enter your admin password to do it
- Reopen the Go menu and click Go to Folder
- Enter the following string in the search box: /Library/LaunchAgents. Click the Go button as shown below
- Check the folder for potentially unwanted items. As is the case with malicious executables, the names of sketchy LaunchAgents may suggest no connection with Mac threats. As a general rule, look for recently created objects you don’t recognize. Send the baddies to the Trash if found
- Now you’ll need to complete the same procedure for the following directories: ~/Library/LaunchAgents, ~/Library/Application Support, and /Library/LaunchDaemons. Go to these paths in turn (see Step 6 above), inspect their contents for dubious items and folders, and eliminate them.
- Use the Go menu in your Finder again and click Applications
- Scrutinize the list of installed apps to try and locate the malicious one. This could also be a shot in the dark because the culprit isn’t going to be named “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus or similar. Your goal is to spot a recently added fishy-looking program you didn’t wittingly install. Send it to the Trash immediately
- Click the Apple menu icon and pick System Preferences. You can as well click the gear symbol in the Dock if it’s there
- Head to Users & Groups and click Login Items. Click the padlock icon at the bottom left to enable changes – this will require your admin password. Find the app that shouldn’t be started automatically at boot time, select it, and click the ‘minus’ symbol
- When on the System Preferences screen, select Profiles. In most cases, the list will show up blank unless it’s a company-issued Mac and your employer has added a configuration profile to manage specific areas of the system. Anyway, if you see a profile that shouldn’t be there (e.g. AdminPrefs or TechSignalSearch), select it and click the ‘minus’ symbol to eradicate it
So much for the manual removal workflow. Keep in mind that most Mac threats stretch their grip over to web browsers. If this is the case, your online activities will continue to be affected and you’ll need to additionally tackle the browser side of the attack. Here’s how you do it.
“Your computer is low on memory” popup removal in a web browser on Mac
The steps below will help you regain control of the browsing preferences hijacked by “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus. Be advised that you may be logged out of sites and lose your web customizations as a result of this procedure. The silver lining, though, is that the malware won’t be meddling with your online sessions anymore.
Troubleshoot Safari malfunctioning
- Open Safari, expand the Safari pull-down menu, and pick Preferences
- Click Advanced and check the ‘Show Develop menu in menu bar’ box
- You’ll see the Develop menu added at the top of the screen. Click it and select Empty Caches on the list
- Expand the History entry in the Safari menu and select Clear History
- It’s best to pick all history in the follow-up screen to obliterate all malicious cookies and website data generated by the malware. Then, click Clear History
- Return to the Safari Preferences, select the Privacy section, and click the Manage Website Data button
- Click Remove All on the subsequent screen
- Finish the procedure by restarting Safari
Restore Google Chrome defaults
- Open Google Chrome, click the Customize and control Google Chrome (⁝) symbol in the upper right, and choose Settings
- Click Reset settings
- The browser will display an extra dialog so that you can familiarize yourself with the logic of the cleanup before proceeding. Go ahead and click the Reset settings button as illustrated below
- Restart Google Chrome
Fix the problem in Mozilla Firefox
- Open Firefox, click its menu icon (three horizontal lines), select Help, and click Troubleshooting Information
- Click Refresh Firefox and confirm the action
- Restart Mozilla Firefox
Remove “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus using Combo Cleaner
Manual removal of Mac malware could be a bumpy road because you run the risk of missing small fragments of the infection, in which case all the efforts may be futile down the line. The automatic tool called Combo Cleaner eliminates this pitfall by leveraging effective detection algorithms to identify every single malicious file on your Mac. This way, “Your computer is low on memory” popup virus removal is a matter of a few clicks and a couple of minutes’ wait. Use the following steps to give it a go.
Download and install Combo Cleaner app.
The free scanner will let you know if your Mac is infected. To remove viruses, you will have to buy the Premium version of Combo Cleaner.
- Run the tool, let it perform the virus and malware definitions update, and click Start Combo Scan
- The app is equipped with a competitive mix of security, privacy, and optimization features. Therefore, not only does it spot prevalent Mac malware but it also finds tracking cookies and unneeded files that take a lot of disk space and should be deleted
- If Combo Cleaner detects threats on your Mac, it will provide a report containing the number of these infections and the categories they fall into. At this point, all you need to do is click the Remove Selected Items button
- Having uninstalled malware from your Mac, you should redefine your web browser preferences manually if they have been previously modified by the infection without your consent.