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Ongoing MacKeeper fraud

Published November 2nd, 2014 at 11:04 AM EDT , modified November 2nd, 2014 at 11:04 AM EDT

warning

Controversy about MacKeeper has been around almost as long as MacKeeper has existed. It is one of the most aggressively-marketed products in the Mac world, and there are numerous accusations that it isn’t useful or even that it is fraudulent. At the same time, you will find a number of positive reviews out there. How do you know what’s true? In this article, I will make the case that MacKeeper, and the company behind it (ZeoBIT/Kromtech), are not to be trusted.

clamxav.orgFirst, a little history. MacKeeper first caught my attention in 2011, when ZeoBIT set up a fake ClamXav site. (The real ClamXav site is clamxav.com, while the fake site set up by ZeoBIT was clamxav.org. At right is a screenshot of the original clamxav.org site, pulled from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)

This fake ClamXav site included an overview of ClamXav, making it sound like the page was an official ClamXav page, yet at the bottom, the green Download button would take the user to the MacKeeper site. This persisted for some time, until eventually the tide of public opinion caused ZeoBIT to change the site. They obfuscated their ownership of the site, using the WhoisGuard service, and changed the content.

There is no proof today that ZeoBIT (aka Kromtech) still owns the clamxav.org domain. That domain’s ownership is still hidden behind the WhoisGuard service. However, it’s probably not coincidence that the clamxav.org, mackeeper.com, zeobit.com and kromtech.net sites all are registered with eNom, Inc.

Around that time, I wrote an article titled Beware MacKeeper. Soon after, I was contacted by a ZeoBIT representative named Mike Clark, offering to pay me for some unnamed consulting work, and giving an explanation for the unethical advertising that I would hear many times over the intervening years: an affiliate was to blame. As he told me at the time, “We pay a 50% affiliate commission and sometimes our affiliates go wild and have a lapse in judgement with the way Mackeeper is promoted.”

In March of 2012, a colleague of mine (Derek Currie) spotted hundreds of fake MacKeeper reviews being posted on VersionTracker and MacUpdate. This went on for some time before it finally stopped. It is still unclear whether this was the result of astroturfing (ie, posting of fake reviews under numerous fake aliases) or whether it was caused by a rumored ZeoBIT rewards program offering free upgrades in exchange for reviews. Of course, those are both unethical, so it doesn’t really matter much which was the cause.

This year has seen two separate class action lawsuits filed against ZeoBIT, alleging fraud. The first was filed by Gregory Ward of Chicago, claiming that, “ZeoBIT uses a common deceptive scheme to trick consumers into purchasing its MacKeeper software, which ultimately fails to deliver the utility ZeoBIT promises.” The second was filed by Holly Yencha, of Pennsylvania, against ZeoBIT, seeking a sum of $5 million.

More recently, MacKeeper ads have been the bane of the Mac world, being one of the most prominent ads displayed by adware that sneaks onto people’s systems. As the author of a utility designed to help remove adware, called AdwareMedic, I have seen countless complaints from people about having MacKeeper pop-ups caused by various adware programs. I’ve actually seen these ads myself in testing adware. Seeing uninvited MacKeeper ads has almost become synonymous with being infected with adware in the Mac community. (For example, see the results of a search for “MacKeeper ads” on Apple’s discussion forums.)

Some of these ads have been extremely unethical. For example, one particular piece of adware was recently known to change the Download link on the AdwareMedic site to redirect to the MacKeeper site. (This affected machines that were already infected with the Downlite adware, and did not involve a compromise of the AdwareMedic site itself.)

Malwarebytesmac.orgMost recently, it has come to my attention that MacKeeper has come full circle, and is repeating the behavior that originally brought them to my attention: using a fake website for advertising. The malwarebytesmac.org site currently is nothing more than an ad for MacKeeper, making it appear that it is affiliated with the Malwarebytes anti-virus software, found at malwarebytes.org. (Note the slight difference in the domain names!)

Unfortunately, I’m sure that we are due of a recurrence of the same old excuse: an affiliate did it! The malwarebytesmac.org site’s registration cannot be traced to ZeoBIT or Kromtech. It is registered to someone named Robert Burke, at an address in China, through a registrar named Hichina Zhicheng Technology Limited. The e-mail address given for Mr. Burke is currently sunymore@126.com.

Looking at a history of the domain, it looks like Mr. Burke has recently updated the domain information, changing from a US-based location:

Registrant Organization:Robert Burke 
Registrant Street: 2658 Better Street 
Registrant City:Kansas City 
Registrant State/Province:KS 
Registrant Postal Code:66215 
Registrant Country:US 
Registrant Phone:+1.9132847547 
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email:wiseshare@yahoo.com

It’s certainly possible – even likely – that Mr. Burke is simply a MacKeeper affiliate, and not in any way employed by ZeoBIT or Krometch. This fraud may be entirely the fault of Mr. Burke, and not the direct result of ZeoBIT’s actions. However, in the best case scenario from ZeoBIT’s point of view, there is an ongoing serious problem with their affiliate program that is allowing and encouraging these kinds of fraudulent ads to continue to be perpetuated over the years.

The software

Besides the ongoing unethical behaviors of ZeoBIT/Krometch, what are the benefits of the MacKeeper software itself? In short, there are none. The numerous “critical” issues that it will identify on even a brand-new, out-of-the-box Mac, are not real. This is simply a scare tactic to encourage users to purchase the software while evaluating the trial version.

Few of the functions of MacKeeper are worthwhile. Of those that are, they can be done better by free or cheaper software. One of the most significant features of MacKeeper – the anti-virus protection – isn’t actually part of MacKeeper at all. ZeoBIT has simply licensed the Avira anti-virus engine for use by MacKeeper, so you could obtain the same protection by simply downloading the Avira’s free anti-virus software. (Not that I necessarily recommend doing that, mind you! See my Mac Malware Guide for recommendations along those lines.)

Worse, some people have reported that their systems have been damaged to the point of needing to be reinstalled by MacKeeper. Many people also report that MacKeeper has had a negative impact on their system’s performance.

Some people do swear by MacKeeper, claiming that it has helped them keep their systems clean and running well. However, such claims are never backed up with concrete information, such as objective performance comparison data collected pre- and post-MacKeeper, and cannot be relied on given the history of fake reviews.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that MacKeeper should not be used. The company behind it has shown a long history of unethical behavior, and the software isn’t worthwhile. If you have it installed, you should remove it immediately.

If you are suffering from MacKeeper ads or redirects popping up on sites where they should not appear, my AdwareMedic app should help you solve that problem. If you are prevented from accessing the AdwareMedic site, turn off JavaScript in your web browser or restart the computer in safe mode to download the app, or download it on another computer, or try the manual removal instructions in my Adware Removal Guide.

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82 Comments

  • Brian J Best says:

    As a resident of the greater Kansas City region, I am pretty sure that “Mr. Burke’s” KCK address is fake. There is no “Better Street” here.

    Like you needed another reason to distrust these guys. What a scam. Thanks for fighting back, Mr. Reed.

    • Thomas says:

      That doesn’t surprise me much. “Better Street” just sounded fake to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the phone number and e-mail address are fake, too.

      • Josh A says:

        In that case, you should contact ICANN.

        ICANN demands that all domain owners keep up-to-date and accurate address and contact information, lest the domain be released from the owner.

        Here’s some information:
        https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/contact-verification-2013-05-03-en

        • Thomas says:

          Keep in mind that the “Better Street” address we’re talking about is an old one… it used to be in the domain registration info, but isn’t now. The current address is in China, and I have no way to know whether it’s legit or not. (Since the registrar is also in China, I suspect this may be an address in use by the registrar, and thus is probably legit.)

  • Matthew says:

    I always try to block the domains for all of their ads, i.e. mackeeperapp[1, 2, 3, etc].zeobit.com, or … .mackeeper.com, but they continually seem to open new domains, probably for this very reason.

  • vsk says:

    Last week I was in a rush working on something and I ended up needing a more traditional FTP app so I downloaded Filezilla. I wasn’t paying very close attention clicking through the pre-installation panels but at the last moment I realized I had clicked something about MacKeeper. It installed the damn thing. I was quick to uninstall it but…I’m still mystified that Filezilla bundles it.

  • ant says:

    that address may as well be “123 fake street”

  • Ofelia says:

    Ten bucks ZeoSH*T (pardon my French) will comment on this thread with how this isn’t true and MacKeeper is legit within the next 6 hours. Any takers?

    • Ofelia says:

      Probably sooner, actually — Genieo only took 5 hours when they were pinned as adware last year, and this thread’s been live for over 3…..

  • ben says:

    I think I downloaded MacKeeper once and then instantly shredded all traces from my computer. MacKeeper is a type of male ware and will always be in my eyes … If you don’t think so install and try to remove it see how effective uninstalling it is.

  • Bob says:

    Hey, Ofelia, I need my ten bucks. I’m from the company you’ve mentioned, pardon my French 😉

    Well, let me put it that way.. not all of this is true, but Thomas is right when saying that there is an ongoing serious problem with our affiliate program. Mr.Burke (if it is his real name) has really crossed the line and we are now trying to trace him down, as well as dozens of other ‘partners’ of us, incl. those fake FileZilla related… And even more who stay unnoticed until we find them and breaking the rules when doing business.

    That part about Software… I partially agree with your remarks regarding questionable and aggressive advertising techniques. You whether like it or not (mostly not). But without it we wouldn’t be able to return hundreds of stolen or lost Macs thanks to the Anti-Theft feature of MacKeeper. You cannot help but agree with the benefits of having your own dedicated Mac expert to help you out with technical questions. The visitors of this blog are mostly advanced Mac users, but we also have those who are in constant need to be supported. This is Just to name a few MK “worthwhile functions”…

    Having said that, I would stress out again that I am here to try and restore this broken link between you, our community, and our team.

    • Thomas says:

      Macs have free anti-theft software built-in, as part of Mac OS X and iCloud, in the form of Find My Mac.

      Apple provides basic tech support for free, in the form of the Genius Bar and live online chat.

      But since you’re here, perhaps you can answer the question of why MacKeeper, installed on an out-of-the-box, unmodified Mac OS X system, finds thousands of “junk files,” calling this a “critical” issue…? I don’t think that Apple, who put every last one of those files there, would consider them “junk.”

      • Bob says:

        Yes, this is one of those questions that I am trying to correct now… Problem with bad naming is one of the arguments that I can accept. These files, of course, are not junk, they just take your precious space. You can easily free up some additional space by deleting, e.g. 10 or 20 language packs which you will never use. Are they “critical issues”? Hardly, but we just let users know that they can get rid of them.
        But again, I agree with you, this is not a good naming. Perhaps, you can have some ideas how to work it out? I’m hoping that the coming releases of MacKeeper won’t have it.

        • Thomas says:

          Deleting language packs is just a bad idea. It doesn’t save enough space to be worth the risks. You could solve it by not doing it at all. Of course, the same goes for all the “cleaning” that is done by MacKeeper and other similar products. Macs don’t need that kind of thing done at all, so selling a product to do such unnecessary tasks starts you off on a bad foot in the first place.

    • Ofelia says:

      Because I’m so interested in giving ten bucks to someone who’s admitted to being paid by wankers to promote crapware. *rolls eyes* But, if you’re going to be somewhat friendly — props to you for that; most of you folks are absolute jerks — answer me this: Many of your MacKeeper ads feature an image of the “spinning wheel of doom” that any Apple user knows well, as well as a robot that looks eerily like Apple’s Automator app icon. Some of them even have the Finder icon with the word “Mac” underneath. And yet, NONE of these ads say that you aren’t actually affiliated with Apple. Not one. What’s that about?

      • Bob says:

        Sorry for a delay in reply… In terms of robot appearance I would rather make references to the WALL-e, not Automator. Regarding your question… the ads you’ve mentioned are leftovers of the previous campaigns which we are now replacing in order to comply with Apple rules (all this apples and finder icons will be gone).
        Again, I can say that in a few weeks time we will be launching a brand new website and brand new MacKeeper. I cannot underestimate all the valuable input I receive from you, guys, in order to make it better.

        • Ofelia says:

          Please read the following sentence in a voice dripping with sarcasm: Well, give ZeoSH*T/Kromtech a gold freaking star! They’re going to actually obey copyright! Huzzah!

          As for WALL-E, I’d encourage you to rewatch the movie, as the robot you’re referring to is actually named Eve. Moreover, do you really think I buy that? Oh, yeah, you schmucks are using all sorts of Apple-related images but all of a sudden you start taking stuff from a frankly depressing Disney/Pixar movie? And even if that was your intention, thank you ever so much for admitting that you’re stealing Disney stuff, too. Oh, you guys are SO entertaining.

          • Bob says:

            lol
            That’s what you got when you try to be “somewhat friendly”? Haters gonna hate..
            Don’t hate the player, hate the game (c), Ice-T
            Props to Thomas for a rationale below, though.

  • eric says:

    Thomas… another great article.

    I’m guessing that along with many of your other readers, I am a “security professional” (at least that is what the letters at the end of my name say lol). I’ve been reading your site for some time and it’s one of my regular reads. Thanks for the great work!

    That said, one of the first things I do whenever evaluate a Mac- centric network or any Mac I am handed, is determine if a user has installed “MacKeeper” and remove it. I can’t tell you how many times that is the only thing I need to do. Removing MacKeeper fixed all the problems the machine or network was having. The “noise” of MacKeeper alone can (and will IMHO) cause 90% of the problems of any given Mac. Again IMHO This (choking on the word calling it) “software” should be banned and ZeoBIT sued by the US Attorneys General for fraud!

    I am always surprised how often people will use almost anything if the company does enough advertising and declaring that their software will save them from everything evil. FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) is the worlds best sales tool as many have discovered. For example, look at another one of these “amazing softwares”: CleanMyPC. I am pretty sure ZeoBIT took their cues from how they do their advertising on the Windows side.

    The real problems I believe are much bigger then any of us will ever be able to tackle… Education and Fear!

    We are afraid to educate….
    We are afraid to be educated…
    We educate to the fear… but “IF”

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs -you’ll be a Man, my son!” R. KIPLING

    Thanks again for being an educator.

    • Tim says:

      So many of these Mac AV products remind me of those traveling bands of “repairmen” who descend upon your community trying to convince you that you need a new roof after that storm last month. After a shoddy repair with shoddy materials, your roof leaks worse than ever. Forget about getting your money back. FUD should be the letters at the end of the names of Mac AV companies.

  • sam says:

    I’m seeing at least 7 kids a day that have a lot of the new adware/malware on their computers. Most have Mackeeper installed or Mplayerx or a couple of others as far as malware goes. This girl today thought her wifi card was bad so she brought her computer in. She tried to use her iphone as a tether since her wifi wasn’t working. This somehow corrupted her iPhone when she plugged it in and she had to restore it. Her computer only had Mackeeper on it. Super weird.

    • Matt says:

      Is MplayerX also malware? I scanned the network at my company and found one machine that has MplayerX. But I also noticed that it is in Apple’s App Store. Makes me wonder…

      I also found two MacKeepers so I believe I have some work to do. 🙂

  • Tom says:

    So just a heads up I have also recently seen an application named memory keeper that is also released by kromtech. In addition, I believe this app is in the appstore. I have yet to find any maleware issues with this app so far however with kromtech reputation, I would stay away.

    • Bob says:

      Let me try and reply to everybody in this thread 🙂

      I’m sure that in most cases you are guided by the negative tonality caused by affiliates ads or annoying pop-ups, not the product itself (especially its latest version). Yes, MacKeeper had a long history (and as a result) and some of you have seen enough to come up with IMHOs. We’ve made some mistakes in positioning the product in the past, but this is what we would like to improve with your help.

      That is why, I would like to propose you to play with the product and its features and let me know your thoughts. Provided Thomas is OK with it, for this purpose I would give away a couple of licenses for the third version and hear back from you once again, via email (megabob(at)kromtech.com). Eric, Ofelia, Sam?

      On a separate note I would encourage Thomas to do the same 🙂

      I would really appreciate your feedback. I only ask for you to try all features of it and comment them as if you see MK for the first time.

      PS: CleanMyMac has nothing to do with Kromtech.

      • Ofelia says:

        Someone keep me from hitting Bob over the head with a baseball bat. There is not a power on this earth that will get me to put MK on my computer.
        (BTW, thank you Thomas for approving this dumbo’s comment; it made my day)

      • Thomas says:

        I was provided with a MacKeeper license last year sometime. No amount of testing makes the product any more worthwhile. The features provided by MacKeeper are, for the most part, already provided for free by Apple or as a part of Mac OS X, or are not useful. In particular, the “cleaning” features do things that do not need to be done… Tim’s analogy of the traveling repairmen who sell new roofs is quite apt. When people believe that something is needed, the fact that it is not does not stop people from selling them a “solution” to their “problem.”

        Mac IT professionals everywhere have been complaining about MacKeeper on their users’ systems for years. I’ve been asked more times than I can count to add MacKeeper removal to my AdwareMedic app. I have declined to do so, because I don’t want to stray from the mission of the AdwareMedic app, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is a demand for such things. I understand that many IT professionals in charge of large installations of Macs have created their own MacKeeper removal scripts for deployment at their sites.

        Rather than focusing their efforts on marketing and damage control, your company should really focus on rebranding MacKeeper. Remove the useless features, add some features that are worthwhile and unique, and then sell it responsibly. Do away with your affiliate program entirely if it can’t be brought under control (and there’s no indication it can be after years of abuse). Perhaps, at that point, the opinion of Mac professionals may start to change. Then again, the negative associations the name has for many may prove too much to overcome.

        • Ofelia says:

          I think your last statement is absolutely the truth. I’ve googled MacKeeper and the first things I get are: 1. the MacKeeper Wiki page, 2. the “Do not install MacKeeper” doc on the ASC written by Klaus1, and 3. the Cult of Mac article that a lot of people believe was either astroturfed or biased or something.
          There’s a part of me that really feels bad for these losers…

      • Dean says:

        As a former Apple employee I can tell you first hand that the mention of the name “Mackeeper” alone was enough to set eyes rolling and unleash a litany of nasty language in our Genius Room . The focus on the negatives of MacKeeper’s affiliate practices and not on the fact that the program is not what it appears to be sounds like an often used political move, ie. don’t look at what I’m doing look over there. Given the issues I have been privy to resulting from the mistaken installation of this software I would still steer clear. If you clearly expect people to smile and offer their “may I have another, sir” that is to say give Mackeeper another shot because a new website has been launched – absurd.

        • Ofelia says:

          Hear, hear! ….. I can only imagine a room full of Apple Geniuses rolling their eyes and scoffing at MacKeeper.

  • Dave says:

    My Mac had gotten ridiculously slow. I could hear the HD constantly being accessed. I deleted MacKeeper today. Wow. No more HD noise. Things have suddenly sped up.

  • eric says:

    Bob:

    Have you ever heard the saying… “Fool me once shame on you; Fool me twice…”.

    How many of the people here on a security blog would ever give your (CHOCKING as I even think about calling it, let alone writing it) “software” another chance?!

    I have seen the results of installed versions of your code on many machines, including recent installs of it, and in EVERY SINGLE CASE, it is one of, if not the main cause, of the issues on that particular machine.

    All I will add is… Shame on you!! and your company!!! for giving developers a bad name.

  • punkrocker says:

    hello Thomas and all :). would anyone be able to help me block all the domains that are loading the adds for MacKee(ill)per.(company url, and mc1, mc2, etc…. I have never been more annoyed by anything (IN LIFE) than those popups/fake webpages of this company.

    LOCALHOST thingie, is impossible to block it with that in a wide range so no matter which subdomain they add (4, 5, 6 etc) it will still block them?

    i wish i am developer that can create something to kick their asses for good.
    to MC employe: annoyed is a weak word, you are lucky I can’t code, or i am not wealthy billionaire that can do “miracles”….

    🙂

    • Thomas says:

      You probably have some kind of adware that is inserting those ads onto pages where they don’t belong. Try AdwareMedic:

      http://www.adwaremedic.com/

      • punkrocker says:

        thanks for the reply T. i probably explained loosely, osx is clean. i do use your adwaremedic for few months now, never got any warning. i don’t have macKeeper installed, and i do not install much 3rd party and when i do, i do a research.

        popups shows only when i surf xxx :blush: and other heavily advertised streaming websites. add block would block all the banners so the only pop up windows that would show several times sometimes during the surf would be mackeeper, so my old macbook (lion osx) with not much ram would get crashed safari.

  • JD says:

    Thanks for all the info. I noticed last night this little robot icon on my screen. I don’t remember installing. I attempted the removal and finally cleaned it….I hope. I will run through your suggestions tonight, just to be sure. Thanks for posting all this info!

  • Charley says:

    I have no sympathy for Bob. I worked for a crooked contractor for about 3 months before quitting. No amount of “gotta put food on the table” rationalization could have justified it. Had I stayed longer, I would have been an accomplice. Bob, stop trying to rebuild MacKeeper’s reputation; salvaging or repairing MacKeeper’s reputation implies it once had one worth fixing. Your company and product are garbage. Stop blaming other’s for that and stop being delusional.

    • Ofelia says:

      I understand where you’re coming from, but I think being any meaner to Bob than we’ve already been (and I for one have hardly been at my kindest) says more about us than it does about them.

  • Ginger says:

    You guys are so funny here. it’s like one big (small?) sandbox with everybody’s singing the same song. That’s what i call democracy, of course. [Content removed by moderator]

    Install this, delete that, avoid those… seriously?

    Have you ever tried not to visit pornsites or avoiding clicking banners saying “YOU ARE THE WINNER CLAIM YOUR PRIZE HERE” ?
    Well, because if you do, you would never need no Adwaremedic or whatever. It’s all about culture. Junk or malware is not appearing in your laptop magically. It’s your work!

    [Content removed by moderator]

    • Thomas says:

      You’re a bit off-base here. You need to be aware that avoiding adware and malware involves more than just not going to porn sites or clicking ad banners. If that were all that there is to avoiding such things, it would be easy to avoid.

      Further, that really has no bearing at all on the topic at hand here, which is MacKeeper.

      Finally, for full disclosure, let it be noted that I’m editing your comment to prevent a flame war from developing here.

      • Ofelia says:

        Wise choice to edit the comment, but honestly — is this any different from the scores of flame wars we see on every single MK-related thread on the ASC? 🙂

        • Thomas says:

          Yes – it’s here, rather than somewhere else! 🙂

          I want to keep the discussions here fair, logical and polite, and this one has crossed the line a bit.

          • Ofelia says:

            True ‘dat — the last thing I’d want is for this site to be pinned as anything but a good place to read information without jerks running amok in the comments feed. (Although, apparently plenty of others have pinned you and this site as something else, according to your most recent Avast/WireLurker post…)

  • Paul Gravel says:

    Thanks Thomas and all others for posting on this page. I am one of those who installed MK on a brand new computer coming from The official Apple retailer, and found thousands of infected files. I wrote a note to the frauders about that, never got answers. One app. that I like to remove crap like MK is called appzapper(@).com
    Keep helping the community M.Reed.
    Paul

  • dena says:

    The adware is so nasty is prevents me from going to the adwaremedic.com page

  • TOm says:

    The amount of macs that come to me “running slow” is increasing, and probably 9 times out of 10 i see that little helmet in the menu bar, uninstall it and mac back running as per usual….i always take the time to send them some “honest feedback” during the uninstall process. terrible piece of software

  • Binks, WebElf says:

    Not a Mac guy, but my son has one.. his brother did the stupid with wild amounts of downloading, and so I’ve literally spent 8 hours fighting back against this ScamWare, with my limited PC skillz. As Safe Mac Guy said above, I can confirm that MacKeeper redirected the Safari browser twice from anything to do with the Adware Medic software. This is high-pressure unethical salesmanship over the long term, and just like any other bullying business, the send Bob The Mouthpiece to deny, cry, and deflect what everybody knows is true. “Ooo.. bad affiliates!” Really? Making your product a byword for malicious bugware? D’ya THINK?!? The buck stops with the nasty futher-mockers who run this company, and all their corrupt works.

    Foot in the door salesmen; you “must buy now!” shysters; pay us or we will pester you and make sure that our software all but cripples your brand new computer– all creeps. Since this crap got on his Mac, it has tangled up the browser, disabled sites, cluttered them with adware, and slowed the thing down to a crawl. $99 at Staples to wipe & reload is the last resort. Thanks, malware MacKeeper– there is a special hell reserved for you along with mean & uncooperative bureaucrats, and those people who talk through movies at the theatre.

  • Izzy says:

    So, with this MacKeeper thing, ads constantly pop up for it on my mac. Any time I open any regular URL it opens a new tab with and ad for MacKeeper or DetoxMyMac. How do I make it stop? I have had my laptop for a week and it’s driving me nuts. Everything is lagging, videos won’t play well, and these ads are driving me nuts. PLEASE HELP.

  • John Azzopardi says:

    Thank you your comments on Mackeeper have been both enlightening and alarming. I’ve just uninstalled mine but find two items stubbornly remain in the trash. These are Mackeeper dmg and Smilebox M…..staller dmg.
    Can you help

    • Thomas says:

      I’m not sure what the second item is, but that just means those are probably still “mounted,” showing up as disks on your desktop. “Eject” those “disks” and you can empty the trash. If you have trouble doing that, just restart the computer and that should take care of it.

  • John Azzopardi says:

    Hi Thomas, It worked thank you, I moved them from trash to desktop and then used the eject function to remove them, voila it worked. Thanks again.

  • mig says:

    Hey Thomas!

    As a moderator in a Mac Community I´m observing more and more people (mostly switchers) complaining about malware and … installing crapware that will ruin their macs even more. By the way, your script is a must for fixing malware and we encourage people to donate. 😉
    http://www.macuarium.com/foro/index.php?showtopic=364024

    I ve got a question for you: Is not that CleanmyMac somehow similar to Mackeeper in its effects? As a part of switchers post-Windows rituals I can´t see no difference in how it can harm Macs.

    Keep up the good work! 😉

    • Thomas says:

      CleanMyMac isn’t quite as bad as MacKeeper, in terms of unethical behavior, but it’s every bit as useless. I wouldn’t ever recommend any kind of “cleaning” tool like this.

  • Dave says:

    Thomas, a friend of mine just gave me his Mac for the second time due to MacKeeper infection. I opened a Terminal and am familiar enough with it now that I was able to just “rm” most of it pretty quickly. I’m actually a Linux user and not a Mac user, but was able to figure it out using commands familiar to me.

    How can I prevent it from coming back again? Of course my friend could stop clicking on whatever it was that downloaded and installed it, but I have no idea what that was that caused it, and he doesn’t either.

    I believe his regular user account is an admin account. Is that necessary on a Mac, or should he be converted to a regular user? If so, how?

    What if I created zero-length files in key locations where MacKeeper needed to prevent it from installing properly?

    • Thomas says:

      Did he actually have MacKeeper installed? If so, it’s simple to keep it from coming back… just tell him not to install MacKeeper again! It’s junk software, and should never be installed, but it’s not malware and doesn’t install itself.

      If he actually had adware of some kind that was displaying MacKeeper ads, the best way to prevent that is to help him learn what’s appropriate to download online and what’s not. See:

      http://www.thesafemac.com/mmg-defense

  • Appletechsupport says:

    Thomas, thanks so much for this article. I had my doubts about MacKeeper but was told it wasn’t bad, just doesn’t do what it says it does. It may not be so damaging as unethical, normally I can fix their issues regardless of them having Mackeeper or not, but now at least I know my suspicions are valid.

  • Charlie says:

    Thomas,

    Nice site – thank you (+ commentators) for the thorough review and reasoned discussion on MacKeeper. Just found + removed it from a client’s Mac. Had to reset browsers to original state also as search and new tab pages had been hijacked.

  • tuqqer says:

    Just a note of thanks to TheSafeMac for keeping this topic alive. As a Mac tech for many friends (going back to ’94), MacKeeper remains the worst single app I’ve ever had to deal with. When someone contacts me regarding Mac issues, the first question I ask is, “Do a search for the word MacKeeper” and 50% of the time, the person has installed it.

    “Bob,” the representative posting here from MacKeeper, is a deceptive human being, very aware of what he is doing. No matter how many 🙂 he types 🙂 after each 🙂 cute response 🙂 He should be ashamed of himself, and hopefully if he has children, they’ll one day get what their dad did for a living.

    Writers and bloggers like Thomas keeping people informed is the only way to prevent more unsuspecting Mac users from downloading this spamware. Thanks again for keeping people informed.

  • Yorkie says:

    Sigh – I am a recent convert from Windows and was enjoying my iMac experience. I was easily sucked into the fear of a “cluttered” hard drive etc so downloaded and paid for MacKeeper. I really wish I had found this forum earlier! Thanks anyway Thomas, I shall remove it and move forward in my Mac life…………

  • Chamele says:

    Bravo, Thomas. Thank you for this site. It’s wonderful reading all this straight talk.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Thomas – have just discovered your site which looks amazing. I tried your instructions to remove Mackeeper but don’t seem to have an Applications Folder ? (I have a new MacBook Air Notebook). I could see the Mackeeper icon in Finder but wasn’t able dump it in the trash bin – the Mackeeper icon is still stubbornly there in the bottom menu bar even after I’ve logged on again. Can anyone suggest what my problem is ?

    Note – I stupidly allowed some-one to install Mackeeper remotely – I thought I was speaking to some-one working within a legitimate MAC IT helpline service.

    Important lesson – ALWAYS check up and do your research BEFORE you buy a product from a total stranger !

  • Helen says:

    PS – After I stupidly allowed Mackeeper to be remotely installed, it was revealed that malware had been found. The ‘IT’ person on the end of the phone was really really insistent that to get it removed I should pay Mackeeper to have the malware removed instead of going to a shop somewhere. I was getting really rattled by the guy’s (very polite) insistence and pressure. I kept saying no – maybe Mackeeper wasn’t fully installed on my notebook?

    • Thomas says:

      Did you give this guy remote access to your computer? If so, you may have fallen for a fake tech support scam, in which case your computer should be considered compromised, and should be erased and have everything reinstalled from scratch. See:

      http://www.thesafemac.com/how-to-reinstall-mac-os-x-from-scratch/

      Also, regarding your Applications folder, you MUST have an Applications folder. You must not be looking in the right place. In the Finder, choose Applications from the Go menu and it will open your Applications folder.

  • Helen says:

    Thank you for the comment back Thomas and the helpful link. Much appreciated! I can see various files within Finder but not folders – and none of the files seem to relate to Mackeeper. Think it’s time to start educating myself and get a LOT more computer literate. Thanks again !

  • Helen says:

    Stupid Person here has managed to locate the apps within Finder including Mackeeper, but I’m now being told I can’t delete it because Mackeeper is ‘open’ (sigh). I’ll checkout the Mac site – discussions.apple and try to figure this out ! Thank you again for your time.

  • Lynda says:

    This is a great site, Thomas. I am so glad I stumbled upon this.

  • Steve Baker says:

    I’ve been trying to get ‘support’ from Kromtech/Zeobit/MacKeeper. I’ve called 8 times, no answer on their ’24/7′ line. I’ve sent detailed letters with screen shots. nothing. I’ve asked for an uninstall guide. Two guys (the only two times the phone was answered) said they’d send it. Never happened. 3rd guy sent it. Instructions were worthless. I ended up with two installs, two mackeeper icons on the menu bar, both with spinning gears (their icon) and murderously slow wifi suddenly.

    I found an apple support forum with clear instructions how to remove all the pieces of this crapware. Did a shutdown/restart and the monster is dead and gone. All their emails go to the trash with a mail rule. I believe them to be frauds, liars, and/or just so badly run that no matter how much ‘Bob’ bloviates, I’m done with them. My experience suggests others would be well rid of them also.

    Great site here.

  • Debbie S. says:

    I was locked out of safari and it said call this number I did but I did not instal their program, I called Mackeeper ( the name sounds safe)
    they remotely intered my computer and iPad and had me pay $183 right then to clean my computer. I did it.
    Actually after they cleaned my computer and IPad both started running real fast. I was having trouble opening email it took long time but after they removed junk it started opening super fast as did my internet sites.
    I thought they did a great job but then I read these comments and panicked. I removed mackeeper, I called the company and they returned all my money. $183 for one time fix by remote plus $119 for year of mackeeper.
    I installed free AVG and it found a couple of adware and I deleted them. it found no virus or Trojan.
    So because I remotely let them access my iPads and my iPhone do I need to restore everything?

    I used PayPal to pay and I made it secure by having to send text to my iPhone before I can buy anything.
    BUT how safe is my information on my stuff now, we’re they able to see all my information stored on it?
    Thanks

    • Thomas says:

      I’ve never heard of ZeoBIT/Kromtech installing malicious software through remote access. They’re scammers, but their scam just involves convincing people to pay for MacKeeper and their own tech support. You should be fine as long as you have removed MacKeeper.

  • mary says:

    Oh my …

  • BillyBlogs says:

    They might be scammers but somebody is funding them…. wouldn’t surprise me if it is one of your alphabet agencies sniffing around Mac users for some perceived benefit for their eyes only…..

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