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Remove Automator virus / Virus Removal Guide - May 2020 update

removal by Ugnius Kiguolis - - | Type: Malware

Automator is a Mac OS tool that can be misused by malware for creating AppleScripts to automatically perform suspicious activities

Automator malware

Automator is a legitimate application for Mac OS[1] allowing users to perform particular tasks on the system automatically. It has an inbuilt list of AppleScripts allowing to create workflows – the sequence of actions that have to be performed to finish some kind of tasks. It may be extremely useful for tasks like renaming many photos at once, extracting texts from PDF files, archiving files and folders, combine documents, quit all applications, create backups, and so on. However, this application is considered as one of the most vulnerable since both Apple and third-party developers can add new scripts and create tasks. Therefore, it may initiate suspicious activities on your Mac, which is why many regular PC users consider it to be an Automator virus. 

At the moment, Automator can be set to handle tasks in more than 80 applications. The biggest risk of this application is to get affected by malware and filled with scripts that download other malware or perform tasks such as injection of unwanted web browser's toolbars, add-ons, or enabling third-party cookies on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and other web browsers. Therefore, in case Mac runs in an abnormal manner due to malware infection, we recommend scanning your PC with a reputable anti-malware program designed for Mac and eliminate suspicious programs. Automator removal is usually not permitted unless your device has a rogue version. 

Summary of the malware
Name Automator
Type Malware
Specifications A general Automator app is a pre-installed Mac OS component, which can be used for creating workflows in scripts to tell the system what tasks it should do automatically without the user's intervention. Therefore, this application stands at a high risk of being affected by malware.
Symptoms Normally, the application does not exhibit any signs of malfunctioning unless the user sets the scripts in the wrong way. In case the poorly made script is opened, the system may start encountering errors or even crash. If malware resides on Mac and regularly sends scripts to the Automator, the system may start displaying ads, opening apps without being asked for, automatically send email messages from the user's account, and so on. 
Location The original Automator application is kept in /Applications/Utilities folder.
Danger The application can be exploited by malware. Although it's not dangerous in its nature, malicious scripts can be injected by criminals forcing the system to perform suspicious tasks
Removal Trying to remove Automator from Mac OS may fail because it's one of the pre-installed system's tools. Although it is possible to get rid of it, it is advisable to use a professional anti-malware program and check your Mac for malicious applications in the first place. 
Optimizing performance If this tool caused damage to the system, we strongly recommend you to fix malware damage with Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego tool. It will check the libraries, folders, and processes that may have been corrupted and fix them. 

The term Automator virus is not suitable when we talk about a malware-free Mac OS system. This application has been developed with an intention to help users make specific tasks automated and turn them into a routine. However, the scripts that are used for creating the workflows can be injected by both Mac apps and third-party developers. In other words, adware, browser hijacker, spyware, or other malware installed on the device can program a scrip and command the device to initiate particular activities without the user's permission. 

As pointed out by several Mac users on Reddit[2], the Automator malware managed to download MacKeeper without being asked for. Besides, it forces the Safari web browser to open every five minutes, thus disrupting normal web browsing activities. 

I accidentally installed a malware and it keeps popping the safari browser every five minutes. It had installed mackeeper application and I am unable to find mackeeper under the applications. However there is an app called automator and when I try to uninstall it, an error window appears '“automator” can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by macos.' Can someone help me with this?

That can be explained by the presence of malware on the affected Mac OS device. Since third-party apps can attempt to add new Automator tasks support to both new and existing applications, the malware might have added a task to download specific items and created a routine to open Safari. 

There are many apps that may trigger the Automator app on Mac to start working abnormally, including Adware Cleaner or LiveShoppers. In addition to doubtful MAC activities, the web browser may be compromised by adding unwanted toolbars, add-ons, and plug-ins. Besides, a questionable search engine and start page can manifest. 

Although malware is not extremely dangerous if comparing to ransomware or spyware. Nevertheless, questionable advertising material positions on random websites can expose people to rogue websites used as phishing for spreading more dangerous cyber infections. 

Therefore, if you suspect that your device has been affected by malware and initiated changes in MacScripts, we strongly recommend you to download a professional anti-malware program dedicated to Mac OS, for example SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes and perform a full scan to eliminate malware. 

If you are still having a problem or no malware has been found, try to remove Automator from the system. For that, you should disable the process via Activity Monitor and then delete the app from the Applications/Utilities folder.

Automator virus
Automator can perform suspicious activities without the user's permission if malware is installed on Mac device

If Automator removal ends up with a notification saying that “Automator” can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by MacOS,” it means that the app is currently in use by another application or runs in the background. Thus, force quit the app and then perform the removal. 

Malware typically enters the system bundled with freeware but can be downloaded as a stand-alone installer from reputable sources

There are many free applications that are offered on reputable download sources, such as Google App Store or Mac App Store[3]. Besides, often unwanted applications have dedicated official websites and direct downloads. However, if they are flagged as potentially dangerous by cybersecurity experts, having a direct download website does not make it less questionable. 

Experts from lesvirus.fr[4] explain that an app is referred to as a potentially unwanted program (PUP) as soon as it is detected as being distributed by bundling or other doubtful methods. Besides, such apps statistically show a high tendency to initiate advertising campaigns and track users' activities behind their backs. 

Therefore, to protect the system from PUPs and malware, it's very important to stay away from applications that are underrated or do not have clear specifications. When downloading an app to the system, always opt for an Advanced installation setup, which generates more setup windows and indicates the fact that additional programs are being installed alongside. 

Besides, do not fully trust the inbuilt Mac security system. There is more than enough proof that the anti-malware filters often fail to recognize suspicious programs, which is why we highly recommend keeping a professional anti-virus program installed to strengthen the protection. 

Automator removal
Automator removal may be required if the system keeps automatically performing activities that disrupt performance

Remove malware from Mac to get rid of Automator virus 

If you suspect that your Mac is infected by malware and all the suspicious activities directly to the Automator app, do not blame the app itself. Although it may start malfunctioning due to incorrect scripting, it is very likely that the tool causes problems because of adware or browser hijacker infection. 

Automator virus removal may be a tiresome task if you don't know which program is responsible for ads, redirects, unexpected app running, slowdowns, and other symptoms. First of all, you should the Applications folder and remove apps that you are not familiar with. In case that did not help, launch SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes tool and scan the system for suspicious entries. 

Finally, if there is no other solution except to remove Automator Mac virus, then you have to perform several steps: force quit related process, eliminate the utility from the Apps folder, and then delete its remnants. You can find an explicit guide on how to do that below. In case your web browser has been also compromised and now keeps displaying ads and causing redirects to doubtful websites, reset web browser's settings to delete plug-ins.  

You may remove virus damage with a help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes are recommended to detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

To remove Automator virus, follow these steps:

Delete Automator from Windows systems

  1. Click Start Control Panel Programs and Features (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs). Click 'Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features' (if you are 'Windows XP' user, click on 'Add/Remove Programs').
  2. If you are Windows 10 / Windows 8 user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once Quick Access Menu shows up, select Control Panel and Uninstall a Program. If you are 'Windows 10 / Windows 8' user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once 'Quick Access Menu' shows up, select 'Control Panel' and 'Uninstall a Program'.
  3. Uninstall Automator and related programs
    Here, look for Automator or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  4. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'

Uninstall Automator from Mac OS X system

The following guide explains how to get rid of Automator. Upon removal, you should also navigate to the Accounts folder and open Login Items. Here you should see the processes that start automatically when you boot up the device. Check the list for Automator and select the Minus icon to stop the process from launching.

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for Automator or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'

Remove Automator from Internet Explorer (IE)

  1. Remove dangerous add-ons
    Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top right corner of the browser and choose Manage Add-ons. Click on menu icon and select 'Manage add-ons'
  2. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for Automator and other suspicious plugins. Disable these entries by clicking Disable: Right click on each of malicious entries and select 'Disable'
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the gear icon (menu) on the top right corner of the browser and select Internet Options. Stay in General tab.
  4. Here, remove malicious URL and enter preferable domain name. Click Apply to save changes. Delete malicious URL, enter your desired domain name and click 'Apply' to save changes
  5. Reset Internet Explorer
    Click on the gear icon (menu) again and select Internet options. Go to Advanced tab.
  6. Here, select Reset.
  7. When in the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete Automator removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again

Eliminate Automator virus from Microsoft Edge

Reset Microsoft Edge settings (Method 1):

  1. Launch Microsoft Edge app and click More (three dots at the top right corner of the screen).
  2. Click Settings to open more options.
  3. Once Settings window shows up, click Choose what to clear button under Clear browsing data option. Go to Settings and select 'Choose what to clear'
  4. Here, select all what you want to remove and click Clear. Select 'Clear' button
  5. Now you should right-click on the Start button (Windows logo). Here, select Task Manager. Open the start menu and select 'Task Manager'
  6. When in Processes tab, search for Microsoft Edge.
  7. Right-click on it and choose Go to details option. If can’t see Go to details option, click More details and repeat previous steps. Right-click 'Microsoft Edge' and select 'Go to details' Select 'More details' if 'Go to details' option fails to show up
  8. When Details tab shows up, find every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right click on each of them and select End Task to end these entries. Find Microsoft Edge entries and select 'End Task'

Resetting Microsoft Edge browser (Method 2):

If Method 1 failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method.

  1. Note: you need to backup your data before using this method.
  2. Find this folder on your computer: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  3. Select every entry which is saved on it and right click with your mouse. Then Delete option. Go to Microsoft Edge folder on your computer, right-click every entry and click 'Delete'
  4. Click the Start button (Windows logo) and type in window power in Search my stuff line.
  5. Right-click the Windows PowerShell entry and choose Run as administrator. Find Windows PowerShell, right-click it and select 'Run as administrator'
  6. Once Administrator: Windows PowerShell window shows up, paste this command line after PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> and press Enter:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml -Verbose}
    Copy and paste a required command and press 'Enter'

Once these steps are finished, Automator should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

Get rid of Automator from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Mozilla Firefox, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Add-ons Extensions. Click on menu icon and select 'Add-ons'
  2. Here, select Automator and other questionable plugins. Click Remove to delete these entries. Select 'Extensions' and look for malicious entries. Click 'Remove' to get rid of each of them
  3. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    Click on the Firefox menu on the top left and click on the question mark. Here, choose Troubleshooting Information. Click on menu icon and then on '?'. Select 'Troubleshooting Information'
  4. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete Automator removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Erase Automator from Google Chrome

Google Chrome's settings can be compromised after a malware infiltration. To reset the start page, search engine or eliminate advertising material, reset web browser's settings as explained below.

  1. Delete malicious plugins
    Open Google Chrome, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Tools Extensions. Click on menu icon. Select 'Tools' and 'Extensions'
  2. Here, select Automator and other malicious plugins and select trash icon to delete these entries. Look for malicious entries and delete each of them by clicking on the Trash bin icon
  3. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  4. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  5. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  6. Scroll down to the end of the page and click on Reset browser settings. When in 'Settings', scroll down to 'Reset browser settings' button and click on it
  7. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete Automator removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Delete Automator from Safari

If you see Automator ads or other related content on Safari, perform the steps shown below to fix your web browser's settings.

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for Automator or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  4. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete Automator removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

About the author

Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

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