I am required by my VPN software to have Sophos anti-virus installed and running. However, when I'm NOT on VPN, I don't want it running at all - I want it dead.

However, killing the tasks is ineffective:

ps -ax | grep -i soph
40972 ??         0:07.34 /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/SophosAutoUpdate.app/Contents/MacOS/SophosAutoUpdate -d
41069 ??        28:08.48 /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/InterCheck.app/Contents/MacOS/InterCheck -d
41078 ??         0:02.42 /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/SophosAntiVirus.app/Contents/MacOS/SophosAntiVirus -d
$ sudo kill 40972 41069 41078 41084
$ ps -ax | grep -i soph
44344 ??         0:00.03 /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/SophosAutoUpdate.app/Contents/MacOS/SophosAutoUpdate -d
44345 ??         0:00.02 /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/SophosAntiVirus.app/Contents/MacOS/SophosAntiVirus -d
44347 ??         0:03.03 /Library/Sophos Anti-Virus/InterCheck.app/Contents/MacOS/InterCheck -d

It just automatically restarts. What do I need to do to prevent that?

  • It is possible there is a preference in the Sophos software to turn it off?
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 17, 2011 at 19:28
  • Not as far as I can tell; if it's there, it's hidden.
    – keflavich
    Commented Sep 17, 2011 at 22:17

5 Answers 5


This means that there is another monitor process which relaunches it.

You can check out who is the parent process: select the process in activity monitor and use the Info button, or via terminal with ps -ax -O ppid if I recall correctly.

  • It might be another process by Sophos but with a stealth name, or maybe even your VPN software. In that case you can just kill'em all.

  • The other possibility is that the process is being kept alive by the launch daemon launchd. In this case you will find an entry (a plist XML file) for your antivirus in either ~/Library/LaunchAgents, /Library/LaunchAgents (likely) or /System/Library/LaunchAgents (I dearly hope not).

If the second is the case, you can either:

  • Edit the file, and change the KeepAlive parameter, either removing or changing it (you can do nifty things, see the docs for more).

  • Just ask launchd to do the stopping for you. Unfortunately you can't just tell to launchtl stop since the process would just respawn. You'll have to use
    sudo launchctl unload /path/to/the/plist file

  • Thanks Agos, that's exactly the advice I was looking for. However, I can't find the darn thing! There are no PIDs with numbers near (the original, pre-killed) Sophos Anti-Virus that I can associate with it. Nothing turned up in the LaunchAgents directories (though all I did was a simple regex check in /System/). Is there any log file in which launchd would record restarting a process? I've checked system.log and others without luck...
    – keflavich
    Commented Sep 17, 2011 at 22:17
  • The file for me was here /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.sophos.common.servicemanager.plist - you can find via mdfind -name Sophos. Removing the Keep Alive parameter worked. Commented May 31, 2016 at 13:34
  • Doesn't work for processes in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons - OSX gives you an error "Could not find specified service"
    – Adam
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 20:18

I'd comment on Agos' post, but I'm too new to do that. So:

As far as I remember they should have a launch agent in /Library/LaunchAgents. I'd just ask you to do a ls /Library/LaunchAgents, ls /Library/LaunchDaemons and ls /System/Library/LaunchDaemons. Something will show up.

Also you could open /Applications and check Uninstall Sophos.app with Show Package Contents then check out the uninstall script.

  • 1
    Thanks Ghost. The directory Agos left out was /Library/LaunchDaemons, which has the plist file. I gave you a +1, but Agos the answer, since he got most of it. I greatly appreciate the assistance!
    – keflavich
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 20:41
  • Make sure you run spotlight to look for Sophos files left behind after the 'uninstall' mdfind -name Sophos
    – chiggsy
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 22:24
  • @chiggsy why would he do that? He doesn't want to uninstall the application but prevent it from restarting every time he kills it. Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 17:55
  • That's it? That's all he wants?
    – chiggsy
    Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 18:48
man launchctl

launchctl list |grep -i 'sophos'

to unload a daemon permanently, but not uninstall it

launchctl unload -w /full/path/to/file.plist
  • 1
    This is the "better" answer because it will also prevent it from loading ever (-w)
    – Dustin
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 0:32
  • sophos hides. This doesn't work on sophos.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 18:57

To find out which launchd job is spawning things back, tail -f /var/log/system.log and sudo kill -9 <pid> the process you are interested in.

Suddenly, launchd will tell you exactly which job is responsible:

com.apple.launchd[1] (com.sophos.managementagent[83911]): Exited: Killed: 9

You can also try increasing the log level to precisely determine what's happening: launchctl log level debug

Bear in mind that some jobs will be run as root, so sudo launchctl list might show you some extra jobs running on your machine.


You can also control which Launch Agent and Daemons run and when with the useful app Lingon, available through the Mac App store and online.

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