I was wondering whether there was a tool similar to Hijackthis on Windows for Mac. I know Mac doesn't have a registry, but malware could similarly run as a background process, service or helper tool. Since permissions on the Mac have become stricter over the years, admin passwords need to be provided today to install virtually any app. So, virtually all apps have admin privileges for some things during the install process.

I'm not sure how it looks for everyone else, but I have over 500 processes running most of the time in Activity Monitor. For most of them, I do not understand what they do or if they are really necessary. I worry on the one hand that they might slow my system down. In the worst case, I worry that I may have malicious software running in the background (e.g., Zoom's hidden web server).

Hence, I was wondering whether there was a software similar to Hijackthis that scans processes and gives some info about them, possibly with an assessment of their quality, risk. What I am looking to gain is more control over what is running on my Mac, like Hijackthis provides on Windows.

  • Antivirus apps exist for Mac.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:38
  • You might want to try Malwarebytes. As far as Zoom goes, I consider it a security disaster. I literally just bought an Amazon Fire Tablet to do Zoom and nothing else. There was a flash sale and got it for $35USD, but at a regular price of $50USD it’s still a cheap way to use Zoom without risking your other devices. It’s not an Apple device, but I’m not going to use it for anything else (I’m anti-Android).
    – Allan
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:51
  • @Allan: I adopted another method to protect my videoconferencing with software I haven't yet finished to evaluate from a security stand point. I created a specific account without admin privilege and a restricted group set. I always switch to this restricted account for videoconferencing.
    – dan
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:20
  • @dan - I tried that with Skype, but I found that I needed too many of my apps open and available. I just thought for $50 it was a cheap way to Zoom without risking my data or what's in my clipboard, etc. When it went to $35, it was just too cheap to pass up.
    – Allan
    Jul 24, 2020 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


At https://objective-see.com/products.html there are (free) tools available to see security related process information (persistent processes, process hierarchy etc.)

There is a suite of security features (like GateKeeper), including malware removal tools (xProtect and – appropriately named – MRT) built into macOS. These are updated silently and regularly in the background independent of "regular" macOS updates.

If you want to see more information/the current status of all these built-in tools, have a look at the applications available at: https://eclecticlight.co/downloads/.

  • Thanks! KnockKnock and TaskExplorer look really promising.
    – altabq
    Jul 24, 2020 at 13:20
  • Objective-See: a real arsenal of defense weapons. Many level of quality above what you usually see on the market of cyber-security. Patrick Wardle is a model in the field of cyber-defense.
    – dan
    Jul 28, 2020 at 5:58

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