“[File] will damage your computer. You should move it to the Trash.” is a security pop-up shown by macOS Catalina, a new version of macOS. The “this will damage your computer” warning points out potentially malicious files. It indicates a possible infection.
Although the “this will damage your computer” pop-up gives users a choice to move the file to Trash, it doesn’t always work. There are ways to completely delete malware, though they’re a little complicated. The most important thing here is to not dismiss the “this will damage your computer” warning but to act on it, find the problem, and fix it.
File Will Damage Your Computer Mac Warning quicklinks
- What does the “this will damage your computer” warning mean?
- Improved macOS security
- Potential causes of the “this will damage your computer” warning
- Sources of malware
- How to remove the files indicated by the “this will damage your computer” warning
- Listen to the pop-up
- Delete malicious files and fix system settings
- Automatic Malware removal tools
- Manual removal instructions
- How to remove File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac Warning from macOS
- (Optional) Delete related settings
- (Optional) Delete malicious files
About the “this will damage your computer” warning:
|Symptoms that appear alongside the “this will damage your computer” warning||The malware that “this will damage your computer” is warning about may cause slow internet, browser redirects, excessive ads, fake pop-ups about malware, and even hacked online accounts.|
|How malware infects Macs||Misleading ads and fake warnings,
|How to remove the malware responsible for the “this will damage your computer” warnings||Find and delete suspicious apps, files in hidden folders, and system settings,
restore system settings that might have been modified by malware.
What does the “this will damage your computer” warning mean?
Improved macOS security
“File will damage your computer” warnings are little pop-ups shown by the operating system. They feature a yellow warning sign with an exclamation in a triangle. They come in a few flavors depending on your language and your operating system version:
- [File] will damage your computer. You should move it to the Trash/Bin. Move to Trash/Bin. Cancel.
- [File] will damage your computer. Show in Finder. OK.
But these warnings mean the same thing: that macOS detected a dangerous file on your Mac. “This will damage your computer” warning often comes up after an OS update, where the new macOS is able to detect a malicious file that was overlooked previously.
The name of the file in the “this will damage your computer” warning could be anything. Some common examples include “p will damage your computer”, “update will damage your computer”, various Daemon files, nonsensical combinations of words like UtilityParze, AccessibleBoost, WizApp, as well as trustworthy-seeming names like “Adobe Flash Player” and “DiskUtil”, and even random combinations of letters and numbers.
To get rid of the “this will damage your computer” warning, you need to find and delete the malicious files that the warning is pointing out.
Potential causes of the “this will damage your computer” warning
The malicious files that are pointed out by the “this will damage your computer” warnings come with various shady apps that you either downloaded yourself or that a Trojan downloaded in the background:
- Pirated files, cracking tools, and various tools for unlocking files and removing copy protection. While these files are usually harmless, they get detected because they behave like malware (they modify other programs or files) or they have a bad reputation (some pirating tools get bundled with malware).
- Adware. Especially popular is the AdLoad family. These files may be responsible for redirecting your traffic, injecting ads into the browser, and hijacking your search settings.
- Spyware. Usually paired with adware, spyware apps can log searches, read credentials saved in your web browsers, take screenshots, access files on your computer, etc.
- Fake cleaner apps. These apps use fake virus warnings – elaborate webpages that show fake virus detections on sites made to resemble real Apple sites. These apps display fake detections to push and scare people into paying scammers money to remove the “threats”.
- Trojans that lurk in the system, such as Shlayer. They can download and install more malware.
In addition, macOS may show the “this will damage your computer” warning for apps that are simply very old. While these files aren’t dangerous, they are outdated and might not be compatible with Catalina. “This will damage your computer” might also be shown for old files because of potential security problems that often come with them.
Sources of malware
The files that “this will damage your computer” warns you about didn’t come from nowhere – so how did your computer get infected?
One possibility is a Trojan horse. This is malware that tricks people through manipulation and deceptive design to download and install malware themselves. The most common example is a fake Flash Player update. There are so many various scams that take advantage of this, despite the fact that Flash Player is hardly used anymore.
Deceptive ads can also be used to spread malware. Fake download buttons and links lead to the download pages of malware and adware.
Malware may be bundled with the installers of safe programs. This one is explicitly called out by the Support.apple.com post on protecting your Mac from malware.
While macOS has built-in security tools, some successful malware infections developed ways to get around them. One is to instruct the victim to open and install the malware by getting around Gatekeeper.
How to remove the files indicated by the “this will damage your computer” warning
Listen to the pop-up
“This will damage your computer” warnings indicate that a dangerous file is present on your system. It’s advised to delete the file if the “this will damage your computer” pop-up gives you that option.
But some users are unable to permanently remove the files. They have to deal with the “this will damage your computer” pop-ups repeating day after day. Possibly, they also suffer from the issues caused by persistent malware infecting their system. If that applies to your Mac, there are a few more steps ahead of you.
Delete malicious files and fix system settings
There might be malware hiding on your system and preventing some files from being removed. There is an interesting article on how macOS malware tries to avoid being deleted.
Start your Mac in safe mode. Then, you can use an anti-malware app, such as Combo Cleaner, Malwarebytes, and others to scan your computer and see if they can find malicious files for you. They might be apps that you can find in Finder -> Applications, browser extensions installed on your web browsers, and other files.
Automatic Malware removal tools
Look for suspicious files and apps. Suspicious are files that appeared at the same time that the “this will damage your computer” warnings started popping up, files named by the “this will damage your computer” warning, and files that don’t appear to be related to any of your legitimate apps.
You can find the instructions below.
Manual removal instructions
How to remove File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac Warning from macOSDelete File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac from your applications.
- Open Finder.
- In the menu bar, click Go.
- Select Applications from the dropdown.
- Find the File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac Warning app.
- Select it and right-click it (or hold the Ctrl and click the left mouse button).
- In the dropdown, click Move to Bin/Trash. You might be asked to provide your login password.
(Optional) Delete related settingsSome malicious apps make themselves difficult to delete by changing various settings and leaving behind malicious files. Remove settings related to File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac.
- Click the Apple logo in the menu bar. Open System Preferences.
- Some malicious applications set profiles to enforce unwanted settings. Remove unwanted configuration profiles.
- In System Preferences, click the Profiles icon. This icon is only visible if there are profiles on your Mac.
- Select unwanted profiles and remove them by pressing the minus '-' button at the bottom.
- Some adware applications set SOCKS proxy to manipulate your internet traffic. Remove unwanted proxies:
- In System Preferences, click Network, Advanced, Proxies.
- If a proxy is set without your permission, uncheck it and click OK.
(Optional) Delete malicious filesSome malicious apps leave behind dangerous files in your Library folders. Delete files related to File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac Warning.
- Open Finder.
- In the menu bar, click Go -> Computer.
- In the search box, type in File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac and variations of it.
- Delete the files that are found and that seem to be related to File Will Damage Your Computer - Mac Warning.