Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All

Justin Pot 06-02-2015

You just want to get things done on your Mac, when bam: a pop up. It breaks your focus, gets in your way, and sometimes just plain confuses you. Why won’t these pop ups go away?


You’re not alone in asking this, but the only issue is that you might mean one of several things when you say “pop up”. Let’s go over some of the most common pop ups, and how to get rid of them.

If Ads Keep Popping Up When You Browse The Web

This is probably the most common thing people mean when they talk about pop-ups: windows with ads popping up over what you’re trying to read. For most people, these annoyances are a relic of the past – but not for everyone.There are things you can do to avoid seeing pop up browser ads Let's Put A Stop To Pop-Up Browser Ads Once And For All! Pop-ups can catch you off guard, and if you're not careful they can create problems. Learn how to avoid them and how to handle them if they do come up. Read More , but at this point the most common reason for seeing popups is visiting sketchy sites. If you’re trying to watch TV shows on pirated sites, or searching for free Mac software, you’re going to see popups like this.

Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All 81573182 12A1 409A A793 953DFCC16402

If you’re seeing popup windows on other sites, though – reputable ones, that didn’t show pop-ups before – you might have a problem. There are ways you can tell if your Mac has a virus 3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check) If your Mac is acting weird, it could be infected with a virus. How can you check for a virus on your Mac? We'll show you. Read More , and pop ups on sites that otherwise don’t have them are usually a sign of adware.

Happily there are easy fixes out there. The free program Adware Medic removes most Mac adware out there, so run it if you’re seeing pop-up ads for Viagra when you read the New York Times.


iTunes or iPhoto Pops Up When You Plug In Your Phone

Plugging in your iPhone can cause a couple of popups. On many Macs, both iTunes and iPhoto will immediately open. This can be annoying, but is also preventable.

First let’s look at iTunes, a program many Mac users have completely replaced with Spotify Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify is no longer content to just compete with radio, now they're competing with the idea of even owning music. Read More and would rather not ever see. Open iTunes, head to preferences, then click Devices. Make sure to check Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically.

Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All prevent itunes launch

This should prevent iTunes from launching when you plug in your iDevice, but go ahead and test it. If iTunes still launches, check the settings for the devices itself within iTunes: click the iPhone icon below the Next button, then uncheck the Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected button (you shouldn’t need to do this after taking the first step, but sometimes it’s necessary).


Next, let’s stop iPhoto from launching. To do this, open iPhoto. Click iPhoto in the menubar, then Preferences. Head to the Connecting Camera Opens option, then select No Application.

Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All prevent iphoto launch

Of course, you might actually want iPhoto to open when you plug actual cameras in – just not your iPhone. If that’s the case, open the Application called”Image Capture” and set the preferences for that specific device there. You can turn your iPhone off while keeping other cameras enabled.

If Notifications Keep Popping Up

My co-workers like to waste my time, and when they do I see notifications.


Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All mac notifications

These popups, introduced by Apple in Mountain Lion can be very useful for staying up-to-the minute. They can also be a huge distraction.

If you want to turn them off temporarily, all you need to do is click the Notification Button at top right corner of the screen (or two-finger swipe leftwards from the edge of your Macbook trackpad), then scroll up. You’ll see a Do Not Disturb button:

Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All mac do not distrub


But maybe turning everything off isn’t what you want: maybe you want to stop specific notifications from showing up. For example: you might have, without realizing it, given particular sites the right to show notifications for their new posts.

Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All notifications tech crunch

Or maybe you’re not sure why Facebook notifications are showing up on your computer. Whatever it is you don’t want to see, you can disable it under Notifications in System Preferences. Click the Apple logo at top-right, then click Preferences. Click the Notifications icon, and you’ll see the following menu:

From here you can turn off individual programs. Just click the None style for apps you’d rather not see.

Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All notifications settings mac

If there are notifications you absolutely do not want to miss, set those programs as “Alerts”. These notifications don’t go away until you open the program in question.

If You’re Being Warned That You Have A Virus

If you’re seeing pop ups that claim you have a virus, and ask you for money, you might have serious problems. More than a few Mac viruses disguise themselves as anti-malware Malware Disguised As Antivirus Targets Mac Users [News] A bogus version of the MacDefender antivirus application has recently fooled many Apple Mac OSX users into downloading and installing the malware on their computers. The fake antivirus, called MAC Defender, specifically targets Mac users... Read More ; others ask you for money to get access to your data.

If you’ve got a problem like this, you need to remove some malware from your Mac 3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check) If your Mac is acting weird, it could be infected with a virus. How can you check for a virus on your Mac? We'll show you. Read More .

Do You Still Have Popups?

This should cover most pop ups seen by Mac users, but it won’t be everything. For example: apps like Mac Keeper Does Your Mac Really Need Tools Like MacKeeper? System cleaning tools and utility suites aren't just for Windows PCs. But what do these tools do, exactly? And should you use them? Read More have a bad habit of installing themselves without you realizing it, and then asking for money – in those cases, removing the specific app in question should do the trick.

If you’ve run into this, or any other sort of pop up, please: let me know in the comments below. I’ll keep up with comments here and try to help you out. I’m looking forward to it!

Related topics: Anti-Malware, iPhoto, iTunes, OS X Yosemite, Ransomware.

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  1. Dan T
    January 22, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Perhaps I ma using the wrong term as 'pop ups', but this is what I mean:
    I literally cannot move my trackpad pointer without it popping open a suggestion of some type or another. When I am in my email and try to add a label, as soon as I type the first letter of a label name I already use, a box pops up suggesting a laundry list of every possible word in the dictionary that starts with that letter(!). And this box BLOCKS the actual list of label names I already have.
    Another thing: it is nearly impossible to move my MacBook trackpad pointer anywhere on my screen over written content, without another box popping open making suggestions, corrections, guesses, etc.... I simply want my pointer toot do anything unless I click and ask it to - I am sick of boxes popping open constantly and disrupting my work. Any suggestions? And YES, I have turned off every possible option for 'suggested spellings', word completions, etc, etc. HELP. Thanks. D

  2. Sadie
    April 4, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I get a pop-up on my actual desktop everyday saying 'ATTENTION Your Sensitive Information is at Risk, Your IP is exposed...' BUT this does not pop-up when I a surfing the web, it actually comes up on my desktop before I have even opened up any browser. How do I get rid of this?

    • Sylvia
      April 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      I have the same problem! Have you found out how to remove it yet?

  3. Anonymous
    August 19, 2015 at 6:11 am

    The adware medic was amazing. I wasn't even able to watch Netflix. The whole process took about 10 minutes and the computer is running like new. Thank you!

  4. Teja
    February 8, 2015 at 1:45 am

    how about turning off the pop up - 'install latest version of java even though it already had the latest one (in your blog image, popup at the bottom)'?

    • Justin Pot
      February 8, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      I've got to be honest, I didn't make that image: our image editor did. I don't know how to address this particular problem. A little research reveals installing this might help:

      But I haven't run into this problem myself, so I can't be certain. Good luck!