How to disable macros on Windows and Mac OS X?

The importance of disabling macros on Windows and Mac OS X

Macros are commands that might be necessary for running particular tasks. They are integrated into Microsoft Office products, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Macro-enabled documents contain a specific code that is written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language. Nevertheless, this feature might be helpful to automate repetitive tasks; cyber criminals widely exploit this feature too.

Developers of the ransomware viruses found this function useful for infecting computers. They inject malicious code and spread an infected macro-enabled document via spam emails. With the help of clever social engineering techniques, they trick people into opening an infected document that asks to enable macros. Computer users, who are not aware that clicking this button may end up with a cyber attack, often agrees to enable macros and avoid Microsoft’s security warning. As a result, they find their files taken to hostage by a file-encrypting virus.

In 2016, ransomware attacks were the most popular type of cyber threats. What is more, 59% of ransomware interventions were held by exploiting macro-enabled document. Including malicious commands in Office documents still remains one of the most popular strategies. Thus, it’s important to make sure that macros are disabled on the device by default.

If macros are enabled by default on the computer, opening malicious document ends up with an immediate installation of malware. When macros are disabled, users receive a security warning that informs about possible threats. This alert should not be avoided. If users do not click “Enable Macros” button, malicious programs cannot be installed and launched on the system. Therefore, we suggest clicking this button only if you know that the document was created by a reliable person.

The majority of people believe that this macro problem affects only Windows users. However, it’s not true. This feature is also available on Mac OS X. Thus, Apple users have also make sure that macros are turned off on their devices as well.

How to disable Macros on Windows?

  1. Open your preferred Microsoft Office document.
  2. In the opened document click on the File tab.
  3. In the appeared menu find Options and click on it. Disable Macros on Windows. Picture 1Open Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or another document and open "File" tab.
  4. Word Options window will show up. Go to Trust Center and click the “Trust Center Settings…” button. Disable Macros on Windows. Picture 3In the left pane look up for "Trust Center" option. Select it and click the "Trust Center Settings…" button.
  5. Go to Macro Settings. Here you will see four Macro Settings options. Two of them offers to disable all Macros. Chose the one, and click OK.
    Disable Macros on Windows. Picture 4Open "Macros Settings". From the suggested options, choose one of the top two that suggests to "disable all Macros."
  6. Restart the computer to save the changes.

How to disable Macros on Mac OS X?

Since 2016, Macros are usually disabled by default. However, if you are using an older version or you want to make sure that this feature is actually turned off, please follow these guidelines:

  1. Open your preferred Microsoft Office document.
  2. In top menu click on the title of the application (in the picture below you can see an example with Word).
  3. In the drop-down menu, find Preferences and click this option. Disable Macros on Mac OS X. Picture 1Once you open Microsoft Office document, open "Preferences" by clicking the application name at the top menu bar.
  4. In the appeared window go to Personal Settings and choose Security & Privacy. Disable Macros on Mac OS X. Picture 2In the appeared "Preferences" window, open "Personal Settings" and go to "Security & Privacy."
  5. In the Security & Privacy window, check if “Warn before opening a file that contains macro” option is ticked. If not, tick it.
    Disable Macros on Mac OS X. Picture 3In "Security & Privacy" windows make sure that "Warn before opening a file that contains macros" option is ticked
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Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate virus researcher

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