1. Installing and Updating Sophos

1.1. Introduction

These instructions are primarily for people who want to install Sophos Anti-Virus onto their personal laptop and/or desktop. Please check with your local IT Support Staff about antivirus protection for college and departmental systems as local arrangements often apply, and installing the version intended for personal systems may cause problems.

This guide outlines the steps required to install the Sophos anti-virus software on Apple Mac computers. Although currently relatively little malware targets OS X systems, it is in on the increase. Some malware can compromise the security of your system, and may capture information you use to connect to other systems such as over the Internet, so we do recommend that Mac users install anti-malware software such as Sophos as a precaution.

If you haven't already obtained Sophos you can download it via the following link:


Please note:

Before installing the Sophos software you must uninstall any other anti-virus software you may have installed on the machine (read the software manufacturer's instructions on how to do this).

For comprehensive instructions on installing and configuring the Sophos software refer to the appropriate Sophos installation guide from the Sophos Documentation pages. The following is a brief outline of the first-time installation of Sophos on an Apple Mac.

1.2. Installing the Sophos Software

The file you download from our website (which will be named something like sophos8osx2013.dmg) is a special type of file called a disk image. Depending on the method you use to download the file, it may automatically mount a disk image called Sophos 8.x for OS X 10.4+ or similar on your Mac desktop and open it automatically.

However it is likely that the disk image won't mount automatically, in which case you will need to select it from the list of downloads, or find it (most likely in your Downloads) folder and double-click on it to mount the image.

Once the disk image has been mounted you should see a volume called something like Sophos Anti-Virus OS X 10.4+ containing a file called Sophos Anti-Virus.mpkg.

Sophos volume containing mpkg file

The Sophos installer for OS X 10.8 and above contains instead a file ending in .pkg rather than .mpkg.

Sophos volume containing pkg file

Once you can see the installer, double-click on it to start the Sophos installation. The installer windows that you see may look a little different to those shown below. If so, youd generally just need to accept the default settings to install Sophos.

Click Continue to acknowledge that you wish to run the Sophos installer. The main Sophos Anti-Virus installer window will appear.

Click Continue again to proceed with the installation (the version of Sophos you see may be more recent than that shown in the figure below).

This is a good opportunity to read about any changes in each new version of the client, but generally you can just click Continue. The licence agreement will then be displayed.

Click on Continue and you will be asked whether you agree to the terms of the agreement. If you do, click on Agree to continue with the installation.

You may be prompted for a location to install Sophos. Normally you should accept the default location and click Install to start the installation.

You'll probably be asked to enter your password to confirm that you want to install the software. Once you do the installation will start and you'll see the progress of the installation.

Sophos normally takes just a few minutes to install and then you'll see a completion screen (click on Continue and then the following final screen.

Click on Close to close the installation window. If Sophos wasn't installed before you should now see a shield in the menu bar (top right of the screen). The shield may initially be grey but after just a few moments should turn black to indicate that Sophos is now protecting your computer.

The version of Sophos you have installed now needs to be updated so that it can detect recent malware. To do this make sure that you are connected to the Internet and then click on the shield to bring up the menu shown and select [Update Now].

If the [Update Now] button is greyed out and the shield has changed to show a moving arrow, an update may already be in progress.

Shield icon when update is in progress

You should see a progress window as Sophos downloads and installs recent updates. If you don't see the progress window, click on the shield to bring up the menu and select [Show AutoUpdate Menu].

Update progress

Once the update is complete, check the Sophos shield. So long as it is black then everything was successful and Sophos is working normally.

However if the shield has a cross on it the update failed.

If the shield is grey, then on-access scanning isn't working.

If the shield is grey with a cross on it then on-access scanning isn't working and the updating has failed!

If you experience any of these problems, contact your local IT Support Staff or OUCS for help.

1.3. Keeping Sophos Anti-Virus up to date

Sophos Anti-Virus uses a username and password to automatically download updates. These credentials are valid for around 14 months and expire around the start of November each year. Once they have expired, Sophos will no longer be updated, and your computer will be more vulnerable to new viruses and other malware etc.

This normally only applies to Sophos installed onto personal laptops and desktops. On college or departmental systems, Sophos (or other antivirus software) is often managed by your local IT Support staff and you should check with them before making any changes.

To make sure that you keep your computer(s) up to date, you will need to download and install a new Sophos package in October each year. Please see the FAQ for more details on how to check when your installation(s) of Sophos will stop updating.

So long as the updating credentials are current, Sophos Anti-Virus is configured to automatically download and install updates to keep your defences against viruses, trojans and worms as up-to-date as possible. On networked computers, this occurs once an hour.

To find out when the program last updated itself, click on the shield on the menu bar and select [Show AutoUpdate Window].

You should see a window showing the last date and time that Sophos was updated.

AutoUpdate Status Window

You can also update Sophos manually at any time by clicking on the shield on the menu bar and choosing [Update Now]. You will see a window showing the progress of the update. The progress window is not displayed when Sophos updates automatically.

Update progress

If either the automatic hourly update or the manual update fails for any reason the shield on the menu bar will have a cross in the middle of it.

Your computer does need to be connected to the Internet in order to download updates so if you see this icon when you are not connected this is normal and nothing to be concerned about. When you reconnect to the Internet it may take up to an hour before Sophos tries to update again and the shield returns to normal.

1.4. Further Information

If you encounter any problems there is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) web page with answers to some of the most common issues that people encounter.

We provide some outline information on configuring Sophos options and scans in the next section and Sophos provide full documentation in their Sophos Anti-Virus 8 for Mac OS X Help document.

Up: Contents Next: 2. Further Configuration and Setting up Manual and Scheduled Scans