Zoom logo

Zoom, a popular video-conferencing application, is in hot water today. The Mac version runs a secret web server in the background—even after you uninstall it!—that can be used to reinstall Zoom and even turn on your video camera.

If you’re wondering whether you’re affected—maybe you’re not sure if someone has ever installed Zoom on your Mac and then uninstalled it—here’s how to check.

To see whether you have the main Zoom app currently installed, open the Finder app, select Applications, and look for “zoom.us” in the list. If you have this app installed, you almost certainly have the web server running.

But, even if you don’t have the app here, the web server will still be running in the background if you’ve ever installed and then uninstalled Zoom.

Zoom application in Mac Applications folder

To check whether the server is running, open a Terminal window. To do so, press Command+Space to open Spotlight search, type “Terminal,” and press Enter. You can also head to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

To discover whether the web server is running, type the following command and press Enter:

lsof -i :19421

If you see a “ZoomOpene” process running, the web server is running in the background. If you don’t, it’s not.

Command that shows whether Zoom's web server is running

If you do see Zoom’s web server running and you want to remove Zoom completely from your system, run the following commands.

These assume that you’ve uninstalled the Zoom app from your Applications folder first. If you haven’t, a Zoom update will likely re-enable the web server.

pkill ZoomOpener

rm -rf ~/.zoomus

Commands to remove Zoom's web server from a Mac

if you’d like to keep Zoom installed, Lifehacker‘s quick guide points out you should enable the “Turn off my video when joining a meeting” option for safety. Jonathan Leitschuh’s original disclosure provides more information about the problem.

Browser-based video conferencing apps may be a better solution in the future—if you’re just using an application in a browser with no software installation, it can’t do shady things like this to your Mac or PC.

 

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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