pde.plugin will damage your computer [FIX]

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pde.plugin is a recently discovered Mac issue encountered on macOS Catalina and Mojave. pde.plugin causes the Xprotect security feature of the OS to flag older HP drivers for printers and other peripherals as potential hazards.

What is pde.plugin

pde.plugin is an outdated driver for HP printers that gets blocked by the Xprotect built-in security tool on Mac computers. A statement has been made by an HP official, who provided a detailed explanation regarding the revoked HP credentials and said that HP and Apple are working together to fix the problem that has left thousands of customers unable to use their printers with their Mac computers. As a temporary measure, it is suggested that people can try using native Apple Airprint drivers as a possible alternative that may allow HP printers to be used with Mac machines.

How run a printer using AirPrint

AirPrint is an Apple feature that is built into most Apple mobile devices and computers that allows you to print anything from any app so long as that app supports printing.

Note: The purpose of AirPrint is to allow users to quickly print materials with full printing quality without needing to download additional software or install app/printer-specific drivers. However, if you want to add more functionality to your HP printer, it is suggested that you download the official HP Smart app from the Mac App Store for Mac computers or from the App Store app for iOS devices.

Setting up

  1. Connect your Mac/iOS device to your local Wi-Fi network – there should be a checkmark next to the network’s name, indicating that you are connected to it.
    If you don’t remember the password for your local Wi-Fi, you can learn how you can find out what it is from this link.
    Note: If there isn’t an available Wi-Fi network near you, you can connect your macOS/iOS device to the printer using an USB cable. To learn more about that, follow this link to an article on how to use AirPrint if a Wi-Fi network is not available.
  2. Next, you must check the connection status of your printer. The way to do this depends on whether your printer has or hasn’t a touchscreen
    • For touchscreen printers: Tap on the Wi-Fi icon or select the Network Settings or Setup menu from where you can see the current network status of the printer.
    • For printers without a touchscreen: Press and hold the Wi-Fi and the Information or Start Copy Black buttons simultaneously. Your network connection status will be printed on a Wireless Test Report.
  3. If your printer is currently connected to the same network as your Apple device, skip this step. If it isn’t do either of the following depending on your printer model:
    • For touchscreen printers: Open the Network menu (or the Setup or Wireless menu) and tap on Wireless Setup Wizard. Follow the on-screen prompts to connect the printer to the same the Wi-Fi network that your Apple device is connected to.
    • For printers without a touchscreen: Hold down the Wi-Fi and Cancel buttons and wait for the Power light and the Wireless light to flash. If you have a Tango printer, hold down the Wi-Fi button located at the back of the printer until the edge light gives out a blue flash.
    • For both touchscreen and non-touchscreen printers: Hold down the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button until the Wi-Fi light stops flashing, indicating that the connection has been established. This must be done within two hours after completing the previous actions.

Expired HP Certificate

On the topic of the pde.plugin issue, different users on HP forums have suggested that a possible reason for this is the expiration of your Mac’s driver certificate, leading to XProtect fagging it as something malicious. A couple of potential fixes have been recommended in those forums and now we will share them with you:

Suggested Solution 1: Update driver software via HP Easy Start

  1. Follow this link to download HP Easy Start – this is a direct download link.
  2. Follow the prompts in the installer – if an update is required, the installer will notify you about it. If not, then there should be a tick in the checkbox of Printer Essentials and all you’d need to do is click on Install.

If the latter doesn’t work or if you simply want to guarantee that there are no problems with the installation and be as diligent as possible, you can also install HP Easy Start in the following way:

  1. Download the installer normally, using the link from above.
  2. Open the installer and click on the HP Easy Start Menu that you will see in the menu bar of your macOS.
  3. Select the Uninstall HP Software option and click on Continue.
  4. Wait for the install to complete and then click on Set Up New Device.
  5. Follow the on-screen prompts to finish the installation.
  6. Wait for the installation to complete and finalize the process by following the remaining prompts.

The idea here is to first remove any old HP software that may be interfering with the installation of HP Easy Start.

Suggested Solution 2: Removing demons and launch agents

This is yet another suggestion, this time from Apple forums, that you can try to resolve the problem with the pde.plugin driver conflict. There isn’t much detailed information but we’ve done our best to summarize the suggested solution:

  1. Use the Finder App to access Library > LaunchAgents and delete by moving to Trash the most recently created/added file that looks suspicious.
  2. Repeat step one with the Library > LaunchDaemons and the ~Library/LaunchAgents directories (note that the “~” character before a directory path refers to a folder specific to the user Mac profile that you are using and not to a system-wide folder).
  3. Next, open Applications and sort the items there by date to see the most recently added apps. If any of the applications seem suspicious to you, remove them by dragging them to Trash.
  4. Restart the Mac – after that, the pde.plugin problem would hopefully not occur anymore.

#1 Updated Information

A third suggestion from forum users is to download and install the following update from HP:  ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softlib/software12/HP_Quick_Start/osx/Installations/Essentials/hp-printer-essentials-S-5_14_8_4.pkg. The installation of it may take a while so be patient. This update is different from HP Easy Start or a driver package download.

If, after the installation of this update, restart your Mac, uninstall the printer software and reinstall it. You can uninstall/reinstall your printer from Apple menu > System Preferences > Printers & Scanners. After all that, restart the computer again.

Some users have claimed that this is the only method that has helped them get around the pde.plugin warning message problem.

Bypassing the “pde.plugin will damage your computer” message

Unfortunately, since there hasn’t been an official statement by Apple confirming that pde.plugin is a false positive detected by XProtect, it is advisable that you do not ignore the warning message. If you are still willing to bypass the warning, do so at your own discretion.

Bypass method 1

The simpler way to bypass this warning is to open the app that triggers it by right-clicking on it and then selecting Open instead of double-clicking on it. You will still get the warning message about pde.plugin but this time you will also be given the option to open it anyway. Note, however, that this requires Admin privileges on the computer so make sure that you are logged in with an Admin profile.

Bypass method 2

  1. Go to Finder and search for pde.plugin.
  2. Once you find it, Control-Click on it.
  3. Open the shortcut menu and select Open – this will whitelist the app so that you will no longer get the warning message that tells you that macOS can’t verify that the app is safe.
  4. An alternative way to whitelist pde.plugin is, once you try to open it, to go to open the Apple Menu, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and there click on the Open Anyway button. Note that this option will only be available to you for an hour after you have tried to open the app that macOS has blocked.

Is your Mac in danger?

So far, there’s no specific reason to think that pde.plugin is a real malware threat to Mac computers even if XProtect warns users about it. Then again, there could still be a reason for it to be flagged by macOS as dangerous, different from revoked HP credentials. For example, pde.plugin may contain exploitable elements that malware may use to attack your Mac. What we would suggest to ensure that your machine stays safe and doesn’t get targeted by threats that may exploit pde.plugin is to use the powerful tool  such as ComboCleaner anti-malware to scan your Mac with it. It will automatically take care of any potential threats it may find in the system, thus securing your Mac and ensuring its safety.

Daniel Sadakov has a degree in Information Technology and specializes in web and mobile cyber security. He harbors a strong detestation for anything and everything malicious and has committed his resources and time to battling all manners of web and mobile threats. He has founded MobileSecurityZone.com, a website dedicated to covering the top tech stories and providing useful tips for the everyday user, in an effort to reach and help more people.

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