Best antivirus software for Mac
If ten years ago you would have asked what's the best antivirus for Mac, this would brand you as someone who doesn't know anything about computers. macOS was considered a much safer OS and that created a unique selling proposition against Windows, whose users seemed plagued with viruses on their Windows PCs.
Nowadays, there's a lot more Mac users than there used to be. Naturally, the larger crowd attracts more attacks targeted at them. Consequently, using an antivirus on Mac isn't as ridiculous an idea as it used to be. Here are the services that will reliably protect you and your Mac from the latest cyber threats.
Top 5 best antivirus for Mac – quick list:
- Norton 360 – Best premium antivirus protection for Mac
- Bitdefender – Top all-round antivirus for macOS
- Avira Antivirus – Great Mac antivirus for beginners
- Intego – Best customizable Mac protection
- Trend Micro – Premium and lightweight antivirus for Mac
Best antivirus software for Mac – our detailed list:
It’s not a secret that not every antivirus software can be categorized as the best option for Mac users. Various security solutions differ in terms of the features they offer, their malware detection capabilities, and pricing.
We have done comprehensive research and now can provide you with our findings – the best antivirus software for Mac in 2022.
1. Norton 360 – best premium macOS antivirus protection
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Norton is counting almost three decades in the cybersecurity products industry and has one of the best antivirus software for macOS.
It consistently catches the trickiest malware types and other unwanted programs with a meager amount of false-positives. This is in no small part thanks to their malware database. However, advanced as it may be, it wouldn't help against zero-day malware that isn't already cataloged in the databases.
To catch those, Norton uses artificial intelligence. Their machine learning tool analyses every process on your device. When it detects a pattern that resembles malware, the potential threat goes into quarantine. This means that you're safe even from the threats that are currently unfamiliar.
All of this is pretty impressive in itself, but Norton goes the extra mile to be more than a solution against malware. There's also Dark Web Monitoring to give you a heads up when your data ends up leaked in a data breach. This is a lighter version of their Lifelock feature, which is only available to US customers.
There are also such bonus features like Firefox and Chrome extensions. These include Safe Web and Safe Search. The latter removes dangerous links from your online searches, and the former blocks dangerous websites. So, you get pretty good protection when surfing online.
Speaking of online threats, one of Norton's most significant contributions to your device's safety is the firewall. It watches over your network when you connect to public wifi. So, your security tools extend to your network and deal with potential threats in real time.
Finally, you will get a VPN, a password manager, Norton Clean to remove files cluttering up your hard drive, and more. You can protect a single device with the standard plan, or get Norton 360 Deluxe and enjoy 10 simultaneous connections.
Sadly, Norton doesn't offer a free version, but the price starts at $19.99 for the first year. Even with the cheapest option, you get all malware and online protection features you need. If you ever come in contact with a virus that Norton can't remove, you get your money back.
To find out more, check out our full Norton antivirus review.
- Free trials for all plans
- Excellent protection
- Plenty of extras
- Dark web monitoring
- Low resource usage
- 100% virus protection promise
- No free version
- On the expensive side
- LifeLock only available to US users
2. Bitdefender – all-in-one Mac antivirus product
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Bitdefender is a well-known and appreciated antivirus solution for Mac. There’s a strong reason for that – high quality and all-round malware protection services. It’s performance is quite outstanding making it one of the top antivirus products available on the market.
This security tool combines innovative technologies to create a robust shield against the latest cyber threats, like ransomware, spyware, and other viruses. What’s even better is that protection activities do not have a negative impact on your Mac’s speed or performance.
Additionally, Bitdefender has cross-platform detection solutions to automatically scan for all types of malware and not only for viruses specifically targeting macOS. So, you can securely share files with your friends and family who might be using a different operating system.
Your data is secure at all times, as the Safe Files feature prevents unauthorized access to your most important information.
Apart from that, this antivirus provides great web protection. It has an adware blocker that detects and removes browser hijackers and other potentially unwanted programs. Its anti-phishing technology also blocks malicious websites that target your credentials and financial data.
It’s worth mentioning that you can get a dedicated browser extension to increase security while banking or online shopping, as well as to filter out inappropriate content.
The Bitdefender Total Security package also includes a VPN service that encrypts internet traffic to protect your online presence. You get up to 200 MB daily for a single Mac.
The pricing plans of this antivirus software start from $17.99 per year. Each package includes automatic updates and premium customer support. It allows you to protect up to 3 macOS devices and even try the service free of charge for 30 days.
To find out more, read our full Bitdefender review.
- Premium virus protection features
- Cross-platform malware detection
- Web protection and anti-phishing technologies
- Includes a VPN
- Free 30-day trial
- Restricted VPN usage
- Can’t protect more than 3 or 5 devices
- Limited selection of subscription plans
3. Avira – free antivirus solution for Mac
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The whole premise of Avira antivirus is that it's a lightweight solution that doesn't skimp on features. You might have heard such statements many times, but Avira is a very transparent provider. They don't waste time to come up with long lists of features to create artificial value. What you get is truly one of the best suites, capable of adding a firm layer to your cybersecurity.
For example, in lab tests, Avira consistently shines, blocking 99-100% of all provided threats. Besides, they seem extremely proficient at excluding false positives. Recently, Avira was acquired by Norton, so you may expect their malware databases to merge and improve even further. You can even contribute by sending suspicious files to be analyzed to a protection cloud.
Don't think that you'll only be using this service to scan your hard drive. What you will rely on daily is their real-time scan to analyze all files you use or click. Detected suspicious items will be placed into quarantine, where they won't be able to harm your device. There, you will be able to delete them safely.
Avira contributes to your safety not only with antivirus countermeasures. There's a password generator - a feature usually found on password manager software, but nonetheless, it's a welcome addition. And you also get a VPN with a pretty severe data cap – only 500 MB a month. Lastly, there's the junk remover – a tool that helps you to save space by deleting unwanted temporary files.
When it comes to price, there are a couple of nice surprises. There is a free version that is available for Mac and iOS, as well as other platforms. The first paid tier, called Avira Antivirus Pro, costs $44.99 a year (or ~$3.75 a month). It's a bit on the expensive side, but considering that there is a free option, you can always test the service out. That way, you'll know exactly what you're getting out of your subscription.
To find out more, check out our full Avira antivirus review.
- Great lab tests results
- Superb free version
- Not resource-intensive
- Supports all popular platforms
- Password generator
- Free version lacks web protection
- Slow customer support
4. Intego – truly Mac-centered antivirus software
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If you're a Mac user, Intego should be a household name by now. They have been providing cybersecurity tools and utility software for a couple of decades now. So, they're not new when it comes to malware protection.
Intego's VirusBarrier offers real-time protection scanning files and programs as they're accessed. Plus, it doesn't protect only you. There are measures against PC-based malware so you wouldn't spread it to your contacts by accident.
Intego protects your device just as well. There are several types of scans to choose from. Only your first scan will be slower. Then, for each subsequent scan the program will use smart file-caching technology to check only the recently added or modified files. That way, it skips previously checked safe files.
Another area where Intego adds major value is the firewall. You can choose your location to modify NetBarrier settings to match the threat level appropriately. For example, this includes blocking incoming Local Connections, making you safe from threats that lurk in public cafes.
Naturally, Intego adds several more features to the list. There's the Washing Machine, which removes accumulated junk and duplicate files, saving you space. You can even find their unique take on Mac's Time Machine (called Personal Backup) for most important personal files to be stored on external drives.
Their product prices start at $39.99 a year or ~$3.34 a month when it comes to pricing. Although the service is paid-only, it offers a free trial with all its plans.
To find out more, read our full Intego review.
- Truly Mac-centered option
- Protects against PC-based malware, as well
- File caching skips already scanned files to save time
- Customizable NetBarrier
- Free trial
- No support for mobile or other platforms
5. Trend Micro – detects malware and web threats
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Trend Micro is another great antivirus that supports macOS. It offers the essential protection for your piece of mind. If you install it on your device, you can no longer worry about a potential ransomware attack or spyware monitoring your activity.
This antivirus software employs sophisticated AI learning technologies to successfully block all suspicious and unusual activity. Since malware can be hidden inside files that may appear completely regular, this feature allows Trend Micro to be truly excellent at detecting all types of viruses.
The malware scanning time is impressive, as it takes less time than the industry average. You can do a quick, full, or custom system scan within a few clicks. However, you won’t be able to select which particular files or folders to investigate.
Keep in mind that it also safeguards against various web threats, like malicious websites, adware, and browser hijackers. Each of the antivirus packages include the Trend Micro Pay Guard which protects your financial data while you do online shopping or banking. It activates automatically whenever you open sensitive sites.
You also have an option to use a VPN or a password manager if you decide to get its premium subscription plans.
The cheapest Trend Micro antivirus plan costs $19.95/year and protects one Mac device. However, it includes only the basic security features. If you want to protect more devices or need advanced protection, you should consider getting its premium packages.
It’s important to note that each security solution offers a free 30-day trial. You can always check out all of the offered features before purchasing.
To find out more, read our full Trend Micro review.
- Real-time protection
- Fast system scans
- Pay Guard feature
- 24/7 customer support
- Safeguards against web and email scams
- Free 30-day trial
- Not cheap if you want to protect more devices
- VPN and password manager is only available with premium plans
6. TotalAV – optimizes and protects macOS at the same time
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It's always smart to be reluctant, especially when it comes to newer cybersecurity products. More often than not, you get more by sticking to experienced and reliable antivirus providers. Although TotalAV is truly the new kid on the block, it's one that you shouldn't dismiss just because of its age.
Mac is just one of the platforms that this TotalAV caters to. With this antivirus, macOS users get a nice blend of features that "patch up" the bases poorly guarded by the built-in tools.
In terms of security, TotalAV has traditional malware scanners to detect malicious software on your system. All of this is made possible with the malware scanner developed by Avira. However, with the news that Norton has acquired Avira, it's hard to say how its support will continue in the future.
There are also several means to ward off threats without resorting to a full system scan. Their real-time engine is more than capable of detecting various kinds of threats when downloading or opening files. However, it's less precise than other options that we have on our lists. It tends to flag false-positives, so double-check what you're deleting.
TotalAV isn't the flashiest option when it comes to the number of extra features, but there are some notable mentions. For example, you'll get robust optimization tools to clean junk files and a VPN with an unlimited data plan.
For the first year, it costs $29 or ~$2.42 a month for the first year. Considering that the service is on the lighter side with features, it's only natural that it's not charging as much. That doesn't mean that you should avoid this service. It's one of the best when you need a lightweight solution with all the essential features.
To find out more, check out our full TotalAV antivirus review.
- Malware protection powered by Avira
- Free version
- Easily accessible customer support
- Variety of optimization tools
- Low price
- Can only protect a maximum of 6 devices
- Frequent false-positives
7. McAfee – provides the best online threat protection for Mac
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Despite being one of the best, McAfee is often glossed over. It’s unfortunate since this antivirus program provides good protection against malware for Mac.
With McAfee real-time virus protection, every file that you access will instantly be cross-checked with all malware entries in their database. It means that you won't have to rely on full system scans to weed out the nasty programs hiding deep within your hard drive.
Undoubtedly, scanning is also there. You can perform Quick or Full system scans at will or schedule them automatically. Once the scan is complete, you will get a pretty detailed report on how it went and what potential threats were found. McAfee removes suspicious files by default, so keep that in mind.
McAfee takes care of the files that you might have and makes it much harder for online threats to end up on your system. There's a robust firewall that isn't difficult to set up even for novice users. Plus, it complements the included macOS tools. So, you should feel very safe when you're logged into public networks.
The web protection extends to areas like web phishing protection. McAfee uses smart web filters to detect and block potential phishing websites to ensure that your payment information or credentials don't end up in someone's hands.
If anonymity is just as important to you as safety from malware, there is also a VPN. Using it, you can connect to a fleet of private servers to bypass geo-blocking restrictions and the tracking of your Internet Service Provider.
If you are a dedicated Apple’s fan and want to try the service, it's free on iOS devices. Desktop users will either have to opt for their free trial option or cough up the cash. The price starts at $19.99 for the first subscription year (1 device). So, it's one of the most budget-friendly options if you want to protect your Mac against a growing number of online threats.
To find out more, read our full McAfee antivirus review.
- Good protection against malware
- Generous device limits
- Solid firewall
- Support for all major platforms
- Some plans cost more, but add few extra features
- More limited than Windows app
How we selected and tested these Mac antivirus tools
Not all antivirus programs offer the same package of security tools and protection solutions. For this reason, we have carefully tested a dozen of different products to find you the best antivirus software for Mac. Our listed antivirus tools were selected based on the following criteria:
- Malware detection rates. Independent testing labs, like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives regularly check the performance, usability, and virus protection capabilities of antivirus programs. The best ones should score the maximum points in each category to be classified as top security tools.
- Real-time protection. New cyber threats appear every day and can easily infiltrate the system within a few seconds. Robust antivirus program should continuously monitor your activity and be able to detect malware in real time.
- Available Features. Antivirus applications that are overall rated as top products don't necessarily provide the same protection tools for macOS, as for Windows. We have only selected the products that do not limit available security features and provide tailored antivirus solutions for Mac.
- Price. It’s possible to get high quality protection from malware without spending a fortune. Reliable antivirus service providers place a reasonable price on their products and we definitely take that into consideration.
- Customer support. If you have any issues with the software or general how-to questions, the only way to get answers is through customer support. Likewise, professional, responsive, and accessible help is a priority.
What to look for in the best antivirus for Mac
While all antivirus programs might seem equally good, we can assure you that some of them are better than the others. These are a few things you should always take into consideration if you want to find the best antivirus for Mac:
- Virus protection rates. Top antivirus solutions for macOS should protect against no less than 99.8% of zero-day malware, as well as web and email threats. If you want to get the best Mac antivirus, you should look for outstanding testing results in the reports of independent testing labs.
- Security features. Robust security does not end with real-time protection. Premium antivirus packages include all-round protection – a secure VPN, the dark web monitoring, a password manager, and an ad-blocker.
- Simultaneous connections. Protecting only one device at a time is not enough. You should opt for premium antivirus solutions that would support at least multiple simultaneous connections to help you protect all of your macOS devices.
- Customer support. The highest quality malware protection tools include 24/7 customer support options. It can help you find relevant information about what to do in case of a ransomware attack or simply answer antivirus-related questions whenever you need it.
Do I need virus protection on a Mac?
Generally speaking, yes, you do need an antivirus on a Mac to prevent the infiltration of ransomware, malware, spyware, and other unwanted programs.
Keep in mind that the number of Mac users has increased quite sharply, making the development of cyber threats for macOS a worthy investment.
Likewise, an extended answer to your question would be:
- Yes, to protect against malware attacks. Based on the metrics, the growth of malicious software for Mac surpassed Windows several years ago. Thus, you should get an antivirus with real-time protection to detect the latest cyber threats and avoid virus infiltration.
- Yes, to avoid phishing and scams. A robust Mac antivirus program usually has in-built web protection tools or a dedicated browser extension to block malicious sites.
- Yes, to protect your privacy. Advanced security suites offer multiple layers of protection, like VPN services, and dark web monitoring. You should install one on your macOS to avoid potential data leaks and reduce the risk of identity theft.
Can I use a free antivirus for Mac?
Yes, you can use a free antivirus for Mac if a premium subscription is a bit above your budget. For example, Avira offers real-time protection from malware, ransomware, and spyware for free. The package also includes a free VPN, as well as the password management and clean-up services.
However, keep your expectations in check – the free version of a premium product will have some limitations. The Avira Free Security package restricts VPN usage to 500 MB per month and gives access only to the basic features of the password manager and the junk cleaner.
Nevertheless, we still consider Avira as the best free antivirus for Mac that you can currently get on the market. It’s because even though it has some limitations, this free security tool is safe to use.
It’s important to note that there are many dubious free antivirus programs which distribute malware. Likewise, you should always make sure that your chosen free version comes from a reputable source.
Since there are not many malware protection products that would be both trustworthy and free, we suggest checking out the best free antivirus services offered by our experts.
Video review: Best antivirus software for Mac
How Apple protects your Mac from malware
Apple has pretty good measures in place to protect you from malware. For example, this includes Gatekeeper. It's a security feature that forces every app you're installing to be digitally signed by Apple. You can install the apps that are not signed, but it will require special clearance. It makes installing untrustworthy apps a multiple-step process, which means that the total number of malicious apps installed is significantly lower.
With the continuously increasing number of macOS viruses, it is essential to have a robust antivirus. Even though there aren’t many options which would offer trustworthy and Mac-oriented malware protection services, we managed to pick the greatest tools.
Our selected options are truly the best antivirus solutions for Mac that are currently available on the market. Products at the top of the list, like Norton 360 and Bitdefender are packed with very useful protection features.
You should definitely invest in one of them if you don’t want to worry about ransomware, malware, or the risks of identity theft ever again.
What is the best antivirus software for Mac?
Norton 360 is our favorite Mac antivirus. Mac has many built-in features that make a resilient OS against a variety of cyber threats. However, the safety of your devices could be much improved by using any of the antivirus services mentioned on our list.
Do Macs have built-in antivirus?
Yes. All Macs have built-in antivirus functionality in their File Quarantine. It's called Xprotect, and it was included on all systems, starting with macOS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It didn't go anywhere, and now it's counting almost a decade of being the first barrier of your system's protection.
Why does Mac have no viruses?
There never was a time when Macs had no viruses. They were always out there. The main difference is that compared to Windows, Apple users were much less affected, so it seemed as if Macs were immune. The landscape has now changed, and many malware types affect Mac users. Continue reading to discover how to remove a virus from your Mac and how to protect it.
Is paid antivirus better than free?
In terms of features, paid antivirus will almost universally have more features than a free one. That is the way of the world. However, whether these features are worth your time will depend entirely on your use cases, so you should treat each case individually.
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