Entertainment The best Mac antivirus software 2022
The best Mac antivirus software 2022
You absolutely need one of the best Mac antivirus software for your Mac and MacBook. The common misconception is that Apple products are completely impenetrable, which means there’s no point in getting antivirus for Mac. That isn’t exactly true, however.
There’s an enormous potential target out there that is irresistible to hackers and cybercriminals considering the sheer amount of Mac and MacBook owners around the world. The macOS operating system is Unix-based, which is sandboxed so it can be challenging for viruses to do any real damage. However, malicious programs targeting Macs and MacBook Pros have not only become increasingly common, but also more potent.
You will need Mac-specific antivirus software designed to work with the unique demands of macOS in order to protect that new Mac. After all, even the MacBook Air 2022 is not what you’d call cheap, and you don’t want to have something pricey to be crippled by a cyber attack.
We’ve tested many of the best antivirus on the market so we know which ones are the best. To help you, we found the best Mac antivirus software specifically designed to protect Mac systems for you and gathered them all on this list – whether you’re looking for a paid version or a free one. And, while you’re at it, be sure to invest in the best Mac VPN as well.
The best Mac antivirus 2022
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Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is one of the most accurate virus protection suites for Apple devices out there, built on a sterling antivirus engine that is consistently rated among the top performers by independent testing labs – and it boasts fast scan times, too.
It’s not just about core antivirus defenses, though, because Bitdefender also lays claim to a broad set of features. That includes multi-layer ransomware protection, solid anti-phishing capabilities, with very robust AI-powered web browser protection delivered via an extension.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac also offers an adware blocker, and is a good performer when it comes to scanning and picking up on Windows PC malware. That helps defend against the possibility of you transmitting a Windows virus to your friends or family who might have Windows 10 PCs.
Time Machine protection is a valuable addition, too, as an extra safety net to keep backups safe from ransomware attacks. And a further nifty extra is the integration of Bitdefender VPN, although that said, the data allowance here is limited to 200MB daily, which is very little – so it’s only good for very occasional use. Still, it’s certainly better than nothing and handy in a pinch.
If you’re concerned about viruses and the other nastiness floating around on the internet, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is the best software for Macs. Finally, note that as well as this standalone Mac antivirus, you can also get protection for your Mac as part of Bitdefender Total Security, the firm’s flagship security suite (which covers Macs, Android, and iOS devices, plus Windows PCs – up to 10 devices in total).
Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus review
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Intego is a veteran antivirus provider which has been defending Macs for well over two decades now, so if there’s any software maker that knows what kind of security Apple machines need, it’s this company.
Mac Internet Security X9 provides good antivirus protection against the latest threats. The independent testing labs have generally rated it highly in the past (although it isn’t always covered at AV-Test, but in the last roundup where Intego did feature, namely June 2021, it received full marks). Scans are reasonably swift, too, plus you get strong protection against Windows malware.
Outside of that robust core malware defense, Internet Security X9 boasts an intelligent firewall with anti-spyware countermeasures with the latter keeping a close watch on outgoing internet traffic. In addition, Intego helps shore up privacy levels by defending against third-party apps attempting to hoover up your data. On top of all that, Mac Internet Security X9 offers a neat interface, and it’s nicely user-friendly.
Among the downsides of Intego are that some of the suite’s bonus extras aren’t quite up there in terms of the power shown by the top competition in the Mac antivirus field, and also the lack of recent evaluation at AV-Test (not that we should read anything into this, but it’s still a disappointing gap in coverage).
Of course, Intego does offer a lengthy 30-day free trial, so you can take Mac Internet Security X9 for a good spin to see if it meets your personal approval. Finally, note that there’s also a full Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 which consists of Internet Security X9 plus a whole host of extras, including backup, performance optimization and parental control features.
Read the full Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review
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Norton is another well-respected brand in the antivirus world and provides excellent malware detection for Mac computers. Indeed, Norton 360 Deluxe, the brand’s best choice for multi-device users, delivers protection for Macs, Windows PCs, or mobile devices – up to five of them per license. So, if you’ve got plenty of Macs or MacBooks to cover, or perhaps a Windows laptop as well, and of course your smartphone, Norton will have your back across all bases.
You get quite the helping of features here, including impressive antivirus protection, anti-ransomware, a smart firewall, and some neat extras like a password manager, dark web monitoring (in certain regions), alongside a significant bonus in the form of Norton Secure VPN (with unlimited access) to help maintain better security and privacy when online.
So, while you get a host of benefits on the security front, one thing to be aware of is that Norton 360 does have more of a noticeable impact on your system performance than some rivals in our experience. Also worth bearing in mind is that Mac owners don’t get a couple of features, namely cloud backup and parental controls (but you can use these on Windows PCs).
Furthermore, the cost of this security suite is on the pricier side by default. However, there are usually offers knocking a substantial amount of money off. At the time of this writing, you can get a pretty good deal on a subscription – particularly when you consider the number of devices covered.
Read the full Norton 360 Deluxe review
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac is another good choice to keep your Mac secure, and its antivirus engine is well thought of by the independent testing labs – generally speaking it’s up there with the best of them (even if Trend Micro slipped just a touch in AV-Comparative’s Mac rankings for 2021).
This program’s feature-set includes ransomware protection (courtesy of Folder Shield), parental controls, camera plus microphone protection, anti-phishing defenses, and a social media privacy checker that monitors social network usage for the many increasingly severe threats delivered via these channels. This package is also easy to get to grips with and generally user-friendly.
On the downside, Trend Micro suffers from a greater level of system slowdown than most rival suites going by recent testing. Also, the app only covers a single Mac, so lacks the added value of extra licenses that many of the competition offer.
Furthermore, some rival antivirus suites offer more features. For example, Trend Micro lacks a firewall or protection for the likes of online banking – the firm’s Pay Guard secure browser is reserved for the Maximum Security for Mac suite.
That said, note that at the time of writing, you can get the latter suite for not much more of an outlay compared to Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac – and it also provides extended coverage for up to five devices (including Windows PCs, Android, and iOS mobiles, plus Chromebooks, as well as Macs). Indeed, discounts on pricing like this seem to be around quite often, so it’s well worth keeping an eye out for a good deal on the Trend Micro Maximum Security suite.
Read the full Trend Micro Antivirus review
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Avast One is the firm’s all-in-one security package which provides a host of defenses for Macs and other devices, offering coverage for up to five pieces of hardware with the Individual plan – so that’s for Macs, Windows PCs, Android and iOS mobiles.
Mac users get a whole lot of features here – over and above basic antivirus protection – with a dedicated anti-ransomware layer, a high-quality Web Shield to keep you safer online, as well as an integrated VPN (with unlimited usage) to further bolster levels of online safety. No, the VPN isn’t the fastest offering out there by any means, but it’s solid enough, and a great addition to the overall value of this suite.
On top of this, Avast One provides a load of privacy protecting extras, such as tracking protection, data breach monitoring, and features like a network advisor which recommends turning on the VPN based on what sites you might be visiting or in situations such as when you’re connecting to unsecure public Wi-Fi.
The Avast antivirus engine is very strong as well, and going by recent ratings from the independent test labs, this is one of the top-performing Mac defenders.
Admittedly, Avast One on the Mac doesn’t quite carry all the features seen with Windows PCs, in terms of lacking some PC maintenance and speed-up tools – though it does have a basic clean-up function, and as we’ve seen, there’s still plenty packed into this suite. It’s well worth a look, then, for those who want good all-round coverage for a number of devices. And remember if you have loads of hardware, the Family plan covers up to a staggering 30 devices, too.
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Clario aims to be an all-encompassing security package, and it succeeds in that goal, providing antivirus and a lot more. Bitdefender, our top-rated provider, powers the main antivirus engine, so unsurprisingly, Clario does well here, and is rated pretty much identically to Bitdefender in more recent tests from the independent labs.
As mentioned, you get a whole host of security extras here. That includes a fully integrated Mac VPN service (powered by NordVPN, a well-respected provider), identity theft protection, secure browsing, anti-tracking countermeasures, and more.
The Mac app is smartly designed to be very easy to use for beginners, although on the flip side, it pushes ease of use so much that tech-savvy types may be put off. The other main drawback here doesn’t apply to Mac users because the Mac app works well – but the mobile apps are disappointingly basic. Yes, Clario also supports iOS or Android devices (but not Windows) – up to three or six of them on the monthly or yearly subscription plans respectively.
The asking price is more than some of the rival suites on this page. However, having high-quality antivirus and Mac VPN protection rolled together in a beginner-friendly package will appeal to some Mac users.
Read the full Clario review
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Avira Antivirus Pro is a solid option for Mac users that provides protection for up to five devices (also including Windows PCs). It’s rated highly by the independent test labs on the whole, although AV-Test is slightly more enthusiastic than AV-Comparatives with its Mac-based evaluation of the product – but one way or another, you’re certainly getting strong core antivirus protection here.
However, features are somewhat thin on the ground compared to the Windows version. On top of the fundamental antivirus defenses, there’s web protection to block malware-laden websites, as well as capable anti-phishing tech, an ad blocker, along with a browser tracking blocker to better maintain your online privacy. But that’s about your lot.
There are alternative products in this list which offer more in the way of extras, though what Avira tackles, it does a good job of. And if you want more, you could always consider upgrading to the Avira Prime suite, which boasts a built-in VPN (a pretty decent one, too) with no data limits, and extras like a password manager, plus some performance and maintenance tools.
Read the full Avira Antivirus Pro review
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ClamXAV doesn’t have the catchiest of names, but it’s the best Mac antivirus for many IT professionals – not least because the firm only creates AV for Apple computers. That doesn’t mean it’s overly complicated – there’s a Home version of the app targeted at the average consumer, and we found ClamXAV’s interface to be one of the most simple and easy-to-use out of all the Mac antivirus software on this list.
It’s particularly adept at catching viruses in email attachments, and while ClamXAV hasn’t been rated often by the big independent labs in recent times, it has performed decently in the few evaluations which have taken place.
Do bear in mind that ClamXAV doesn’t come with some of the internet safety tools seen in other suites, but it’s still a good choice for protecting your Mac, particularly on the value front – its various subscriptions are priced competitively compared to rivals. The ClamXAV for Home Users edition of the software allows for up to three Macs to be protected, or up to nine if you choose the Family Pack plan.
Editor’s note: Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac used to appear on this list. Considering the current climate however, we’ve taken the decision to remove the provider. Although much of the company’s core processes are now take place in Switzerland, the fact that its headquarters remain in Moscow and there have been previous allegations around government coercion, it feels prudent to use the provider with caution. And, when there are so many other excellent providers to choose from, it’s impossible to whole-heartedly recommend Kaspersky at this time.
The best free Mac antivirus 2022
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Avast Free Mac Security goes the extra mile to protect your Mac with an unusually lengthy feature list. The core antivirus engine offers real-time protection to catch threats when they appear, for instance. You can run on-demand full system scans if you suspect a problem, or launch a more targeted check on specific files, folders or drives. It’s even possible to schedule scans to run automatically when you’re not around.
A Web Shield warns you about malicious websites, blocks dangerous downloads and email attachments, and protects your privacy by eliminating intrusive ad tracking. There’s an unusual extra in Avast’s wireless network scanner, which quickly checks your network, router and connected devices, alerting you to any vulnerabilities.
Mac antivirus software isn’t often checked by the independent testing labs, but Avast’s most recent results were good, with AV Comparative’s 2018 test finding the package detected 100 percent of sample threats. If you’d like even more, upgrading to Avast Security Pro gets you ransomware protection and instant alerts of Wi-Fi intruders or changes in your network security.
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While many antivirus companies try to win you over by piling on the features, Avira Antivirus for Mac takes a simpler, more lightweight approach. There’s no web filtering, no network scanning or other security extras: it’s purely focused on keeping your system malware-free.
That doesn’t mean the package is short on power. We found its real-time scanner to be incredibly effective, checks any file the system accesses, picking up threats before they can do any harm. The scheduler enables setting up the app to scan your system automatically, or you’re able to check your entire system whenever you like.
As a bonus, the app doesn’t just protect against Mac threats. It also uses Avira’s Windows experience to pick up any PC-related malware, ensuring you won’t share any files that might endanger your friends.
The main testing labs haven’t evaluated Avira Free Antivirus for a while, but AV Comparatives last report found the Avira engine blocked 100% of test malware (tying with Avast). With Avira’s strong record on the PC we’ve no doubt that this is an app you can trust.
Although this list is all about free Mac antivirus, Avira deserves a mention for its commercial Avira Antivirus Pro product. It includes tech support and protects up to three devices with one license (Mac, Windows and Android).
Read the full Avira Antivirus solutions review
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Bitdefender Virus Scanner is a lightweight free malware hunter that can track down and remove both Mac and Windows-related threats. A simple and straightforward interface makes the app extremely easy to use. We appreciate the status display that keeps you up-to-date on how your system is doing. As we do the four buttons that enable running a quick scan of critical locations, an in-depth check of your entire system, or speedy scans of running applications or a folder of your choice.
Although this looks all very basic, use Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac for a while and you begin to notice some very neat touches. The app doesn’t force you to wait a day for your next virus signature updates, for instance. Bitdefender issues updates every hour and Virus Scanner always fetches the latest version before it starts a scan.
An option to exclude files and folders from the scan – network shares, system backups – is another plus. It reduces the work the engine has to do and significantly speeding up your scan times.
What you don’t get here is any form of real-time protection or web filtering, essential tools for a complete security solution. This simplicity also reduces the chance of conflicts with other apps, though, suggesting Bitdefender Virus Scanner could be a useful second opinion tool that you run alongside another security app.
Read the full Bitdefender review
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The best Mac antivirus isn’t just about detecting the latest most deadly ransomware, or other high-risk threats. Most tools can also strip out adware and other potentially unwanted programs which may not be highly dangerous, but are wasting system resources and slowing your Mac down.
Malwarebytes has been eliminating the full range of Windows threats since 2006, and the Mac edition is just as simple, straightforward and effective. The app is such a lightweight installation, the size of three digital music files, that we’ve barely noticed it’s there. And while the lack of real-time protection means Malwarebytes can’t stop attacks – only remove existing infections – it also ensures there’s no real impact on your system resources and the app is unlikely to conflict with other antivirus tools.
Performance is another highlight, with Malwarebytes claiming the average system is scanned in less than 15 seconds. Set it running when you check your emails in the morning and it’ll be finished before you are.
Installing Malwarebytes for Mac also gets you a 30-day trial of the Premium edition which is able to detect and block threats as they appear. If you’re not interested in this, ignore it; real-time protection will disappear when the trial expires and you’ll get on-demand scanning only.
Read our full Malwarebytes Antivirus review
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The free antivirus market is highly competitive and it can be difficult for individual companies to stand out from the crowd, but the British vendor Sophos has found a way: it gives you more features in its free products than many competitors provide in their paid editions.
On-demand scanning to clean up infected systems? Check. Real-time protection to prevent attacks in the first place? Of course. Browser filtering which blocks access to dangerous sites? Naturally. Parental controls to define the content your child can access online? Yep. Oh, and you can cover up to three Mac or Windows devices with a single account, and remotely check and manage their status from a central web console – potentially very useful when protecting the whole family.
Sophos isn’t just piling on these extras to disguise a weak antivirus engine, either. AV Test’s December 2017 Mac detection rate tests showed Sophos delivered the same level of protection as products from Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky and other big names.
This works for us, but if you need more, Sophos Home Premium does have some worthwhile extra features: advanced ransomware protection, monitoring of access to your webcam and microphone, live chat and email support, and the option to protect up to 10 devices. It has a strong feature set and is competitively priced.
Read the full Sophos Home review
How to choose the best Mac antivirus for you
Choosing the best Mac antivirus for you is not to be taken lightly. You cannot simply go with the most convenient option because it’s cheap or it’s what your friend is using. The protection you need might be, after all, different from others.
The first thing you need to decide is how much you’re willing to spend on a subscription or if you’re willing to spend any money at all. It’s worth remembering that while free antivirus products are effective at protecting against threats, they also lack certain premium features.
If you have multiple systems on your network, for example, you’re at a higher risk of cyberattacks. More users means more endpoints to target. Additional management tools, typically available behind a paid subscription, let you set policies can help mitigate this risk.
Speaking of which, you do need to consider all the security features you need, from basic ones like real-time protection, parental controls and a password manager to access to secure VPN and dark web monitoring.
Finally, you need to find out just how big of an impact the antivirus software you’re considering has on your system. Some of them take up considerable bandwidth, which can be taxing on your computer especially if you’re regularly performing taxing tasks.
How we test Mac antivirus
While the amount of Mac malware is still considerably less than that targeting Windows, its still 100 times higher than what experts predicted just a few years ago.
The excellent AV-TEST regularly puts antivirus programs through their paces, and their most recent tests took place in December 2020 on macOS Catalina. They test three key areas: malware detection, false positives and performance.
For Mac malware, seven packages achieved 100% detection without false positives.
We combine AV-TEST’s findings with our own product research and reviewing. We focus further into the usability of the products, their features and how good they are to use and live with on a day-to-day basis.
What is the best Mac antivirus?
Right now, our answer to that question is Bitdefender for Mac (opens in new tab) (also available as part of the firm’s all-singing all-dancing Bitdefender Total Security plan (opens in new tab)). It combines faultless virus protection (as verified by independent test labs) with a whole host of features and a Mac antivirus client that’s ridiculously easy to set up and use.
Do I really need Mac antivirus?
That really depends on you. The risk of infection remains pretty remote, and if you practice basic security measures and don’t fall for common scams then you’re very unlikely to suffer from any problems. Even ransomware can be defeated with the cunning tactic of having a backup of anything important.
That said, if you’ve ever experienced the mess malware can make on a Windows system you’ll know that just getting things back to normal can be an incredible time thief, especially if key data has been damaged. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be whether Mac antivirus is worth the money, but whether your time is more valuable than the cost of a security app.
Mac antivirus: what’s the effect on performance?
Most of us believe that virus protection software has a negative effect on performance, but chances are it’s much less negative than we think: in their tests, AV-Test found that there was no measurable performance drop when using providers like ClamXav, MacKeeper, Kaspersky or Norton.
There was a measurable difference with Sophos and Trend Micro (two per cent of additional system load), and with ESET and Bitdefender, which added around four per cent to the overall system load.