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Best Antivirus Software For Mac: Keep It Safe

Macs may have a reputation for security and safety, but you shouldn’t take your computer safety for granted.

Antivirus for Mac

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Mark Jenkins

If you ask most Mac users, viruses are something that happens to Windows PCs. It’s true that Apple’s operating system is significantly safer than Windows since security was baked into it since inception.

However, this doesn’t mean that Macs are completely impervious to any attack. It’s difficult, for sure, but the reality is that an enterprising hacker won’t mind doing slightly more work for a payoff.

Although you’ll usually be safe, it’s unwise to take a risk when it comes to your privacy and your online security. After all, many of today’s attacks go well beyond the worms and trojans of days past. Ransomware, malware, spyware, and more are easy to accidentally allow onto your device if you’re not careful.

Fortunately, there are antivirus tools designed with Mac users in mind. Most major providers make Mac-specific versions of their software that add layers of security to Mac’s already safe ecosystem.

More importantly, these applications give you real-time protection while you browse the web, connect to public Wi-Fi networks, and connect external storage devices to your computer.

Read on below to learn more about our top antivirus software for your Mac in 2020, as determined by our experts.

The Best Paid Antivirus Protection for Mac

If you’re looking for the top security tools for your Mac, paid antivirus software is likely going to be your best bet due to its blend of scanning and additional features.

These often include spam protection, additional firewalls, and parental controls.

Below are our top paid platforms:

  • Bitdefender – Best for all-around security and detection
  • Kaspersky – Best for additional security features
  • Norton – Best for malware detection
  • McAfee – Best for anti-phishing tools
  • F-Secure – Best for multi-device protection
  • ESET – Best antivirus for experienced users
  • Trend Micro – Best for removing malicious files

Bitdefender Security 

With multiple awards from independent testing labs and industry publications, Bitdefender is one of the top antiviruses for Mac.

Price:

One Device - $19.99 annually
Three Devices - $29.99 annually

Pros

  • Integrates with your system smoothly
  • Scans for Mac and Windows malware
  • Strong ransomware protection

Cons

  • VPN not included in price
  • Support via phone is hard to reach

Bitdefender may not have as many bells and whistles, but its security and optimization tools are best in class

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

With a great range of additional security and protection tools, Kaspersky offers great online defenses paired with effective antivirus detection.

Price:

One Device - $19.99 annually
Three Devices - $29.99 annually

Pros:

  • Strong scores in independent testing
  • Excellent parental controls
  • Powerful anti-phishing tools

Cons:

  • VPN requires additional subscription
  • Webcam protection could use improvements

If you’re focused on keeping yourself and your children safe, Kaspersky offers highly rated security tools that help you securely maintain your kids’ online privacy.

Norton Antivirus

Norton has upped its Mac offering to include a full VPN client, a powerful firewall and clean-up tools that will keep your Mac running smoothly and safely.

Price:

One Device - $19.99
Five Devices - $39.99

Pros:

  • VPN is included in your subscription
  • Scans are surprisingly fast
  • Firewall gives you added protection

Cons:

  • Doesn’t fully scan for Windows malware
  • No parental controls

If you’re looking for a trusted brand that gives you great value for your dollars, Norton’s great security tools and lightweight software are a great choice.

McAfee Antivirus

McAfee is an ideal tool if you’re looking for protection from phishing attacks and threats. The company’s software also includes a great personal firewall.

Price:
Annual Subscription - $34.99

Pros:

  • Cover as many devices as you need
  • Low impact on your Mac
  • Personal firewall keeps you safe

Cons:

  • The interface can be confusing
  • Missing some features from Windows version

If you’re looking to defend your family and multiple devices, McAfee offers a great solution with powerful security tools.

F-Secure Anti-Virus

With its multi-device subscriptions and outstanding test results from independent labs, F-Secure provides great protection and outstanding security features.

Price:
Three Devices - $34.99
Five Devices - $44.99

Pros:

  • Great scores from independent labs
  • Easy-to-use parental controls
  • Multi-device licenses

Cons:

  • Missing some additional features
  • No single device licenses

If you’re seeking to protect more than one device or keep your family’s Macs secure, F-Secure’s tools are a great place to start.

ESET Antivirus

ESET presents one of the most customizable antivirus solutions and offers outstanding scanning tools to keep your device safe. With additional security features, ESET is a great alternative for experts.

Price:

One Device - $39.99
Three Devices - $59.99

Pros:

Highly customizable antivirus
Excellent scores from independent tests
Also detects Windows malware

Cons:

Anti-phishing needs fine-tuning
Scans can take some time

If you’re not intimidated by more advanced features and complex interfaces, ESET offers one of the most powerful antivirus tools on the market.

Trend Micro Security 

Trend Micro is one of the best tools on the market when you need to remove malicious files from your computer. The antivirus software is also great at phishing protection and even secures your social media.

Price:
One Device - $29.95

Pros:

Quickly scan all your files
Protect your social media with security scans
Great added features

Cons:

Parental controls only offer filtering
Webcam tools could improve

With great scores from testing labs and outstanding tools to help keep you secure; Trend Micro is a great choice for antivirus security for your Mac.

The Best Free Antivirus For Mac

Avast – Best for free valuable features and powerful protection
Sophos – Best for parental controls and multiple scans
Avira – Best for scanning Mac and Windows malware
Bitdefender – Best for customizable scanning features
Malwarebytes – Best for quick scanning and detection

Avast

With one of the most popular free antivirus tools, Avast has built a powerful security tool that includes nifty features like malware protection, web tracking protection, and network scans.

Pros:

  • Low impact on your Mac’s performance
  • Lightning-fast device scans
  • Scored highly on independent tests

Cons:

  • Some features are locked behind a paywall
  • Customer support could do with more channels

Avast continues to offer one of the best free antivirus software deals, with great scanning tools and essentially the same monitoring tools its paid version provides.

Try Avast Now

Sophos

Sophos gives you great protection for you and your family, offering excellent remote management systems, parental controls, and 100% success rates against malware.

Pros:

  • Outstanding parental controls
  • Perfect scores from independent labs
  • Protects up to three devices

Cons:

  • Some privacy tools are blocked behind a paywall
  • Scans can slow down your device

If you need a multi-device free antivirus, it’s hard to compete with Sophos’ blend of security tools and antivirus protection.

Try Sophos Now

Avira

Thanks to a low-impact antivirus software and compatibility with the most popular browsers for Mac, Avira’s free antivirus gives you excellent protection and outstanding value.

Pros:

  • Protects from malware in real-time
  • Scan websites, emails, and social networks for phishing attacks
  • High scores from independent tests

Cons:

  • Only compatible with newer versions of MacOS
  • No access to Avira’s full support

For intuitive use and great configuration options, Avira presents a great option supported by protection from a variety of threat vectors without harming performance.

Try Avira Now

Bitdefender

If you need a low-impact and an easy-to-use interface, Bitdefender offers a powerful antivirus software. The company’s 100% detection rate for Mac-specific malware makes it one of the best choices for Macs.

Pros:

  • Choose from one of multiple scans
  • Very little impact on your Mac’s performance
  • Support available via phone, live chat, and email

Cons:

  • No real-time scans
  • Email protection is not included

For specific scanning and flexibility, Bitdefender offers a low-impact detection tool that gives your Mac the protection you need.

Try Bitdefender Now

Malwarebytes

For those who need Mac protection on the go, Malwarebytes’ powerful quick scans are an intriguing solution. You can also get a preview of the premium version with an included 14-day free trial.

Pros:

Scans take as little as 30 seconds
Highly regarded by the tech community
14-day free trial included

Cons:

  • Email protection is not included
  • Fraud protection needs improvement

If you’re simply looking for basic protection that won’t affect your computer significantly, Malwarebytes’ highly regarded tools are a great antivirus software.

Try Malwarebytes Now


 

What to Look for In your Antivirus for Mac?

You have gotten your self a nice Mac Laptop or desktop, and you want to make sure to keep it safe, have a look at what you need to be aware of while choosing for software. 

It neutralizes threats before they do damage – Detection tools are great because they let you know a virus is attempting to attack your computer, but they’re only half the equation. The best antivirus for Mac is the one that also neutralizes threats before they can do damage with firewalls, quarantine tools, and deletion systems. Your antivirus should stop threats before they ever become more than that.

It monitors your files actively to detect unusual activity – One of the most dangerous things about malware is that it can sometimes infect your devices and remain dormant for months. With a simple change to a file or a hidden installation, it can wait to wreak havoc. Your antivirus should constantly monitor your files to detect any unusual activity or directories.

It doesn’t impact your Mac’s performance – Antivirus software has a monumental task—it must constantly monitor online threats while also keeping track of your computer’s systems. However, it shouldn’t hog your Mac’s resources or make your devices unusable. Today’s tools are at their best when they can do their job without severely affecting your performance. Having tools like passive and game modes are a bonus.

It’s easy to use – It’s no good having the most powerful tools and effective antivirus software if you can’t use it. Despite the complexity of the tasks antivirus software has, it shouldn’t be impossible to use or limit you from getting the most out of it. Look for a software that includes easy-to-navigate interfaces, scans that are easy to schedule and initiate, and management tools that let you tailor your protection to your specific needs. Moreover, look for features that are accessible and on the main screen.

It doesn’t hog your Mac’s resources – Although Macs are known to be powerful and effective, they only have so many available memory and computing resources. Antivirus software is always on, and it’s constantly performing minor and major tasks to keep you safe. This is an inevitable side effect of being protected, but it doesn’t have to mean you can’t do two things at once. Look for an antivirus that can effectively operate within your Mac system, and not despite it.

What About Privacy Issues with Third-Party Software?

One of the unfortunate side effects of today’s data-driven world is that even the products and companies that protect you can sometimes produce data that is valuable to others.

Antivirus software also produces significant data about users in terms of their experience with attacks and their online behavior. This obviously creates important questions about your data privacy, and especially when you’re using free tools.

Most companies include very clear information about how they use your data, what data they collect, and how they store and defend it. In most cases, companies will not share or sell your data with third parties (though they will share it with official public authorities upon legal request), although they do use it to optimize their services.

Even so, you should always be mindful about who you share your data with, and ask yourself the following questions:

What kind of data is the company collecting from me?

It’s inevitable that antivirus tools collect data about your computer usage and some of your online behaviors.

Companies need it both to protect you and to improve their services and malware detection tools. However, this shouldn’t extend to data that isn’t essential, and it should almost never include private data that is not relevant to the services they offer.

Who do they share the data with?

Antivirus companies will always let you know who they share data with. This often includes affiliates that provide additional services (such as VPNs or password managers), as well as parent companies that use it for feedback and product improvement. It shouldn’t include any third parties that use your data for marketing or sales-related purposes.

How Do We Test Mac Antivirus?

In today’s crowded antivirus market, it’s hard to find the real contenders. Most offer similar features and price points but knowing how effective they really are at defending you is hard for most beginners to comprehend. I am committed to helping you find the right antivirus by providing in-depth and expert reviews that thoroughly test each antivirus software to determine the best. Here are the factors I consider in every review:

How it performs on my tests and independent testing – At their core, antivirus tools should do one thing—protect you from threats to your Mac. My first priority is to determine how effectively each contender can defend you by running it through tests that involve deploying multiple known viruses and malware at it. Additionally, I compare my results to those of independent testing labs that are industry standards.

What features it offers – Keeping yourself protected today is about more than simply scanning for viruses. Almost every moment you’re online provides an opportunity for hackers, but your antivirus should always be one step ahead of the threats. This means having additional tools that protect you at different moments such as anti-phishing protection, URL blocking, parental controls, and device access control tools.

How it impacts your performance – Finally, I focus on an antivirus software’s overall impact on your Mac. Usability is still vital, and your software should never impede your Mac’s performance. I make sure that my top picks can do their jobs without making it impossible to do yours.

Our Recommendation

Before diving in and choosing an antivirus for your Mac, take some time to do a little research and find the right choice for you.

Explore my in-depth breakdowns of each brand by my experts, and see what others are saying in my extensive database of user reviews.

You can also compare each brand’s features and prices on my website to see which offers the best blend of price and features to meet your needs.