According to a report by Malwarebytes, Mac malware grew by 270% in 2017 and is set to grow even further this year. This took some people by surprise because macOS has always been seen as a safe operating system. Because Macs are more popular than ever, they’ve become a more attractive target.
Thankfully, the fact that Macs are Unix-based systems mean they remain a lot more secure than Windows PCs, while Apple’s built-in security features like Gatekeeper do a good job of blocking a lot of suspect software, there is a much greater chance that something will get through and infect your Mac.
So, let’s take a look at the best antivirus software on the market, starting with big guns at the premium end of the market and then top free options.
Best antivirus software for Mac
You should approach choosing antivirus software as if you were buying a new smartphone or computer — research until you’re absolutely sure you’ve found the right one. This doesn’t matter so much with free software where you’ve nothing really to lose but when you’re parting with your hard earned cash you need to know that the software is going to get the job done.
When it comes to reliable information, there’s no better place to get it than from the independent the labs — the researchers who make it their life’s work to rigorously test antivirus software. The researchers at AV-TEST, the independent IT-security test institute, regularly put ьacOS antivirus software through its paces.
In their most recent round of testing, the lab experts evaluated 12 of the top MacOS solutions on three criteria: protection, system load, and usability.
- Protection: the software’s ability to protect your system from malware
- System load: the software’s impact on system performance
- Usability: how easy the software is to navigate
Here are some of the best options on the market for keeping your Mac safe.
1. CleanMyMac X
CleanMyMac X is a utility tool with plenty going for it. Not only does it help you rid your system of threats, it continually scans your system for malware and offers immediate removal. It’s as simple and effective as malware protection gets.
In addition to that feature, the tool also has a vast range of options for ridding your system of junk files and keeping Mac performance at the top of its game. The ability to clean up old apps and files in a few clicks is the perfect complement to malware removal.
- Excellent malware scanning
- Quick threats removal
- Great choice of additional Mac performance features
- Removes thousands of malware threats, including adware, spyware, and viruses
It has a limited number of free Malware scans
A solid all-rounder that’s one of the best suites on the market. The multi-layer ransomware protection and adware removal are standout features, and the software’s ability to scan for Windows PC malware (a feature not available on some software) set it apart from the rest.
- Excellent Mac integration
- Capable of scanning for Windows malware
Other antivirus software for Mac has a greater range of features
Cost for the Premium Bundle X9: $39.99/year
Intego is a household name in Mac protection and does the job of keeping your computer free of malware in a no-fuss kind of way. It too scans for Windows malware. However, some of its great work is undone by its drain on system resources.
- Firewall protection
- Accurate scanning
- Limited features
- No website filtering
- Can affect performance
4. Symantec by Norton
Cost for Security Deluxe: $89.99/year
Norton antivirus comes with a reputation for outstanding performance and that’s what you get with Symantec. Its malware detection engine is second to none and you can use it across multiple Mac, iOS, Windows, or Android devices. Like Intego, it’s demanding on performance but not to a point where it’s annoying. The biggest drawback of Symantec is, unfortunately, the price. $89.99 a year is a lot of money, especially when you consider you can get antivirus software for free.
- Works across a range of devices
- Excellent malware detection
- Firewall protection
- Can affect system performance
5. Trend Micro
Trend Micro is the kindest tool of the paid options for your system. You hardly notice it’s there. It’s built for macOS High Sierra too and integrates with your system well. Features like content filtering and social media privacy checking are useful, while the overall speed of scanning is excellent. The only real drawback is the lack of firewall protection.
- Good all-around protection
- Built for compatibility with the latest MacOS
- Nice range of features
No firewall protection
Other notable mentions include Kaspersky, which offers an outstanding range of features but is let down slightly by its user interface, and ClamXAV, which is a favorite of IT professionals and is available for a one-off fee, rather than a license. Unfortunately, ClamXAV doesn’t offer website filtering, phishing protection, or firewall protection.
Best free antivirus software for Mac
If you’ve looked at the prices of the paid options and balked a little, you’ll welcome this next bunch of software with open arms because they’re all free.
Free software doesn’t get the same fanfare as the paid products, mostly because it doesn’t have to push for sales at every given opportunity. But that doesn’t mean it won’t serve you just as well.
Free software tends to only be available for one device per download, however, if you only have one Mac to protect that’s all you need.
If you want to keep your Mac malware-free, these tools have you covered.
1. Sophos Home
Sophos is a paid tool that comes with a free version. This version is limited in what it can do but offers accurate scanning and features like website filtering and anti-phishing.
- Good virus detection
- Easy to use
AVG’s free offering is one of the best around in terms of virus detection, scoring 100% in AV-TEST benchmarks. It’s easy to use too. Free, however, comes at the cost of system performance. The software takes up around 10% of system resources — quite a chunk when you consider Trend Micro only demands around 2% of resources.
- Excellent scanning
- Good user interface
Slows system performance
Which antivirus software for Mac should I use?
The antivirus software we’ve listed here is the best of the best. In truth, you could choose any and be happy with your purchase.
Of the paid options, Bitdefender is one of the standout options, simply for the accuracy of its virus scanning and ease of use. Symantec by Norton is known for being reliable and capable of defeating numerous threats, although it is a bit pricey. From the free options, AVG is the most effective, but it will consume around 10% of your Mac resources when it is running.
Whereas CleanMyMac X is a swiss army knife: it will protect from malware while removing clutter and freeing up much-needed space. It does everything you need and, alongside Mac’s built-in Gatekeeper, will protect you from the dangers that lurk on the internet.