5 Best Antiviruses for Mac [2020]: Free & Paid (with Discounts)

Short on time? Here’s the best Mac antivirus in 2020:

With so many antivirus products advertised on the web, I was surprised that only a few of them offer protection against Mac-specific malware. For starters, most antivirus brands focus too much on PC protection, meaning they don’t include important security features for Mac devices. Others simply don’t offer anything beyond Apple’s built-in security features, so why use something that doesn’t do anything?

I tested 27 different Mac antivirus software — while most were pretty bad, I found 5 programs that were significantly better than all the others. Each one added more functionality to Apple’s already built-in security features — advanced firewall protection, safer browsing with Safari, and even better backup functionality than Apple’s Time Machine — and they all are affordable, easy-to-use, and 100% secure.

Here’s what I found out.

Here’s a summary of the best Mac antivirus software for 2020:

How I Rated the Best Antivirus for Mac in 2020

A Mac antivirus is different from a PC antivirus. Traditional “viruses” are not as much of a problem for Mac as they are for Windows, and therefore, a Mac antivirus needs to provide value by fighting other kinds of malware which are unique to Macs. Here are the factors I used to create this list:

  • Real-time antivirus protection. I tested each program’s real-time engine with a series of viruses, adware, ransomware, and other common types of malware, and I guaranteed that my top 5 could handle even the most sophisticated real-time threats.
  • Virus and malware scanning. I installed some of the most dangerous malware onto my Mac before running each of these scans — only the software that could detect and remove these threats made it onto this list.
  • Ease of use. I downloaded each program to ensure it included a simple installation, intuitive user interface, and good customer support.
  • Additional features. The best antivirus software offers more than just the basics, so I can keep my device performing at its best and my data 100% secure. I’ve rated each antivirus for additional tools, such as junk cleaners, VPNs, and identity theft protection.
  • Value. I want the best products for my money. Every piece of software on this list offers great features and high performance at a competitive price.

🥇1. Intego — Best Overall Mac Antivirus of 2020

🥇1. Intego — Best Overall Mac Antivirus of 2020

Specifically designed for Macs, Intego has a wide range of cybersecurity and Mac-optimization features — and is also amazing value for the money.

Intego’s full package, Mac Premium Bundle X9, includes:

  • Virus and malware protection.
  • Internet security.
  • Parental controls.
  • Mac optimization tools.
  • Backup tools.

Intego’s cybersecurity tools include VirusBarrier and NetBarrier, both of which are really easy to use and offer high-quality real-time protection against malware and hackers. VirusBarrier’s scanner detected 100% of the malware files on my device during testing. The initial scan took a while, but I was happy to find that subsequent scans were much faster thanks to the file caching technology which skips previously scanned files.

Intego’s advanced firewall feature, NetBarrier, blocks hackers from accessing my data when I’m using public Wi-Fi. My friend had her MacBook hacked while working in an internet café, and she lost all of her data. We both now use Intego’s NetBarrier to protect our personal data whenever using public Wi-Fi.

I was really impressed by Personal Backup — it’s like Apple’s Time Machine, but even better. Using Personal Backup, I backed up my entire Mac (including my OS X) and quickly loaded all files onto my other computer. I also really like the Washing Machine feature, which gave me back almost 3 GB of space on my hard drive. And Washing Machine’s “Organize” function organized my entire Mac in seconds, arranging my files into easy-to-find folders.

Intego also has great parental controls — a feature called “ContentBarrier”. Setting up ContentBarrier may be slightly tricky at first, but once set up, it’s a powerful tool for blocking malicious sites, tracking keystrokes, and receiving alerts if online predators might be communicating with your kids.

Bottom Line:

Overall, Intego is the best antivirus for most Mac users. As we saw in our Intego review, it offers an incredible range of features designed specifically for macOS devices — with powerful virus and malware protection — and comes at an incredible value for the money. I would prefer it if Intego offered a VPN and improved the parental controls, but I think that advanced features like Personal Backup and Washing Machine are what make Intego’s full package the best Mac antivirus software package out there.

Download Intego

🥈2. Airo AV — Best Lightweight Software

🥈2. Airo AV — Best Lightweight Software

Less is more when it comes to Airo AV’s antivirus app. Designed exclusively for Macs, like Intego, this software is really lightweight but still offers powerful antivirus protection. I love its extremely minimal design and how it’s super easy to use. It’s perfect for both experienced and non tech-savvy users who just want antivirus software without any fancy features.

Airo AV’s software includes:

  • Lightweight antivirus protection.
  • Minimal, easy-to-use interface.
  • AI-powered threat detection.
  • Browser security extension.

When I compared it to more heavyweight programs like Norton and Intego, Airo AV’s virus scanner takes up a fraction of my Mac’s CPU power — which is a massive bonus for me, as I already use many CPU-intensive apps on my Mac, including gaming apps and video editing software.

Airo AV is powered by artificial intelligence and uses a machine-learning algorithm to target threats before they attack your Mac. It scored a 100% detection rate in all of SafetyDetectives’s testing, which you can read more about in our full review. When I ran similar tests, it completely protected my Mac from ransomware, crypto-jacking malware, and spyware — these things are difficult for most basic antivirus programs to detect.

The Airo Web Guardian browser extension defends against malicious downloads, pop-ups, and phishing links that appeared in search results. During my tests, it detected even some very well-disguised phishing links.

Although the software is designed well and targets a wide range of threats, it’s slightly overpriced (but Airo AV’s discount page is here) — especially as it doesn’t have various additional features such as Mac cleaning tools and a VPN, unlike MacKeeper and TotalAV.

Bottom Line:

Overall, Airo AV is a really great piece of antivirus software. It’s lightweight, well-designed, and it’s extremely good at protecting Macs from a wide range of malware. In the future, I would like to see some additional features like a VPN. I also think the software doesn’t offer as much in comparison to other brands with more features. However, I do believe this software is perfect for people who want a lightweight, less CPU-intensive antivirus that guarantees 100% malware protection.

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🥉3. TotalAV — Best for Ease of Use

🥉3. TotalAV — Best for Ease of Use

TotalAV combines an antivirus with internet security and Mac optimization tools. However, there’s one thing that sets TotalAV apart from its rivals — it’s ease of use. TotalAV bundles all features together into one easy-to-navigate dashboard — perfect for people who aren’t tech-savvy. I love TotalAV’s dashboard as it doesn’t clutter my desktop.

TotalAV includes:

  • Antivirus scanner (100% detection).
  • Great range of Mac optimization tools.
  • VPN (with unlimited data).
  • Integrated password manager.
  • Ad blocker.

The software also has real-time malware protection. The one downfall is that the VPN costs extra — it should be included as part of all packages, like Norton and MacKeeper.

There’s a really decent range of Mac optimization tools, including junk file removal, startup program manager, and a Browser Manager. The startup program manager enabled me to remove the programs that were slowing down my Mac’s startup time — saving me at least 30 seconds during my launch phase, which I’m super happy with!

Although TotalAV does have a firewall, it’s nowhere near as advanced as Intego’s firewall feature. It lacks the controls and extra functionality that Intego’s firewall (known as NetBarrier) offers to users.

TotalAV does offer other additional features such as an integrated password manager and ad blocker for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. The password manager and ad blocker are okay — you can read about all the features in our full review. However, they cost extra, while other companies offer them as free downloads. 

Bottom Line:

TotalAV is super easy to navigate and has a decent range of security and Mac optimization features. I really like the Mac optimization tools, but other features such as the integrated firewall don’t work as well as Intego’s. TotalAV’s pricing is okay, but I don’t like that you have to pay extra for some features, including the password manager, ad blocker, and VPN.

Download TotalAV

4. Norton — Best for Browser Extensions

Norton — Best for Browser Extensions

Norton’s 360 packages offer a variety of tools for Macs, including:

  • Antivirus scanner (100% detection).
  • Internet security browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
  • Password manager.
  • VPN (with unlimited data).
  • Mac cleaning tools.

Norton’s range of browser extensions includes Safe Web, Safe Search, and Norton’s Password Manager. Safe Web helps to block access to phishing sites — fake copies of popular websites hackers use to steal information. Safe Search reduced the number of malicious links that appeared in my search results — this is essential as I use Google at least 100 times a day.

Norton’s Password Manager browser extension made it super easy to store my passwords and login credentials — speeding up my daily routine of logging into over 50 different sites.

Norton also offers an unlimited VPN. While the VPN is okay, some server locations and geo-restricted content didn’t work for me. There’s also a basic Mac cleaning tool. The Mac cleaning scan took much longer than Intego’s Washing Machine. However, it did a decent job of detecting and removing junk files from my Mac, freeing up much needed hard drive space.

While it offers a good range of features, Norton’s dashboard displays features that don’t work on Macs, including the parental controls and the Cloud Backup — which is annoying. I feel that Norton’s software for Mac is just a limited version of their PC software. The range of features for Macs does not compare to Intego — which includes all the features that Norton’s Mac software doesn’t offer, such as backup tools and parental controls.

Bottom Line:

Overall, Norton for Mac is okay. I’d prefer it if the software didn’t display features that don’t work on Macs. However, Norton really excels with its range of browser extensions, which we talk more about in our full Norton review. I like how the Secure VPN is unlimited, but not how some geo-restricted content is still blocked. The pricing of each 360 package is decent. But I prefer Intego, as it’s designed specifically for Mac users — not just a limited Mac version of a PC software. Norton is ideal if you need to cover a lot of different devices — Mac, Windows, Android, iOS — but if you just have a Mac, there are better options out there.

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5. MacKeeper — Best for Internet Security Features

MacKeeper — Best for Internet Security Features

Alongside its range of Mac optimization tools, MacKeeper has superb internet security features, including:

  • VPN Private Connect. Unlimited VPN with decent speeds. Included with all MacKeeper plans. Perfect for secure streaming.
  • StopAd. A super useful ad and tracking link blocker. It blocked over 20 ads and stopped 15 websites from tracking my internet activity in less than 5 minutes.
  • ID Theft Guard. Scanned my email addresses and found that one of them had been leaked in a massive data breach!

MacKeeper’s antivirus scanner is basic — nowhere near as thorough as Intego and Airo AV. I couldn’t schedule scans or view logs of previous scans, which made it difficult to ensure that all of my documents had been checked for malware. Also, MacKeeper doesn’t include a firewall, meaning I had to rely on another piece of software to keep my Mac protected from outside threats.

MacKeeper’s plans are a decent price — especially as you don’t have to pay extra for additional features, such as the VPN, ad blocker, or identity theft tools. MacKeeper also has really great customer support, with an integrated live chat function that enabled me to speak with a representative almost instantly to resolve any issues.

Bottom Line:

Overall, I like MacKeeper. I really like the layout, and it has a great range of features that you don’t have to pay extra to access, such as the VPN and ID Theft Guard — which we talk about in our in-depth MacKeeper review. I would prefer it if MacKeeper included a firewall in its software and improved the functionality of the antivirus scanner, which is very basic in comparison to other antivirus scanners such as Intego and Airo AV. MacKeeper is OK in terms of pricing — it’s not as cheap as other brands, but it’s still a pretty good value.

Download MacKeeper

Bonus. Sophos — Best Free macOS Antivirus

Bonus. Sophos — Best Free macOS Antivirus

Sophos offers a pretty good free Mac antivirus (which comes after you download the 30-day free trial of Sophos’s premium antivirus). With Sophos Home Free, you get:

  • Real-time protection.
  • Parental controls.
  • Advanced web protection.
  • Remote web management.
  • Protection for 3 Mac/Windows devices (and unlimited mobile devices).

For a free antivirus, this is really good, especially as there aren’t a lot of free antiviruses for Macs. After the free trial of the premium version expires, you may decide that you don’t want to waste your time dealing with the hassles of a free antivirus and keep Sophos Home PremiumBut if that happens, I’d recommend you come back here and choose one of the other antiviruses on this list like Intego or Airo AV — you’ll get better protection at a better price.

Download Sophos

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:

While much of the software I tested was pretty bad, I was shocked that many big-name brands didn’t provide better protection for my Mac. After extensive testing on the latest macOS software, here are some of the well-known brands that I just couldn’t put on my list:

  • Avast/AVG. Avast has allegedly been selling users’ browsing information for several years. As such, we no longer recommend Avast or any Avast company (like AVG) on our site. You can read more about our decision here. You’re much better off paying for a reputable antivirus like Intego, Airo AV, or Norton.
  • Kaspersky. Kaspersky’s Internet Security for Mac is a decent product with lots of features for Mac users that go beyond typical antivirus protection. But, unfortunately, it just didn’t rank well when I tested it against the other brands on this list.
  • BullGuard. While BullGuard offers really great protection and a huge range of features for Windows and Android devices, its macOS and iOS offerings are pretty weak compared to the other antivirus software on my list. BullGuard for Mac is just an extremely basic antivirus scanner, which is slow and inconsistent.

🤔 Do Macs need antivirus software?

100% yes. Macs are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks, as hackers have developed (and are still developing) very sophisticated Mac-based malware. If your Mac isn’t protected by antivirus software, you’re at risk of having all of your data stolen and your Mac destroyed.

That said, you need to be careful to only download trustworthy and legitimate antivirus software. If your antivirus is ineffective, you will end up putting your trust in a product that won’t keep you safe.

All of the antiviruses on this list are reputable and will help guarantee your protection.

🤔 What is the best antivirus for Mac?

Although there are many great antivirus products available, Intego is the best for most users. It’s designed specifically for Mac users and has an impressive range of tools for cybersecurity protection and Mac optimization — all for an amazing price.

🤔 Don’t Macs already have an antivirus built into the OS?

Macs have a few built-in security features, including:

  • App Review. Audits legitimacy of App Store apps before downloading.
  • Gatekeeper. Scans apps for malicious code prior to launching.
  • Web protection. Blocks malicious sites and tracking links on Safari.
  • Anti-theft tools. Enables you to track Mac and iOS devices if they’re lost or stolen.

While these features are useful, they’re not powerful enough to fully protect Macs from ransomware, spyware, adware, and other advanced malware hackers use to spy on you and steal your data.

Even the latest macOS doesn’t include real-time scanning, ransomware protection, Mac optimization tools, or advanced phishing protection. That’s why installing a comprehensive macOS-based antivirus suite like Intego or Airo AV which is designed to keep you 100% protected against all cybersecurity threats is the best choice.

🤔 Is there a free antivirus for Mac?

Yes, there are a couple of decent free antiviruses for Mac.

But, free antiviruses are only “free” because they won’t offer complete protection until you upgrade to a paid plan. Most free antiviruses don’t have:

  • Real-time protection.
  • Advanced firewall settings.
  • Ransomware protection.
  • Phishing protection.
  • Mac optimization tools.

If you don’t have a lot of sensitive data on your Mac, a free antivirus will work just fine. But for me, since I store all of my credit card details, all of my login details, all of my work documents, all of my photos, and all of my creative projects on my Macbook, I’d much rather spend a few bucks a month on a low-cost premium antivirus like Intego than risk losing everything with a free antivirus.

About the Author

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity researcher and tech journalist

About the Author

Sophie Anderson has spent the last 10 years working as a software engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. She now works as a cybersecurity consultant and tech journalist, helping everyday netizens understand how to stay safe and protected in an online world.
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