Apple’s MacOS operating system is a smooth, closed ecosystem with a focus on accessibility and user experience. Unlike Windows, which allows anyone to tinker around and change what they’d like, Apple’s philosophy is that the provider can give the best experience possible, and doesn’t want the user to interfere.
While that’s an admirable trait, it also means those with the know how have a much harder time getting into the system and doing what they can to protect it. Fortunately, the platform has all sorts of antivirus protection so users can keep it safe regardless.
But, with so many different types of Mac antivirus software out there, how do you decide which is the best for your device?
What follows is a breakdown of what we look into while testing everything out.
- Intego – Best For Its Firewall
- McAfee – Best For Its Database of Malware
- BullGuard – Best For Its Parental Controls
- Panda – Best For Its Free VPN
- Norton – Best For Its Scanning Service
- Webroot – Best For Its Quick Scans
- MalwareBytes – Best For Its Real-Time Protection
- Avast – Best For Its Sandbox Feature
- TotalAV – Best for Multi-Device Security
- Trend Micro – Best For Its In-Depth Scans
The Best Antivirus for Mac Features to Look For
Searching for the best antivirus software for Mac is a bit different than finding some for another operating system. Because Apple’s systems are so closed off, it’s much harder for malware to get into the system. That and hackers tend to target Windows machines more often than Mac for the same reason. However, that doesn’t mean you should slack on Mac security in the slightest.
Here’s everything you need to know about Mac antivirus software.
Even if it isn’t the best antivirus software, you want something in place that will protect you while browsing the web. That said, there are certainly better options than others.
The best antivirus for Mac are always updating and provide you a ton of ways to customize their offerings. These are the ones you want to stick with. Otherwise, you’ll be using one that doesn’t stick with the times – and all of the latest, ever more terrifying threats – and not protect your device.
When examining the different antivirus out there, we take all of this into account, and more.
Key security features we always examine:
- Immediate virus scans that protect your device in real-time
- Detecting suspicious behavior as it occurs
- Whitelisting websites for easy access
- Sandboxing to test downloads in a safe environment
- Protection from spyware
- Defense against phishing
- Built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network)
- Device cleanup and speed up for a faster PC
- Ransomware prevention
- Firewall for quick browsing protection
- Wi-Fi inspection
- Protection from keyloggers
While defending against viruses and other dangers is the most important feature of an antivirus for Mac, many of them come with optional extras that make the software even better. This is the biggest form of competition between the different offerings, as the one with the best extra features is the best for your time and value.
Anyways, we’ve looked into over 40 antivirus software for Mac to find you the best one. In our search, we look specifically for:
- Security features: sure, an antivirus can say it will protect you, but how exactly does it do so? There are different types of protection, from malware protection to ransomware defense and more. Some antivirus software provides this while others don’t.
- Reliability and accuracy: How well does an antivirus software catch potential attacks? Does it commit a ton of false-positives, or does the program catch things that will actually harm your computer?
1st Place – Intego – Best For Its Firewall
- Powerful firewall protects you while browsing
- Protects against pretty much any virus thanks to its database
- Real-time/scheduled scans by default
- Not very beginner friendly
- Hard to find quarantined viruses
- Provides advanced options to users right away who might not know what to do with them
Intego’s VirusBarrier X9 is a solid Mac antivirus software with features such as real-time malware checks and a quality firewall.
To start, the software’s firewall is actually called NetBarrier X9, which provides top-of-the line protection for both outgoing and incoming connections.
VirusBarrier is fantastic as well, protecting against pretty much any virus one can throw at it. On top of this, the antivirus automatically commits schedules and real-time scans, despite not being very customizable.
However, as solid as the offering is, Intego’s antivirus offering isn’t exactly beginner friendly. For example, whenever the software catches a virus, the user is able to choose “Trust,” “Repair,” or “Quarantine.” Trust shouldn’t be front and center, as it’s hard for inexperienced users to know for sure if something is a virus or not.
That said, it’s also somewhat hard to find a quarantined virus. These spaces aren’t accessible via Finder, nor does it seem to move it anywhere safe. Instead, VirusBarrier X9 keeps the virus where it was downloaded. This can be dangerous if the user doesn’t remove it right away.
2nd Place – McAfee – Best For Its Database of Malware
- Been around to see all sorts of malware
- Great for online protection due to its history in the industry
- Social Media Guard helps protect while browsing common sites
- Expensive higher tier plans
- Extra plans don’t bring a lot of features
- Must pay extra for multi-device
Even if you know nothing about antivirus software, you’ve probably heard of McAfee. This is one of the longest lasting antivirus on the market. Due to that experience, the platform has seen nearly all of the different malware in existence. That database is there to protect you from nearly any online threats in existence.
On top of this, the platform offers some decent features like its security scanner, which not only checks for malware but also watches out for strange occurrences on your device like software launching for no reason or files moving around without your input.
This is also one of those antivirus software that focuses on web protection. That, and there’s something called McAfee’s Home Network Security. This hub of features brings with protection for your Wi-Fi network, an upgraded firewall, and much more with an easy-to-use dashboard to keep track of it all.
McAfee also has something called a Social Media Guard which is fairly unique. Doing exactly what it sounds like, this option protects users while browsing around social media. This could include but isn’t limited to spam accounts that sent out malware links or dangerous pages shared by others online.
One should note, however, that McAfee is somewhat expensive. It’s hard to say these extra plans are worth it either as they don’t come with many extra features. Yet, the cheapest plan only works for one device. That said, if all you’re trying to do is protect is your Mac, then you’re set.
3rd Place – BullGuard – Best For Its Parental Controls
- Fast user imports
- Security level templates based on age
- Monitors chat platforms by default
- Bad ransomware protection
- Somewhat slow response team takes a couple of hours to respond
BullGuard has been around for long enough to obtain multiple accolades that showcase just how solid the software is. What’s quality here is its features, which include top-of-the-line parental controls, fast user imports, and even security levels based on the users age and knowledge of antivirus.
When first getting into the antivirus software, it provides a list of chat platforms for you to maintain – very important here. Of course, you don’t have to monitor that software if you don’t want to, but this default is incredibly useful especially when kids are involved.
BullGuard also comes with something called a home network scanner. This feature lets you know whenever a new device tries to connect to the network. That way, you can maintain everyone who has access, while also keeping an eye on any would-be intruders.
This software is incredibly streamlined as well. All features are accessible from one easy place, with a muted notification center that holds information but only pings you if you want it to. On top of all of this, BullGuard’s support teams are somewhat responsive if you need them, though they aren’t the fastest in the world. We generally receive a response in a few hours.
Also, BullGuard isn’t great at protecting from ransomware. There isn’t any dedicated feature for it here, though the antivirus is great at protection from malware. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a dealbreaker or not, but it should be noted that most of this software is quite powerful.
4th Place – Panda – Best For Its Free VPN
- Free plans brings with a VPN
- Scans USB devices automatically
- Powerful custom firewall
- False positives a little too often
- Basic plans are lacking many features, you have to upgrade high to get the good stuff
- 150mb/day VPN is pretty limiting
Panda is an ideal antivirus for Mac thanks to its free VPN services. There isn’t much software that offers something like that, and, to be fair, Panda’s is somewhat limited at only 150mb a day. However, it’s providing an alternative, secure way to browse for free and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
On top of this is Panda’s security features. It defends against pretty much every malware attack you can think of, though it may be a bit too secure at times. There are many times where Panda gives out some false positives, otherwise known as when the software claims an infected program but it’s actually wrong.
Interestingly, this software automatically scans any USB devices that are plugged in as well. It doesn’t bother you to do this, the program just does so automatically. This is on top of its firewall offering, which is always on and fully customizable.
Unfortunately, despite its free VPN, Panda doesn’t provide many extra features in its lower tier plans. You’re going to have to spend a bit more if you want the best additions, though the base plan is a great offering in its own right.
5th Place – Norton – Best For Its Scanning Service
- Quality refund policy allows you to test the service before committing
- SONAR service is a quality scanner to keep you safe
- Virus Removal Assurance ensures you’ll feel validated with your purchase
- Expensive multi-device support
- Basic plan lacks many features
- Always pinging to set up new features
Similar to McAfee, Norton has a full database that comes only from being around as long as it has. That’s not to mention the platform’s quality support offerings such as 24/7 chat and extremely knowledgeable agents.
Norton also has an interesting feature called Proactive Exploit Protection (PEP). This is a feature that protects against zero-day attacks, or those that haven’t been put into antivirus databases just yet. It’s an incredibly useful offering that keeps your device safe in case of a surprise attack from an unknown strain of malware.
The software provides something else too called the SONAR. This is Norton’s scanning service, which keeps an eye on all of your programs at all times and keeps an eye on malware. Somewhat interesting is that it also alerts you if you’ve left this service off for a while. That shows that Norton is genuinely interested in keeping you safe.
Finally, Norton has something called Virus Removal Assurance. This is another surefire protection method, as it ensures that if your Mac is infected while Norton is protecting it, you’ll receive a full refund for your Norton purchase.
Despite its longevity, Norton is not perfect, however. To start, its basic plan doesn’t offer you much. On top of this, the software is always pinging you to set up new features that you may or may not want to use. This is even more annoying because one of the most useful features, multi-device support, is only given on one of the more expensive plans.
6th Place – Webroot – Best For Its Quick Scans
- Streamlined app ensures a quick setup
- Fast scans mean you’re not waiting long for protection
- 70 day money back guarantee ensures you’re properly testing the service before committing
- Lacks many extra features
- Just ok malware protection, it misses a lot
- Confusing protection methods due to the cloud not being very clear
Webroot is a streamlined antivirus software for Mac that’s best for newer users. It installs incredibly fast, scans just as quick, and provides some useful features that anyone can take advantage of.
To start, the software’s dashboard provides access to an overview of your PC’s security. From there, users can set up identity protection or the platform’s cloud-based backups. On top of this, the antivirus is a solid offering in terms of malware protection, but there are better ones out there. It’s interesting, because this protection system takes advantage of the cloud, and the company claims that this process is too different from other ones to even be compared.
However, it’s easy to test this for yourself as Webroot offers a 70-day money-back guarantee, which is ideal for anyone just looking to try before they commit. However, the software lacks many other features than the ones mentioned, so ensure you’re okay with the offerings here before buying.
7th Place – MalwareBytes – Best For Its Real-Time Protection
- Fast scans keep you from waiting long
- Real-time protection protects you from zero-day viruses
- Customizable defenses ensure you can use the software how you’d prefer
- Sometimes misses popular malware
- Bad at benchmarking
Malewarebytes is a solid antivirus software for Mac that provides something called real-time protection. Essentially, this feature keeps an eye out for zero-day attacks, otherwise known as dangers that haven’t been patched yet or picked up by antivirus databases.
On top of this, users can customize the real-time protection to cater to every single installed application. Maybe you don’t want it on while playing an installed game, but you want full protection when using your web browser. Malwarebytes provides the customization options for that.
Interestingly, this application already comes with some recommended apps by default, so even those without much experience in this realm can jump in and not waste any time.
In terms of scans, this antivirus software runs incredibly fast, and even provides a real-time dashboard to follow the process. Once complete, Malwarebytes distributes a diagnostics report with useful information such as how deep the scan went or data on the operating system.
However, this antivirus software for Mac isn’t perfect. The software occasionally misses certain malware, for example, even ones that are fairly common. It’s also not the best at benchmarking either. That said, these are small issues in an otherwise decent software.
8th Place – Avast – Best For Its Sandbox Feature
- Sandbox testing area is great for testing new software
- Anti-spam email software protects you from in email attacks
- Info shredder deletes all traces of files to keep you safe
- No firewall on lower tiered plans
- Lacks in security compared to others
- Only one device on basic paid plan
Avast is chock-full of features. To start, the software includes an anti-spam program to keep your email safe from attacks. There’s also an information shredder to completely remove traces of any files you’d like.
On top of all this is a Sandbox space, which tests out files in a closed environment before opening them up to your device. This ensures that an infection will never get out into your computer, as long as you open the file within this closed area.
That said, in terms of its security, it’s still not as good as some of the others on this list. But it’s just fine, utilizing six layers of protection to prevent any viruses from breaking through.
Unfortunately, a firewall only comes with the more expensive plans, though regardless of your plan, Avast’s user interface is simple, streamlined, and easy to use for anyone no matter their experience with antivirus software. I should also mention that the software only protects one device at its basic level. More expensive plans go up to ten devices, but if you’re only protecting your one Mac device then you should be fine with the basic plan.
9th Place – TotalAV – Best for Multi-Device Security
- Protects against a wide variety of attacks
- Remote-control firewall is great for mobile support
- “Web Shield” feature
- Lackluster customer service, as support takes a couple of days to respond
- Strange billing practices, users are often confused on how to pay
- Not the best at protection during web browsing, better for on-device defenses
Despite being one of the more recent pieces of antivirus software for Mac, TotalAV still competes with a lot of the top brands out there. However, you should note that the program is best for on-device protection over its internet defenses, however.
First off, TotalAV’s defense systems are great. It defends against all of the different malware we’ve thrown in its way. That, and its “Web Shield” is still a decent browsing defensive mechanism even if it’s not as good as other software that specializes in web browsing.
A key feature is TotalAV’s remote controlled firewall. Essentially, this feature ensures you can control the defense system from your mobile phone at any time. That and the software even includes a VPN, which is somewhat of a unique offering in comparison to other antivirus.
TotalAV is multi-device as well, so if you utilize systems other than your Mac, you can feel safe with this software. That said, despite its fantastic security options, TotalAV lacks a bit in its customer service department. Not only is paying for the software somewhat difficult, but real-time responses take a couple of days as well. However, there is a quality FAQ page on TotalAV’s website for those in need.
10th Place – Trend Micro – Best For Its In-Depth Scans
- Provides in-depth scans so no viruses are missed
- Automatically scans your files right away
- Provides daily updates to keep your device as secure as possible
- Doesn’t come with its own firewall for browsing protection
- Gives out a lot of false positives
- Slows down your computer while scanning
Trend Micro is an interesting antivirus software to recommend. To start, it’s a very useful program that offers solid protection, but it also slows down your device a ton when in use.
Regarding Trend Micro’s antivirus, the software automatically scans all of your files for infection upon installation, and anything suspicious is sent over to the company for a deeper scan. On top of this, the program also commits to daily malware updates to keep its database as up to date as possible.
Also, the software does give out a lot of false positives. That said, it protects very well on top of this, just be aware that not everything it marks is an infection. There’s also a quality web extension for Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft’s Edge, and Internet Explorer.
Unfortunately, the software doesn’t come with its own firewall. You’ll have to use something else on top of Trend Micro for such a feature. Also, as mentioned, the software drastically slows down your computer during an active scan, so keep that in mind.
Other Things To Look Out For When Choosing an Antivirus for Mac
Antivirus software isn’t perfect. No matter which software you pick or what plan you get, there’s going to be issues. When that happens, you’re going to want a dedicated support team to back you up.
That and if the support team isn’t around at the time, you at least want a comprehensive knowledge base that can answer your questions. Everyone prefers different support avenues, and it would be best if a software provides as many different kinds as possible.
Support features we place emphasis on:
- Phone, email, and live chat support
- Available 24/7
- Online FAQ and knowledge base
While you’re never going to get all the features in a Mac antivirus software for free, you’d be surprised what does come without paying.
On that note, there are some software that are entirely worth the price, while others are a bit expensive for what they offer. Fortunately, some antivirus software offers different payment tiers for those who can afford it or don’t want to pay top dollar.
What we look for when gauging price:
- Different plans and their prices
- How many licenses come with
- Package value
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