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Best Free Antiviruses for Mac (2022) — Are Any of Them Good?

Katarina Glamoslija Katarina Glamoslija
Updated on: September 1, 2022

Short on time? Here’s the best free Mac antivirus of 2022:

  • 🥇Intego. It’s the best macOS antivirus out there — detecting and removing all viruses and malware and ensuring that all Macs stay fast, clean, and optimized. It’s not 100% free, but it has a risk-free 30-day trial (no credit card needed) and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

I tested every single free Mac antivirus program on the market, looking for software that could provide decent anti-malware protection for macOS without forcing users to upgrade to the premium version. Most antivirus brands that offer free products usually make you “pay” with intrusive ads, limited features, and serious vulnerabilities that leave you and your Mac unsecured. And there are also free antiviruses that are actually spyware in disguise, designed to steal user data.

That’s why it’s important that you find a product that has been extensively tested and that is guaranteed to offer at least a basic level of protection without compromising your cybersecurity. I’ve researched and tested all major antivirus software designed for Macs to find the best 100% free products available to help you stay protected.

And while there are a handful of decent free Mac antiviruses, they all have frustrating limitations. But if you’re looking for comprehensive internet security protection, and you don’t want to fall victim to things like ransomware or advanced malware attacks, you’ll need to invest in a paid antivirus. I recommend Intego, which won the #1 spot on our list of the best paid antiviruses for macOS in 2022 and is available for a month-long free trial.

Quick summary of the best free Mac antiviruses in 2022:

1.🥇 Intego — Best for Overall macOS Protection in  2022

1.🥇 Intego — Best for Overall macOS Protection in  2022

Intego is my favorite Mac antivirus in 2022 — it has perfect malware detection rates, a wide range of useful extras that improve upon Apple’s built-in security, and it’s super easy to use.

While Intego’s not 100% free, it comes with a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives you plenty of time to use Intego and see if it’s the best choice for you.

In addition to detecting both Windows- and Mac-specific malware files during all of our tests, Intego also has an excellent firewall that automatically changes security settings based on whether you’re using your home network, work network, or a public Wi-Fi. This is a big improvement over Mac’s built-in firewall, and it ensures your online safety at all times.

Intego also comes with a good system optimizer. It finds and removes old, unused, or duplicate files and also helps you organize all of the files and apps you have on your Mac.

There’s also a personalized backup tool that lets you schedule when you want to back up specific files and folders, but what I love most about this feature is that you can back up your entire system — including your version of macOS.

Parents will also be happy to discover that Intego offers comprehensive parental controls. In addition to blocking inappropriate content, the parental controls also include anti-predator alerts, keystroke tracking, and detailed activity reports.

While Intego doesn’t yet have a mobile app, you can connect your iOS device to your computer to scan for viruses and other online threats.

Intego has several plans to choose from. At $24.99 / year, Intego Mac Internet Security X9 includes real-time malware scanning and has a firewall, but that’s pretty much it.

Users who also want Intego’s system optimization, backup tools, and parental controls should check out the Mac Premium Bundle X9, which costs $39.99 / year and covers up to 5 devices.

Bottom Line:

Intego provides the best virus and malware protection for Mac devices, and it also comes with a good range of extras that are all significantly better than Apple’s built-in protections. Intego caught all of the malware samples in my testing, and its firewall, system optimization tools, backup tools, and parental controls all worked flawlessly. While Intego’s not completely free, it has a risk-free 30-day trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you 2 whole months to test all of its features and see if it works for you.

Download Intego Now (Free Trial)

Read our full Intego review here

2.🥈 Avira Free Antivirus for Mac — Advanced Virus Scanner + Decent Free Extras

2.🥈 Avira Free Antivirus for Mac — Advanced Virus Scanner + Decent Free Extras

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac provides lightweight cloud-based malware scanning as well as more free features than any other brand on this list. It provides lightweight cloud-based malware scanning as well as more free features than any other brand on this list, including real-time protection, intuitive system tuneup tools, a surprisingly good password manager, and even a VPN!

Avira’s anti-malware scanner detected 100% of the malware files in my testing, including viruses, spyware, trojans, and ransomware. And because it’s cloud-based, Avira’s malware scanner runs smoothly in the background without any interruptions — I was able to run programs like Photoshop and Ableton Live with no slowdown, even during full system scans.

Avira’s free plan also comes with the Browser Safety extension, which blocks unsafe websites, ads, and ad trackers — this extension is excellent at blocking phishing sites, but I was particularly impressed with its ability to block annoying YouTube ads and unwanted pop-ups.

I also like Avira’s Phantom VPN, which has a strict no-logs policy, provides secure servers around the globe, and is fast enough for uninterrupted streaming. However, the VPN has a 500 MB monthly limit, which is only enough to watch a few hours of Netflix. If you want a good VPN for macOS users, check out our list of the best free VPNs for Mac here.

Avira also provides one of the best free password managers on the market, with unlimited password storage (across either multiple mobile or desktop devices), biometric logins, and a built-in TOTP (time-based one-time password) authenticator.

On the other hand, Avira’s free system optimization tools only include a junk file cleaner and an application uninstaller. And unlike Intego, Avira doesn’t offer parental controls on any of its plans.

Upgrading to Avira Prime ($59.99 / year) brings you unlimited data with the VPN, password security auditing and data breach monitoring with the password manager, advanced system optimization tools, and coverage for up to 5 devices across all operating systems. All Avira yearly purchases come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac provides lightweight real-time malware scanning, good anti-phishing protection, an excellent free password manager, and a decent VPN. The malware scanner blocked every malware file in my testing, and the web protections blocked both phishing sites and annoying ads. Upgrading to Avira Prime adds a VPN with no limitations, additional password manager features, and coverage for up to 5 devices.

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Read the full Avira review here>

3.🥉 TotalAV Free Antivirus — Good Antivirus Scanner & Limited Mac Speedup Tools

3.🥉 TotalAV Free Antivirus — Good Antivirus Scanner & Limited Mac Speedup Tools

TotalAV Free Antivirus provides on-demand antivirus scanning as well as excellent Mac optimization tools that you can use for a limited time only. TotalAV uses a white-label version of Avira’s anti-malware engine, so I wasn’t surprised that TotalAV had near-perfect malware detection rates in all of my tests. TotalAV is also very fast, lightweight, and it doesn’t cause any system slowdown.

The free macOS version of TotalAV also comes with a wide range of Mac cleaning and device optimization tools — but they’re available for only 2 days after you download the program.

These tools include:

  • Duplicates and junk file scanning and removal.
  • Tracking cookie cleanup.
  • Boot organizer to improve startup times.
  • Easy-to-use application uninstaller.
  • Cached browser files cleanup.

Fortunately, TotalAV runs a system cleanup scan immediately after downloading, so this one scan can clean your computer of years of junk files. When I tested the optimization tools, TotalAV found over 1,000 junk files on my Mac and nearly 2,500 browser cookies that were impacting both my Chrome and Safari browser, which improved both my system and browser speeds.

While TotalAV’s free plan for Mac users is good for malware scanning and removal, as well as for cleaning your device from unwanted files, it lacks real-time protection and other important cybersecurity protections. To fully protect your Mac, take a look at TotalAV’s low-cost paid plans, which start at $19.00 / year and add real-time protection, a VPN, a password manager, and a lot more. The free plan comes with a 7-day free trial of the premium features, and all purchases are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

TotalAV Free Antivirus is a decent on-demand malware scanner with some neat system cleanup tools that you can use for 48 hours after download. TotalAV’s anti-malware engine detected almost all of the malware on my disk, and its system cleanup tools removed nearly 3 GB of junk files from my test MacBook. If you want a comprehensive internet security solution for your Mac, take a look at TotalAV’s excellent paid plans.

Download TotalAV for Free

Read the full TotalAV review here>

4. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac — Excellent Cloud-Based Malware Scanning (But Not Much Else)

4. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac — Excellent Cloud-Based Malware Scanning (But Not Much Else)

Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac is a powerful, cloud-based anti-malware scanner that performs on-demand scans, but it doesn’t provide real-time protection. Bitdefender gives three scans to choose from. One of the best options is the program’s “Critical Locations Scan”, which scans the parts of your Mac where malware is most likely to be found, like downloads, temporary files, and cached files. There’s also the option to do a “Deep System Scan” of the entire Mac or a “Custom Location Scan”, which scans specific files or folders.

During all of my malware tests, Bitdefender scored a perfect 100% malware detection rate, detecting all of my Mac-specific malware samples, including the ones that most competitors failed to catch. Like Avira, Bitdefender’s scanner is also cloud-based, meaning it won’t slow down your Mac, not even during CPU-intensive processes like video editing or streaming.

Bitdefender’s free virus scanner is a good quick fix if you’re worried about your Mac’s performance and you think you may have a malware infection. But it’s not a long-term security solution, as it lacks essential cybersecurity protections, such as real-time protection, web protections, a VPN, and all of the other features that make Bitdefender Total Security ($35.99 / year) one of the top internet security suites on the market. Users who want to get Bitdefender’s fully-featured VPN and password manager should take a look at Bitdefender Premium Security, which costs $69.99 / year and adds coverage for up to 10 devices. All Bitdefender plans are covered by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac is an excellent cloud-based anti-malware scanner that’s great for detecting and removing malware from your device. However, other than the scanner, Bitdefender’s free plan doesn’t have any other features — it lacks real-time protection, anti-phishing protection, device optimization tools, a VPN, etc. Users looking for an all-around cybersecurity suite for Mac computers should take a look at Bitdefender Total Security, which covers up to 5 devices, or Bitdefender Premium Security, which adds a VPN with no limitations, a fully-featured password manager, and coverage for up to 10 devices.

Download Bitdefender for Free

Read the full Bitdefender review here>

5. Malwarebytes for Mac (Free) — Decent Antivirus Scanning and Removal

5. Malwarebytes for Mac (Free) — Decent Antivirus Scanning and Removal

Malwarebytes for Mac (Free) comes with good malware detection and removal capabilities. Users can choose from several scan types, including “Threat Scan” and “Custom Scan”. The Threat Scan will search the places where Mac-specific malware typically hides, while the Custom Scan can be customized to just scan one specific folder or your whole disk drive.

In my testing, Malwarebytes detected around 90% of the malware on my disk, including very tricky files like rootkits that can usually escape detection. Malwarebytes is a good option if you have malware on your device and need to quickly disinfect your Mac computer. But apart from the scanner, Malwarebytes’s free plan doesn’t come with any other features.

Users can also download Malwarebytes’s free Browser Guard browser extension that protects against malicious sites, phishing sites, ads, and trackers. The extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, but not for Safari.

Malwarebytes Premium adds real-time protection, ransomware protection, and web protection, whereas Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy also includes a VPN. Malwarebytes’s plans start at $44.99 / year, and there’s a 14-day free trial of Malwarebytes Premium included with the free Mac software. All purchases are backed by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Malwarebytes for Mac (Free) is a good malware scanner, but it doesn’t provide any additional protections. Malwarebytes offers two paid plans, including Malwarebytes Premium, which adds real-time protection and web protection, and Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy, which also includes a VPN.

Download Malwarebytes for Free

Read the full Malwarebytes review here>

Comparison of the Best Free Mac Antiviruses

Antivirus Free Trial of Premium Version Starting Price Real-Time Malware Protection Extra Features Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇 Intego 30 days $19.99 / year Yes (premium only) Firewall, system optimization, backup tools, parental controls (premium only) 30 days
2. 🥈 Avira No $59.99 / year for Avira Prime Yes Anti-phishing, limited password manager, limited VPN 60 days
3. 🥉 TotalAV No $19.00 / year Yes (premium only) Limited system optimization 30 days
4. Bitdefender No $35.99 / year for Total Security Yes (premium only) None 30 days
5. Malwarebytes 14 days $44.99 / year for Premium Yes (premium only) None 60 days

How to Choose the Best Free Antivirus for Mac

  • Malware-detection. A good Mac antivirus needs to provide perfect or near-perfect malware detection rates. I performed extensive stress-testing by downloading over 900 Mac-specific malware files to my MacBook in order to test each program’s full disk scanning, and all of the brands on this list detected most of the malware samples.
  • Minimal slowdown. An antivirus may slow down your system, especially during a full system scan, making it difficult or even impossible to normally use your device. But all of the antiviruses here are lightweight, so you’ll hardly notice they’re there.
  • Extra features. Many antiviruses nowadays come with a wide range of extras for additional cybersecurity protection, but free Mac antiviruses are usually very limited. Still, I took into account all of an antivirus’s features to make sure that you’re getting a well-rounded product designed for maximum protection.
  • Ease of use. Mac antiviruses need to be intuitive and simple to use, both for beginner and advanced users. All of the products I recommend come with well-designed Mac apps and all of their features are easy to find and use.
  • Customer support. If you ever encounter a problem with your antivirus, you need to be able to get professional support to quickly resolve your issue. All of the best free antiviruses for Mac have good knowledge bases and a decent range of customer support options.

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:

  • Norton. Norton is one of the best all-around antiviruses out there, and it offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on its Norton 360 plans (which include Mac protection). Norton is one of my favorite antiviruses for Mac, providing extras like a VPN, a smart firewall, and much more. But Norton doesn’t have a free Mac plan, so I couldn’t include it on this list.
  • McAfee. McAfee has an excellent Mac scanner as well as a ton of extra security features that build on top of Apple’s security features, but it neither offers a free product nor a free trial.
  • 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.

Can Macs get viruses?

Yes, absolutely. While macOS contains some great built-in security protections, these protections aren’t enough to keep you safe from serious cybersecurity threats like spyware, adware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.

Just because you’re being careful online, doesn’t mean your network and your devices aren’t vulnerable to a wide range of attacks. That’s why it’s so important to get a high-quality Mac antivirus like Intego, which comes with features like real-time malware scanning, web protection, and network protection.

Are free antiviruses for Mac good enough?

Not really, no. However, they can be good tools to remove malware from your disk, and Avira even offers real-time protection to keep your Mac protected after you’ve cleaned up your system.

But paid antivirus software provides better malware scanning, network protections, web protections, and helpful extras like parental controls, VPNs for online privacy, and disk cleanup tools to keep your device running smoothly. Intego is a Mac-only internet security suite that contains a ton of excellent features to keep you (and your family) safe online.

Can I just use a free online virus scanner and not download anything?

You can, but you really shouldn’t. Most of these online programs that offer free virus scans scare you into thinking your computer has malware — even though it doesn’t — and then force you to download the product to “remove” it.

Even worse, many online virus scanners are actually exploit kits in disguise. Don’t risk it.

It’s much safer to just download a reputable antivirus software that comes with a free trial, like Intego.

Why do these companies offer free antiviruses?

It depends. Many companies lure users with promises of amazing features, and then put all of those features behind a paywall in the actual app (unfortunately, even some of my favorite antiviruses, like TotalAV, are guilty of this kind of upselling).

Brands like Avira (which provides tons of free internet security tools) seem to think that providing genuinely high-quality free products is an investment in their user base. I’m sure I’m not the only user that downloaded a free Avira app or plug-in, realized the company makes excellent software, and became a customer.

Free stuff on the internet is never really free (you either pay with your data, or are forced to watch ads, or your device gets infected with spyware or adware, etc.), which is why it’s usually better to just pay for the services that you consider to be valuable.

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About the Author

Katarina Glamoslija
Updated on: September 1, 2022

About the Author

Katarina is a tech enthusiast specializing in cybersecurity products, data protection, and maintaining strong practices for general online safety. When she's not a "Safety Detective", she likes to play with her two cats, binge watch crime dramas, sample fine wines, and read about the origins of the universe.