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10 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus Programs for Mac 2019

10 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus Programs for Mac 2019
Aviva Zacks
Posted: July 23, 2019

While no computer or mobile device is completely immune to infection, many Mac users feel they won’t be targeted by viruses, since most of the latest identified malware targets Windows and Android users. This couldn’t be further from the truth…

Not only have viruses and malware for Mac been identified, but the numbers are on the rise!

With the best antivirus for Mac, you can protect your computer from the threat of infection and keep your files and personal data from the clutches of hackers. Luckily, you don’t necessarily need to spend lots of money to get essential protection.

We’ve saved you the time and effort by trying and testing the best free antivirus software for Mac.

Beware Any Free Antivirus for Mac: You Might Get What You Pay For

Do free antivirus programs work? And if so, why not just get one and avoid the cost of subscribing to a paid version?

Well, most free antivirus programs only offer basic protection and may not really do much against zero-day threats. Also, while a good number of free AVs are supported by ads, some use sinister ways to generate revenue. We’ve come across providers that are now bundling trackers, toolbars, and other junk.  

With a paid antivirus, you have a better chance of staying safe and secure. You will have access to the full product functions including ransomware protection, banking protection, and real-time threat detection  

Don’t Be Fooled: Your Mac Needs Antivirus Software

While it’s valid Windows are still more susceptible to malware, attacks and exploits targeted at Mac are just as devastating. They can render your computer unusable and leave you at the mercy of hackers and other cybercriminals.  

In previous years, Macs were less prone to malware since PCs, thanks to Windows dominant market share, were a more lucrative target for hackers. That has all but changed. Mac usage has increased significantly, and with it, the threats of cyber attacks. According to a 2018 research, malware targeted at Mac computers increased by 270 percent in 2017 alone.

And that’s not all. New threats are now being discovered regularly among them being the OSX/MaMi, a rehash of an old Windows DNS hijacker. The malware changes your DNS settings allowing attackers to redirect your traffic to iCloud, banking portals, and shopping sites to phishing domains.

Fortunately, with the best antivirus software for Mac, you can safeguard your Mac against both existing and new threats.

How We Tested Our Best Free Antivirus for Mac

When picking our best free AVs for Mac we looked at the features of each, including Norton and Intego, and tested the malware detection ability, impact on performance, ease of use. We also double checked each AV’s free versions to ensure there was enough scope to qualify them as free. 

Lastly, we cross-referenced each of the AVs with several consumer complaints websites and picked the top 10.

We tested each antivirus to determine:

  • Range of features offered
  • How effective the actual AV program is for Mac
  • The impact on performance
  • The interface’s ease of use

Though we found Norton and Intego to be good AVs, overall we believe the following AVs provide the most effective free service.  

Important note: While most popular Mac antivirus programs listed below offer free downloads, keep in mind that for full features and functionality, you’ll need to consider upgrading to a paid version.

Our Quick List of the Best Free AVs for Mac

  1. Panda Free Antivirus
  2. TotalAV
  3. Bitdefender Free Virus Scanner
  4. Avira Free Antivirus
  5. Malwarebytes Free Antivirus
  6. Sophos Home Free
  7. AVG Antivirus Free
  8. Kaspersky Virus Scanner
  9. Comodo Free Antivirus
  10. Avast Free Antivirus

1. Panda Security – Free Antivirus with Ransomware Protection

$46.99 - $154.99 / year

Panda Security has significantly improved since its last major update. The developers have added ransomware protection and sped up the scanning speed from a few hours to several minutes. Still, malware detection isn’t quite as robust as it could be.

Note: We’ve listed Panda Essential features below, but if you’re looking for more advanced features like a password manager, clean-up tools, and an unlimited premium VPN, there are other packages available to you.

Free Features Included

  • A limited VPN
  • A firewall
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Real-time protection
  • Wi-Fi security
  • USB and SD card protection

What We Liked

  • Fast scanning
  • Light impact on performance
  • User-friendly interface
  • Safe online shopping

What We Didn’t Like

  • Detection rates are only average
  • No direct technical support
  • Limited VPN only has 150 MB allowance per day
  • You have to register an account

The Bottom Line for Panda Free Antivirus for Mac

The ransomware protection and real-time protection are big selling points rarely found in other solutions. However, better options exist for malware detection rates, and some of the features like the VPN are limited. But, try it for yourself – it offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

2. Total AV – Free Mac Software for Performance Optimization

Total AV Free offers all-around protection against spyware, adware, viruses, Trojans, root-kits, and worms. The software comes with some unique features that other free Mac antivirus programs don’t offer, such as a two-way firewall for use at home and on the go.

TotalAV also features robust utility tools that help tune-up your computer and improve performance.

Free Features Included

  • Real-time protection
  • Two-way firewall protection
  • Mac tune-up for speeding up your computer
  • On-demand scans
  • Scheduled scans

What We Liked

  • Strong malware detection rates
  • Fast scanning speed
  • No credit card required for the free download

What We Didn’t Like

  • Reportedly weak phishing protection

The Bottom Line on Total AV Free Antivirus for Mac

Total AV has quite a few unique features, such as a firewall and Disc Cleaner and the anti-malware engine is pretty strong too. However, the paid version offers far better anti-phishing and anti-ransomware protection and is worth trying.  

3. Bitdefender Free Virus Scanner – Customizable Scans

$79.99 - $119.99 / year

Another effective and lightweight antivirus for Mac. Bitdefender Virus Scanner is powered by robust antivirus engines and delivers fast scans. The software is easy to use and allows you to scan running apps, specific locations, as well as the entire system.

While some Mac users might be looking for a “set it and forget it” type solution, Bitdefender does require user input every now and then. The autopilot feature is only available in the premium version, which is a letdown. Nevertheless, Bitdefender offers reliable protection against serious threats and malware.

Free Features Included

  • Growl notifications
  • Automatic virus updates
  • Deep system scan

What We Liked

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Fast scans
  • Scanning tools for apps, specific locations or an entire system
  • Quarantines and removes threats in documents and archives
  • Doesn’t impact system performance
  • Option to exclude specific files from a scan
  • Can remove both Mac and Windows threats

What We Didn’t Like

  • No real-time protection
  • You have to register an account to use it
  • Home use only
  • Not many advanced features

The Bottom Line Bitdefender Virus Scanner Free for Mac

Bitdefender’s free limited feature set reduces the chance for compatibility problems. As a result, it is a good option if you’re looking for essential protection. Unlike Avast Free features like Password Manager, Wi-Fi security, and URL blocking are only available in the Paid version.

4. Avira Antivirus – Best for Online Shopping

Avira is a simple, bare-bones antivirus, and when tested, it detected 99.1% of malware, getting the job done in a lightweight package.

The optional upgrade to the premium version will undoubtedly provide extra protection – until then; the limited free version may be a good option if you wish to try before you buy.

Free Features Included

  • Activity stream
  • Online protection against viruses, Trojans, adware, and spyware
  • Repair folders

What We Liked

  • Easy to install and customize
  • Few false positives
  • Free rescue/recover disk
  • The program pre-checks files the system needs to access, detecting malware before it can act

What We Didn’t Like

  • Free tools are trialware
  • Constant pop-ups
  • Installs a toolbar on default setup
  • Moderately heavy on system resources

The Bottom Line on Avira Antivirus Free for Mac

Avira is excellent for Mac users wanting a simple antivirus without too much flair. However, the paid version will certainly provide more robust security, including anti-phishing and anti-ransomware protection.

5. Malwarebytes – Lightweight Free Antivirus

$40.00 - $60.00 / year

Malwarebytes positions itself as a solid option for Windows machines, and the anti-malware product for Mac has been getting some great feedback too. The antivirus is lightweight and automatically detects and eliminates Mac infections.

However, Malwarebytes Free doesn’t support scheduled scans and lacks real-time protection. The installation gives you a 14-day free trial of the Premium version; after that, you will be limited to the free features.

Free Features Included

  • On-demand scanning

What We Liked

  • Fast scanning
  • Light on system resources
  • Takes up little space on your hard drive
  • Proactively blocks unwanted apps

What We Didn’t Like

  • No real-time protection unless you pay for it
  • No scheduled scans

The Bottom Line on Malwarebytes Antivirus Free for Mac

Malwarebytes is perfect for users who want a lightweight and fast antivirus, but don’t mind taking a hands-on approach to malware scanning. You get two free weeks to try it out before the premium version reverts to the free version.

6. Sophos Home Free – Free AV with Real-Time Protection

Sophos Home free is a reliable antivirus that delivers beyond expectations. When tested, its detection rates were comparable to popular options like Avast and Bitdefender. We were impressed by the software’s real-time protection, which guarded against Mac malware, unwanted apps, and more.  

The free version includes a 30-day free trial of Premium, so you can try before you buy. The premium version is competitively priced and provides ransomware security, privacy protection, and support for up to 10 devices.

Free Features Included

  • Free trial of Premium
  • Real-time protection
  • Basic parental control tools
  • Web protection
  • Remote management

What We Liked

  • Protection against real-time Mac threats
  • Superior parental website filtering
  • Low system impact
  • Simple and easy to use

What We Didn’t Like

  • Scans run slower than other antiviruses
  • No quick or scheduled scans
  • Ineffective parental controls
  • Requires you to register an account to use it

The Bottom Line on Sophos Home Free for Mac

Sophos Home Free, with its parental controls and ability to manage multiple machines from one account, works great for families. Not sure? Give it a try. If you’re not satisfied, you can take advantage of their 30-day money back guarantee and upgrade to the premium version.

7. AVG Antivirus for Mac – Free Software with a Rescue Disk

$69.99 - $99.99 / year

AVG is a robust free antivirus that’s worth checking out. Before Avast acquired it in 2016, the antivirus solution was already a favorite choice among users. It now uses the same database as Avast, and as such, you should expect similar scores.

However, unlike Avast, AVG does come with a rescue disk, which can come in handy in the event a virus renders your Mac unbootable. The antivirus also provides much-needed functionalities such as a Mac cleaner, which will appeal to many Mac users.

Free Features Included

  • Triple protection for Mac, Windows, and Android
  • Background scanning
  • Web and email filtering
  • Automatic updates

What We Liked

  • Strong malware protection covering 99.9% of tested threats
  • User-friendly interface
  • Easy to customize
  • Low system impact
  • No credit card required for the free download

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bare-bones feature set
  • Heavy on system resources
  • Slow scans
  • Ads for the premium version

The Bottom Line on AVG Free Antivirus for Mac

AVG’s real-time protection, user-friendly interface, and simple feature set make it a great option for users wanting reliable protection without needing to think about it. Autopilot fans will be pleased, as AVG works well as a “set it and forget it” antivirus solution.

8. Kaspersky Virus Scanner – Free Easy to Use Software

$59.99 - $99.99 / year

Kaspersky Virus Scanner is an excellent solution for Mac offers protection against Mac viruses. Built specifically for Mac devices, Kaspersky Virus Scanner is reliable for essential Mac security. It supports on-demand scans and receives daily database updates.

However, if you want protection against spyware, ransomware, and phishing, you will need to upgrade to the premium version. Kaspersky offers a free 30-day trial version. After that, if you’d like to continue using the software, you’ll need to purchase it.

Free Features Included

  • On-demand scans

What We Liked

  • Very easy to use and set up – even for beginners
  • Automatically quarantines all threats it encounters
  • Protection against Mac viruses
  • Doesn’t bombard you with notifications or pop-ups

What We Didn’t Like

  • Lacks basic parental controls
  • No active ransomware protection

The Bottom Line on Kaspersky Virus Scanner for Mac

Kaspersky scores very high as a free antivirus for Mac users, but while it can scan for viruses, it doesn’t do much for spyware and ransomware. Also, despite its high detection rates, it lacks parental controls and other basic functionalities.

9. Comodo– Free Mac Antivirus with On-Access Scanning

$39.99 - $89.99 / year

Comodo for Mac safeguards your laptop and desktop against viruses without slowing down performance. The anti-virus is easy to use and doesn’t require much handling. We found Comodo’s Flexible Virus Scanning feature to be quite convenient as it allows you to run scans at a time that suits you.  

Free Features Included

  • On-access scanning
  • On-demand scanning
  • Scan Scheduler
  • Up-to-date virus definitions

What We Liked

  • Easy to use interface
  • Instant scanning lets you scan files or folders by dragging them
  • One-click scanning allows you to run an on-demand scanning and cleaning of your system with a single click.
  • A unique slider that lets you adjust your security level to fit your preferences

What We Didn’t Like

  • No password manager or VPN
  • No parental controls
  • Several false positives when tested

The Bottom Line on Comodo Free Antivirus for Mac

Comodo offers decent protection against viruses, which makes it an ideal choice for inexperienced users who just want to turn on an antivirus and leave it be.

10. Avast – Free Software with Advanced Features 

$47.99 - $119.99 / year

Avast Mac Security is one of the popular free antivirus programs available today. According to antivirus tests, Avast managed to catch 99.9% of Mac malware threats – the highest result from any free antivirus. Plus, you get plenty of handy extra features from anti-malware security to Wi-Fi security and a web shield.

While the free version offers plenty of protection, you can upgrade to the full version for real-time alerts and advanced ransomware protection. The paid version is competitively priced and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Free Features Included

  • Anti-malware security for blocking viruses, Trojans and other threats
  • Web and email shields to keep you safe when online
  • Wi-Fi security scan for protection against Wi-Fi intruders

What We Liked

  • Low system impact
  • URL blocking
  • Top-notch detection rates
  • Straightforward user interface

What We Didn’t Like

  • Installation attempted to install other Avast products that were unrelated to the antivirus, so remember to uncheck them if you don’t want them
  • Ads and pop-ups

The Bottom Line on Avast Free for Mac

With its long list of features, Avast Free for Mac goes the extra mile when it comes to malware protection and should be the free antivirus of choice for most general users. However, if you want to access advanced features such as sandboxing, webcam security, and SecureLine VPN, you will need to upgrade from the free version.

The Bottom Line

While some free Mac antivirus software will offer basic protection for your Apple Mac computer, if you need more robust antivirus tools, then your best bet is still going to be a paid, premium service.

If you’re new to Mac, or just want to try a few different options before you decide on which fully-fledged antivirus to choose, you can always try before you buy and see which antivirus matches your needs.

For more info on these and other antivirus solutions for Mac, visit our reviews page.

Transparency and Trust – We pride ourselves on being the only site where users can freely contribute and share their reviews on any antivirus with other community members. When you visit an antivirus site we link to, we sometimes get affiliate commissions that support our work. Read more about how we operate.