The best Mac antivirus software in 2022

Best Mac antivirus
(Image credit: Avast)

The best Mac antivirus programs can help protect your MacBook, iMac, Mac mini and other Apple devices from becoming infected with viruses. As the iPhone maker’s products have grown in popularity, they are no longer the least likely computers to fall victim to malware, ransomware and other online threats.

Although Apple offers its own antivirus protections in macOS in the form of Gatekeeper and XProtect, they don’t always stop every threat as they rely on out-of-date methods for mitigating the effects of malware. The best Mac antivirus programs are an essential tool as they can quickly spot new malware strains and double check suspicious files that have been “signed” with an Apple developer ID.

At the same time, many Mac antivirus programs also check for Windows malware as Apple’s computers can be used to infect PCs running on the same local network. Some Mac antivirus programs also take things up a notch with useful extra features like password managers, system optimizers or even VPN services. These are the best Mac antivirus software solutions we’ve tested and reviewed to help you find the right protection for your Mac.

The top 3 best Mac antivirus brands

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1. Bitdefender has the best antivirus for Macs (opens in new tab)

1. Bitdefender has the best antivirus for Macs (opens in new tab)
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac combines great malware protection with a barely noticeable system-performance impact.

2. Norton has the best feature set (opens in new tab)

2. Norton has the best feature set (opens in new tab)
Norton 360 Standard includes a password manager, unlimited VPN data, a firewall and Dark Web monitoring, features you don't often see with Mac antivirus software.

3. Avast offers the best free Mac antivirus (opens in new tab)

3. Avast offers the best free Mac antivirus (opens in new tab)
Avast Security for Mac may cost nothing, but it doesn't cut corners. Its malware protection is top-notch, its system impact is minimal and it has dialed back the annoying ads upselling you to a paid version. 

The best Mac antivirus software you can get

Best Mac antivirus: Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

(Image credit: Bitdefender)
The best antivirus program for Macs: light, fast, strong and easy to use

Specifications

macOS compatibility: 10.10 Yosemite and later
Browser extensions: Yes
Firewall: No
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: Yes
Scan scheduling: No
Webcam protection: No
VPN: Yes, but limited
Support options: 24/7 phone, email, chat, plus FAQs and forums

Reasons to buy

+
Very good malware detection
+
Ransomware protection
+
Modern, intuitive user interface
+
Light system impact

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks some features of Windows version 

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac has an easy-to-use interface, affordable pricing, nearly flawless malware detection and a very light system-performance impact. For those reasons, it's once again our Editor's Choice for best Mac antivirus software.

Unusually for a Mac antivirus program, Bitdefender can roll back ransomware encryption, including on Time Machine backups. It also offers extensions to harden your web browser and blocks online trackers to protect your privacy. The Autopilot and Bitdefender Shield features keep the software running without much human intervention.

The only downsides are the absence of the password manager that comes with the Windows version of Bitdefender Antivirus, and that the Bitdefender VPN service is limited to 200MB per day unless you pay more. On both our tests and those from A/V testing labs, Bitdefender wasn't as strong as Norton and Avast, but the different was marginal. Other than that, it's a nearly perfect Mac antivirus program.

Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac review.

Save on plans with our Bitdefender coupon codes.

Norton 360 Standard (for Mac)

(Image credit: Norton)
The best feature set among Mac antivirus programs, including unlimited VPN service

Specifications

macOS compatibility: 10.14 Mojave and later
Browser extensions: Yes
Firewall: Yes
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: No
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: No
VPN: Yes, unlimited
Support options: 24/7 phone, email, chat, plus FAQs and videos

Reasons to buy

+
Flawless malware detection
+
Massive feature set. including unlimited VPN and password manager
+
Almost no impact on system performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a single license
-
Parental controls, cloud storage don't work on Macs

Norton 360 Standard has a ton of useful extras, including unlimited VPN service and an unlimited password manager, two features for which its rivals (such as Bitdefender and Avast) make you pay extra. It's also got a two-way firewall, a system optimizer and dark-web monitoring of your personal data.

More importantly, we found that Norton 360 Standard has a very small impact on system performance, always-available tech support and, last but not least, flawless detection of Mac malware.

You'll pay a lot for these luxuries, however, although you'll be saving money on the cost of a stand-alone VPN or password manager. We hope that Mac users will soon get the parental controls, webcam protections and backup software that Windows users of Norton 360 Standard already have.

Read our full Norton 360 Standard review.

Save on subscriptions with our Norton coupon codes.

Best free antivirus: Avast Free Antivirus

(Image credit: Avast)
The best free antivirus for Macs

Specifications

macOS compatibility: macOS 10.11 El Capitan or later
Browser extensions: No
Firewall: No
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: No
VPN: No
Support options: Online documents

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent antivirus protection
+
Light system-performance impact
+
Screens out malicious websites

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features compared to other security programs
-
Weak customer support

Avast Security for Mac has improved a lot since it was called Avast Free Mac Security. The malware-detection rate is now nearly perfect, the system-performance impact is much less and the annoying ads that tried to upsell you to Avast paid programs have been drastically dialed back.

Avast also screens websites for phishing scams and other common threats and scans your Wi-Fi network for outdated devices and unwelcome guests. We found its interface was attractive and easy to navigate, but be aware that some of the features, including ransomware rollbacks, are available only to paying customers.

The password manager and the email-attachment screener have disappeared, however, and the tech support is limited to online documents. If you need more support, you'll want to upgrade to Bitdefender or Norton. Still, if you want a solid, dependable Mac antivirus program for nothing, this is the one to get.

Read our full Avast Security for Mac review.

Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac review

(Image credit: Trend Micro)
(opens in new tab)
Excellent security without any standout features

Specifications

macOS compatibility: macOS 10.14 Mojave and later
Browser extensions: Yes
Firewall: No
Hardened/secure browser: Yes
Parental controls: Yes, but limited
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: Yes
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: Yes
VPN: No
Support options: Phone, chat, email, forums

Reasons to buy

+
Nearly flawless malware protection
+
Affordable pricing
+
Light background performance impact

Reasons to avoid

-
Outdated user interface
-
Heavy performance hit during full scans

Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac offers very good malware protection for a reasonable price, but we found it has a very heavy system impact during full scans.

If you can overlook that drawback, you'll find ransomware protection for designated folders, webcam protection, a social-media privacy scanner and even a parental web filter. Trend Micro's interface is a bit old-fashioned, but it works.

However, the program doesn't really stand out when rivals such as Bitdefender and Norton offer more. You could certainly do worse than Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac, but you could also do better.

Read our full Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac review.

Best Mac antivirus: Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review

(Image credit: Intego)
(opens in new tab)
Amazing malware scanning speeds

Specifications

macOS compatibility: 10.9 Mavericks and later
Browser extensions: No
Firewall: Yes
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: No
VPN: No
Support options: Email, FAQs

Reasons to buy

+
Solid malware protection
+
Blistering fast scans
+
Excellent legacy macOS support

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited feature set
-
Disjointed user interface

Intego has been making Mac antivirus software since 1997, and its Mac Security X9 offers very fast scans, thorough malware detection and a full-fledged firewall. The program also supports legacy macOS versions going all the way back to 2013's Mavericks. 

Intego Mac Security X9 is a solid piece of software that does its job well, even if its user interface is a bit bare-bones. You can even toss in effective Windows antivirus protection for a small extra fee.

But we feel that Intego's relatively high price doesn't quite match its sparse feature set. While other paid Mac antivirus programs, such as Bitdefender and Avast might toss in browser extensions, a password manager or even a VPN to justify the purchase, Intego's extra features aren't too different from what you'd get with free Mac antivirus software.

Read our full Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review.

Best Mac antivirus: Sophos Home Premium

(Image credit: Sophos)
Most cost-effective for large families

Specifications

macOS compatibility: macOS 10.14 (Mojave) or later
Browser extensions: No
Firewall: No
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: Yes
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: Yes
VPN: No
Support options: live email and chat tech support, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays

Reasons to buy

+
Covers 10 systems
+
Ransomware protection
+
Parental website filters

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy background system impact

Sophos Home Premium can protect up to 10 computers, Mac or Windows, for a low price and its parental web filters can stop kids from seeing objectionable material online. It also has dedicated protections against ransomware and for your webcam and microphone.

During our tests, we found its background system impact more noticeable than its competitors', although nowhere near the system impact of some Windows antivirus products. We also found it had a relatively small impact during active scans.

The interface is minimal and mostly lives in the menu bar; for more controls, there's a powerful online management tool. Tech support is 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and limited to email and chat interactions.

We just wish we had some third-party lab-test data about the efficacy of Sophos' Mac malware scanner, which might place it higher among the best Mac antivirus software programs.

Read our full Sophos Home Premium review.

Best Mac antivirus: McAfee Antivirus Plus

(Image credit: McAfee)
Another bargain for large families, but fairly sparse on features

Specifications

macOS compatibility: macOS 10.11 (OS X El Capitan) or later
Browser extensions: Yes
Firewall: Yes
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: No
VPN: No
Support options: Phone and online chat

Reasons to buy

+
Protects 10 devices
+
Low passive system impact

Reasons to avoid

-
Unproven detection rates
-
Huge system slowdowns during full scans
-
Confusing interface

McAfee Antivirus Plus's generous 10-device license means you can provide antivirus protection for a whole family of Macs (and/or Windows PCs and Android phones) for a reasonable yearly fee.

But the program doesn't have a lot of extra features for Macs, which makes it hard to recommend for Apple customers. All Mac users really get is a firewall, while Windows users get ransomware protection, cryptojacking protection and a system optimizer. McAfee Antivirus Plus also has a heavy system impact during scans and a confusing interface.

Furthermore, we don't know really how well McAfee Antivirus Plus protects against Mac malware. There haven't been any recent Mac malware-detection testing scores for McAfee, so its protection powers are impossible to compare with those of the best Mac antivirus software. 

Read our full McAfee Antivirus Plus review.

Save on plans with our McAfee promo codes.

Also consider

Best Mac antivirus: Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

(Image credit: Kaspersky)
Flawless security in a flawed package

Specifications

macOS compatibility: macOS 10.12 Sierra or later
Browser extensions: Yes
Firewall: No
Hardened/secure browser: Yes
Parental controls: Yes, but limited
Password manager: Yes, but limited
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: Yes
VPN: Yes, but limited to 300MB per day
Support options: 24/7 phone, chat or email support; FAQs and documents

Reasons to buy

+
Perfect malware detection
+
Hardened browser for banking, shopping
+
Webcam protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Password manager, parental controls, VPN very limited
-
Noticeable background impact

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac has perfect malware-detection rates, a light system impact during scans and an intuitive user interface. It can even turn off the webcam on a MacBook, a feature that Apple itself doesn't offer.

Kaspersky also offers a hardened web browser for use while banking or shopping online, plus browser extensions that block malicious URLs and tracking cookies and advise you to steer clear of risky websites.

However, the best extra features are just teases. The password manager holds only 15 items. The parental controls are limited to a single child device without location tracking. The VPN service gives you only 300MB of data per day. 

Unlimited versions of each cost $15, $15 and $30 per year, respectively, which isn't terribly expensive, but Norton 360 Standard gives you two of those at no extra costs. At least Kaspersky doesn't persistently try to upsell you on them. 

Read our full Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac review.

How to choose the best Mac antivirus software for you

Before you buy or install Mac antivirus software, you first need to figure out what you really need. Fortunately, this process is quite similar to how to shop for Windows antivirus software.

Do you have and use both Macs and Windows PCs at home? If so, you should consider a multiplatform, multi-device bundle like Norton 360 Deluxe, Sophos Home Premium or McAfee Antivirus Plus. Likewise, Bitdefender and Kaspersky also offer internet security suites that ship with the same software we’ve highlighted here.

Do you only have Macs at home? Then no need to go overboard: the one- or three-device versions of Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac or Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac should cover your needs just fine.

Do you have young children or teenagers at home? Consider Mac antivirus software that comes with parental controls or web-content filters, like Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac or Sophos Home Premium.

From here, you then need to figure out how much you can afford. If your budget is tight, then try Avast Security for Mac or the free tier of Sophos Home. The trade-off though is that these aren’t as good as many paid programs.

However, if you can afford to spend $50 a year, then you’ve got a lot of options. Most antivirus companies frequently offer discounts of up to 60%, both straight from their websites or through online retailers, at least for the first purchase.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Best Mac Antivirus: Performance at a glance
Row 0 - Cell 0 Malware protectionSystem impact (Background)System impact (scans)
BitdefenderGoodVery lightLight
Norton 360 StandardExcellentVery lightVery light
AvastVery goodVery lightModerate
KasperskyExcellentModerateLight
Trend MicroVery goodVery lightHeavy
Intego Mac Internet Security X9GoodLightFairly heavy
Sophos Home PremiumVery goodLightHeavy
McAfeeGoodLightHeavy

How we test the best Mac antivirus programs

In order to determine which of the programs above is the best Mac antivirus software, we evaluated each of them based on ease of use, interface and performance impact. We installed each program on the same 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro running macOS 11 Big Sur powered by a 2.9-GHz Intel Core i5 processor and had 8GB of RAM and 42GB of data stored on a 256GB SSD.

We conducted our own tests based on how much each of the best Mac antivirus programs affected the laptop’s performance. This was done using the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool which was run before and after each program was installed. However, we also ran it once more while doing a full scan and then a final time while doing a quick scan.

We assessed how easy each of the best Mac antivirus programs were to use as well as the number of useful extra features they offered (including free add-on software).

To gauge how effective each program was at stopping malware, we used the results of comprehensive testing conducted by AV-Test (a well-regarded independent product-testing lab in Germany) and AV-Comparatives (a similarly well-respected testing company in Austria). We use test results from both labs for the best Android antivirus apps too.

For more details on how we rate and review other products, check out the Tom's Guide How We Test page. 

iOS antivirus apps

A lot of iPhone and iPad users want antivirus software for iOS and iPadOS. However, the truth is that this software doesn’t exist. The reason why is that Apple won’t let third-party apps examine other iOS apps or even inspect new apps after they’ve been installed. Any app or service that claims to be antivirus software will get swiftly kicked out of the App Store.

Many major antivirus vendors, including F-Secure, McAfee, Norton and Trend Micro, do have “security” apps on the App Store. However, these apps check for links to known malicious sites, locate lost devices or help further protect your online privacy. None of them can scan an iPhone for malware.

While there has been iOS malware which affects non-jailbroken devices, it’s still quite rare. In each instance that this has occurred, Apple has pushed out a new version of iOS to stop the malware in a matter of days or weeks. As a general rule of thumb, if you keep your mobile devices from Apple updated to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS, you should be safe. 

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.