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protections with macOS in the form of Gatekeeper and XProtect, they don’t always stop every threat as they rely on out-of-date methods for mitigating the effects of malware.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 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)
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)
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)
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
Bitdefender Premium Security for Mac may lack some of the features of the Windows version but it provides excellent protection for your Mac with fast scans with low overhead, an unlimited VPN and a new cross-platform password manager. Upgrading to the top suite also gets you identity theft protection with up to $2 million in insurance.
If this is your first time using a Mac antivirus program, Bitdefender Premium Security has one of the easiest interfaces to learn. In addition to Mac viruses, it can also detect Windows ones as well. Bitdefender can stop adware from slowing down your Mac while its AutoPilot feature automatically adjusts your security stance to take account of new and potentially dangerous threats. It also provides suggestions on which features you should enable.
Since our last review, Bitdefender has removed the restrictions from its VPN and added in its all-new password manager. In our own testing and those from AV-Test and AV Comparatives, Bitdefender stopped both new and old threats and prevented Potentially Unwanted Apps (PUA) from being installed. It’s a really solid choice if you want the best protection for your Mac.
Read our full Bitdefender Premium Security review and save on plans with our Bitdefender coupon codes.
Norton 360 Deluxe may not be the cheapest option to protect a Mac but it does an excellent job with comprehensive malware scanning, real-time monitoring and a global VPN. However, it goes a step further than some of the other Mac antivirus programs on this list as Norton also includes Dark Web monitoring and a way to erase your personal information from data brokers.
During our testing, full scans took a long time but affected system performance the least of all the Mac antivirus products we tried in this round of testing. Norton 360 Deluxe’s Quick Scan is much faster but takes a heavier toll on your system. In AV-Test’s latest round of examinations, Norton’s software had a perfect score when it came to finding and eradicating malware.
Norton 360 Deluxe also packs in plenty of extras like SafeWeb browser extensions, a firewall, Norton Secure VPN and a password manager. While cloud storage is also provided with your subscription, unfortunately it doesn’t work on Macs. Identity theft protection can also be added as an add-on to your current plan.
Read our full Norton 360 Deluxe review and save on subscriptions with our Norton coupon codes.
Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 as the name suggests includes a number of different apps to keep your Mac safe online. These include the company’s VirusBarrier X9, NetBarrier X9, Mac Washing Machine X9, Personal Backup 10.9 and ContentBarrier X9. From backup software to parental controls, Intego’s premium suite offers quite a lot but it doesn’t include a VPN (though one is available as an add-on) nor is there a dashboard to tie all of these different apps together.
During our testing, Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 had a very small impact on passive performance but its Full Scan took a heavy toll on system performance. By contrast, its Quick Scan used less resources. Still, both scan types were surprisingly fast with a Full Scan taking less than two minutes and a Quick Scan was finished in just over two seconds.
We were very impressed with the interface of Intego’s animated firewall which showed how data flowed into and out of our test system with color coded arrows. One thing that sets Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 apart from all of the other Mac antivirus programs on this list is that it can scan an iPhone or iPad for malware when they are connected to your Mac via USB cable. However, Intego has trouble competing with Bitdefender and Norton as they both offer more extra features.
Read our full Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 review.
Avast Premium Security provides good defenses against malware with only a modest impact on system performance both when scanning and while idle. Surprisingly, it doesn’t require you to sign up for an online account and for Mac antivirus newbies, it has one of the easiest interfaces to use.
During our testing, Avast’s Deep Scan was quite thorough and impacted system performance less than Intego or McAfee did but took an hour and a half to scan the system. However, its Smart Scan was much faster and took less than a minute to look at the files most likely to be infected.
Although Avast lacks browser extensions to keep you safe from malicious websites, its Web Shield contains a database of dangerous sites and can also help you avoid duplicate websites that use DNS spoofing. Best of all, it works with any browser. Avast’s Network Inspector looks at every Wi-Fi network you connect to in order to find potential backdoors and weaknesses that can be used in attacks. You also get unlimited access to the company’s SecureLine VPN but it needs to be installed separately.
Read our full Avast Premium Security for Mac review.
McAfee Total Protection Premium is the best choice if you have lots of Macs or other computers you want to protect as it supports an unlimited number of users. You also get access to a VPN based on infrastructure from TunnelBear and can add identity theft protection if you want. Meanwhile, Ransom Guard monitors for suspicious file changes and if it notices something suspicious, it makes copies of those files so you have a backup.
Although McAfee doesn’t participate in third-party evaluations from AV-Test and AV Comparatives for its Mac products, in our own testing no malware managed to slip past the program. There was a moderate impact on system performance with a full scan taking almost two hours. McAfee doesn’t offer a quick scan either but you can do a custom scan of apps or a single folder.
To help you improve your cyber hygiene, McAfee includes a Protection Score but there’s also a firewall to protect data flowing into and out of your computers. The company also offers a money-back guarantee but in order to get it and unlimited VPN access, you need to enable auto-renewal. Still though, McAfee Total Protection Premium is the best option for those with large families and dozens of systems they want to protect.
Read our full McAfee Total Protection Premium review and save on plans with our McAfee promo codes.
Trend Micro Premium Security for Mac provides the most comprehensive and thorough way to check for malware on a Mac. Its suite also includes browser extensions to help you avoid dangerous websites and its ID Security feature provides you with a Personal Data Protection Score to help you improve your cyber hygiene. While the Mac version lacks a full set of parental controls, Trend Micro Premium Security’s Website Filter makes it easy to block content based on your child’s age.
The software’s comprehensive scans do come at a cost though. During testing, our first Full Scan took over three hours to complete. Fortunately, the software learned what to focus on and what to ignore and the second scan was finished in just over 30 minutes. As for third-party testing, Trend Micro had almost perfect scores at 99 and 99.6% on evaluations carried out by AV-Test and AV Comparatives. Trend Micro Premium Security for Mac also had a small system impact both when idle and while scanning.
An unlimited VPN is included with Trend Micro Premium Security but VPN Proxy One Pro needs to be downloaded separately and isn’t integrated into the main program. However, Trend Micro’s suite lacks a firewall, a password manager and backup software. Still, it's an inexpensive way to protect a Mac with a low performance impact on your system.
Read our full Trend Micro Premium Security for Mac review.
Sophos Home Premium for Mac is a good choice if you have a Mac and other devices from PCs to smartphones you want to protect without breaking the bank. Its Intercept X malware scanner features three independent layers of protection and instead of relying on browser extensions to protect you from dangerous websites, the program can block them itself.
Just like with Malwarebytes and McAfee, Sophos’ Mac products don’t undergo third-party evaluations from AV-Test or AV Comparatives. While its Windows antivirus programs do reasonably well in these tests, the effectiveness of its Mac software is an open question. During our testing though, Sophos Home Premium didn’t find any malware on our system. As for scanning our system for malware, a Full Scan took over three hours and didn’t improve with time. However, Sophos Home Premium looked at over 2.5 million items during a Full Scan and its Quick Scan decreased to just over two seconds after several scans.
Sophos Home Premium is a bit different from the other Mac antivirus programs on this list since you need to use the company’s online portal to start and schedule scans as well as to use other features. This may be a dealbreaker for those without a strong internet connection or those who prefer to control these features locally. At the same time, Sophos Home Premium lacks many of the features found in other Mac security software including a VPN, a password manager and a firewall. However, it’s a bargain for those who need to protect multiple systems.
Read our full Sophos Home Premium for Mac review.
Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy combines ultrafast malware scanning with a global VPN but lacks extra features like a firewall, parental controls and a password manager. The software also does things a bit differently as there’s no choice between a quick or full scan, just a single scan is available. However, Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy scans a Mac quite fast since only items that it thinks are likely to be infected due to the current threat landscape are looked at.
As we mentioned before, Malwarebytes for Mac doesn’t undergo any third-party effectiveness testing from either AV-Test or AV Comparatives like the company’s Windows products do. In our own testing, no malware was found during our evaluation period and our initial scan took just six seconds while subsequent scans were completed in a little over a second.
Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy is available at a low price but this could be why the software does without a password manager, parental controls or a firewall. There is a VPN though that supports up to five users but it’s a separate app that isn’t integrated into the main program. Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy’s simple interface and fast scans are a big plus but it runs the risk of missing something along the way.
Read our full Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy 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 control software or web-content filters like 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.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Malware protection||System impact (Background)||System impact (scans)|
|Bitdefender Premium Security for Mac||Very good||Very light||Very light|
|Norton 360 Deluxe||Very good||Light||Fairly heavy|
|Avast Premium Security For Mac||Very good||Very light||Light|
|Trend Micro Premium Security for Mac||Good||Very light||Light|
|Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9||Good||Very light||Fairly heavy|
|Sophos Home Premium||Good||Light||Light|
|McAfee Total Security Premium (for Mac)||Adequate||Light||Fairly heavy|
|Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy||Adequate||Very Light||Fairly Heavy|
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 Mac Mini with a 3.2GHz M1 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (with 223GB unused).
We conducted our own tests based on how much each of the best Mac antivirus programs affected the Mac Mini’s performance. This was done using the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool (focusing on the Compute score) 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 antivirus products, check out our how we test antivirus software and apps guide as well as our more general how we test page for Tom's Guide.
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. The only Mac antivirus software capable of scanning your iPhone or iPad for malware is Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle X9 but your device must be connected to your Mac using a USB cable.
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.