Product Use case Rating
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac Best Mac Antivirus 9
Avast Free Mac Security Best Free Mac Antivirus 8
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 8
Sophos Home Best for Families 6
Norton Security Deluxe 7
AVG Antivirus for Mac 7
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac 6
McAfee Antivirus Plus 6

Best Mac Antivirus Software

You need an antivirus program on your Mac. That statement may cause some Apple users to argue or walk away, but 2017 has so far seen more Mac malware and adware than ever before.

In 2012, the Flashback Trojan infected 600,000 Macs. In 2013, a targeted attack hit OS X developers at Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Apple itself. In 2015, the XcodeGhost attack poisoned hundreds of OS X and iOS apps. And in 2016, the first known piece of encrypting ransomware for Macs appeared.

After evaluating eight free and paid Mac antivirus products, we've chosen Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac ($40 per year) as our top pick. It had a nearly unmeasurable impact on system performance, and it caught all malware.

Avast Free Mac Security is our favorite free option, as it provided nearly perfect malware protection and an easy-to-use interface with an imperceptible performance hit.

How We Tested

To evaluate ease of use, interface and performance impact, we installed each AV program on the same Late 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina Display running macOS 10.12 Sierra. It was powered by a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7 processor and had 8GB of RAM and 70GB of data stored on a 512GB SSD.

We conducted our own tests in July and August 2017 based on how much each antivirus product affected our laptop's performance. To do this, we used our custom OpenOffice benchmark, which matches 20,000 names and addresses in a spreadsheet. We measured how long it took to run a quick scan and a full scan while the laptop crunched numbers in the background.

We assessed how easy each program was to use and the number of useful extra features it offered (including free add-on software). To gauge how effective each package was at stopping malware, we used the results of evaluations conducted in May 2017 by AV-TEST, a well-regarded independent product-testing lab in Germany, and results from other tests conducted in July 2017 by AV-Comparatives, a similarly well-respected firm in Austria.

Kaspersky Internet Security offers both the lowest system impact and some of the best malware-detection rates recorded. It even provides extra security features, including parental controls and options to lock down your webcam and stop websites from tracking your browsing activity. If you're willing to pay to protect your Mac from malware, Kaspersky Internet Security is the best option available.

Avast Free Mac Security caught 99.9 percent of all malware, packs in a password manager, barely leaves a smudge on system impact and doesn't charge a dime. If only it caught 100 percent of malware, as Kaspersky did.

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is one of only a few solutions we tested that offers perfect malware detection. Further, its modern, streamlined interface places on-demand scans front and center. Last year's winner dropped from first place, though, because its system-impact scores didn't match the flawless marks posted by Kaspersky.

Norton Security Deluxe may offer excellent protection, but it charges more (after the first year) than its competitors do, without offering as many perks. Still, always-on-call customer support is a nice thing to have if anything ever goes awry.

For a free option, AVG AntiVirus for Mac is not too shabby, with its 99.9 percent detection rate and easy-to-use design. Unfortunately, other free competitors provide extras (Sophos with parental controls, Avast's password manager) that AVG does not.

With Sophos Home for Mac's simple interface and low system-performance impact, you'll barely realize the program is shielding you until you need it. Anyone with young children at home will find Sophos' parental controls useful, as they allow for remote scans and checks, and let you block sites by category. Sophos even keeps a log of when users try to reach banned pages. This program's major drawback, though, is its lackluster malware-detection rate.

Once our favorite, Avira Free Antivirus for Mac isn't in the lead any longer. That's because it is  a hair shy of perfection in its malware detection, and fell behind in system-performance testing, earning some of the higher performance impacts recorded.

While McAfee's unlimited licenses mean you can support a whole family of Macs (and PCs and Android devices, too), this program's lack of special features (for a paid version) make it hard to recommend. Further, we don't have malware-detection testing scores for McAfee, so its protection powers are unproven.  

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  • Paul NZ
    No you dont. I've never bothered with using a separate Av or firewall. I'm still here.

    They're all a waste of money. NOD32 is probably the only one worth getting. If I did use t
    -2
  • JazzAzz
    Why isn't ClamAv for Macs mentioned???
    0
  • James_397
    Anonymous said:
    Whether you're running Windows, macOS or Android, you need antivirus software. The question is what you want -- and how much you should pay.

    Best Antivirus Software and Apps 2016 : Read more


    Yet another silly thread. If you have Windows installed, use Defender... period. Stop listening to all the third-party marketing hype. There is no need for anything other than what comes with the OS.
    0
  • Audcurr
    I think customer service should be taken into consideration as well. Bitdefender is the worst, I bought it and the activation key wouldn't work, it took for ever to get it straighten out and they are quite rude.
    0
  • jackj59
    Fwiw, dealing with an issue now, of virus and/or malware, and after running bitdefender and it clearing what it found, I ran malwarebytes and it found over 10 more instances of malware. So though one shouldn't run live more than one at a time, I recommend having malwarebytes and run it periodically, too.
    1
  • jackj59
    Correction: including PUP's - from something called AnonymizerGadget - malwarebytes now found hundreds of more that bitdefender, avast and TrendMicro all missed when using their free online scan. And they aren't simply "potentially" unwanted programs, that AnonymizerGadget is defintely mal/spy/virus ware.
    1
  • Alan_K
    I'm curious about why you didn't test Norton Internet Security. Not that I'm advocating it; indeed I look forward very much to spitting on Symantec's grave some day and only found this article while looking for alternatives. (That was after I found that Norton charged me three times for two subscriptions last year because they set up two automatic deductions on one of the subscription accounts. They then refused to refund the double payment because it was out of the "60 day guarantee period". Burn. In. Hell, Symantec.) However given that Norton would have a not-insignificant market share I would have thought that it would have been one of the ones to test. I would have been curious to see how it performed.
    1
  • Paul NZ
    Yup most of them are a waste of money.

    Doesnt matter what you get. And if you're stupid enough to use programs like Utorrent and get dodgy programs.

    Whats the point in having one anyway. Any AV program doesnt detect everything. And your system will end up infected anyway
    -1
  • Bill_123
    For people who seem to think anti virus programs are waste of time if they go on the internet and they depend on windows to protect them I would say there is a 99.9 percent chance they are already infected with some form of virus or malware. I have found that the better ones are VERY hard to breach and although it is still possible to get a virus the odds are slim to none. Without them your almost guaranteed you will pick something up in short order is just a fact in the modern age. The biggest issues I have is how much do they impact computer performance and how good is their detection. Some are like dropping a boat anchor dragging your computer down some almost unnoticeable. So instead of spreading viruses to all your friends and family get a good virus program and save yourself and everyone you know a lot of grief.
    2
  • espressonator
    Why isn't there a comparison chart? I've used Avast for years; it's free, and it's very good. Why did not Mr. Tom mention Avast as either better or worse than these paid products? My guess is that Mr. Tom is really acting as an advertiser. If he were "non-partisan", then I think he would provide a comparison chart or so to explain why it's worthwhile to pay for products like this instead.
    0
  • Bill_123
    Anonymous said:
    Why isn't there a comparison chart? I've used Avast for years; it's free, and it's very good. Why did not Mr. Tom mention Avast as either better or worse than these paid products? My guess is that Mr. Tom is really acting as an advertiser. If he were "non-partisan", then I think he would provide a comparison chart or so to explain why it's worthwhile to pay for products like this instead.


    You can find dozens if not more reviews on AV programs all of them will vary on who and why they think one is better than another. If you want to believe Avast free is the top choice based on your experience you can find a review to tell you that. Tomsguide is just that a guide based on things they feel are important. Pay programs come with many more features! If you feel you don't need or want these features then without a doubt they are not a good choice for you. What I want and need in a AV is very specific and might not be suitable for you. Same for most people there is no ONE SIZE fits all. It does not make them dishonest or biased just makes them have their own opinion no more or less. I come to this site for their opinion for a good reason I respect there opinions whether I agree with them or not.
    0
  • jraju1954
    Hi, I think that most of the av app for android is always running type taking phone battery resources. Is there a demand type scan antivirus prog for android in free version. Would someone say. i tried avast, it gives protection, but i do not know whether it has a demand type run of program. It does not have a user control install of its acessory software . Anybody knows
    0
  • tizziocaio
    Anonymous said:
    Fwiw, dealing with an issue now, of virus and/or malware, and after running bitdefender and it clearing what it found, I ran malwarebytes and it found over 10 more instances of malware. So though one shouldn't run live more than one at a time, I recommend having malwarebytes and run it periodically, too.


    bitdefender dont like it because forces to make an account and sign in before using it..like "meh rly?"
    Also does way to often background scans and updates like 10 times every day...
    0
  • boma23
    I was running a repair and IT solutions shop a few years back. We regularly installed a free solution on MACs that came in, ahnd a busy week might see 5 - 8 Macs in the shop at once. Sophos free (which is what we used at the time) probably found nasties on around 60% of Macs that came in without protection. Make of that what you will, if you are in the "AV for mac is pointless" camp.
    0
  • Thomas_223
    Sophos auto-update is the worst. Hangs your computer until it completes. No way to stop it or schedule it. Kills productivity until it hopefully finishes or fails and you have to try again.
    0
  • Nickynike
    AVG is a very good freebie. It finds viruses and scans emails. Yet, no mention. Then I scan with Malwarebytes, again free.
    0
  • dusty13
    so microsoft did not pay there way into getting the definitions from the independent security institutes it seems ... because no one heard about av-studios "optimizing" their results in these tests ... ever ...
    0
  • Sue_21
    I have always used trend micro and I noticed they are not there. and it is really getting pricey $268 for virus. so i am looking for one that is not as expensive but as good
    any recommendations please
    0
  • Chris_361
    I agree that Kaspersky is far and away the best and nowadays uses the least resources . I don't know how they did it but it's amazing.
    0
  • Sreekanth_3
    Hi, I installed Norton Mobile AV on my Samsung S6 with Android 6.0.1 , but it's not helping with what I really wanted, which is to prevent my Chrome browser from being occasionally directed to random annoying sites. For example, one which says you have a virus, or one which says you won a prize. They don't do any damage, and I just ignore them and reopen the page I want, but it's the principle of the thing. How do I remove whatever malware is doing this? Thanks
    0