Best Mac Antivirus Software 2019

After evaluating eight free and paid antivirus products, we've chosen Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac ($40 per year) as the best antivirus for Mac. It had a nearly invisible 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.

You do need an antivirus program on your Mac. Recent years have seen more Mac malware and adware than ever before, from Trojans to targeted attacks, supply-chain attacks like the XcodeGhost attack and even encrypting ransomware.

MORE: Best Antivirus Software and Apps

Latest Security Alerts and Threats

— A new form of Mac malware evades Apple's Gatekeeper program and hides from antivirus software. ADVICE: Run Mac antivirus software, since the malware won't run at all if it detects it on a machine.

— An Instagram phishing campaign masquerades as a method by which your Instagram account can be receive a "verified" badge. But of course, you have to provide your email address and password. ADVICE: Check the URL of the website pretending to be Instagram; the real Instagram won't ask for your email address as verification.

— The widely used video-playing software VLC got a hefty security update to thwart all sorts of exploits. ADVICE: Update your VLC software to version 3.0.7.

How We Tested

To find the best antivirus for Mac desktops and laptops, we 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.

Best Mac Antivirus

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

(Image credit: Kaspersky)
Reasons to Buy
Perfect malware detection
Minimal system impact
Parental controls
Reasons to Avoid
Dense menu design

Kaspersky Internet Security is the best antivirus for Macs because it 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. 

Best Free Mac Antivirus

Avast Free Mac Security

(Image credit: Avast)

Avast Free Mac Security

Best Free Mac Antivirus

Reasons to Buy
Free
Excellent malware protection
Nearly no system impact in background
Password manager included
Reasons to Avoid
Packs bloatware

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

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Reasons to Buy
Perfect malware detection
Ransomware protection
Elegant modern design
Parental controls
Reasons to Avoid
Highest passive system impact

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. Bitdefender has dropped from first place, though, because its system-impact scores don't match the flawless marks posted by Kaspersky.

Norton 360 Deluxe

(Image credit: Norton)
Reasons to Buy
Excellent malware detection
Reasons to Avoid
Expensive
Noticeable system impact
Lack of special features

Norton 360 Deluxe may offer excellent protection, but it charges more (after the first year) than its competitors do, without offering as many perks. Norton AntiVirus Plus offers similar protection for a single Mac, but with fewer perks. Still, both have always-on-call customer support.

AVG Antivirus for Mac

(Image credit: AVG)
Reasons to Buy
Excellent malware protection
Free
Easy-to-use design
Reasons to Avoid
No special features
Comparatively high background impact

If you're looking for the best antivirus for Mac without having to pay, 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.

Best for Families

Sophos Home

(Image credit: Sophos)

Sophos Home

Best for Families

Reasons to Buy
Free
Remote manageability
Parental controls
Low system impact
Reasons to Avoid
Competitors beat it on malware detection

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.

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

(Image credit: Avira)
Reasons to Buy
Free
Solid malware protection
Reasons to Avoid
Notable system impact during full scans

Once our favorite, Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is no longer the best antivirus for Mac. 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.

McAfee Antivirus Plus

(Image credit: McAfee)
Reasons to Buy
Unlimited accounts
Familiar user interface
Reasons to Avoid
Sparse special features for paid service
Unproven detection rates

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.