HomeAntivirus for Mac
Marta Turnbull

Marta Turnbull

Head of Community at MacUpdate

Marta Turnbull is a MacUpdate OG and has written about technology, marketing and brand creativity for over 10 years. She splits her time between Michigan and Ukraine.

Best Antivirus for Mac 2021: Reviewed and Rated

07 February 2021

Best Antivirus Software for macOS [2021 Edition]

Despite the popular misconception that Macs don’t get viruses, attacks on Macs accelerated significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years.

According to AV-Test, 674,291 new malware threats were identified in 2020, compared with 56,532 in 2019 and the previous high of 92,571 in 2018.

So, protect your Mac by installing an antivirus solution.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the:

  1. Editor’s pick
  2. Best antivirus for Mac
  3. Mac antivirus FAQs

Editor’s Pick for Top 3 Antiviruses

We’ve done our homework, and the results are in!

Best free antivirus: Avast Security for Mac

Avast’s free antivirus earned top scores for malware protection from four different labs. It has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, and scans are fast. Expect to see a lot of ads and plenty of built-in encouragement to upgrade to the paid version.

Best antivirus for non-techies: MacKeeper

Simple and easy to use, MacKeeper is a robust cleaning and security app with lots of great features. It removes malware and detects all kinds of online threats with real time protection, protects you against identity theft, includes a VPN and a set of Mac cleaning tools.

While it’s more expensive than other antivirus programs, those who are non-technical can just install the program and forget about it as it does its work behind the scenes.

Best antivirus overall: Avira Antivirus for Mac

Avira is a robust, full-featured antivirus offering comprehensive protection along with a range of additional privacy and device optimization tools. Scans are fast with integrated cloud-scanning for up-to-date, real-time protection.

Privacy issues, data clean-up, app updates, and startup settings can all be fixed with a single click. Whether you install the free or the paid version, you won’t regret your decision.

To find out why we chose these three, take a look at the details below.

Best Antivirus for Mac in 2021

Avira Antivirus

1. Avira Antivirus for Mac

A lightweight antivirus with an extensive selection of easy-to-use tools, Avira for Mac offers one-click real-time scanning, ransomware attack prevention, phishing protection, and a basic VPN.

Avira is rated first in our list because of its ability to schedule and perform a range of scans, including active processes, external devices, local drives, and rootkits.

Integrating cloud-based scanning with real-time protection, scans utilize Avira’s Protection Cloud to detect malware using cloud technologies that are continuously updated with the latest available threat information from across the globe.

The Activity Stream provides at-a-glance confirmation of all security-related activities in real-time, including blocked threats.

Additional features: Advanced browser extensions, game booster, and startup optimizer with Avira Free Security Suite.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Ransomware protection Basic VPN with only 500MB/month
Excellent malware detection No email or phone support
External device protection
Great lab test scores

Specifications: macOS 10.12 Catalina or higher.

Price: Free. Antivirus Pro for Mac starts at $4.99

Number of devices: Not applicable.

Norton AntiVirus Plus

2. Norton AntiVirus Plus

Cheaper than most competitors, Norton Antivirus Plus offers robust, multi-layer malware and online threat protection.

Avira is rated first in our list because of its ability to schedule and perform a range of scans, including active processes, external devices, local drives, and rootkits.

Integrating cloud-based scanning with real-time protection, scans utilize Avira’s Protection Cloud to detect malware using cloud technologies that are continuously updated with the latest available threat information from across the globe.

The Activity Stream provides at-a-glance confirmation of all security-related activities in real-time, including blocked threats.

Additional features: Advanced browser extensions, game booster, and startup optimizer with Avira Free Security Suite.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Multi-layer protection Windows version with features disabled
Built-in password manager Limited Windows malware detection
Fast scans

Specifications: macOS 10.15 Catalina or higher.

Price: $84.99 (12-month plan). $39.99 for the first year.

Number of devices: 1

MacKeeper

3. MacKeeper

Despite negative reviews of previous versions, MacKeeper has come a long way. An intuitive, user-friendly Mac clean-up tool with a range of security features, MacKeeper is our favorite antivirus for non-techie users. MacKeeper detects and blocks adware, malware, ransomware, spyware, and viruses with complete protection in real-time.

Automatically scheduled to run every 24-hour, MacKeeper’s flexible scans allow you to scan an individual file, folder, or your entire computer, automatically removing any threats found. Unfortunately, MacKeeper does not view rootkits (tools used by hackers to gain control of your computer) as a virus, so you’ll need to use a dedicated rootkit removal tool to scan your Mac periodically.

One feature that stands out is MacKeeper’s ID Theft Guard. It enables you to quickly see what online accounts associated with your email address have been hacked. After the initial scan is done, MacKeeper monitors your email address for signs of identity theft, notifying you if your online credentials have been compromised.

Additional features: Adware cleaner, duplicate finder, ID theft protection, integrated VPN, memory cleaner, application update tracker, and many more.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Fast scheduled and on-demand scans Lacks protection against fraudulent URLs
Numerous privacy and performance features Expensive compared to the competition
Integrated VPN with unlimited data No automatic device scanning when accessed
Great lab test scores Doesn’t detect or remove rootkits

Specifications: macOS 10.11 El Capitan or higher.

Price: $10.95 (1-month plan).

Number of devices: 1

Avast Security

4. Avast Security for Mac

Avast Security detects viruses, ransomware, and other threats in real-time. Still, advanced users may find the lack of access to granular features somewhat frustrating unless they bite the bullet and upgrade to Avast Premium Security at $69.99 (12-month plan) for one device.

For example, the free version detects ransomware but doesn’t stop it from corrupting personal files.

Avast is an excellent free antivirus and anti-phishing solution for macOS, with a built-in network scanner to detect security problems on devices within your network.

Despite allegations of Avast being involved in collecting and selling private data a couple of years back, as a free antivirus solution with excellent lab scores, you can’t go wrong.

Additional features: Anti-phishing protection and Wi-Fi Inspector.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Network security scanner No free ransomware protection
Excellent malware detection Network scanner lacks Windows features
External device protection Allegations of violating privacy
Great lab test scores

Specifications: macOS 10.11 El Capitan or higher.

Price: Free. Avast Premium Security for Mac starts at $69.99 (12-month plan).

Number of devices: Not applicable.

Trend Micro Antivirus

5. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac

Trend Micro uses advanced, cloud-based security tools for optimized, real-time threat detection.

Leveraging sophisticated AI technologies to establish a baseline based on “normal” behavior, Trend Micro uses that information to detect and block anomalies, rooting out malware that may be hiding in what appears to be a standard file. The scanner is easy to use and offers effective, real-time protection against Mac-based malware, phishing, ransomware, trojans, and viruses.

While it lacks a firewall, Trend Micro has a comprehensive range of privacy features, including a privacy scanner, safeguards against email scams, and tools for protecting your identity and data while browsing the web.

Additional features: Data theft Prevention, mute mode, parental controls, password manager, privacy scanner, secure erase, and social media security.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Impressive lab test scores Slow initial scan
Ransomware detection and protection Resource intensive compared to others
AI-based, real-time malware detection Inferior mobile security
Social network privacy scans

Specifications: macOS 10.14 Mohave to 10.15 Catalina and macOS11 Big Sur.

Price: From $29.95 (12-month plan).

Number of devices: 1

TotalAV Antivirus Pro

6. TotalAV Antivirus Pro for Mac

Promising 100% malware detection, TotalAV has a powerful scanner and real-time malware protection managed via an intuitive user interface.

In addition to having one of the best malware detection engines in the market, TotalAV includes numerous system optimization features along with a password manager and integrated VPN.

Delivering impressive results, TotalAV offers four different scans - from the entire system to a single file - which are fast with a negligible performance impact. TotalAV’s Web Shield uses the latest blacklists of dangerous websites together with its AI-based website detection system to identify and block malicious activity.

Note: While TotalAV does offer a free version of its antivirus software, it does not include real-time antivirus protection and should only be used with extreme caution.

Additional features: Ad-blocker, cloud-based malware scanning, password manager, system tuning.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Excellent anti-malware protection Expensive add-ons
Excellent anti-phishing protection No real-time protection in the free version
Efficient device optimization Basic password manager
User-friendly interface

Specifications: macOS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher.

Price: From $99 (12-month plan).

Number of devices: 3

Intego Mac Internet Security X9

7. Intego Mac Internet Security X9

Encompassing two apps, NetBarrier X9 and VirusBarrier X9, Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 combines robust macOS and network protection within a single package, protecting your Mac against malware and unauthorized access.

Simple and easy to use, Intego VirusBarrier provides real-time antivirus protection with automatic checks for malware updates for Macs, scanning files and devices each time they’re accessed for ongoing security.

An advanced, intuitive two-way firewall with extra options, Intego NetBarrier includes sophisticated anti-spyware measures based on which network you connect to - home, work, or public hotspot. It actively monitors applications and devices attempting to either access your network or link to the internet, allowing you to either allow or block both incoming and outgoing connections.

Additional features: Advanced backup tools, cleanup and tuning, and parental controls with an anti-predator feature that actively monitors if a child is interacting with bad actors based on words and phrases used within chat rooms, emails, or social media.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Robust malware detection and protection Separate UIs for NetBarrier and VirusBarrier
Integrated smart firewall No VPN
External device protection
Intuitive and customizable

Specifications: macOS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher.

Price: From $49.99 (12-month plan).

Number of devices: 1

F-Secure SAFE

8. F-Secure SAFE

An award-winning, lightweight antivirus, F-Secure’s multi-layer security offers protection against adware, keyloggers, ransomware, spyware, trojans, viruses, and other malware.

SAFE’s behavior-based, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities detect and protect against new, previously unknown threats, including most ransomware attacks.

SAFE provides excellent protection from phishing attacks and includes a banking security feature. It automatically kicks in when you’re connected to a financial site, blocking all other connections and notifying you that banking protection is active.

SAFE also comes with parental controls for monitoring screen time, blocking websites with inappropriate content, and requesting parental approval before allowing children to use new applications.

Additional features: Website safety ratings, banking protection, protected online gaming, and parental controls.

Pros and cons:
Pros Cons
Behavior-based detection Exposure to zero-day ransomware attacks
Excellent anti-phishing protection Limited cross-device parental control
Automatic banking protection No VPN
Robust parental controls No optimization or backup

Specifications: macOS X 10.14 Mojave or later.

Price: From $69.99 (12-month plan).

Number of devices: 3

Mac Antivirus FAQs

Why you need Antivirus for Mac?

Do Macs need antivirus software?

While it appears on the surface to offer adequate protection, Apple’s built-in antivirus, XProtect, is only designed to provide essential protection against widely-known threats. It can’t compete with dedicated malware research teams and third-party antivirus apps providing comprehensive malware removal, scheduled system scans, and performance features such as cookie blacklists and cache cleanup.

What should I look for in a Mac antivirus?

When choosing the best antivirus software for you, consider the protection it provides and the premium features that matter most. At the very least, your antivirus software should include both scans and real-time protection against adware, malware, ransomware. spyware, and viruses. It should also police and block phishing activities via plugins or extensions, so ensure the solution you choose includes comprehensive web protection.

How do I purchase a Mac antivirus?

Antivirus apps are typically purchased on a subscription basis, with discounts for paying a year in advance rather than every month. The good news is that many subscriptions allow you to install the software on multiple devices, so you can protect all Macs in your household with one yearly payment.

Can I use a free antivirus for Mac?

Yes, you can, but choose carefully. Some free products are inadequate when it comes to protecting you fully, while others are designed to force you to upgrade to the paid version to gain access to additional features or more granular control. Take a look at the recommendation for the best free antivirus at the beginning of this article.

Does antivirus affect Mac performance?

All antivirus products affect Mac performance to some extent. Some are lightweight with minimal impact, while others are more resource-intensive. That said, other than while running your first full scan following installation, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice.

The Bottom Line

Malware can quickly give you an unnecessary headache! If you’re not the only one using a device in your household, the intelligent thing to do is keep your bases covered. The time and frustration it takes to recover critical data and get your Mac running smoothly again after a malware attack makes antivirus software a worthwhile investment.

For less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day, you can enjoy peace of mind.

Marta Turnbull

Marta Turnbull

Head of Community at MacUpdate

Marta Turnbull is a MacUpdate OG and has written about technology, marketing and brand creativity for over 10 years. She splits her time between Michigan and Ukraine.

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