The Best Antivirus for Mac
Mac-owners looking for antivirus protection, look no further.
We test each antivirus software on a variety of different devices, but here, we’re highlighting the services that were especially well-suited for Macs. Macs are known for their resilience against viruses, but antivirus software is still a necessity if you want to guard against the threats that emerge each day. Here, we’ll help you decide which antivirus software is best for you and your needs.
Trend Micro and Avast beat out their competition when it came to protecting Macs, but Mac-users have other options in case you’re looking for something different. Here, we’ll go through our evaluations of Trend Micro, Avast, Vipre, Bitdefender, and AVG in detail so that we can help you make the most informed decision about your cybersecurity. We don’t just talk about the technical elements (though that is our favorite part). We’ll also address pricing information, customer service, and how each company handled our data. We’ll start with a snapshot of all the services best suited for Macs.
Best Antiviruses for Mac at a Glance
Trend Micro Antivirus
|Apple App Store Rating||3.2||4.7||4.7||4.2||4.8|
|Malware scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans|
|Compatible Systems||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android|
|Maximum Number of Devices that can be Connected||15||5||10||10||10|
|Ways to Reach Customer Service||Email, phone, live chat, FAQ database||Online help center, Facebook messenger, live chat, email, phone||Ticket system, FAQ database||Online help center, phone, email||Online help center, phone, forum|
|Monthly Price Range||$2.50-$7.50||$0.00- $15.83||$0.00-$4.17||$0.83-$3.33||$0.00-$6.49|
|Free trial option||Yes, for one device||Has a free version, but with limitations||Has a free version, but with limitations||Has a free trial option||Has a free version, but with limitations|
|Money-Back Guarantee Length||30 days||30 days||30 days||None||30 days|
|Read Review||Bitdefender Antivirus Review||Trend Micro Antivirus Review||Avast Antivirus Review||Vipre Antivirus Review||AVG Antivirus Review|
Our Picks for the Best Antiviruses for Macs
1. Bitdefender - The Best Antivirus Software for Mac Overall
- Scored 100 percent on our virus detection test
- Can try with a 30-day free trial
- Offered a wide range of options for pricing and subscription lengths
- Can cover up to 15 devices
- Logs a lot of user data
- The company has had security issues
- Price is likely to increase after the first year
- Very limited free version
Top-Notch Virus Protection
Bitdefender really impressed us by earning a perfect score on our virus test, meaning that no viruses fooled the software and made their way onto our Mac. As people who spend more time than your average Joes testing for virus protection, we can confidently say that Bitdefender stood out from the crowd. We were so impressed that it even topped our overall best antivirus software list.
Antivirus for Up to 15 Devices
With Bitdefender, we could connect a whopping 15 devices on the same subscription. Since our reliance on technology has skyrocketed this past year, we’ve increased the number of devices in our house: we’re talking iPads, iPhones, and Macbooks all around. Those device numbers added up pretty quickly, so we liked that we could protect everyone’s various products with just one subscription. The last thing we would want to do is toggle the antivirus on and off, or even worse, forget to protect our devices at all.
2. Trend Micro - The Best Antivirus for Mac Web Protection
- Free version available
- Features on-demand and on-access scans
- High mobile app ratings
- Smooth user experience
- Does not have a firewall for Mac
- Difficult installation process
- Had to pay for the premium subscription to connect more than one device
- Has had a security breach in 20191
On-Demand and On-Access Scanning
When we tested Trend Micro, we made use of on-demand scanning, meaning that we could scan whenever we felt like it. We always scanned our device whenever we logged on for good measure, but we felt extra-protected knowing that Trend Micro also deployed on-access scanning. With this feature, the software scanned our devices in the background in case we forgot to request a scan. We prefer to have a combination of on-access and on-demand scanning so that we can decide how hands-on we want to be with our virus scanning. For more details on ways that antivirus protection inoculates your systems against threats, check out our detailed antivirus guide.
A Slew of Customer Service Options
When we investigated Trend Micro’s firewall, we had to dig deeper beyond just what was on the website. However, we had many ways to reach Trend Micro, from a Facebook messenger chatbot to the good old-fashioned phone line. We opted for the Facebook messenger option and got our answer shortly from a very helpful Bitmoji named Charlie. We also could have weeded through Trend Micro’s FAQ database, where we could have searched through other users’ questions and troubleshooted our own. If we weren’t in such a rush, we could have sent an email, too
3. Avast - The Best Free Antivirus Software for Mac
- Straightforward user interface
- Identified 98.6 percent of malware
- Mobile apps have high user ratings
- Free version available
- Sells user data to third-parties
- Cost will increase after first year
- No phone or live chat option for customer service
- Keeps logs of unnecessary user data
High App Ratings
We had a great experience testing Avast, but its high macOS app rating of 4.7 out of 5 proved that we weren’t the only ones who thought the software delivered. One user, who said they had subscribed to Avast for years, said it had saved them from installing software containing malware onto their phone. Seeing that macOS laptops and computers make up nearly eight percent2 of the global market share in laptops and desktop computers, it’s crucial to make sure that these devices are protected from viruses.
We had minimal complaints about Avast, but in the event that one of our readers had a sub-par experience, Avast offers a 30-day money back guarantee. All we would have had to do is contact their customer support within 30 days of purchase and ask for a refund. Avast would have given our money back and cancelled our service, no questions asked. This could also be the perfect way to do a full test-run of the service, if you’re between a couple of options. If you decide to move beyond the 30-day trial into a full subscription, we outlined every option on our Avast pricing page.
Watch-out: To use the Avast Antivirus macOS app, you’ll need macOS 10.10 or higher along with at least 500 MB of hard disk space.
4. Vipre - The Best Antivirus Software with VPN for Mac
- Features behavior-based detection
- Affordable for first year of service
- Can get a package with VPNs
- No negative company history
- Limited online help center
- Customer service forum is not very active
- Did not successfully detect all viruses in our scan
- No money-back guarantee
When we conducted our tests, we used VIPRE Advanced Security, which costs $54.99 per year, or $4.58 per month. Mac-users will need to go for the Advanced Security offering, as VIPRE Antivirus Plus is only compatible with PCs. Nevertheless, we had plenty of options when it came to the term length and the number of devices that we could connect. We could connect anywhere from one to ten devices and sign up for contracts as short as one year or as long as four years. If you’re still curious about cost, we have a full page on VIPRE’s pricing.
Money-saver: VIPRE offers a free trial, so we could try the service without even having to give any of our credit card information.
Intuitive User Experience
VIPRE’s interface was very intuitive: the program showed a status bar that let us know when the computer was last scanned, whether the firewall protection was active, and that the threat definitions were up to date. We allowed certain websites and apps past the firewall, and were also happy that our VIPRE shielded our email inbox from phishing attacks. The presets were exactly how we would have customized the tool, so we didn’t have to do much to get up and running, and appreciated that the service did not serve us any pesky pop-ups.
5. AVG - The Best Antivirus Software for Detecting Malware for Macs
- Can scan on-access and on-demand
- Has a free version
- Detected malware 99.8 percent of the time
- Has a phone line for customer service
- Missed two out of five viruses in our detection test
- Sells customer data to third-parties
- No live chat option for customer service
- Limited FAQ database
Free Option Available
Beyond offering a 30-day money-back guarantee, AVG actually offers a free version of their service that doesn’t expire. We gained:
- A file shield that scanned every file that we opened or downloaded onto our computer
- A behavior shield that monitored our apps
- Ransomware protection
- A network inspector that scanned our entire Wi-Fi network and all of our connected devices.
While AVG’s free software does not cover detection of fake websites and phishing, it’s a great bare-bones antivirus if that’s something you are comfortable with. We also compiled the best free antivirus software in case price (or lack thereof) is a major factor in your decision.
High Malware Detection Rate
We were impressed with AVG’s behavior-based detection, where the software identified suspicious behavior that can lead to cyber-attacks. A lot of antivirus software just matches up malware to an existing database, so AVG goes above and beyond to spot new threats in real-time. Their malware detection was accurate 99.8 percent of the time, a nearly perfect score. Even though Macs’ built-in security measures are strong, it’s still important that antivirus software sniffs out undiscovered threats. For more ways to bolster your security, check out our best VPNs for Mac.
Now that we’ve gone through the bird’s eye view of antivirus software for Macs, we’ll walk you through the process of reaching our conclusions. Macs have a reputation for having strong protection against viruses and malware, but it’s still critical to invest in antivirus software because the reality is that thousands of new threats are created each day. Antivirus software complements Mac’s built-in features, and fills in the gaps of identifying newly created threats that target Macs specifically.
We started with the basics of what these services were invented to do, which is, of course, to detect viruses on our devices. We performed a test where we download five different files, each with a different virus. Then, we scanned the files with the antivirus software and saw which successfully detected the viruses the most. Most of the time, the programs detected at least three out of the five files, meaning that more often than not, something slipped through the cracks. It’s important that we know which services didn’t score well in our test, because in reality, it only takes one virus to lead to a lot of headaches. We don’t recommend trying these tests yourselves. While we’re experts on properly testing virus detection without negatively affecting our devices, it’s a delicate process, and the last thing we would want is for you to unleash malware on your devices.
The next thing we looked for is the different types of scanning each service offered. Services that scanned on-access searched for threats whenever the software was running, even if only in the background. Otherwise, those with on-demand scanning scanned only when we requested or scheduled a scan. We personally prefer on-access scanning because it stops viruses and malware immediately, and we don’t need to set any reminders on our end. However, sometimes we want to check that everything is running as it should with on-demand scanning. Best-case scenario, a software would offer both on-demand and on-access scanning.
Some antivirus software programs detect threats through a process called signature-based detection. The files are marked as threats if they share similar characteristics or code bases. That’s a great solution for identifying known threats, but it leaves us pretty helpless when it comes to malware that might not be included in the database.
Rather, as thousands of pieces of malware are introduced every single day, it’s important that the antivirus is able to catch new problems as they arise with behavior-based detection. Behavior-based detection, in contrast to signature-based detection, monitors suspicious behaviors of files. For example, if we download a .mp3 music file, and the file tries to go somewhere other than our music player, behavior-based detection would notice the irregularity. That type of malware would go undetected by signature-based detection, so we prefer when both types of detection are offered in tandem.
We don’t want antivirus software to upend how you use your computer, so we evaluated the user experience to ensure that each service offers a smooth process. We paid special attention to the installation process, and how obvious the software was when it was at work on our devices. We prefer for the software to appear as invisible as possible, meaning that we aren’t constantly getting prompted with pop-ups, or having to install updates on the service.
Once our readers select an antivirus software, we want to make sure they’re in good hands. It’s inevitable for problems to come up, so we checked what types of resources each company offers to resolve issues. Most have FAQ databases and email support lines, and 24/7 live chats are also very helpful to getting answers quickly. For us, the holy grail of customer support is a phone line with an actual human on the other end. While we’re more likely to make use of the digital options first, a phone line tells us that the company genuinely prioritizes helping its customers.
Investing in cybersecurity is a long-term endeavor, so we want to make sure that our recommendations don’t break the bank. To protect a Mac, it will cost anywhere from nothing (we’ll talk more about free versions shortly), to around $8 per month. The cheapest service (outside of free trials) we recommend for Macs is VIPRE, which will cost at a maximum, $3.33 per month to connect 10 devices, while Bitdefender is at a higher price point ($7.50 per month to connect up to 15 devices). Prices tend to increase as additional devices are added to a plan. We know that everyone has a different budget, so we prefer when a brand offers a myriad of options for their customers to find what fits their needs best.
We also checked if they have a free trial or even a free antivirus version. Free trials are a great way to take the softwares for a test run, in our opinion, because we get the full range of capabilities. The downside is that most only last 30 days, and protecting our devices from viruses is something we need to happen on an ongoing basis. When it comes to the free versions of the services, we find that there’s often too many limitations, like caps on data usage, to work long-term and still be effective. They also lack extra features like password managers, identity theft protection, or VPNs, that are frequently bundled in some paid versions of softwares. While free versions might not be the ideal solution, they can still be beneficial when testing out the various services for yourself.
Last, but certainly not least, we looked at how each company handled our data. When we downloaded any type of software onto our devices, we gave antivirus software access to a lot of our information. While some of the information was necessary for the tool to function, a lot of it wasn’t. When we agreed to those terms and conditions, we were essentially giving companies the right to our information. The unfortunate part is that most of the time, we aren’t allowed to use the service without agreeing to their terms.
While we might not have much of a choice in accepting the terms, we find it important to read through the privacy policies to get a thorough understanding of what each company asked of us. Some examples of acceptable data collected are payment information, contact details, and usage statistics. However, when we found out that companies often track our browser activity or geolocation data, we thought that crossed a line. We also checked if companies were selling our information to third parties, a common practice. We always appreciated when companies resisted the urge to sell our data, but it is, unfortunately, an industry norm.
We also do some digging into each company’s history. We investigate if there were any data or security breaches, and in general, if the company has committed any unsavory practices. That includes providing customer data to the government, or even collaborating with foreign powers. Though it is never acceptable for a cybersecurity company to fail to protect their own customers’ data, we also check how the company has handled any mishaps, and how they’ve adjusted their practices to make sure that they don’t happen again in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Macs have built-in antivirus software?
Yes, Macs have built-in antivirus software. However, we recommend still investing in an antivirus software to double down on protection, as the software that comes with your device is often not advanced enough to inoculate against all threats. Antivirus software often updates their firmware more frequently than Mac, so external software is more up-to-date than built-in services. Plus, Mac-targeted attacks are becoming more common, and having multiple layers of protection makes it more difficult for newly-created viruses to penetrate our Macs.
Do I need antivirus protection for Mac?
Yes, you need antivirus protection for your Mac. Though Macs tend to have better antivirus protection than Windows, no system is 100 percent immune from targeted attacks. As cyberattacks are increasingly prevalent, it’s important for users to protect their devices in a variety of ways. Relying solely on built-in software, you are depending entirely on what Apple has caught, and there’s no guarantee that they can design protection against everything. In the past, certain types of malware, like OSX/CrescentCore, was able to fool Mac security. Having additional antivirus measures gives users another line of defense against the vast number of threats out there.
Is there a free antivirus software for Mac?
Yes, there are a few free antivirus softwares for Macs. Trend Micro, Avast, Bitdefender, VIPRE and AVG all offer free versions of their services.
What is the best antivirus software for Mac?
According to our evaluation, Bitdefender and Trend Micro are the best antivirus software for Macs. However, we also found Avast, VIPRE, and AVG to be suitable options.
Trend Micro. (2019). Trend Micro Discloses Insider Threat.
Gartner. (2018). Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 2 Percent in 4Q17 and 2.8 Percent for the Year.