5 Best Free Antivirus Software for Macs in 2020
If you have a Mac, you know how hard it is to find a truly free antivirus. Unfortunately, most antivirus brands for Macs will offer you a “free product,” but in actuality, they will annoy you with ads, limited features, and serious issues, leaving your Mac vulnerable to threats.
Another problem is that some “free antiviruses” are spyware in disguise, which will trick you into giving your access to your personal information on your computer. This is why it’s crucial to find an antivirus from a credible company with proven results.
If you need basic protection, a free antivirus is enough for you. However, if you have important data, you need to keep secure, and you do a lot of banking and shopping online, then you will need to invest in a paid antivirus.
TotalAV is our number recommendation if you want a paid antivirus for your Mac. It offers amazing protection at a reasonable price. (I am especially partial to TotalAV because that’s the software I use to protect my MacBook.)
We have researched dozens of major antiviruses for Macs on the market today, in search of the best 100% free products. Here is how we rated the best free antiviruses for Mac:
Our Rating Guidelines for the Best Antiviruses for Mac
- Superior Malware Detection: We looked at extensive research testing on our top best free Mac antiviruses. They have all have positive testing results from detecting Mac-specific malware threats.
- Extra Security Features: Typically, a free antivirus only offers antivirus protection. However, we looked for brands that extend extra security features for maximum protection.
- Easy Installation: There’s nothing worse than complicated downloads and installations. We looked for antiviruses that offer easy setups than even the most non-tech savvy person could understand. We also looked for brands that did not slow down your device.
- Customer Support: Customer support for any company is important, but especially when it comes to an antivirus. We looked at the number of ways to contact customer support, the response time, and the efficiency of the responses. We also did not want to be pressured to upgrade to a paid plan.
Top Antivirus Brands that Didn’t Meet our Standards
Just because these brands didn’t meet our standards does not mean they do not offer great antivirus products. It only means they don’t offer great free Mac antivirus products.
Norton is a well-respected, reputable antivirus brand with years of proven results. They offer a great paid plan for Mac protection, but the reason they didn’t make our list is that unfortunately, they don’t offer a free option.
Kaspersky’s Internet Security for Mac is a solid product with plenty of extra security features that will keep your Mac well-protected online threats. However, Kaspersky only offers a 30-day free trial, not a 100% free program. Side note: some customers download the 30-day free software, clean their Mac of any threats, and return the software before the trial is over.
Intego offers Mac Internet Security X9, which is an excellent choice for a paid antivirus. However, this brand only offers a 30-day free trial and not a free product. You can always try the 30-day free trial and cancel your subscription before it’s over if you want to try it out.
I know you’re waiting for the main point of this article–the best free antiviruses for Macs. So, with no further chatting, here you go:
Best Free Antivirus Software for Macs
1. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac: Best for Real-Time Malware Protection and Removal
Avira believes that “privacy isn’t a privilege. It’s your right,” and we agree 100%! Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is one of the best and most popular antiviruses on the market, and for good reasons.
This software includes a quiet real-time scanner that you won’t even notice in the background. However, it’s working hard to detect and eliminate threats in real-time.
Here’s what you will get with the free plan:
- Effective Malware Protection: Avira found 99.8% of macOS malware in its latest testing results, which is impressive. Malware scans are easy to customize and run.
- Avira’s Browser Safety: a security plug-in for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera that blocks malicious websites.
- Phantom VPN: You can download Avira’s free Phantom VPN for 500 MB of data per month.
- Simple Installation: Customers report that the Avira Free Antivirus is easy to install and use
Like every product, there are pros and cons to Avira Free Antivirus for Mac. The best thing going for it is it’s free, so there’s really no reason not to try it.
- High-quality virus protection in real-time
- On-demand scanner that scans websites, social media sites, and emails
- Excellent anti-malware results from independent testing labs
- Full system scan is slower than some of its competitors
- Only supports macOS 2017 or newer
- Customer support is adequate but could be better
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is the product you are looking for if you want to keep your device free of threats while you’re online. The real-time scanning tools and extra protection features are among the best free options available on the market.
The only thing we don’t like is the slow scans, but hey, it’s free, so we can deal with that.
2. Sophos Home Free: Best for Parental Controls
If you’re a parent and want to have peace of mind when your children are online, then Sophos Home Free is for you. “Security made simple,” is Sophos’s motto, and we agree that they have made security simple with their antivirus software, along with excellent parental controls.
Here’s what Sophos Home Free has to offer:
- Real-time Antivirus: this feature protects you against malware, viruses, and ransomware, as well as 100% protection against Mac-specific software.
- Parental Website Filtering: parents have the option to block inappropriate websites
- Web Protection Feature: this feature immediately blocks websites that have malware
- Remote Management: you can access Sophos remotely to secure you and your family’s devices from any web interface.
- Quick and Easy Installation: The download and installation is simple.
Here’s what we like and don’t like about Sophos Home Free:
- Real-time malware, virus, and ransomware protection
- Remote management
- Top-notch parental controls
- Protection for three devices
- Users have to register for a Sophos account before they can download the software
- Scans may be a little slow
As a parent, keeping your kids safe online is a priority, making Sophos Home Free an excellent choice. This software offers excellent real-time scanning, detection, and removal tools.
The free version protects up to three devices, and the remote management is an extra perk. Sophos Home Free is an excellent free Mac antivirus for families.
3. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac: Best for Scans
Bitdefender, a global leader in cybersecurity, is known for protecting over 500 million systems for more than 18 years! Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac is the best when it comes to scanning.
There are three scans you can choose from, and best of all, they are quick and efficient! Check out the details from Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac:
- Critical Locations Scan: scans temporary files, emails, and downloads for threats
- Deep System Scan: scans the entire Mac for malware, viruses, and threats
- Custom Location Scan: scans select places on your Mac
- Virus Signature Updates: checks for malware every hour
- Protection against 100% of Mac-Specific Malware: Excellent test results (100%) for Mac-specific malware
- Straightforward and Easy Installation: This software is easy to navigate and install. It also has a low impact on your system.
Bitdefender is a simple software for basic protection. Here are the pros and cons:
- Three iOS virus scan options
- Top-notch malware protection scores
- Easy to install and navigate
- Email, chat, and phone customer service
- No real-time protection
- No internet browser or email protection
As we said, Bitdefender is a great basic plan, and of course, it’s free. We love that you can scan your entire system or specific downloads whenever you want without slowing down your Mac.
Do note that there is no real-time protection, and if you need that security, you can upgrade to one of Bitdefender’s paid plans.
4. Comodo Free Mac Antivirus: Easy and Simple
Comodo is all about “creating trust online,” and since they made our list of recommendations, we think they are doing a pretty good job. Comodo Free Mac Antivirus is a dependable antivirus for Macs, and since it’s free, you won’t be getting annoying ads to upgrade. Here’s what Comodo Free Mac Antivirus has to offer:
- Detects, Blocks, and Eliminates Viruses: Comodo does a good job at detecting and destroying viruses in real-time
- Instant One-Click Scanning: A convenient option when you want to scan a file or download
- Thorough On-Demand Scans: Scans are in-depth and thorough
- Unique “Slider” to Change Your Security Levels: Depending on your preferred level of security, you can use the slider to change the behavior of your security level.
- Easy User-Friendly Interface: Easy to download and navigate.
Comodo Free Mac Antivirus is pretty basic, but it works well. Here’s what we like and don’t like about this product:
- Works well at protecting Macs in real-time
- Scans are easy to perform and thorough
- Personalized protection
- No ads to upgrade
- No extra security features like parental controls or identity theft protection
- No anti-phishing protection
Comodo Free Mac Antivirus is great at detecting and removing malware, especially Mac-specific viruses. If you want more protection, you could use this software to supplement one that offers more security features. However, you can’t go wrong with Comodo, since it’s absolutely free.
5. Malwarebytes for Mac (Free Version): Best for Minimal Impact on Your Mac
Malwarebytes is a trusted leader in cybersecurity for Apple products. As they claim, they do a great job at “crushing cyberthreats” and “restoring confidence.” Malwarebytes for Mac features strong malware protection and clean-up tools for your system. Here’s what you will get with Malwarebytes:
- Protection from Mac-Specific Threats: Detects and removes viruses, malware, and ransomware in real-time.
- Removes Adware and Unwanted Programs: This feature makes your Mac run smoother with the clean-up tool.
- Stops Unwanted Apps at the Source: Blocks applications from developers who are known to release malware or adware.
- Two Fast Scan Options – Threat Scan and Custom Scan: Scans in less than 30 seconds. That’s pretty impressive!
- Light Software: It’s only the size of three digital music files, so it takes up very little space.
While Malwarebytes is a great free product, there are some things that are lacking.
- Good protection
- Strong malware clean-up tool
- Two fast scanning options
- No schedule scan options
- No extra security tools
We can’t complain too much about an efficient antivirus that is 100% free, so we won’t. Malwarebytes works well at detecting and removing Mac-specific threats.
If you want more security features, consider trying Malwarebytes Premium. Another perk is that every download of the free version includes two weeks of the Premium software, so you will be able to use the extra perks that paid customers receive.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may have questions about antivirus protection for Macs, and we had them too.
That’s why we are in the cybersecurity business, so we can help you make informed choices. Here are some common questions.
Can Macs get viruses?
We hear this one all the time, and there’s a good reason. Macs have been notoriously known for being safe from viruses, and there’s some truth there. Because of Unix operating system built into Macs, they are less vulnerable to viruses than Windows.
Because of the secure system and Apple’s built-in Gatekeeper function, even if malware ends up on a Mac, it won’t spread.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely safe if you have a Mac. There are other threats such as malware, ransomware, spyware, adware, and phishing attacks that can leak into a Mac’s system.
Unfortunately, the more popular Macs become (and they are pretty popular!), the more cybercriminals invent new ways to attack these systems.
Is a free antivirus enough for my Mac?
The answer to this question will depend on you and how you use your Mac. If you want basic protection against common threats, then yes, a free antivirus will be enough.
All five products we reviewed will protect your Mac from malware and viruses. However, there may be other threats, such as ransomware and phishing, that you are still vulnerable to.
If you use your Mac for shopping, banking, or keep personal information on it, then you will want to upgrade to a paid antivirus.
Why do some companies offer free antiviruses while others do not?
It really just depends on the company. Some companies offer free versions to get you as a customer, so you may eventually upgrade to their paid plans. Some companies offer free trials of their paid plans so you can experience “full protection,” and decide you want to upgrade.
Then, there are companies who truly value cybersecurity, and they believe that online privacy is a right, not a privilege (like Avira, our first recommendation). They simply want to provide free services to customers, whether they pay or not.
Which Mac operating systems do these antiviruses protect?
Most antiviruses protect Macs that are OS X 10.10 or newer. That is a general standard, so it is important to look at the specific antivirus software to know whether it is compatible with your software or not.
While our five recommendations are 100% free, there’s no price to being safe online. Keep in mind that these antiviruses offer basic protection, and you may need more than that.
There are reasonable paid plans out there that will give peace of mind while you’re online, but if you just want the basics, check out one of our free antiviruses for your Mac.
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