Getting an antivirus is a critical step toward securing your computer. Even so, it feels like Apple users have been left in the cold. With most malware targeting Windows, Mac seems to get served subpar versions of established software or, worse, mediocre dedicated options.
In this guide to the best antivirus for Mac, we’ll go over the few good options available. While most are part of a multi-device plan, they still offer excellent protection and a list of features, to boot.
We’re going to go over how we made our selections, analyze lab results and give you other reasons why we like each. If you’re a regular reader of our guides, it should come as no surprise that we rated Bitdefender first, but be sure to read through the other four picks if you want some options. We also recommend reading our article on the best VPN for Mac for even more protection.
Best Antivirus for Mac 2018
What Makes an Antivirus Best for Mac?
According to Net Marketshare, 88.13 percent of all desktops use Windows and, because of that, most malware is written to attack it. That said, macOS accounts for 9.27 percent of the market share, which isn’t insignificant. There’s just a different set of threats to Apple users.
Antiviruses are structured differently on macOS because they’re looking for different malware that behaves in different ways. It isn’t as simple as slightly rewriting the software to run on the operating system. That means some of the best antivirus software isn’t available for macOS, or, worse, isn’t any good.
Our main concern is that a Mac antivirus won’t be able to stand up to the list of threats Apple products face. While the same cybercrime methods apply, the applications may differ. We consulted three independent labs to find the most secure macOS options on the market.
Protection against known threats is important but simple. We also looked at the real-time protection of each antivirus, as well as how it did with zero-day malware, which are attacks carried out the same day an exploit becomes known.
Security is our first priority, but there are other important areas. We looked at the the usability of each program, including their scan modes and settings, to see how well they balanced it with power.
As antiviruses have evolved, they’ve added more features, so we also looked at what else is provided with each security package. That includes things such as webcam protection, which is the first recommendation in our guide on how to secure your webcam.
There aren’t as many antiviruses for macOS as there are for Windows, so price isn’t a big factor. We considered it, but not at the cost of features or, especially, security. If there is a free plan, that’s a plus, but only if the antivirus satisfied our other criteria.
Make sure to check out our guide to the best free antivirus if you’re looking to save money, though.
Best Antivirus for Mac: Bitdefender
Bitdefender has some of the best protection scores for Macs. AV-Test awarded it a perfect score in its June 2018 analysis. It was 100 percent effective against 507 samples of malware discovered in the four weeks leading to the test.
The industry average at the time was a pitiful 95.5 percent.
Bitdefender’s performance is excellent, too. AV-Test found that it slowed the machine down by, at most, 1 percent while downloading applications and copying files. The industry average 12 percent for downloads and 16 percent for copying files.
AV-Comparatives found similar results. Out of 310 samples, Bitdefender was 100 percent effective. The lab doesn’t have numbers for macOS performance, but Bitdefender received an advanced+ rating, the highest possible tier, on Windows in April 2018.
The third lab we reference, MRG Effitas, doesn’t have Mac results, but it awarded Bitdefender a Level 1 certification in its Q1 full spectrum analysis, meaning it blocked 100 percent of the threats.
The tests were done on Windows 10, though, so there are no macOS results to compare. Even so, given the results from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, it’s likely that Bitdefender’s Apple variant would have performed well.
Other Reasons We Like Bitdefender
Bitdefender has great protection scores, but it has a lot more going for it, too. The user interface, while slightly different from the Windows version, is excellent. You can see your current system status, enable web protections and run quick, system or custom scans.
It also has a small section for Autopilot, as well, which is Bitdefender’s automated security recommendation system. It will let you know about the vulnerabilities your device may have and the steps you can take to fix them.
There’s ransomware protection, too, in the form of Safe Files. The feature monitors files and folders you specify and blocks changes to them. If you’re unfamiliar with this nasty malware, read our guide on what is ransomware.
Bitdefender is constantly in the top tier of protection, usability and features. It’s cheap, too, with the three-device plan costing around $50 a year. You can also use Total Security, a multi-device plan that secures up to 10 Windows, macOS, iOS or Android devices.
- Excellent protection results
- Ransomware protection
- Great performance
- Interface feels lacking
Trend Micro has an antivirus for a single Mac, but it shines with its multi-device plan, Maximum Security. It got excellent results protecting macOS, with AV-Test awarding it a perfect score in protection and performance.
It was 100 percent effective in the malware tests, better than the 95.5 percent industry average. Performance numbers are impressive, too, but not as much so as Bitdefender. Downloading frequently used applications resulted in a 1 percent slowdown and copying files caused a 3 percent slowdown. Still, the results were much better than the industry average.
AV-Comparatives also found it 100 percent effective. As with Bitdefender, there are no macOS numbers for performance, but the Windows results were decent. Trend Micro has bounced between getting standard and advanced ratings from AV-Comparatives. The most recent test awarded Trend Micro with one out of three stars for performance.
MRG Effitas awarded Trend Micro Maximum Security a Level 2 certification in its Q2 full spectrum analysis. That means Trend Micro blocked at least 98 percent of threats. The service performed well in all tests except for blocking potentially unwanted applications.
Those tests were done on Windows, but MRG Effitas evaluated Maximum Security, a multi-device plan, as a whole.
Other Reasons We Like Trend Micro
Trend Micro is decent as a Mac product, offering protection against ransomware, browser hijackers and more for a single macOS machine. That said, the Maximum Security package is much better.
For twice the price, you can secure up to 10 devices using Windows, macOS, iOS or Android. Maximum Security comes with other features, too, including a system optimizer that will help you get rid of extraneous files and a password manager. The latter isn’t one of our best password managers, though.
It also has Trend Micro Pay Guard, which provides extra protection when using online checkouts. Pay Guard isolates your connection and watches for abnormal behavior in the browser. If anything is suspicious, it will disconnect you to save your information from identity theft.
Trend Micro has impressive protection results and the single macOS plan will defend your browser and desktop against threats. As the risk to mobile devices increases, though, Maximum Security looks more attractive. You can learn more in our Trend Micro Antivirus+ review or download a free trial.
- Excellent protection results
- Easy to use
- Secure banking mode
- Mediocre individual plan
Unlike other providers who have a Mac-specific product, Norton offers its whole lineup for Windows or macOS. The single-device plan is pricey, though, especially considering you can protect up to 10 devices for around $20 more. That said, no matter which plan you choose you’ll get the same level of protection.
AV-Test awarded Norton a perfect score in protection and performance. It was 100 percent effective against the 507 macOS malware samples used, which tops the 95.5 percent industry average at the time.
While it scored six out of six point for performance, Norton doesn’t have the chops of Trend Micro or Bitdefender. It slowed the test machine down by 5 percent when downloading frequently used applications and by 1 percent when copying files.
AV-Comparatives doesn’t have macOS results for Norton, but the Windows results are impressive. It blocked 100 percent of malware during the August 2018 testing. The most recent performance test, conducted in April 2018, awarded Norton an advanced rating and two out of three possible stars.
The Windows results from MRG Effitas were impressive, too. During the Q2 full spectrum analysis, MRG Effitas awarded Norton a Level 1 certification, meaning it blocked all threats. Many threats were blocked via behavior monitoring, meaning Norton’s protection against zero-day malware should be good.
Other Reasons We Like Norton
All Norton plans come with a 100 percent guarantee. That means that your machine will stay free of malware. If it doesn’t, Norton will refund you. While the guarantee comes with all plans, the inexpensive Norton Security Standard isn’t as attractive as other options.
It can protect a single device from malware, but that’s it. The ideal plan is Norton Security Premium, which can protect up to 10 devices using Windows, macOS, Android or iOS and comes with 25GB of secure storage, to boot. That isn’t much compared to the best cloud storage providers, but it’s something.
The more expensive Norton Security Deluxe comes with all the features of Premium in addition to LifeLock identity theft protection. The LifeLock package insures you for up to $1 million. It monitors your credit report and the dark web for signs of identity theft, too.
There are other useful features, including a password manager that isn’t as good as Dashlane but gets the job done (read our Dashlane review). You can learn more about the features in our Norton Security review or download a free trial of Norton Security Premium.
- 100 percent guarantee
- Excellent protection results
- Identity theft protection
- Expensive single-device plan
Kaspersky earned a spot in our guide to the most secure antivirus software. It has excellent marks from the labs we reference and a good feature set, to boot. Unlike other providers, it also has an attractive single-Mac plan, though the multi-device plans may provide more value.
It earned six out of six points for protection from AV-Test, blocking all of the 507 samples used. It didn’t earn that in performance, though. Kaspersky lost half a point due to mediocre results in the file copy test.
It slowed the test machine down by 2 percent while downloading frequently used applications, which isn’t as good as our previous three options, but still better than the 12 percent industry average. It did worse than the industry average in file copying, though, slowing the machine by 19 percent.
AV-Comparatives approved of it during its July 2018 testing. Kaspersky blocked 100 percent of the 310 samples used. The Windows performance results were excellent, too. Kaspersky earned an advanced+ rating in April 2018, which it has maintained since October 2014.
It was also one of only three antiviruses to earn a Level 1 certification in the Q1 and Q2 full spectrum analyses from MRG Effitas. Like Norton, many of the samples were blocked with behavior monitoring, meaning protection from zero-day malware should be good.
Other Reasons We Like Kaspersky
We like Kaspersky’s features and pricing a lot, but we have privacy concerns that keep us from recommending it outright. Even so, as a feature-dense antivirus at a good price, it’s hard not to consider it.
It comes with Safe Money, a password manager, a VPN and more. Safe Money is a secure banking mode that isolates your connection to the payment portal from other network connections. Even if you had malware that could intercept your normal connection, Safe Money would protect you from it.
The VPN isn’t impressive, though. It’s provided by Hotspot Shield, a provider we didn’t take kindly to in our Hotspot Shield review, and you’re limited to 200MB per day unless you upgrade.
The password manager is excellent, though, as you can read in our Kaspersky Password Manager review.
For protection on a single Mac, or protection across devices with Total Security, Kaspersky is a great choice. You can learn more in our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review or download a free trial to see how you like it.
- Excellent protection results
- Included password manager
- Sluggish performance
Intego is a Mac-exclusive antivirus that got high marks for protection, as well. While the application is specific to Macs, it protects against macOS, OS X and Windows malware. It has guards against network and phishing threats, too.
AV-Test awarded it a perfect score in protection and performance. It was 100 percent effective, 4.5 percent better than the industry average, against the 507 malware samples the lab used in its June 2018 testing.
Performance numbers were almost as good as Bitdefender’s. It slowed the test machine down by 1 percent when downloading frequently used applications and 3 percent when copying files. It maintained, at minimum, a 10 percent faster speed over the industry average.
AV-Comparatives found that it blocked 100 percent malware detection during its July 2018 testing. Since Intego is exclusive to Macs, there are no Windows performance numbers to reference.
MRG Effitas doesn’t have results for Intego.
Other Reasons We Like Intego
Intego can protect one to five Macs from malware. The top-tier Mac Premium Bundle is reasonably priced, too. You can protect five devices for around $100 per year, which is a good rate considering the bundle of features included.
The core feature is VirusBarrier, which protects you from malware in real time. Intego also includes NetBarrier and ContentBarrier. The former is a firewall that monitors network connections and the latter gives you parental control to keep children safe online.
Our favorite feature, though, is Washing Machine, a Mac software cleaner that scans your device for redundant or unnecessary files and delete them. That includes things such as caches that are no longer needed and extraneous language files.
While Intego doesn’t protect Windows machines, you can purchase Windows protection when you check out. Intego partners with Panda Security for Windows protection, a decent provider that, unfortunately, loses some luster because of poor performance. You can learn more about it in our Panda Security review.
- Good lab results
- Parental controls
- Good performance
- No multi-device plan
Mac users have a hard time finding a solid antivirus. In most cases, it feels like macOS versions are afterthoughts. Our five picks have all received high marks from independent labs and come with a good list of features, too.
They aren’t the only ones, either. If you couldn’t find an option that suits you here, make sure to read our other antivirus reviews. Also, dedicated Apple fans will want to check out our article on the best cloud storage for Mac as well as our best Mac backup piece.
What Mac antivirus are you using? Let us know in the comments and, as always, thanks for reading.