10 Best Antivirus Packages For Your Mac

Last Updated: September 26, 2016

“Macs don’t get viruses.” If you’ve had a Mac long enough, you’ve probably heard this line before. There’s just one big problem with it: it’s not true. Macs do get viruses. Just like PCs, they can get hit with malware, adware, and spyware. And just like PCs, they need to be protected with solid antivirus software. Here are ten of the best antivirus packages you can get to protect your Mac.

Best Mac OS X Antivirus Apps

1. Symantec Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh ($30 for first year, then $60 / year)

Norton is one of the biggest names in the antivirus world, the performance of their software backs up their reputation—they even offer a money-back guarantee that their software will keep your computer virus-free. As a leading researcher in cyber security and malware protection, they bring a lot of expertise to the table.

In April 2015, an independent antivirus software testing group called AV-TEST showed that Norton detected 100% of tested malware samples, ranking it among the most effective antivirus software for Mac. Norton’s Global Intelligence Network reports on threats around the world, helping them keep their virus definitions up to date. And deluxe and premium versions of the software also include parental control software and cloud backup capabilities.

Possibly the most appealing factor of Symantec’s antivirus software is that it didn’t slow down AV-TEST’s computer during the performance test. Norton is the least system-resource-intensive antivirus package out there, and the fact that it’s still 100% effective makes it an easy choice for the top spot on this list.

2. BitDefender Antivirus for Mac ($40 / year)

BitDefender, like Norton, scored a 100% detection rate in the AV-TEST comparison (though it scored 99% on another test run by AV-Comparatives). The fact that BitDefender is constantly updating its malware definitions from the cloud, where much of the heavy lifting is done, means you can be confident that almost nothing will slip by your defenses.

Moving processing to the cloud also prevents BitDefender from hogging your system resources; BitDefender was the second lightest client in AV-TEST’s results, only slowing down their Mac by a little bit. BitDefender says that their Mac antivirus software was designed specifically to work well with OS X, and this could be the reason why it doesn’t place a big drain on Mac systems.

Another high point of BitDefender is that it includes definitions not only for Mac-specific malware, but for Windows-based ones, too, which means you’ll be protected from an even wider array of threats. Combining this with adware blocking, online phishing detection, and non-stop protection with AutoPilot makes this one of the best options for any Mac user.

3. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac ($60 / year)

With the largest price tag in this list, you’d expect Kaspersky to be the best antivirus package for Mac out there. And when it comes to protection, it is. AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives both found that Kaspersky’s Internet Security for Mac detected 100% of threats—which isn’t surprising, considering that Kaspersky is one of the most well-known group of internet security researchers.

Kaspersky’s antivirus package comes with a few features that set it apart from many of its competitors, like network attack blocking and parental controls. This makes it a very versatile program that you can use to protect both your computer and your kids. It provides free automatic updates, protects from PC and Linux malware, and includes extra protection for your online monetary transactions.

Falling right in the middle of the field, Kaspersky didn’t impress in the AV-TEST system resources performance test (though the system slow-down would likely be all but unnoticeable during regular usage). With the level of protection that it provides and the solid reputation backing the Kaspersky name, it’s still a viable choice for protecting your Mac from all of the threats out there.

4. Comodo Antivirus for Mac (Free)

Although it wasn’t tested in either of the two recent reference tests by AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives, Comodo has been given a very positive review by AV-TEST in the past, which emphasized its negligible effect on system performance.

Automatic updates combined with drag-and-drop file scanning and easy scheduling make this an antivirus package that anyone can use, regardless of their level of tech savviness. The software also includes a Security Level slider that lets you easily adjust how much protection you receive, so you can tailor it to your needs.

As a large company that provides a number of online safeguards for businesses of all sizes as well as individual users, Comodo has a solid reputation for protection, and that reputation extends to its antivirus software for your Mac. Adding minimal system usage makes this a viable option for Mac users, especially if you’d rather not pay for your malware protection.

5. Avast Free Mac Security (Free)

As one of the most popular antivirus packages for Mac, Avast has a large name to live up to. And with 100% detection rates from AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives, it has the chops to go head-to-head with more expensive software like Norton. Avast touts its “automatic stream of microupdates” as a feature that keeps your computer always up to date on virus definitions, and their large user base helps them keep track of which threats are emerging.

When it comes to system resources, Avast, although being generally touted as pretty lightweight, came in sixth place in AV-TEST’s performance comparison. While this slow-down would likely be imperceptible in day-to-day usage, it does show that you can’t get the maximum performance out of free software. However, most users won’t notice the difference, so it likely doesn’t matter very much.

Avast uses a multi-platform sensor network in combination with machine learning and big data analytics to make sure that your virus definitions always include the latest threats. This level of protection is one of the best you can get with free software, and the decently low use of system resources makes Avast a top contender.

6. ESET Antivirus for Mac ($40 / year)

With Mac-, PC-, and Linux-based malware protection, ESET aims to protect your Mac from a wide variety of threats, as well as keep you from passing on any malware you might get to other operating systems. The software also includes anti-spyware and anti-phishing modules to keep you even safer online. And with 100% detection on the AV-Comparatives test, it does a good job doing so.

One of the coolest features of ESET is that it contains removable media control, which prevents the unauthorized copying of private data to USB drives and other external media. It even has special protections built in for social media so you don’t give away confidential information on Facebook or Twitter.

While there aren’t any test results indicating the amount of system resources that ESET uses, it does include a feature called idle-state scanning, which lets you automatically trigger virus scans when your system isn’t under load. This means ESET will be doing its heaviest lifting when you’re not trying to work or play games, helping keep your computer running as smoothly as possible.

7. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac (Free)

Avira protects your Mac from both OS X-based malware and threats that target PCs, giving you a solid amount of coverage. AV-TEST also found that it detected 100% of the malware that they tested, placing it in good company among many other pieces of software that cost a lot more.

Maintenance is made easier by Avira’s easy scheduling, which lets you choose when your computer is scanned for new malware. You can set it to run on any day and at any time you like, meaning you can have it run once a week or every night, depending on how much of your system resources you’d like it to use. Another benefit of using Avira is that the company offers a convenient browser extension that will help you stay safe online by warning you when you’re about to enter a suspicious website.

Unfortunately, Avira did not perform very well in AV-TEST’s system resources task; it fell third from the bottom, and slowed down their Mac quite a bit. While this might be a deal breaker for some, it’s hard to argue with getting effective antivirus software for free. Balancing the tradeoff between cost and efficiency in running may depend on your priorities.

8. AVG AntiVirus for Mac (Free)

Another free option, AVG protects against three types of viruses: Mac, PC, and Android-based. Why worry about Android-based malware on your Mac, you might wonder? Because you could pass it on to someone you know. Even if you don’t use an Android phone, someone could become infected if you manage to get one of these pieces of malware.

AVG comes with a number of easy-to-use features, like automatic file scanning, drag-and-drop file scanning, and automatic updates, making it easy for you to make sure that every file on your computer is free of malware. In AV-Comparatives’ test, AVG detected 100% of the tested Mac- and PC-based malware, making it a solid selection for virus detection. The testing team also praised the software for its easy-to-use and straightforward interface.

While AVG’s use of system resources wasn’t tested, it does have a reputation for being a bit of a resource hog. Without hard data from a test, it’s difficult to say, but some users have found it to use as much as two to three times as many resources as a lighter-weight client like Avast. Still, the level of protection that it provides is tough to beat, and few free clients have an easier to use interface.

9. F-Secure Anti-Virus for PC and Mac ($40 / year)

Although the price tag on F-Secure isn’t a world-beater, you can use a single license for up to three computers; so if you’re trying to get antivirus software for your entire family, opting for F-Secure could save you some money. There’s also a 30-day free trial so you can test it out. And with a 100% Mac-based malware detection score from AV-Comparatives, you can be confident that it’ll root out malware on your computer.

One notable area where F-Secure comes up short is in PC-based malware detection. AV-Comparatives found that this software only found 28% of PC threats, falling far behind most other competitors. Whether or not you think PC-based malware protection is important could be a determining factor of whether you should invest in F-Secure.

Although F-Secure’s use of system resources hasn’t been definitively tested recently, it has received a range of positive and negative results in the past. Although their website states that the software doesn’t slow your computer down, it’s hard to find evidence that this is the case. It might be worth taking advantage of the free trial to see how it performs on your Mac.

10. Sophos Antivirus for Mac (Free)

Sophos advertises its antivirus software as being able to detect both old and new threats that are meant for Macs and PCs, and provides automatic updates that keep your definitions up to date. The test results support their claim, with a 92.5% detection rate from AV-TEST and a 100% rate from AV-Comparatives. While it’s not as good as some of the other entries, that’s still a very solid performance.

The anti-malware strength of Sophos’ Mac antivirus software comes from the fact that the technology used is the same as the tech behind their business-class antivirus software. The very simple interface makes it easy to scan your files when you need to, and the built-in quarantine manager lets you make decisions no what to do with infected files.

While the protection offered by Sophos is top-notch, that protection might take a toll on your computer’s speed. Among the ten packages tested by AV-TEST, Sophos was ranked #9 in system performance, causing a noticeable slowing of computer function. Unless you put very few demands on your system, it might be better to opt for a more efficient option.

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Text Editors For Mac

Stay Safe

No matter which Mac OS X do you use (OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks), it’s important that you’re well-protected. People used to think that Macs don’t get malware, but that’s just not the case anymore, and you’re risking a lot of important data if you aren’t protected. Make sure to download one of these best antivirus software for Mac today!


Dann is a freelance journalist who helps people lead happier, more balanced lives through technology and spending time in nature. He writes about the topics that people deal with every day: productivity, organization, and finding the precarious balance between using tech and being addicted to it. To get in touch, tweet him @dann.albright.