While Macs are a less appealing target for malware and viruses, they are not resistant to attack. Even if you don’t worry about adware or being used to infect users on other sites, ransomware, login theft, or stolen iPhone backups are all possibilities.
Introduction to Free Mac Virus Scanner
As a result, good antivirus software will safeguard your Mac against all of these threats. It will capture malware that is either spreading or in circulation, block ransomware, protect older systems with out-of-date software from security vulnerabilities, keep infected files off of any virtual machines you’re running, and prevent your Mac from serving as a carrier for malware aimed at other operating systems.
Many antivirus suites provide adequate security, but only a few stand out as being the best in terms of results. Our top picks outperform the competition by receiving perfect (or nearly perfect) ratings from security testing laboratories, passing our own malware detection tests with flying colours, having well-designed user interfaces, and even including extra features like a firewall or password manager.
In today’s competitive cybersecurity market, finding a completely free Mac antivirus is difficult. Most antivirus companies simply have a free basic product and then pester you to upgrade to their premium version. They typically make you “pay” with annoying advertisements, minimal functionality, and serious security flaws that leave you and your Mac vulnerable.
Many other free antivirus programmes are spyware that try to trick you into giving them access to your computer’s resources so they can steal your data. That’s why it’s important to find a product that’s been thoroughly tested and is guaranteed to provide at least a basic level of safety without jeopardising your security. I’ve gone through all of the big antivirus apps for Macs on the market — software developed specifically for Mac computers — to find the best 100 percent free products available to keep you safe.
If you just need basic malware security and scanning, a free antivirus will be sufficent. However, if you want to keep your sensitive data safe and avoid becoming a victim of ransomware or advanced malware attacks, you’ll need to invest in a paid antivirus.
Since so many antivirus platforms are only compatible with Windows, finding one can be difficult. Mac users, on the other hand, have a variety of antivirus options. To secure your Mac OS, here is a list of the best free antivirus platforms for Mac.
How I rated the best free antivirus for Mac?
- Malware-detection. To ensure that all 5 of my chosen antivirus programmes detected Mac-specific malware threats, I conducted thorough stress testing and reviewed scientific reports from all major antivirus testing laboratories.
- Extra features are available. I considered all of an antivirus’s features to ensure that you’re having a well-rounded product that will provide you with optimum security.
- The installation process. I tested the installation process on a variety of macOS versions and devices, looking for potential problems as well as the overall speed and reliability of the process.
- UI stands for user interface. I studied how both casual and tech-savvy users communicate with the app to ensure that it is user-friendly for both groups — neither too basic nor too complicated.
- Customer service. I contacted the support teams for each product and timed how long it took them to reply via chat, email, and phone. Did they resolve my issue or were they merely attempting to upsell me to a more expensive plan?
Can viruses infect Mac?
There’s an explanation why the misconception that “Macs don’t get contaminated” persists. The Mac operating system is designed to be less resistant to viruses than Windows.
The Mac is built on the sandboxed Unix operating system. This means that even if malware gets into your computer, it won’t be able to spread. Furthermore, the likelihood of malware infecting your computer in the first place is remote. Apple’s Gatekeeper feature prevents you from installing apps that haven’t been approved by the company.
However, just because you’re using a Mac doesn’t mean you’re prone to problems. Malware, ransomware, spyware, adware, and phishing attacks are just some of the other critical threats you should be aware of. When more people use Mac computers, hackers find new ways to target them, making you vulnerable to cybercrime.
Are free antivirus programmes for Mac is adequate?
It depends on your definition of “enough.” Yes, if you only need simple defence against the most common threats. All of the five items on this list will keep you safe from viruses and malware. However, they can not shield you from other threats such as malware, spyware, or adware.
You will need to move to a paid product if you want significant cover. This is precisely the ruse used by antivirus firms. They have a very basic free antivirus that only provides basic security. You already have their product installed on your computer when you remember you need something more efficient, so you think to yourself, “I’ll just upgrade to the full version.” You don’t want to do any more research or compare brands to find the best product at that point. Instead, you simply upgrade whatever free antivirus software you already have.
This is a mistake I believe you can avoid. If you’re concerned about the security of your files, emails, and personal information, you should review the full list of the best antiviruses for Mac and choose the best one for you, even if it doesn’t come with a free trial.
Is it possible to use a free online virus scanner without having to download anything?
You are free to do so, but you should not. Most of these free virus scan websites scare you into believing your machine has malware when it doesn’t, and then force you to download their product to “remove” it.
To avoid unintentionally infecting your computer with spyware or ransomware from an online virus scanner, it’s best to download a reputable antivirus programme from the start.
Why do these AV companies Offer free antivirus software?
It is debatable. Many businesses want to give you a taste of their quality product so that you can see how valuable it is and eventually sign up for their paid plan. Some companies will also give you a free sample of their subscription plan so you can see and experience what “absolute cover” looks and feels like before forcing you to pay the upgrade fee to keep your device secure.
There are also businesses that recognise the importance of cybersecurity and want to provide each person with the ability to stay secure in order to ensure their online protection. Regardless of whether or not a consumer is a paying client, all of the businesses on our list are dedicated to protecting them.
Which Mac operating systems (OS) are protected by these antiviruses?
The majority of antivirus software will work with OS X 10.10 and later. There are some situations where newer Macs and operating systems have better support. For example, Avira, my favourite free antivirus for Mac, is only compatible with OS X 10.13 and later.
Not having the most recent operating system installed on your computer is, in general, a security risk. One of the reasons Mac provides updates is that older, obsolete operating systems have bugs that hackers can exploit. Make sure your computer’s operating system is up to date, and that your antivirus software is compatible with your system.
Before installing, always double-check with the antivirus company to ensure that the programme will perform as expected.
Best Free Antivirus Software
Malwarebytes for Mac Free
Malwarebytes’ free version has long been used as a backup for always-on malware software by Windows users. The Mac version began as an adware removal tool, but it has evolved into a full-fledged malware protection tool. Furthermore, it works just as well on MacOS as it does on Windows, a fact aided by the team’s ongoing threat analysis. In reality, in 2017, the company discovered the first Mac malware attack!
The software is extremely simple to use. Simply pick Scan, and the app will promptly notify you of any malware intrusion — even when other software fails to do so. This is not an always-on solution, like the Windows edition of the free version, and is therefore better suited for conducting deep scans and removing especially pernicious threats like the fake Adobe Zii malware.
The Free version only cleans an infected Mac; all else, including infection prevention and updates, is only available for 14 days. For live security, you’ll need the premium edition, which costs $42.69 for 12 months or $74.70 for 24 months for one Mac.
Avast Security for mac
It’s easy to see why Avast Security for Mac is one of the most common security suites available. It provides on-demand tools for quickly performing full-system malware scans and is reliable and free for noncommercial use. It sifts through separate email threads, attachments, and web activities as well. It also has the ability to scan external drives and attached volumes, as well as drag-and-drop scanning for individual files and phishing protection.
The app’s user interface is simple and self-explanatory. It has a left-hand navigation pane with five primary buttons and a real-time graph that aggregates shield operation and allows you to easily monitor your Mac’s overall stats.
If your privacy is especially important to you, you should be aware that Avast does collect and sell customer web browsing data, according to recent reports. Although Avast admits to doing so, it claims that it does not collect names, email addresses, or other contact information. Users may choose whether or not to share their information.
The Premium edition costs $70 a year for one Mac.
Sophos Free Mac Antivirus
Sophos straddles the line between necessity and excess, providing all of the essential features you’d expect from good antivirus software, plus a lot more. It includes tools for deleting and quarantining any software that Sophos considers a possible threat, as well as on-demand, planned, and personalised scans for specific files, directories, and drives.
The app includes real-time security features that quarantine unknown files that behave strangely. Despite the fact that it scans slower than most, the app is relatively light. It runs in the background, unobtrusively performing important tasks while barely consuming or wasting the system’s resources.
Sophos manages to pack all of this functionality into a small gui, despite its extensive feature set. You can start a full-system search right from the main menu, and you can quickly configure exemptions from menus that are easy to navigate. The malware concepts are often revised on a regular basis, ensuring that the software is still up to date on possible threats. It’s one of the best antivirus software and it’s one of the most hands-off on the market.
Ransomware tracking, webcam security, and live support are all included in the free version, but they all expire after 30 days. To retain these features, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium edition, which costs $45 a year.
Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac
Bitdefender Virus Scanner is based on the company’s award-winning antivirus engine and offers a variety of scan options, enabling users to easily perform deep scans of the entire device or unique locations. If permission is given, it also allows users to search vital locations such as launch agents and the entire device library, enabling them to skip longer scans when they are pressed for time.
Before scanning, this antivirus client downloads Bitdefender’s hourly malware definitions and allows you to quickly blacklist unique locations from device scans. It tries to disinfect and quarantine suspicious files, and it can also quickly scan for malware inside different archives and file forms, but this is not a function exclusive to this programme (PDF, PKG, ZIP, RAR, etc.).
Users can select from four different scanning choices on the home screen, as well as an update button and a View Quarantine button. It’s all very easy to grasp and use.
You can get the smartphone edition of the game from the Mac App Store in addition to the desktop version.
AVG AntiVirus for Mac
AVG AntiVirus for Mac is an antivirus programme that protects your computer from viruses.
AVG’s free tier is a good choice if you want basic virus security that you can rely on. It had a 100% safety rate from 145 samples when put to the test by AV-Test. In the same test, AV Comparatives gave it a perfect score of 100 percent against 585 Mac samples and 500 Windows samples.
The interface will try to persuade you to upgrade to the paid AVG tier, which includes malware security, phishing protection, and a Wi-Fi inspector for controlling all of your home network’s equipment. AVG’s free product, on the other hand, is a good option if you only want to search your Mac for infected files and make sure new downloads aren’t carrying a virus payload.
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac
Avira manages to strike a good balance between ease of use and easy access to advanced utilities, making basic device scans as simple to run as scheduled and file-specific scans. The programme provides standard spyware and adware security, as well as the ability to block monitoring and intercept malicious websites. It can restore or remove an infected file or folder if it is found. It can also search USB devices for possible threats.
The full-featured Avira gui has a left-hand navigation bar that allows you to check the system’s status, schedule tasks, and display quarantine history, among other things. This antivirus will provide you with the most up-to-date threat information. It’s resource-intensive, but it’s more than capable when it comes to automation, scan history, and other advanced features.
Avira differs from our other suggested options in that it consumes more machine resources. Consider yourself forewarned: there is a lengthy installation process to begin with, and updates can take a long time as well. The slow installation and updating isn’t a major issue, particularly given the low price and robust antivirus tool, but it is an annoyance.
If you need more than what the free tool offers, Avira Internet Security for a single Mac costs $58 per year and adds advanced malware protection, real-time warnings, and other features.
Antivirus security features to look for
Antivirus software, in our opinion, should be able to neutralise a threat before it can start wreaking havoc. This entails preventing malicious software from being downloaded, installed, or executed.
Since you can be infected by visiting corrupted or malicious websites, receiving virus-infected attachments, or accessing malware-infected USB drives, good antivirus software should search on a regular basis unless you tell it otherwise. And, preferably, malicious files should be quarantined in a special storage area controlled by the antivirus programme, with the option to automatically remove malware-infected files or restore normal documents with malicious payloads.
Great antivirus software will also keep an eye on the filesystem for specific changes. On other networks, ransomware—malware that encrypts user files like documents and mailboxes and then deletes the originals—has been a major moneymaker. It’s the biggest danger Mac users face as a category, as it’s a prime target for attackers.
Without understanding the basic innards of a ransomware virus, an anti-malware device should be able to detect this trend and stop it before any files become inaccessible. This feature is included in the Home Premium edition of Sophos’ 2018 update, which is our top pick. Avast and Trend Micro Antivirus, for example, have an alternate feature that allows you to whitelist programmes that are allowed to manipulate files in particular folders. As a result, even if this form of attack becomes increasingly common, you’ll be safe.
Antivirus software can also use as little computing power as possible. That’s particularly true these days, because AV monitoring hasn’t gotten any more complicated since it first appeared, and quicker, multi-core CPUs can easily handle the demands of running AV software in the background without interfering with your active work.
A user-friendly interface and additional features, in addition to these main features, should be considered when making your decision. Some antivirus programmes are full-featured suites that provide features such as file backup, parental controls, anti-tracking and privacy modes or options, a more sophisticated firewall, and the blocking of Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs).