McAfee Antivirus Review: How Good is McAfee Total Protection on Windows & Mac?

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McAfee Antivirus Review: A Quick Summary

McAfee Antivirus is one of the oldest names in security and protection software. We tested it on both Windows and Mac for this review and found that it has some great security features for Windows systems but lacks the same functionalities in macOS. Some of its key features include:

  • Quick and full virus scans
  • Real-time scanning to ensure round-the-clock protection for your computer
  • Firewall to secure your network
  • Anti-spam protection
  • Parental controls
  • Shredder to get rid of your sensitive files safely

Furthermore, McAfee is affordably priced compared to other antivirus software. You can use it on unlimited devices for only $69.99 per year for the first year. You can also get additional benefits, such as access to McAfee Secure VPN, McAfee Gamer Security, and more.

Check out the details on their protection plans by clicking the button below.

Visit McAfee

Would you like to learn more about McAfee Antivirus and our experience with this software? Check out our full review below for all the details about features, security, privacy, and more.

When it comes to antivirus software, McAfee is one of the oldest and most popular names around. McAfee Antivirus has been in the business since 1987 and has established itself as a leader in the cybersecurity industry over the past three decades.

With online threats ever-increasing, we decided to test McAfee Total Protection antivirus software to see what security features it offers. This can also give an idea of how it compares to other leading providers, such as Kaspersky, Intego, and Bitdefender.

Read our full McAfee antivirus review below to learn what McAfee Antivirus is, what its features are, how to install McAfee Antivirus, and more.

Packages and Prices: How Much Does McAfee Antivirus Cost?

One of the benefits of McAfee antivirus over competitors is its pricing: it’s more affordable than similar software. It offers four different plans depending on how many devices you want to use it on. The cheapest plan is for a single device, and the best value plan is for unlimited devices.

Moreover, it bundles some additional benefits such as access to McAfee Safe Connect VPN and McAfee Gamer Security. The benefits of each plan are summarized in the table below.

Antivirus for 1 deviceAntivirus for 5 devicesAntivirus for unlimited devicesAntivirus for 10 devices
Safe Connect VPN for 1 deviceSafe Connect VPN for 5 devicesSafe Connect VPN for 5 devicesSafe Connect VPN for 5 devices
1 Year of McAfee Gamer Security1 Year of McAfee Gamer Security1 Year of McAfee Gamer Security
Identity Theft InsuranceSafe Family (parental control app)
Safe Family (parental control app)

The Ultimate plan for unlimited devices is a pretty sweet deal. Other top antivirus providers usually offer licenses for one, three, five, or ten devices at a similar or higher price. Moreover, it comes with McAfee’s Identity Theft Insurance, which can help you out if you ever fall victim to identity theft. Here’s an overview of the pricing:

mcafee antivirus updated prices 2


However, do note that these are introductory prices for the first year of use only. When it’s time to renew your subscription at the end of your first year, you’ll have to pay the regular price, which is as follows:

  • Single Device: Basic protection plan for up to 10 devices – $59.99 per year
  • Individual/Couples: Total Protection plan for up to 5 devices – $99.99 per year
  • Family: Total Protection plan for up to 10 devices – $119.99 per year
  • Ultimate: Total Protection plan for unlimited devices – $159.99 per year

So, McAfee beats the competition in terms of price for the first year. But of course, what matters most is the protection and security features it offers. These are discussed in the rest of our McAfee Antivirus review.

If you want to check out McAfee Total Protection software right away, click the button below to visit its website.

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Security: How Well Does McAfee Protect Your Computer?

Our experience with McAfee antivirus revealed that it offers pretty good protection against viruses, malware, phishing, and other kinds of threats.

However, this software works best on Windows and has some issues on macOS. We explain further below. There is also no AV-Comparatives score for McAfee on Mac, so we cannot fully know how it holds up against threats on your Mac devices.

However, for Windows, McAfee antivirus has a pretty good AV score that shows it blocked 99.6% of threats between February and May 2021.

mcafee antivirus score windows screenshot

Moreover, McAfee offers several extra functionalities on Windows that are not available on the Mac version yet. These include:

  • QuickClean, a speedy way to checkup your PC
  • Anti-Spam protection to filter out junk and phishing emails
  • Parental Controls to protect children from inappropriate websites
  • Password Manager to securely store all your login credentials
  • Shredder to safely and securely get rid of your sensitive documents

The primary features of McAfee Total Protection available on both Windows and macOS are virus scans; real-time scanning for malicious files; a firewall for network security; and identity theft protection.

Let’s have a closer look at some of these below.

McAfee Antivirus scans

On macOS, McAfee offers custom scan and full scan options. The custom scan lets you pick specific files or folders to scan for threats. A full scan will deeply scan your entire system.

Meanwhile, Windows offers an additional Quick Scan tool for added convenience. This quickly checks the most essential components of your system to ensure that no threats exist.

On both operating systems, if the antivirus software detects suspicious files, it puts the files under a Quarantined section. From there, you can decide to get rid of the files or mark them as safe.


Real-time scanning

McAfee scans every file you access to keep you protected from viruses, malware, spyware, and other threats. With this feature, you’ll always be protected even if you forget to perform manual scans for malicious files.

McAfee also has Virus Protection Pledge. This allows you to get a refund on your subscription if the software fails to remove a virus from your system. This feature only applies if you sign up for autorenewal.

McAfee Firewall

As seen in the screenshot below, McAfee offers extensive Firewall options on Windows computers. These ensure robust all-around security to keep your system safe from online threats or attacks.

McAfee-Antivirus- Windows Firewall-Settings

We wish this worked equally well on Mac. Despite following all the instructions, updating to the latest version of the software, and granting full access to the antivirus program, we could not enable the McAfee Total Protection firewall on macOS Big Sur.

We did plenty of research to try and fix this and even attempted to contact customer service. Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve the issue and kept seeing the alert shown below.

mcafee antivirus firewall macos screenshot

Identity theft protection

McAfee’s identity protection service monitors your accounts and alerts you of potential problems, so you can proactively protect your personally identifiable information from fraud. Some of the main benefits of this service are:

  • Credit monitoring to help keep your credit intact
  • Cyber monitoring that scans online black markets (including the Dark Web) to alert you if your personal info is at risk
  • Social security number tracing to alert you about potentially fictitious identities
  • ID restoration to recover your identity with the guidance of recovery specialists

The Total Protection Ultimate plan also includes McAfee’s identity theft insurance feature, which provides reimbursement options if you ever fall victim to virtual identity theft.

Additionally, when you install Total Protection, you will also get the McAfee WebAdvisor. This helps you stay safe while browsing. It’s a free tool that advises you about the websites you’re visiting and prevents you from accidentally clicking malicious links. Supported browsers include Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer 10. It’s similar to LifeLock in many ways.

Overall security

McAfee Total Protection for Windows includes comprehensive online protection to protect you from cybercriminals. It monitors your apps, background processes, and web connections. You can even use it to manage spam and safely remove cookies and trackers. Moreover, it can shred your sensitive files so that they never get into the wrong hands.

But one thing we found lacking was robust ransomware protection. McAfee seems to only offer ransomware protection for enterprise customers.


Unfortunately, the macOS version currently lacks many of the main features. It’s quite basic at the moment, and the principal component of the firewall did not function for us.

So, in our experience, McAfee offers great security for Windows users. However, it is currently not as good an option for Mac users. Moreover, there are no annoying pop-ups or alerts that will interfere with your workflow.

Privacy: How Does McAfee Handle Your Data?

We gave McAfee’s privacy policy a thorough look to see what kind of data the antivirus software collects about its users. It seems McAfee gathers a great deal of user data. This includes details you provide freely and other information tracked through your usage of the software.

For starters, the information you provide to McAfee when purchasing their software includes your:

  • Contact information, such as your name, email address, mailing address, and phone number
  • Payment information, including credit card numbers and associated identifiers, billing address, and bank account information
  • Account login credentials

Far more worrying than this is the large amount of other information McAfee collects about you behind the scenes.

For instance, their Privacy Policy states that they may gather details about:

  • Devices you use the software on
  • Products you purchase or search for
  • Your interests such as what you look up or follow online
  • Your demographic information
  • Biometric data, such as fingerprints or voiceprints
  • Local photos and videos

Additionally, McAfee might track details about your internet, app, and network usage. This data can include the websites you visit; the apps installed on your device; your network traffic; your device’s performance information; and more.

McAfee may also share this information with authorities when needed or with third parties associated with McAfee.

Considering all this, it’s clear that McAfee is not the most privacy-focused antivirus. As such, it may not be the best choice for you if you’re concerned about how your personal data is tracked and used.

Ease of Use: How User-Friendly is McAfee Total Security?

Any piece of consumer software needs to be intuitive and easy-to-use so that it can add true value and convenience to users’ lives. McAfee does pretty well in this area, thanks to its relative ease of use.

Website and installation

The McAfee website is clean and well-laid-out. It localizes according to your region to show you prices in your currency. The homepage also makes it easy to view the available plans and purchase one right away. Getting the McAfee software on your computer is quick and easy; below, we explain how to install McAfee Antivirus.

After selecting and paying for your plan, you can start by immediately downloading the installation file on your device. You can also have the website send links to your other devices, making installation more convenient.

mcafee antivirus download screenshot

Note: You will get a serial number when you download the product. This is different from your activation code. Make sure to keep this serial number safe, as you might need it whenever you reinstall the software.

Once the file is downloaded, open it to run the installation process. The on-screen prompts will guide you to set up the software.

mcafee setup screenshot


On the whole, the McAfee installation process is pretty straightforward on both Windows and macOS.

Note, however, that on Mac, you will be prompted to allow full disk access when you open the app for the first time. This process is quite straightforward, and you can click the “Show me how” button for step-by-step instructions.

mcafee antivirus full access screenshot

Once this process is complete, McAfee’s real-time protection will be enabled, and each time you or your system accesses a file, it will be quickly scanned to check its safety.

Software ease of use

McAfee is pretty beginner-friendly and clean. Each page within the app is self-explanatory, and all the options in the menus come with a clear explanation of what they actually do. Moreover, it’s easy to navigate the various options and customize them into behaving the way you want.

However, as mentioned above, it’s a bit troublesome on macOS because we ran into an unresolvable issue while trying to activate the firewall.

Customer support

The Customer Support section of the McAfee website offers many troubleshooting guides and answers to frequently asked questions that can help resolve most of the common issues faced by users.

While this is handy, it also means that it can be difficult to get hold of an actual human being on the McAfee customer support team. This is incredibly frustrating when facing an urgent problem, such as the one we faced with the firewall on macOS.

To reach a customer support agent, you need to fill out a lengthy form with a great deal of personal data, including your name, phone number, email, an email verification code, and the problem you’re facing.

This can especially be a problem when multiple people use the same Total Protection subscription, such as McAfee’s Ultimate package. The person facing the issue might not necessarily have the details entered by the person who purchased the plan. As such, they won’t be able to get through to customer support without first verifying these details. Such a situation can cause delays and frustration to users.

Even when you finally get through to customer support, you may find that your request cannot be addressed as some things can only be resolved over the phone.

For instance, you can’t request a McAfee refund unless it’s over the phone. You can find the option to request a refund and fill in your information online, but you will then be asked to contact the team via a phone call.

Given that McAfee is such a big company, it’s understandable that getting a hold of their customer support is a hassle. But these processes definitely need to be streamlined for better customer satisfaction and easier resolution of issues.

Another point worth noting is that McAfee Total Protection for Windows has an in-app help section, which makes it easier to seek customer support. Unfortunately, even this fundamental aspect is lacking in the macOS app, which is quite disappointing.

McAfee Speed and Performance

We didn’t notice any significant system performance issues on either Mac or Windows while using McAfee Total Protection. It worked seamlessly in the background, and scans were completed fairly quickly.

On Windows 7, a Quick Scan took 4:39 minutes, while a full scan lasted for just over 2 hours. Of course, the precise time taken will depend upon how many files and apps you have on your computer.

With real-time monitoring enabled on Windows, we noticed a couple of seconds of lag when opening other apps or performing multiple tasks at once. Fortunately, though, this was not a drastic lag and won’t hinder your day-to-day activities. That said, if the lag bothers you, you have the option to turn off real-time monitoring. Just note that doing so will bring down your device’s level of protection.

As for temperature changes, our MacBook Pro got slightly warm while running McAfee virus scans. But we did not experience any excessive load, and other apps functioned as usual.

To sum up, McAfee Antivirus works optimally when scanning for threats. The software does not interfere with any other processes or tasks on your computer. It’s pretty lightweight and efficient, especially when compared to other antivirus software that can cause strain on your system during deep scans.

Final Verdict: How Good is McAfee Antivirus?

McAfee Total Protection is a good antivirus to protect your Windows computer. However, it’s not the best choice for Mac users at this time. Below is our list of pros and cons.

Comprehensive protection for Windows systemsNot much ransomware protection
Additional features like a password manager, parental controls, and identity theft protectionMac app is disappointing, with limited functionality
Incredibly easy to install and useMcAfee collects a lot of user data
Wide range of settings and optionsDifficult to reach customer support
Does not hinder the performance of your computer
Affordably priced
Bundles other McAfee products/services for extra protection

In conclusion, McAfee on Windows is easy to use, offers a wide range of additional security features, and doesn’t cause any performance issues to the rest of your system. However, we would like to see a better macOS app and a more fine-tuned customer service process.

For our final assessment, we combined McAfee’s ratings for security (weighting of 0.5), speed and system load (weighting of 0.2), privacy (weighting of 0.1), ease of use (weighting of 0.1), and customer service (weighting of 0.1). Our results are as follows:

  • Security: 8
  • Speed and system load: 9
  • Privacy: 7
  • Ease of use: 9
  • Customer service: 6
  • Final score: 8

What are your thoughts on McAfee Total Protection? Is there anything else you want to know about its features? Let us know in the comments below. If you’d like to get a McAfee subscription, click the button below to go to the website.

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McAfee Antivirus - FAQs

Do you have a question about McAfee antivirus protection? Check the FAQs below.

McAfee Antivirus or McAfee Total Protection is a good antivirus for Windows users, boasting features such as real-time monitoring, identity theft protection, anti-spam protection, and more.

While it’s not the best antivirus out there, McAfee works efficiently. However, it’s not that great on macOS and lacks many of the features that the Windows version has such as Quick Scan Anti-Spam protection, and Shredder to delete sensitive files.

In our reviews of McAfee and Kaspersky, we found that Kaspersky performs better because it offers more robust protection and has a better privacy policy than McAfee.

While McAfee does a fairly good job on Windows computers, it’s not so good on Mac. It also has a worrying privacy policy, since it collects plenty of personal information, including your demographic information, device information, and even your photos and videos.

McAfee is a relatively affordable antivirus that offers three main pricing plans:

  • AntiVirus Plus offers basic security for 10 devices at $24.99 per year.
  • Individual/Couples Total Protection plan for up to 5 devices at $39.99 per year.
  • Family Total Protection plan for up to 10 devices at $44.99 per year.
  • Ultimate Total Protection plan for unlimited devices at $69.99 per year.

The Total Protection plans include additional features that you can read about in our full McAfee antivirus review.

Tech journalist
Mehak has been writing for over a decade and is passionate about helping people have safer, healthier relationships with all things tech. She has a master’s degree in communication and is especially interested in the impact of technology and the internet on global communities.