Best Antivirus for Mac in 2021: Top 3 Free and Paid Options

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Best Antivirus for Mac: A Summary

Macs are generally considered safer than Windows when it comes to threats like malware and viruses. macOS has several built-in protective features that bolster your security.

However, as online risks continue to increase, it’s wise to have some extra protection in the form of reliable antivirus software. There are several excellent options out there, and we’ve picked out the top free and paid ones as listed below.

Top 3 free antivirus software for Mac:

  1. Avast Security: Excellent free malware and web protection
  2. Bitdefender Virus Scanner: Simple and efficient virus scanner
  3. Avira Antivirus: Comprehensive security, privacy, and performance optimization

Top 3 paid antivirus software for Mac:

  1. Trend Micro: Premium security with social media privacy checkup
  2. Norton 360: Comprehensive antivirus protection with varied plan options
  3. Kaspersky Internet Security: Great variety of features

The free options also offer paid versions with additional features. One of our top choices is Avast Security, which has an effective free version that’s received great standing in the most recent Av-Test results.

Visit Avast

Read our full article below for more details about why we’ve chosen these five antivirus programs as the best ones for Mac.

You’ve probably heard that Apple’s Mac computers don’t need antivirus software the way Microsoft Windows computers do. This is because macOS is generally considered to be more “secure” and difficult to attack than Windows systems. However, cybersecurity threats continue to increase, and macOS is not immune to malware and hacking the way Apple claims it to be.

In this article, we’ll look at the best Mac antivirus software programs. Our list includes both free and paid options that are worth considering.


Best Free Antivirus for Mac Computers

There are some excellent free antivirus solutions to help keep your Mac secure. We’ve covered three below, which provide robust basic protection against the most common types of malware threats. What’s more, all free options also offer paid versions that you can upgrade to for more comprehensive protection.


1. Avast Security: Excellent free malware and web protection

Homepage screenshot of Avast with logo

Avast Security for Mac has improved a lot over the years. It offers excellent malware detection with minimum impact on system performance. In fact, it achieved a top score for protective effect in the AV-Test results for macOS Big Sur in June 2021.

Avast Security AV Test Score Screenshot

The user interface is well-designed and easy to navigate. In addition to malware, Avast also guards you against phishing scams and other online threats. Here’s a brief overview of the free features of Avast Security for Mac:

  • Anti-malware protection
  • Web and email shields
  • Wi-Fi security scans

Other features, such as a ransomware shield, phishing protection, and Wi-Fi intruder alerts, are only available in the paid version.

The free version of Avast Security offers pretty reliable basic antivirus software for Mac and will work just fine, but Avast Premium Security has holistic protection. If you’d like the full package, you can get a premium subscription for one Mac at $39.99 a year for the first year, after which it renews at $69.99. You can also opt to get it for ten devices, whether Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS, for $49.99 a year for the first year, renewing at $89.99/year.

Avast has a generous 60-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied. Check out our full review of Avast Premium Security for more details, or click the button below to visit the Avast website.

Visit Avast

2. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac: Decent basic virus scanner

Homepage screenshot of Bitdefender with logo

Like Avast, Bitdefender has near-perfect AV-Test scores as of June 2021. It offers free antivirus for Mac that has top-of-the-line malware protection.

Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac AV Test Score Screenshot

We love the straightforward user interface that makes this app a breeze to use. It might look a bit outdated, but it gets the job done, and that’s what counts. You can see at a glance how your system is doing and run virus scans whenever you need to. Bitdefender offers three options:

  • Critical locations scan
  • Deep system scan
  • Custom location scan

Even the free version uses the award-winning Bitdefender engines that are constantly updated to find the latest threats. Any dangerous items are quarantined or removed for your safety. When you upgrade to the premium version of Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, you get many more features such as protection from ransomware, phishing, adware, phishing protection, a browser extension, a VPN, and more. Subscriptions start at $39.99 per year for one Mac.

The best part is that Bitdefender is available for download through the Mac App Store, making it much easier and quicker to install than other software, which often requires extra permissions during the installation process. This ease of use makes it the perfect choice for beginners. If you’d like to learn more, check out our full Bitdefender review or click the button below to visit the website.

Visit Bitdefender

3. Avira Antivirus: Security, privacy, and performance optimization

Homepage screenshot of Avira with logo

Although Avira’s antivirus software falls slightly short in the latest AV-Test results, it’s still one of the best antivirus programs for Mac that offers extra features. It takes a simplistic approach to keep your system clean of malware.

Avira Antivirus AV Test Score Screenshot

Avira Free Antivirus has a real-time scanner that checks each file your system accesses, identifying threats before they can do any damage. At a glance, Avira offers:

  • Security features. including real-time protection and virus scans
  • Privacy features, including a VPN, password manager, and tracker remover
  • Performance optimization that includes a junk files cleaner.

You can schedule scans to occur routinely. Scans complete pretty quickly and do not significantly affect system performance. We especially appreciate Avira’s Smart Scan feature, which comprehensively checks for security, privacy, and performance issues you can resolve to optimize your system. It can also help repair or delete infected files.

What’s more? Avira bundles a free password manager that helps you generate strong passwords and stores an unlimited number of them. At the same time, you get a free VPN to further enhance your privacy. However, this is pretty limited and can handle a maximum of 500 MB of data per month.

When you upgrade to a paid Avira Antivirus Pro subscription, you get additional benefits, like an advanced detection system for ransomware protection, comprehensive web protection for secure online shopping and banking, and performance optimization that keeps your system running at its best.

Pricing starts at $44.99 per year for one device, $57.99 for three, and $70.99 for five. Get more details in our review of Avira Antivirus, or click the button below to go to the Avira website.

Visit Avira

Best Antivirus Software for Mac: Paid

Although free antivirus for Mac offers the essential protection to keep you safe from most threats, premium software has unparalleled benefits. For instance, it offers more advanced malware protection and defends against ransomware, zero-day attacks, and privacy risks.

Here are our choices for the three best premium antivirus programs for Mac that are well worth your money.


1. Trend Micro Antivirus: Premium security with social media privacy checkup

Homepage screenshot of Trend Micro with logo

Trend Micro Antivirus offers one of the most reliable antivirus solutions for Mac. According to AV-Tests and other lab results, it’s among the top performers in terms of core malware protection.

Trend Micro Antivirus AV Test Score Screenshot

Like other apps on this list, it has an intuitive user interface and works well to protect your system. The one downside is that it tends to slow down system performance during full scans. Here’s an overview of the features it includes:

  • Real-time protection against ransomware and other web threats
  • Privacy protection features that alert you when the camera and mic on your system are in use and allows you to prohibit access to these devices
  • Safe browsing option that blocks dangerous websites and malware

A notable aspect of Trend Micro Antivirus is its social media privacy checker. This option monitors your social networks to identify threats or privacy risks.

Pricing starts at $39.95/year for one Mac, but you can also get their Maximum Security option for the same price that covers five devices, which can be Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, or Chromebook. This is a pretty good deal and makes Trend Micro a reliable and affordable antivirus for Mac. You can try it out with their 30-day free trial when you subscribe. Click the button below to check out more details on the Trend Micro website.

Visit Trend Micro

2. Norton 360: Comprehensive antivirus protection for Mac

Homepage screenshot of Norton 360 with logo

Norton 360 is quite a powerhouse security suite for Mac. This software has been around for many years and is constantly evolving and improving. Its excellent AV-Test ratings aren’t a surprise.

Norton 360 AV Test Score Screenshot

What makes Norton stand out among other antivirus programs is that it’s incredibly comprehensive, providing all the features you need for ultimate protection. These include:

  • Real-time threat protection
  • A two-way smart firewall
  • An unlimited password manager
  • An unlimited VPN

The software is pretty straightforward to install and use on your Mac. Moreover, Norton has a negligible impact on system performance and does not hinder your computer’s performance during scans. All that’s missing are parental controls, webcam protection, and secure cloud backup, which are extra options that are available in the Windows version, but not for Mac.

The basic Norton Antivirus Plus is available for $14.99 for the first year for a single Mac. The more feature-rich Norton 360 Deluxe for five devices starts at $34.99 for the first year. You can find out more by reading our full review of Norton Antivirus or click the button below to go to the Norton website.

Visit Norton 360

3. Kaspersky Internet Security: Feature-rich antivirus for Mac

Kaspersky homepage screenshot with logo

Kaspersky is another great antivirus option for Mac that’s been around for years. It offers all the essential protection you need, with minimal impact on system performance. This is reflected in the top score Kaspersky received in the June 2020 AV-Test scores.

Kaspersky AV test score horizontal screenshot

Although this score is not as recent as the scores for other antivirus apps on this list, our tests revealed that Kaspersky works well on macOS Big Sur and offers plenty of features. The three main components are these:

  • Real-time antivirus continuously shields you from varied threats such as malware, spyware, Trojans, and sophisticated attacks.
  • Anti-phishing alerts for suspicious links in emails, texts, and websites.
  • Anti-hacking measures scan inbound network traffic and block suspicious connection attempts.

Kaspersky includes a VPN that uses 256-bit AES encryption to prevent criminals from getting hold of your data and prevents third parties. Unfortunately, it’s pretty limited, allowing just 300MB of traffic per day. It also has a browser extension for Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox, which flags known threats to ensure safer browsing.

One of the best features of Kaspersky is that it allows you to block apps from accessing your webcam and alerts you when an unauthorized app tries to gain access. This bolsters your privacy and ensures that malicious apps and websites can’t spy on you.

Kaspersky’s introductory pricing for new customers is $23.99 for one Mac for a year or $47.98 for two years. These plans renew at $39.99  and $79.98 respectively. If you’d like to learn more, you can read our full Kaspersky review, or click the link below to visit the Kaspersky website for more details.

Visit Kaspersky

Does Mac Have Built-In Virus Protection?

Overall, macOS is more secure than Windows, with several great built-in security features. However, these built-in defenses are not enough given the ever-increasing level of online threats.  Malware and other attacks are getting more sophisticated every day and it’s naive to think that macOS is completely immune to all of them. That’s why it’s best to be cautious and bolster your security with reliable antivirus protection that’s designed for your Mac.

Nonetheless, it’s worth noting the default security features of macOS. These include:

  • XProtect, which detects and automatically blocks known malware. It’s constantly and automatically updated to monitor new types of malware infections.
  • Gatekeeper, which ensures that any app you attempt to open or install comes from a certified developer.
  • System Integrity Protection (SIP), which protects the core operating system from exploits from user and application access.
  • FileVault, which you can set up to protect your data in case your Mac gets lost or stolen.

On top of that, macOS receives consistent updates that help defend your system against the latest security threats. That’s why keeping your Mac updated to the latest software is critical to ensure your protection. Despite this, you still need antivirus software for Mac.

Why You Need Virus Protection for a Mac

The simple reason you need antivirus software on Mac, just like on Windows, is that Macs do get infected. In February 2021, Silver Sparrow malware infected over 30,000 Macs. More recently, an anonymous researcher warned about a macOS vulnerability.  In May 2021, Apple’s own senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, shared that Mac malware has increased a lot and is currently at unacceptable levels.

Although macOS has some security measures, they are far from enough to fend off the sophisticated threats plaguing today’s online world. Moreover, it’s easier than ever to fall victim to malicious websites, ransomware, password theft, phishing, and other scams when browsing or shopping online.

That’s why it’s essential to install good antivirus software on your Mac to help combat such threats. It keeps you safe while browsing and defends your system from malware, adware, scareware, and other unwanted programs. Antivirus programs for Mac are quite similar to the best antivirus on Windows and often come with additional benefits like a password manager, browser extensions, and even VPNs.

How to Pick the Best Antivirus for Mac

Laptop with a bug shielded icon and blob backgroundGiven the variety of options in the market, it’s good to know what to look for when choosing the best antivirus software for your Mac. Some programs can end up doing more harm than good when it comes to Apple computers. macOS is designed to function independently without any additional security software, which means you have to pick your software carefully.

Here are a few things to look for in antivirus software for Mac. These are also the criteria we used to select the recommendations given in this article.

  • Compatibility with Mac, as well as optimal functionality with Mac, as many antivirus programs offer certain features only for Windows
  • Automatic scans to monitor your system and every file you download, so it can detect malware before it can damage your system
  • A continuously updated malware directory, so even the latest threats can be thwarted
  • The ability to repair or reset any changes or damage caused by malware
  • Minimal impact on system performance, so your Mac doesn’t slow down or become unusable when malware scans are running
  • Good customer support to help you if the antivirus software causes any performance issues on your Mac

Lastly, it’s a good idea to check out independent lab test results for antivirus software. These tests give an indication of an antivirus program’s overall reliability and efficiency. Along with the factors explained above, we considered AV-Test scores wherever available when picking the best antivirus software for Mac.

Wrap-Up: The Best Antivirus for Mac

Fortunately, there are some great paid and free antivirus solutions for Mac that meet all of our criteria for good macOS antivirus. To sum up, here are our top choices.

Top 3 best free antivirus for Mac:

RankAntivirusHighlightsDownload link
1Avast SecurityExcellent free malware and web protectionAvast website
2Bitdefender Virus ScannerSimple and efficient virus scannerBitdefender website
3Avira AntivirusComprehensive security, privacy, and performance optimizationAvira website

Top 3 best premium antivirus for Mac:

RankAntivirusHighlightsDownload link
1Trend MicroPremium security with social media privacy checkupTrend Micro website
2Norton 360Comprehensive antivirus protection with varied plan optionsNorton website
3Kaspersky Internet SecurityGreat variety of featuresKaspersky website
Best Antivirus for Mac - Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question about the best antivirus for Mac and why you need it? We’ve got you covered. Click on one of our frequently asked questions below to see the answer.

Yes, you need good antivirus for Mac to protect your device against ever-increasing online threats. These include malware, adware, ransomware, phishing, and more. Threats keep getting more sophisticated and antivirus software is essential to keep yourself and your computer safe.

Macs have built-in antivirus software known as XD, along with other security features that make them less vulnerable to malware infections. However, macOS is certainly not immune to malware, especially given how threats keep getting more advanced every day. That’s why it’s vital to install a reliable antivirus program on your Mac.

Macs come with built-in antivirus to protect the most critical parts of the system from malware infections. However, this is barely enough, given the level of threats we’re faced with today. If you’re looking for additional antivirus protection for your Mac, you can opt for a free solution such as Avast Security, Bitdefender, or Avira Antivirus.

To thoroughly scan your Mac for malware, get a good antivirus program for Mac such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Avast Security, Avira, Norton 360, or Trend Micro. Once installed, these programs scan your system for malware, spyware, potentially unwanted programs, and more.

No, Apple does not specifically recommend any antivirus, because it claims that macOS has security built right into it. However, given the growing prevalence of online threats, it’s wise to get a good antivirus for Mac to help protect you and your device. Fortunately, there are several excellent free antivirus programs that get the job done.

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.