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Best Overall: Symantec Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac
"You won’t find better virus and malware protection for your Mac."
Best Free: Avast Free Mac Security
"Offers premium protection without any associated cost."
Best for Families: Sophos Home for Mac
"A great choice for families that have a lot of Macs but not a lot of room in the budget."
Best Malware Protection: Malwarebytes for Mac
"It can identify and remove all types of malware, including adware, spyware, ransomware, and even traditional viruses."
Best for Protection Against Phishing: McAfee Antivirus Plus for Mac
"A top of the line antivirus suite that provides real-time protection."
Best for Mixed Mac and PC Environments: Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac
"Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is loaded with features to simplify the process of protecting yourself."
Symantec Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac takes our top overall pick for the best Mac antivirus due to its lab-tested virus protection, lightning-fast scans, and a suite of additional features. It packs in a firewall, password manager, and even a full VPN that you can use on a variety of devices.
Antivirus protection lies at the heart of the Symantec Norton 360 Deluxe package, and you won’t find better virus and malware protection for your Mac. Independent testing has shown that it provides top-notch protection against viruses and other malware and doesn’t hog system resources like some other antivirus suites.
Symantec’s Mac antivirus suite is more expensive than a lot of other options, but it’s definitely a case of getting what you pay for. In addition to real-time antivirus protection, it also protects you against phishing threats. It also includes a two-way firewall that gives you fine control over application blocking, password management to keep your accounts secure, and a VPN with unlimited data a strict no-logging policy.
Avast Free Mac Security is our top pick for the best free Mac antivirus because it offers premium protection without any associated cost. It uses the same antivirus engine as the premium version of Avast, offers real-time protection, and can handle viruses and all sorts of other malware.
The best thing about Avast Free Mac Security is that it uses the same signature-based method to scan files for known malware, Trojans, and viruses as the premium version that requires a subscription. Using this method, Avast is able to identify and remove viruses from infected files, root out rootkits and other methods that a hacker uses to gain control, and even pry open compressed files to scan the contents for signs of infection.
This free version of Avast uses real-time detection that runs in the background, so you don’t have to reactively scan after you notice the signs of infection. You also have the option to schedule regular scans if you feel like the real-time detection has too much of an impact on your Mac's performance.
Sophos Home for Mac is our pick for families due to its generous license policy and excellent parental controls. It’s capable of protecting every Mac in your home from malware, and it can lock out websites that feature undesired content or phishing schemes and malware.
The free version of Sophos allows you to protect up to three devices, and the premium version bumps that up to 10 devices. That makes it a great choice for families who have a lot of Macs but not a lot of room in the budget to pay the high per-device license fee that a lot of antivirus suites demand.
Sophos uses signature-based as well as heuristic-based behavioral detection to monitor the unusual behavior of apps to identify suspicious activity. It also has the ability to detect Windows-based threats as well, making it a decent choice for families that use both Mac and Windows computers.
In addition to malware protection, Sophos also includes excellent parental controls and even remote management features to help remove infections from any protected device tied to your account.
Malwarebytes is our top pick for cutting edge protection due to its advanced heuristics and limited reliance on signature-based detection. It has an excellent free version that you have to activate manually and a paid version that offers real-time protection, but it’s best used in combination with a full antivirus suite.
The biggest strength of Malwarebytes is its ability to identify brand new threats that haven’t ever been seen before. It accomplishes this through advanced heuristics that analyze the composition and behavior of files to identify potential malware, using algorithms that are updated hourly.
Malwarebytes also uses signature-based detection, but only for a small handful of the most prevalent malware at any given time. It can identify and remove all types of malware, including adware, spyware, ransomware, and even traditional viruses.
Since Malwarebytes is focused specifically on malware, it’s a good idea to run it alongside a more traditional antivirus. The main reason is that it isn’t able to restore infected files, which is something antivirus software can do.
McAfee Antivirus Plus for Mac is our top recommendation if you’re primarily worried about phishing due to the fantastic SiteAdvisor feature. It’s also a top of the line antivirus suite that provides real-time protection against various malware threats, making McAfee a great choice as a front line defender.
Most antivirus suites include some type of phishing protection that either blocks known phishing sites or uses an algorithm to identify and block potential threats. The problem is that some work better than others, and the Windows versions typically work better than their Mac counterparts.
McAfee uses their SiteAdvisor to identify and defeat phishing attempts, and independent testing has found that the Mac version works every bit as well as its Windows counterpart. There’s no such thing as a perfect anti-phishing tool, but SiteAdvisor comes very close.
In addition to great malware and phishing protection, McAfee Antivirus Plus for Mac also comes with a personal firewall, a very generous licensing policy, and the ability to run it on both Mac and Windows devices.
Mac users who also use Windows need to take a look at Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, which takes our top pick for mixed macOS and Windows PC environments. The key feature here is Bitdefender’s ability to scan for Windows malware and prevent Mac users from inadvertently spreading infections to their own Windows computers or to friends and colleagues who use Windows.
In addition to the ability to scan for and eliminate threats to your Windows computers, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is loaded with features to simplify the process of protecting yourself, including their fantastic Autopilot.
Bitdefender’s Autopilot feature works so well that you can turn it on and forget about it, relying on the software to protect your Mac from current and future malware infections and ransomware attacks.
Bitdefender makes use of traditional signature-based detection system as well as behavioral pattern recognition. It also uses a cloud-based data collection system that stores the most recently detected malware information, reducing the footprint that it creates on your own hardware.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular Antivirus Software on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different programs overall, screened options from 25 different brands and manufacturers, and tested 5 of the programs themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.