ClamXav -- Free Mac Antivirus Software

Virus in red with green numbers

bunhill / Getty Images

ClamXav is based on the open source ClamAV virus scanner. Popular among open source fans, in practice ClamAV lags behind the detection capabilities of commercial antivirus software. For Mac users, this may not be a significant limitation given that there is far less malware impacting the Mac OS. If you're looking for free Mac antivirus software, ClamXav is certainly a virus scanner worth trying.

Capable Enough

The free ClamXav antivirus scanner offers limited real-time scanning, the ability to scan email, on-demand scans, and support for multiple languages: Danish, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Taiwanese. ClamXav fully supports Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard), with limited support for v10.3 (Panther) and 10.2 (Jaguar).

Because ClamXav is based on ClamAV, detection of Windows-based malware is also included. However, ClamAV, in general, tends to be behind the curveball when it comes to detecting malware. This may be less of an issue for Mac users given that there are fewer threats impacting the Mac OS. Still, if you're a corporate Mac user or looking for up-to-the-minute protection (or even up-to-the-month), ClamXav may not be your best bet.

ClamXav Sentry offers limited real-time scanning; designate the folders you want it to watch and instruct ClamXav Sentry to load when your computer is started. Of course, this means malware that gets dropped into folders not watched by ClamXav Sentry won't be detected unless you perform a manual scan of the system and manual scans via ClamXav can be tediously slow.

ClamXav is by no means the most capable Mac antivirus scanner and it's definitely not the fastest. But for the price of free, it's worth taking for a test drive.