10 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus Programs for Mac 2019

Aviva Zacks
Posted: December 12, 2018

While no computer or mobile device is completely immune to infection, Mac users often feel they aren’t susceptible to viruses and malicious software, since the majority are created to infiltrate Windows machines.

Nevertheless, Mac OS viruses and malware do exist and are on the rise! Even Apple, which once used to boast that their products are virus-resistant as a selling point, have now changed their tune.nes

Better not to wait until it’s too late: in 2019 installing an antivirus on your MacBook or iMac is absolutely essential, and these are your 10 best options (plus a few bonus ones):

UPDATE: note that most of the popular Mac antivirus programs listed below offer free downloads and trial versions; but ultimately for a full-scale antivirus, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version. 

  1. Total AV Free Antivirus
  2. BullGuard Free Antivirus
  3. Panda Free Antivirus
  4. Bitdefender Free Virus Scanner
  5. Avira Free Antivirus
  6. Avast Free Antivirus
  7. Malwarebytes Free Antivirus
  8. Sophos Home Free
  9. AVG Antivirus Free
  10. Webroot SecureAnywhere

1. Total AV for Mac

Total AV for Mac

Total AV for Mac is a free antivirus that does a good job of picking up threats at the baseline level. With limited features, it’s a barebones antivirus for those just looking to perform regular scans.

Features You Get

  • Quick scan
  • Phishing protection
  • System boost tools
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Safe Site browser extension for Chrome and Edge

What I Liked

  • Finds and removes duplicates
  • Low system impact
  • Fast scans
  • Works in the background and only notifies you when it catches something

What I Didn’t Like

  • No real-time protection
  • Lengthy installation process and setup requires you to register an account, even for the free version
  • Picks up threats but no option to quarantine in the free version
  • Several false positives

The Ideal Use Case

If you use an antivirus just to locate threats, the free version will do just fine. But as the free version doesn’t allow you to quarantine or delete anything it picks up without being led to a payment gateway, the free antivirus is virtually useless for properly securing your device.

If this doesn’t suit you, you may want to consider other free antivirus programs that do offer this functionality or upgrading to the paid version for more robust security features such as a VPN and file manager (there’a 30-day free trial).

Download Total AV Free Antivirus >>>


2. BullGuard Free Antivirus

BullGuard Free Antivirus

BullGuard safeguards your devices against most threats, including dangerous URLs and ransomware, but you need to have the parental control tools enabled for the ultimate protection.

Bullguard offers a 30-day free trial version. If you’d like to continue using the software after the one month trial period, you’ll have to purchase it.

Features You Get

  • Free 24/7 support including live chat
  • Firewall
  • PC tune-up tools
  • Parental control tools
  • Vulnerability scanner
  • 30-day money back guarantee

What I Liked

  • The gamer mode that pauses scans and notifications while you play so that it doesn’t impact game speed
  • Easy to use interface
  • The  Vulnerability Scanner that alerts you to possible security risks

What I Didn’t Like

  • No password manager or VPN
  • Parental control tools have to be enabled to get full protection and noticeable impact on performance while it runs
  • Several false positives

The Ideal Use Case

BullGuard offers decent protection against most threats, including Trojans and rootkits which makes it a great choice for inexperienced users who just want to turn on an antivirus and leave it be. Plus, it offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

Download Bullguard Free Trial Version >>>


3. Panda Security for Mac

Panda Security for Mac

Panda Security has greatly improved since its last major update. The developers have added ransomware protection and sped up the scanning speed from a few hours to several minutes. Still, malware detection isn’t quite as strong as it could be.

Features You Get

  • A limited VPN
  • Game mode
  • Full, critical and custom scans
  • Scheduled scans
  • Process Monitor
  • Real-time protection
  • Web browser threat scanner
  • USB and SD card protection

What I Liked

  • Fast scanning
  • Light impact on performance
  • User-friendly interface

What I Didn’t Like

  • Detection rates are only average
  • No direct technical support
  • VPN only has 150 MB allowance per day
  • You have to register an account

The Ideal Use Case

The ransomware protection and social media scanning are big selling points rarely found in other solutions. However, better options exist for malware detection rates.

Download Panda Security Free Antivirus for Mac >>>


4. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac

Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac

Bitdefender isn’t for everyone. Some macOS users might want a “set it and forget it” solution, but the lack of real-time protection means Bitdefender requires user input every now and then. Nevertheless, the virus protection is solid and definitely worth a look for those who are serious about anti-malware.

Features You Get

  • Phishing protection
  • URL blocking
  • Browser extension tool
  • Anti-ransomware tool
  • Home scanning tool

What I Liked

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Fast scans
  • Doesn’t impact system performance
  • Can remove both Mac and Windows threats

What I Didn’t Like

  • No real-time protection
  • You have to register an account to use it
  • Home use only
  • Not many advanced options

The Ideal Use Case

Bitdefender’s limited feature set reduces the chance for compatibility problems. As a result, it is a good option if you’re looking for extra protection alongside another antivirus.

Download Bitdefender Free Virus Scanner >>>


5. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

 

Avira is a simple, bare-bones antivirus, and when tested, it detected 99.1% of malware, getting the job done in a lightweight package.

The optional to upgrade to the premium version will certainly provide extra protection – until then, the limited free version may be a god option if you wish to try before you buy.

Features You Get

  • A firewall manager
  • Privacy Pal for online ad tracking
  • System boost tools
  • Quick, full and custom scans
  • On-demand and scheduled scans

What You Get For Going Pro

  • Threat scans for USB keys
  • Technical support
  • Protection for multiple devices

What I Liked

  • Easily customized
  • Few false positives
  • Free rescue disk
  • The program pre-checks files the system needs to access, detecting malware before it can act

What I Didn’t Like

  • Free tools are trialware
  • Constant pop-ups
  • Installs a toolbar on default setup
  • Moderately heavy on system resources

The Ideal Use Case

Avira is great for Mac users wanting a simple antivirus without too much flair. If you have multiple machines in your home running Mac. However, the paid version will certainly provide more robust protection.

Download Avira Free Antivirus >>>


6. Avast Free Mac Security

Avast Free Mac Security

According to antivirus tests, Avast managed to catch 99.9% of macOS malware threats – the highest result from any free antivirus. Plus, you get plenty of handy extra features too!

While the free version offers plenty of protection, you can upgrade to the full version for $65 (£49) a year if you wish with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Features You Get

  • On-demand and real-time scanning
  • Custom targeted scanning
  • Scheduled scanning
  • Password manager
  • Web Shield to block dangerous websites and downloads
  • Protection against advertisement tracking
  • Network security scanner

What You Get if You Decide to Pay

  • Ransomware protection
  • Instant alerts whenever network vulnerabilities are detected
  • A firewall
  • Permanent file shredder

What I Liked

  • Low system impact
  • Top-notch detection rates
  • Do not disturb feature for gaming
  • Straightforward user interface

What I Didn’t Like

  • Installation attempted to install other Avast products that were unrelated to the antivirus, so remember to uncheck them if you don’t want them
  • Ads and pop-ups
  • Limited password manager

The Ideal Use Case

With its long list of features, Avast goes the extra mile when it comes to malware protection and should be the free antivirus of choice for most general users. At the same time, those looking for a simpler and more lightweight antivirus might want to look for an alternative.

Download Avast Free Antivirus >>>


7. Malwarebytes for Mac

Malwarebytes for Mac

Malwarebytes positions itself as a solid option for Windows machines, but the anti-malware’s product for Mac has had some great feedback.

The installation gives you a 30-day free trial of the Premium version; after that, you will be limited to the free features. The price to upgrade is $45.99 (£34,49) a year.

Features You Get

  • On-demand scanning

What You Get if You Decide to Pay

  • Real-time protection
  • Additional protection for any 3 devices (Mac, Windows, or Android)

What I Liked

  • Fast scanning (less than 30 seconds in most cases)
  • Easy on system resources
  • Takes up little space on your hard drive

What I Didn’t Like

  • No real-time protection unless you pay for it

The Ideal Use Case

Malwarebytes is perfect for users who want a lightweight and fast antivirus, but don’t mind taking a hands-on approach to manual scanning.

Download Malwarebytes Free Antivirus >>>


8. Sophos Home for Mac

Sophos Home for Mac

 

Sophos is probably the most fully-featured free product I’ve tested so far. When tested, it’s detection rate is comparable to popular options like Avast and Bitdefender.

The free version includes a 30-day free trial of Premium so you can try before you buy. The price for the premium version is around $60 (£50) a year, which may be worth it considering the features you get with it.

Features You Get

  • On-demand scanning
  • Real-time protection
  • Browser filtering
  • Basic parental control tools
  • Protection for up to three devices

What You Get If You Decide to Pay

  • Advanced ransomware protection
  • Protection for up to 10 devices
  • Webcam and microphone control
  • Live technical support

What I Liked

  • Protection against Mac and Windows threats
  • A single account can manage up to three devices at once
  • Accurate virus detection
  • Low system impact
  • Simple and easy to use

What I Didn’t Like

  • Scans run slower than other antiviruses and no quick scan
  • No scheduled scans
  • Ineffective parental controls
  • Requires you to register an account to use it

The Ideal Use Case

Like its Windows counterpart, Sophos, with its parental controls and ability to manage multiple machines from one account, works great for families.

Download Sophos Free Antivirus >>>


9. AVG Antivirus for Mac

AVG Antivirus for Mac

 

AVG for iOS might not be as popular as its Windows version, but it does provide much-needed functionality, which will appeal to many macOS users.

Features You Get

  • Real-time protection
  • On-demand scanning
  • Individual file scanner
  • Email scanning
  • System boost tools
  • Do not disturb mode

What I Liked

  • Strong malware protection covering 99.9% of tested threats
  • User-friendly interface
  • Easy to customize
  • Low system impact
  • No need to register an account to use it

What I Didn’t Like

  • Bare-bones feature set
  • Heavy on system resources
  • Slow scans
  • Ads for the premium version

The Ideal Use Case

This feels like the opposite of Bitdefender, as AVG works well as a “set it and forget it” antivirus solution. The real-time protection, user-friendly interface, and simple feature set make it a great option for users wanting strong protection without needing to think about it.

Download AVG Free Antivirus >>> 


10. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus for Mac

Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus for Mac

Webroot is an interesting candidate. While its developers aren’t as well-known as some of the other antivirus programs mentioned, some of the app’s features are unique, appealing to a niche audience. 

Features You Get

  • Web browser protection
  • On-demand and scheduled scans
  • Web filter that marks dangerous search engine results
  • Active process monitor
  • Automatic USB drive scanning

What I Liked

  • Strong malware detection rates
  • Fast scanning speed
  • Ability to detect Mac and Windows malware

What I Didn’t Like

  • Reportedly weak phishing protection

The Ideal Use Case

Webroot has quite a few specific features such as an active process monitor and search engine filter. The anti-malware is pretty strong too, so go for this option if you’re interested in those advanced features.

Download Webroot Free Antivirus >>>


The Bottom Line

While some free antivirus software will offer basic protection for your Mac, if you need more robust antivirus tools, then your best bet is still going to be a paid, premium service.

But if you’re only just getting started on a Mac and need a temporary solution to cover the basics before you decide on which full fledged AV to choose, you can always try before you buy and decide which works best for you.

For more info on these and other antivirus solutions for Mac, visit our reviews page.

About the Author

Aviva Zacks
Aviva Zacks

Aviva Zacks is a content manager, writer, editor, and really good baker. When she's not working, she enjoys reading on her porch swing with a cup of decaf.