10 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus for Mac in 2018

Aviva Zacks
Posted: August 13, 2018

There’s no such thing as a virus-proof mobile device or computer. While many Apple advertisements will boast about the Mac being virus resistant, MacOS malware does exist. Installing an antivirus for your MacBook or iMac is essential.

And guess what? You can do this for free. Well, mostly free. While many of the options are completely free, we also included a few that offer free trails because we feel they are worth checking out.

I’ve already done all the work for you, spending hours trying the most popular Mac antivirus programs. Just know, there are no catches, just an honest review of the different Mac antivirus programs.

Below are 10 of the best free antivirus programs for Mac:


1. Avast Free Mac Security

According to antivirus testing site AV Comparative, Avast managed to catch 99.9% of MacOS malware threats, the highest result from any free antivirus. Even better, you get a large selection of extra features, too.

While the free version offers plenty of protection, you can upgrade to the full version for $65 a year if you wish.

Features You Get

  • Real-time protection
  • On-demand scanning
  • Custom targeted scanning
  • Scheduled scanning
  • 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

What I Liked

  • Top-notch detection rates
  • The straightforward UI

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 aren’t interested.

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 antivirus of choice for most general users. At the same time, those looking for a more simple and lightweight antivirus might want to look for an alternative.

See Avast Deals>>


2. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

Avira is a simple, almost bare-bones antivirus. With an AV Comparative result of 99.1% of malware detected, it gets the job done in a lightweight package.

The optional Pro version upgrade costs $42 a year if you want extra protection later down the line.

Features You Get

  • Real-time protection against malware attacks
  • On-demand scanning
  • Scheduled scans

What You Get For Going Pro

  • Threat scans for USB keys
  • Technical support
  • Protection for up to 5 devices and 3 operating systems (Windows, Mac, and Android)

What I Liked

  • The ability to detect threats affecting both Mac and Windows machines
  • The program pre-checks files the system needs to access, detecting malware before it can act

What I Didn’t Like

  • No features for web filtering
  • No network scanning
  • Moderately heavy impact on system resources

The Ideal Use Case

As mentioned, Avira is great for Mac users wanting a simple antivirus without too much flair. If you have multiple machines in your home running Mac and Windows, the Pro version might be ideal.

See Avira Deals>>


3. Malwarebytes for Mac

Malwarebytes positions itself as a solid option for Windows machines, but the anti-malware’s product for Apple was pretty successful.

Installation gives you a 30-day free trial of Premium, after which you will be limited to the free features. The price to upgrade is $70 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 (much 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, fast, and small antivirus, but don’t mind taking a hands-on approach to manual scanning.

See Malwarebytes Deals>>


4. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac

Bitdefender certainly 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

  • Consistent virus definition updates
  • On-demand scanning
  • Custom scanning, including the option to exclude certain directories

What I Liked

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

What I Didn’t Like

  • No real-time protection
  • No web filtering

The Ideal Use Case

Bitdefender’s limited feature set reduces the chance for compatibility problems. As a result, it works well alongside another antivirus software.

See Bitdefender Deals>>


5. Sophos Home for Mac

Sophos is probably the most fully-featured free product I’ve tested so far. AV Test, another antivirus testing service, confirms a detection rate comparable to popular options like Avast and Bitdefender.

The price for the premium version is around $56 a year, which may be worth it considering how much you get.

Features You Get

  • On-demand scanning
  • Real-time protection
  • Browser filtering
  • Parental controls

What You Get If You Decide to Pay

  • Ransomware protection
  • Webcam and microphone control
  • Live technical support
  • Support for up to 10 devices

What I Liked

  • Protection against Mac and Windows threats
  • A single account can manage up to 3 devices at once
  • Accurate virus detection

What I Didn’t Like

  • Scans run slower than other antiviruses

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.

See Sophos Deals>>


6. AVG Antivirus for Mac

AVG’s MacOS version 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

What I Liked

  • Strong malware protection covering 99.9% of tested threats
  • User-friendly interface

What I Didn’t Like

  • Bare-bones feature set
  • Rather heavy system performance impact

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 all the time.

See AVG Deals>> 


7. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus for Mac

Webroot is an interesting candidate. While its developers aren’t as well-known as some of the other ones mentioned, in the antivirus market, some of the app’s features are unique, giving it a niche audience appeal. Still, we weren’t fans of the relatively weak phishing protection this platform offers.

Features You Get

  • Web browser protection
  • On-demand scanning
  • 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.

See Webroot Deals>>


8. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac

Trend Micro 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

  • Real-time protection
  • Web browser threat scanner
  • Ransomware protection
  • Social network privacy checker
  • Parental controls

What I Liked

  • Fast scanning

What I Didn’t Like

  • Detection rates are only average

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.

See Trend Micro Deals>>


9. ESET Cyber Security for Mac

ESET positions itself strongly in the corporate sphere. While technically not free, the 30-day trial makes it worth mentioning here, especially since the device controller it offers is rarely seen in other anti-malwares.

Features You Get

  • Scheduled scanning
  • Custom scans, with extra options for scanning after login or major updates
  • Email and web protection
  • Device controller, allowing you to blacklist certain USB drives, Bluetooth devices, or card readers
  • Online cybersecurity training

What I Liked

  • Above-average malware detection results

What I Didn’t Like

  • Slightly slower scanning speeds
  • Weak anti-phishing
  • Most features are behind the paywall after the trial ends

The Ideal Use Case

ESET does a lot to optimize its user experience. The ability to report malware infections and the cybersecurity training can be helpful for those interested.

See ESET Deals>>


10. Intego Mac Internet Security X9

While Intego is a rather unexceptional antivirus, I had to include it in the list since it included not only a firewall but also protection against Linux malware.

Intego also technically isn’t free, but installing the free version entitles you to a 30-day trial.

Features You Get

  • Real-time protection
  • On-demand scanning
  • Scheduled scans
  • Firewall

What I Liked

  • Strong malware detection rates according to AV Test
  • Protection against Windows, Mac, and Linux malware

What I Didn’t Like

  • Windows malware detection, however, is rather poor
  • No web filtering

The Ideal Use Case

Very few antiviruses for MacOS boast a firewall. However, because its Windows protection is rather poor, Intego is limited mostly to all-Mac households.

See Intego Deals>>

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.