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Best Mac antivirus 2022: The software that’ll keep your Mac safe and secure

Our pick of the best Mac antivirus for all manner of security needs

Macs don’t need security software, right? Well, sadly it’s not quite that simple. It’s true that macOS is less susceptible to viruses than Windows, and if you only download apps from the Mac App Store, and allow the Gatekeeper and XProtect features that are built into macOS to do their thing, then it’s unlikely that anything nasty will find its way onto your system.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about security, however. Apple users can be taken in by phishing attacks and other scams just like anyone else, and there’s no shortage of cryptocurrency miners and ransomware attacks designed to target the Mac.

Happily, there are also plenty of software packages out there that can keep you safe from all types of threat. Here’s our pick of the best.

How to choose the best antivirus for your Mac

It goes without saying that when choosing security software, you want a package that will keep you as safe as possible. Testing antivirus software against real-world threats, and determining which will do the best job, is no easy task, but thankfully there are several independent laboratories dedicated to doing exactly that.

At the time of writing, all of the suites recommended below achieved full marks for protection in the latest tests by both and Both labs publish the full results of their regular tests online, so if you’re interested in a product we haven’t mentioned, you can check up on its performance on the sites linked above.

What features should I look for?

Aside from intercepting malware, a good security product will include a web protection module that can warn you when you’re in danger of providing potentially valuable information to an untrustworthy website. Other tools like password managers and VPNs can also help you protect your security and privacy online, while a parental control module could be a valuable addition if you have kids.

While Macs can’t get infected by Windows malware, some macOS security software is also designed to recognise and block such files, so you can be sure you’re not unwittingly passing dangerous files on to your Windows-using friends and family.

What about the other devices in my household?

Most security suites these days come with a licence that allows you to install the software on a certain number of devices, regardless of whether they’re running macOS or Windows. Some count smartphones running Android and iOS too, while others throw mobile apps in for free. Cast an eye over the licensing terms and you should be able to find a deal that suits whatever mix of platforms you have in your home.

What’s the best-value way to buy antivirus software?

Some antivirus products – such as AVG AntiVirus Free – don’t cost a penny, so if you’re on a tight budget that’s obviously the place to start. With others, it’s worth shopping around, as third-party retailers sometimes offer boxed copies or download codes at cheaper prices than you’ll find on the publisher’s own website. You may be able to save money by buying last year’s edition; it will still get all the same updates as the latest release, so you’ll get the same level of protection for less.

There’s just one trick to look out for: when your year’s subscription nears its end, most antivirus suites will offer to automatically renew it for you. This may seem nice and convenient, but it almost guarantees you won’t get the best price. In fact, it’s nearly always cheaper to cancel your subscription and buy a new licence, even if you’re sticking with the same software.

The best Mac antivirus to buy

1. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac: Best all-round Mac antivirus

Price: £20 (1yr, 1 Mac); £25 (1yr, 3 systems); £28 (2yrs, 1 Mac); £45.49 (2 yrs, 3 systems); £45.49 (3yrs, 1 Mac); £62.99 (3yrs, 3 systems) | Buy now from Bitdefender

Bitdefender is impeccably effective when it comes to blocking viruses. AV-Test gave it full marks for protecting against Mac-based malware, while AV-Comparatives threw a whole spread of Windows-based threats into the mix as well and still saw a 100% detection rate.

It comes with some great extras as well. The Safe Files module automatically blocks unauthorised apps from changing files in specified folders, so even if a ransomware threat slips through the net, it won’t be able to mess with your data – and your Time Machine backups are automatically protected too.

Meanwhile, Bitdefender’s TrafficLight extension for Chrome and Safari blocks malicious websites and can warn you of suspected phishing attempts too. (If you don’t want to shell out for the entire suite, Bitdefender generously offers this plugin as a free standalone download.)

A final bonus is a built-in VPN service, provided by Hotspot Shield. Your subscription includes 200MB of secure data transfer a day – certainly not enough for Netflix, but ample for accessing a few blocked websites. If you want to upgrade to unlimited traffic, that’ll cost you £2.50 a month, which isn’t bad at all, though there are cheaper options out there.

Full system scans are slow – ours took more than an hour – but a quick scan of all the key areas took just 1min 40secs, while independent testers have found that the software doesn’t slow down their Macs at all. The one black mark against Bitdefender is that it advertises “special offers” from time to time, but you can switch this off with a simple click in the preferences. Overall, it’s a superb antivirus choice for any Mac user.

Buy now from Bitdefender

2. Norton 360 Deluxe: Best Mac antivirus for all-round protection

Price: £24.99 (1yr, 5 devices); £39.99 (1yr, 10 devices); £89.99 (2yrs, 5 devices); £99.99 (2yr, 10 devices) | Buy now from Norton

Norton 360 is a highly effective security suite. Both AV-Comparatives and AV-Test awarded it full marks for both malware protection and performance – and that squares with our experience, which saw a quick system scan completed in just 20 seconds. Alongside regular malware duties, it includes a custom firewall that puts you in control of which applications are allowed internet access, plus anti-phishing protection for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. 

That’s only half of what Norton 360 has to offer, though. The suite also includes a VPN with servers in 30 countries, and unlike with Bitdefender, you get unlimited traffic at no extra cost. The VPN client isn’t exactly loaded with features ­– notably there’s no “kill switch” to ensure your privacy isn’t compromised if the connection goes down ­– but it unblocked US Netflix for us, and all of your licensed clients can use it at once.

You also get the Norton Family parental controls system, which works across all major platforms and is managed via the Norton website. It lets you enforce time limits on kids’ internet usage, monitor their online activity and even track their location.

One thing we don’t love so much about Norton is its interface. The various features and settings are scattered across multiple pages and panes, and while your five-device licence can include Windows, Android and iOS clients, the software looks different on each one. Most irritatingly, the Windows client includes a backup module with 50GB of online storage, while we Mac users are limited to browsing and downloading backed-up files via the Symantec website.

Norton 360 also isn’t great value if you just have a single system to protect – and it weirdly works out more expensive to buy a two-year licence than a twelve-month one. Even so, if you’re seeking an all-in-one security solution that’ll cover both your Mac and a household full of other devices, Norton is the one we’d go with.

Buy now from Norton

3. Trend Micro Antivirus: Best value for multiple devices

Price: £29.97 (1yr, 1 device); £29.95 (1yr, 5 devices); £47.97 (2yrs, 1 device); £59.90 (2yrs, 5 devices); £79.98 (2yrs, 10 devices) | Buy now from Trendmicro

Like Bitdefender, Trend Micro scored full marks in the latest tests from both AV-Test and AV-Comparatives  against both Mac and Windows-based threats. There’s a ransomware protection module, which blocks untrusted apps from accessing your personal files, and Trend Micro can also protect any media connected via USB.

In addition, Trend bundles in some distinctive features. Microphone and camera protection features prevent rogue software from spying on you, while the Privacy Scanner tool checks your Facebook and Twitter settings and warns you if you’re at risk of over-sharing personal info. Interestingly, while the web-filter protects you against bogus websites and phishing attempts, it can also block whole categories. Install Trend Micro Antivirus on a child’s Mac and you can block adult domains, chat and webmail services, not to mention other potentially unwanted sites.

Even though it’s a very capable piece of software, Trend Micro feels slick and simple in use: by default, when malware is found it’s silently and automatically removed, and carrying out a smart system scan took just 1min 18secs. There are cheaper options for protecting just a single Mac, but if you’ve multiple systems to protect it’s a very likeable and affordable package.

Buy now from Trendmicro

4. AVG AntiVirus Free: Best free antivirus for Mac

Price: Free | Available from Avast

If you’re looking for virus protection at the lowest possible price, you can’t do much better than free. AVG is far from the most feature-packed security suite out there, but it detects malware, blocks dodgy scripts embedded in web pages and checks email attachments too. There’s no protection against phishing and other online scams, however – you’ll want to install some other tool to cover that side of things.

Still, as a pure anti-malware tool, AVG delivers the goods, winning full marks from AV-Comparatives against both Mac-borne and Windows malware. It dropped half a mark in AV-Test’s performance tests, for causing common applications to open more slowly, but if you’ve got an SSD, the impact will be barely noticeable. Full system scans aren’t exactly swift either – ours took 8min 5secs for a regular scan and 41min 22secs for a deep scan, and there’s no option to schedule them for convenient times. Still, with real-time detection at work that’s hardly a huge issue.

Perhaps our favourite thing about AVG is how unobtrusive it is. The discreet menu-bar icon can be hidden with a click, and unlike most free antivirus packages, it doesn’t nag you to upgrade to a paid-for suite. Of course, it helps that AVG doesn’t currently offer one for the Mac. That might change – greyed out icons in the interface promise that hacker attack and payment protection are coming soon, and those could turn out to be paid-for features – but for now this elegant and effective anti-malware tool can’t be beaten for the price.

Available from Avast

5. Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Best Mac-specific security suite

Price: £17.99 (1yr, 1 device); £26.99 (1yr, 3 devices); £33.99 (1yr, 5 devices); £37.99 (2yrs, 1 device); £49.99 (2yrs, 3 devices); £62.99 (2yrs, 5 devices) | Buy now from Intego

Unlike the other packages on this list, Intego X9 isn’t available for Windows – so it’s not the obvious choice if you want to protect a household full of diverse devices. The publisher does offer a cross-platform bundle, but Windows clients get Panda Internet Security suite instead of Intego’s own software.

This does however mean that Intego feels more like a “proper” native Mac app than many other security products. The main VirusBarrier module includes options to scan connected iOS devices, and it’s up to you whether you want to scan for Windows and Linux malware, or stick to detecting macOS threats. While there’s no web scanner, Intego will check your settings in Safari, Chrome and Firefox and warn you if you’re not using your browser’s built-in protections.

Intego X9 also includes a firewall module (dubbed NetBarrier), which keeps track of every application on your Mac that’s using the internet, and lets you block any you don’t trust. It’s eye-opening to see what’s going on behind the scenes, and you can set different access profiles depending on whether you’re at home, on a work network or using a public hotspot.

As you’d hope, Internet Security X0 is an effective guard against viruses, with perfect detection scores from both AV-Comparatives and AV-Test – and it completed a quick scan of our MacBook Pro in just 1min 50secs. It can get pricey, but if you want a Mac-first security suite, this is the one.

Buy now from Intego

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