Best Free Antivirus Software for Mac in 2024

With the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, even Mac users need an extra layer of protection. But who wants to spend a fortune on antivirus software? Thankfully, there are several excellent free antivirus options available for Mac.

This guide will explore the top free antivirus solutions for Mac, highlighting their features, strengths, and potential drawbacks. We’ll help you choose the software that best meets your security needs and budget, keeping your Mac safe from malware, phishing attacks, and other online dangers.

1. TotalAV – the best truly free antivirus for Mac overall

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TotalAV is a popular antivirus provider offering both free and premium plans. It boasts a range of features designed to protect your devices from various online threats. Here’s a summary of its key points:

Features:

  • Real-time antivirus protection: Continuously scans for and blocks malware, viruses, and other threats.
  • Anti-phishing: Safeguards you from fraudulent websites designed to steal your information.
  • Free and paid plans: The free plan offers basic protection, while paid plans include additional features like:
    • VPN: Encrypts your internet traffic for secure browsing.
    • Password manager: Stores and manages your passwords securely.
    • Data breach monitoring: Alerts you if your personal information appears in a data breach.
    • System optimization tools: Helps your devices run smoother and faster.
  • Multi-device compatibility: Protects Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

Pros:

  • Excellent malware detection rates
  • User-friendly interface
  • Free plan available
  • Various features in paid plans

Cons:

  • The free plan lacks some advanced features
  • Some premium features may be found in other antivirus software at a lower cost

Overall, TotalAV is a solid choice for users seeking comprehensive protection against online threats.

Whether you opt for the free plan or a paid subscription, it offers a good balance of features and ease of use.

However, it’s important to compare it with other antivirus options before making a decision, considering your specific security needs and budget.

2. Norton 360 Antivirus – Mac antivirus for essential protection with a free trial option

Norton 360 is a comprehensive security suite offered by Norton LifeLock, a well-established name in the cybersecurity industry.

It goes beyond basic antivirus protection, providing a multi-layered approach to securing your devices and online activities. Here’s a breakdown of its key aspects:

Features:

  • Multi-device protection: Covers various platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, depending on the plan chosen.
  • Advanced malware protection: Real-time detection and blocking of viruses, malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, and other online threats.
  • Secure VPN: Encrypts your internet traffic for secure browsing on public Wi-Fi and accessing geo-restricted content (availability varies by plan).
  • Dark web monitoring: Scans the dark web for your personal information and alerts you if it’s found (availability varies by plan).
  • Parental controls: Helps manage your children’s online activity and screen time (availability varies by plan).
  • Password manager: Securely stores and manages your login credentials.
  • Cloud backup: Protects your files from data loss due to hardware failures or ransomware attacks (availability and storage space vary by plan).
  • SafeCam: Alerts and helps block unauthorized access to your webcam (availability varies by plan).
  • Firewall: Monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic to prevent unauthorized access.

Pros:

  • Excellent malware protection and detection rates, according to independent tests
  • Wide range of features for comprehensive security
  • User-friendly interface
  • Available in multiple plans to suit different needs and budgets

Cons:

  • Can be resource-intensive on older devices
  • Renewal prices can be higher compared to some competitors
  • Some advanced features are only available in higher-tier plans

Overall, Norton 360 is a powerful security suite offering comprehensive protection against various online threats and additional features for managing your online security.

However, it’s important to consider its potential drawbacks, such as resource usage and pricing, before making a decision. It’s recommended to compare it with other security solutions to find the best fit for your specific needs and budget.

3. Malwarebytes – fast macOS antivirus with a good free version

Malwarebytes has established itself as a leading name in the fight against malware, offering both free and premium plans for individuals and businesses.

Here’s a comprehensive look at its features, strengths, and potential limitations:

Features:

  • Malware detection and removal: Effectively identifies and removes various threats, including viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, and rootkits.
  • Real-time protection (premium only): Continuously monitors your system for suspicious activities and blocks threats in real time.
  • Web protection (premium only): Blocks access to malicious websites that can harm your device or steal your information.
  • Vulnerability scanning (premium only): Identifies and offers solutions to potential security weaknesses in your software and operating system.
  • Privacy protection (premium only): Blocks unauthorized access to your webcam and microphone (availability varies by plan).
  • Multi-device compatibility: Protects Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

Pros:

  • Excellent malware detection and removal capabilities, often exceeding traditional antivirus software.
  • Lightweight and resource-efficient, making it suitable for older devices.
  • Free plan available for basic protection.
  • Premium plans offer additional features for comprehensive security.

Cons:

  • The free plan lacks real-time protection and other advanced features.
  • Some features offered in premium plans might be found in competitor’s free versions.

Overall, Malwarebytes is a strong choice for users seeking robust protection against malware, particularly for those who already have a traditional antivirus program.

Its free plan provides valuable on-demand scanning capabilities, while premium plans offer real-time protection and additional features for a more comprehensive security solution.

However, it’s crucial to weigh the features and limitations against other antivirus options before making a decision, considering your specific security needs and budget.

4. Avira Free Security – free antivirus for Mac with versatile features

Avira Free Security is a free all-in-one security solution designed to safeguard your device against various online threats while also optimizing its performance.

Here’s a breakdown of its key aspects:

Features:

  • Antivirus protection: Real-time scanning and blocking of viruses, malware, ransomware, and other emerging threats.
  • Phishing protection: Safeguards against fraudulent websites that attempt to steal your personal information.
  • Browser safety extension: Blocks malicious websites and helps you shop securely online.
  • Software updater: Automatically updates your software and drivers to patch vulnerabilities and improve security.
  • Performance optimization tools: Helps free up disk space, improve system performance, and optimize battery life (availability and features may vary).
  • Free VPN (limited data): Encrypts your internet traffic for basic secure browsing on public Wi-Fi (data limitations apply).
  • Password manager (extension): Generates and manages strong passwords for your online accounts (extension download required).

Pros:

  • Completely free, making it a budget-friendly option.
  • Provides basic protection against common online threats.
  • Includes performance optimization tools to improve device speed and efficiency.
  • Offers additional features like a limited VPN and password manager extension for enhanced security.
  • User-friendly interface.

Cons:

  • Lacks some advanced features like real-time protection for email and firewall that are often found in paid antivirus solutions.
  • Limited VPN data in the free version.
  • Password manager requires downloading a separate extension.

Overall, Avira Free Security is a suitable option for users seeking basic protection against common online threats and are comfortable with managing additional features like password management through extensions.

However, if you require more comprehensive security with features like email protection, firewall, and unlimited VPN, you might need to consider paid antivirus options.

It’s important to remember that no free antivirus solution can offer the same level of protection as a premium paid version.

It’s crucial to weigh your specific security needs against the features and limitations of Avira Free Security before making a decision.

5. Surfshark Antivirus – secure Mac antivirus with a free trial


It’s important to clarify that Surfshark doesn’t offer a standalone antivirus product called “Surfshark Antivirus”.

Their security offering is part of a comprehensive suite called Surfshark One, which combines several security features under one subscription.

Here’s a breakdown of the relevant aspects of Surfshark One that relate to antivirus protection:

Antivirus features:

  • Malware detection and removal: Surfshark One offers real-time scanning to identify and block malware, viruses, and other threats.
  • Multiple scan types: You can choose between quick scans, full scans, and custom scans to suit your needs.
  • Lightweight design: The antivirus component is designed to be resource-efficient and not significantly impact your device’s performance.
  • Automatic updates: The malware database is regularly updated to ensure it can detect the latest threats.

Surfshark One additional features:

  • VPN: Encrypts your internet traffic for secure browsing and bypassing geo-restrictions.
  • Surfshark Search: A private search engine that doesn’t track your searches and avoids ads.
  • Surfshark Alert: Monitors for data breaches and leaks that might expose your personal information.

Pros:

  • Combines antivirus protection with other security features in a single package.
  • Offers a user-friendly interface and lightweight design.
  • Competitive pricing compared to some standalone antivirus solutions.

Cons:

  • Lacks some advanced features found in dedicated antivirus software, such as email protection or parental controls.
  • Antivirus features are integrated within the Surfshark VPN app, which might not be ideal for users who only need antivirus protection.

Overall, Surfshark One can be a good choice for users looking for a bundled security solution that includes antivirus protection, a VPN, and other privacy-oriented features.

However, if your primary concern is robust antivirus protection with advanced features, exploring dedicated antivirus software might be a better option.

6. Bitdefender Virus Scanner – reliable and completely free antivirus software

While not a full-fledged antivirus suite, Bitdefender Virus Scanner offers free and effective malware protection for Mac users.

Here’s a breakdown of its key features and considerations:

Features:

  • Free: No subscription or cost involved.
  • On-demand malware scanning: Scans your Mac for malware, including viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware.
  • Multiple scan options: Choose from quick scans, system scans, custom scans, and vulnerability scans to suit your needs.
  • Cloud-based scanning: Utilizes Bitdefender’s cloud-based threat database for up-to-date and efficient detection.
  • Lightweight: Does not consume significant system resources.
  • Easy to use: Simple interface with straightforward scan options and clear results.

Pros:

  • Completely free, making it accessible to all Mac users.
  • Effective at detecting and removing common malware threats.
  • Lightweight and doesn’t impact system performance.
  • Easy to use and navigate, even for non-technical users.
  • Regular updates ensure the scanner stays up-to-date with the latest threats.

Cons:

  • Lacks real-time protection, meaning it only scans when you manually initiate it.
  • Doesn’t offer additional security features like firewalls, phishing protection, or parental controls.
  • Not as comprehensive as paid antivirus solutions.

Overall, Bitdefender Virus Scanner is a solid choice for basic malware protection on Mac. It’s a good option for users who want a free, lightweight solution and are comfortable with manual scanning.

However, if you need real-time protection, comprehensive security features, or protection for multiple devices, you might need to consider upgrading to a paid antivirus solution like Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac or Bitdefender Total Security.

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