Best free Mac antivirus software in 2024
Viruses and other malware can sneak up on any of your devices unexpectedly, and macOS is no exception. While it’s considered one of the safer operating systems, it’s not threat-proof.
That’s why you need an antivirus – when it comes to protecting yourself online, it’s better to be safe than sorry. In a market full of antivirus solutions, it’s can be difficult to choose the right one for Mac and even harder to pick a free one.
To help you choose the best free antivirus for Mac, we tested numerous free antivirus products. Our top recommendation is TotalAV because its free version offers all the security essentials and has proven high malware detection rates to keep your macOS safe.
Fortunately, TotalAV is not the only anti-malware solution, and, depending on your specific needs, budget, and preferences, there are other options to consider when choosing the best free antivirus for Mac.
Best free Mac antivirus – top 5 picks
- TotalAV – best overall free antivirus for Mac in 2024
- Norton 360 Antivirus – Mac antivirus free trial for versatile protection
- Malwarebytes – great macOS antivirus for fast scans
- Avira Free Security – free Mac antivirus with real-time protection
- Surfshark Antivirus – secure antivirus for Mac with a free trial
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Is it worth having a free antivirus on Mac?
To put it simply – it’s better to have a free antivirus on Mac than to have none at all. Although it’s commonly believed that free antiviruses cannot offer comprehensive security features, they certainly can offer basic protection, which may be enough to guard your operating system against well-known threats. On the other hand, if you need real-time protection for your device, you should look into more advanced solutions.
Of course, you should be diligent when choosing the right free antivirus because you don’t want to install useless programs or even malware disguised as effective free antivirus software. We recommend TotalAV Antivirus for Mac, Norton 360 Deluxe, or any other of the best Mac antivirus software with a free version.
If you’re interested in upgrading to premium versions of antivirus tools, make sure they include such useful features as VPNs or password managers to get an all-rounded cybersecurity experience.
Best free antivirus for Mac – full overview
There are a plethora of free antivirus services but only a few are worthy to make the list. Here are all the top contenders and their detailed descriptions that will help you choose the best free Mac antivirus software for you.
1. TotalAV – the best truly free antivirus for Mac overall
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TotalAV Antivirus for Mac is one of the best free antivirus tools for macOS users. That’s because it provides all the top essential features. During our TotalAV in-depth analysis, the provider showed excellent malware detection results and demonstrated solid anti-phishing protection.
Features. The free version of TotalAV Antivirus is a great anti-malware tool, all thanks to Quick, Smart, and System scans, which can be scheduled. There’s also a Data Breach Check that checks for compromised email addresses and a System Tune-Up feature, but you can only use it for 48 hours after installation.
Other notable features to mention include Junk Cleaner, Duplicate Finder, and the WebShield browser extension (for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox) that protects against dangerous websites, trackers, and notifications. On the downside, the free version of TotalAV doesn’t offer real-time protection, unlike Avira's Free Security, for example.
In-house test. When we tested TotalAV Antivirus for Mac, the Smart scan took around 2 minutes, and the free antivirus was able to detect 10/10 malware samples on the Mac device. The Full system scan took 16 minutes to scan around 525K files, and again, it detected all malware files. We were particularly impressed by the low AV’s CPU usage – around 20-25% during the full system scan. And when we tested the WebShield browser extension test, it caught 9/10 threats – a great result overall.
User interface. Our hands-on experience with TotalAV Antivirus showed that the tool performs better on macOS than on Windows. The user interface is modern, sleek, and intuitive, so even inexperienced users should have no trouble navigating different menus and settings. The best part is that you’re not constantly bombarded with suggestions to upgrade to premium.
Pricing. If you decide that you want to unlock all available features, the TotalAV Antivirus for Mac prices start from $19.00/year. You can also use the 30-day money-back guarantee to try the premium version out risk-free.
2. Norton 360 Antivirus – Mac antivirus for essential protection with a free trial option
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Norton 360 Antivirus doesn’t have a completely free plan, but there’s a free trial of the pro version and a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can make use of. It will let you secure your devices with market-leading antivirus software with no compromises. Please keep in mind that to sign up for the free trial, you will need to share payment details, and if you do not cancel the trial within 30 days, you will be charged for the premium plan.
Features. When testing the free trial of the paid version of Norton 360 Antivirus, you get all the advanced security benefits. Aside from real-time protection that guards you against various malicious threats, you also get a dark web monitor. It checks whether any of your data has been compromised. The included VPN lets you stay anonymous online. Plus, thanks to the password manager, you don’t have to remember any of your passwords except the master password. Overall, feature-wise, Noton 360 offers a top-notch protection package.
In-house and independent tests. Norton 360 is one of the best Mac antiviruses in 2024, and so excellent malware detection results are to be expected. When we tested Norton, the quick scan function took around 8-9 seconds, but it wasn’t great at finding hidden malware. Nonetheless, the system scan found all of the malicious files. During independent lab tests by AV-Test, Norton 360 managed to block 100% of threats as well, and the antivirus detected zero false positives. And whether you use a free trial or a paid version, you can expect the same level of excellence.
User interface. Setting Norton Antivirus up takes a bit of time, with device restarts and multiple log ins. But once that’s done, everything is perfect. The features are neatly organized and easy to find. On the downside, some Norton’s features, like Dark Web Monitoring, open outside the app, which means you might have to navigate the app using multiple windows or browser tabs.
Pricing: If you enjoy Norton 360 Antivirus during the free trial, pricing starts at $29.99/year. You can choose from Plus, Standard, Deluxe, and Select plans.
3. Malwarebytes – fast macOS antivirus with a good free version
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Malwarebytes is another good free antivirus for Mac that allows scanning for malware. During our tests, the application stood out for its excellent malware detection capabilities. Plus, it offers a free Browser Guard extension.
Features. The free Malwarebytes Mac version allows scanning the device for malware, but Scheduled and Custom scans are restricted to the premium plan. You can also use a free Malwarebytes Browser Guard extension to block ads, trackers, and malicious websites.
In-house tests. Our researchers found that no matter which type of scan you select, Malwarebytes will perform it very quickly with minimal CPU usage. During our Malwarebytes tests, the System scan took just over 8 minutes, during which it scanned 231K files. The CPU usage stayed around 20-25%. To sum up, Malwarebytes stands out among slower antivirus programs.
User interface. The Malwarebytes macOS app is straightforward and uses an intuitive dashboard to inform users of security issues. All you get is a simple Scan button, so there’s really nowhere to get lost. On the other hand, the interface looks quite outdated.
Pricing. You'll have to upgrade to premium to unlock the full Malwarebytes potential, like a no-logs VPN or ransomware protection. Premium plans start at $38.24/year, but you can use a 14-day free trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee for a test run.
4. Avira Free Security – free antivirus for Mac with versatile features
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A completely free Mac antivirus with a nice range of features – this is exactly what Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is all about. The best thing about this antivirus is its real-time protection functionality. Notably, this is the only free antivirus for Mac on this list to offer that.
Features. The free version of Avira is very generous in terms of features. You even get a limited but free Avira Phantom VPN and a password manager for secure and easy management of your login credentials. Apart from these treats, you can also schedule scans, enable real-time protection, or scan for junk. You can also take advantage of the Download Protection and USB Protection features, a Cookie Cleaner, an Uninstaller, and also a Startup Apps manager.
In-house tests. During our in-house Avira Antivirus tests, the full scan of our macOS device took 40 minutes. The scan looked at 561K files and had no trouble detecting 10/10 malware files. On the downside, the CPU usage was a little higher compared to other free AVs on this list – around 40-50%. Our Download Protection test showed that the tool can detect 10/10 malicious downloads, which is a major plus.
User interface. With Avira, you download the app, and you’re good to go – you don’t need to register. Also, the app is very organized and simple to navigate, which is always a huge plus, especially if you’re a beginner. The navigation on the app is similar to TotalAV – features are found on the left panel. However, the interface itself looks a bit more cluttered.
Pricing. The paid plans of Avira Antivirus offer Software and Drive updates and comprehensive Customer Support. If you need more than the free version can offer, prices start from $30.99/year. And, if you’d ever like to test the premium version, it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
5. Surfshark Antivirus – secure Mac antivirus with a free trial
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Surfshark Antivirus doesn’t offer a free security tool for macOS devices. However, there’s an amazing premium version that you can use for free for 30 days. Even the cheapest plan comes with a VPN, ad-blocker, and cookie blocker, which is why it’s worth the consideration.
Features. With Surfshark Antivirus, you get real-time protection and a next-gen VPN. Considering Surfshark’s VPN is one of the best VPNs on the market, you’re guaranteed online anonymity and security. Plus, there’s also Surfshark Search which is a private search engine to keep you safe from your data being collected. For an additional subscription, Surfshark also offers Incogni. This service enables the provider to contact data brokers on your behalf and make sure they remove your information from their databases, giving you full anonymity in your digital life.
In-house and independent tests. During our tests, Surfshark Antivirus found 10/10 malicious threats. It took only a little over five minutes to reach such results. As for resources, Surfshark is very gentle on your Mac, and scans don’t visibly affect the overall device performance. Surfshark Antivirus is also positively evaluated by independent lab tests. Like most premium versions of the antiviruses on this list, it snatched a 100% score for malware detection rates.
User interface. The setup is effortless – it doesn’t take much time, and the instructions are clear. The interface doesn’t disappoint either. That’s because the main features are sectioned on the left side, so it’s virtually impossible to get lost.
Pricing. Curious to try Surfshark Antivirus out yourself but don’t want to invest money upfront? You can use a 30-day money-back guarantee, and if the product ends up disappointing you, you can cancel the subscription before the end of the trial without losing any money. The pricing of Surfshark One – the Antivirus, VPN, Search, and Alert bundle – starts from $48.86/year.
6. Bitdefender Virus Scanner – reliable and completely free antivirus software
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Bitdefender Virus Scanner is an antivirus solution for macOS. It is another great option that offers solid protection from various online threats. The free version comes with an effective malware scan that doesn’t call for high CPU usage – a significant benefit.
Features. The free version of Bitdefender Antivirus is very basic. Pretty much all you get are three different scans: Scan Critical Locations (a quick scan), Deep System Scan, and Scan a Custom Location. While Bitdefender Virus Scanner doesn’t offer more advanced features, unlike some other free antiviruses on this list, including TotalAV or Avira Antivirus, it provides basic protection from cyber felons.
In-house tests. To test the Bitdefender Virus Scanner on macOS, we ran a quick scan and a Deep System Scan. The quick scan took just under 3 minutes, used around 20% of CPU, and detected 10/10 malware files. The deep scan took over an hour (1 hour and 13 minutes), used around 20-40% of CPU, and also detected 10/10 threats, proving to offer effective protection against malware.
User interface. Downloading and setting up the antivirus is an effortless task, but the scans aren’t instant because the software takes around 5 minutes to download the virus database. Just like Malwarebytes, the Bitdefender Virus Scanner only offers scan options, which is why the interface is very minimal. However, we didn’t find the macOS app convenient, and the interface itself calls for a more modern update.
Pricing. If you want to take advantage of everything the premium version of Bitdefender has to offer, you'll pay from $29.99/year. The premium version includes real-time, web attack, ransomware, and Wi-Fi protection. Not to mention that you also get a Bitdefender VPN, a password manager, a file shredder, and more. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee you can use.
Free Mac antivirus tools compared
|Real-time protection (free version)
|Norton 360 Antivirus
|Avira Free Security
|Surfshark AV review
|Bitdefender Virus Scanner
Disadvantages of using a free Mac antivirus
The free antiviruses on our list belong to reputable companies, and we’ve tested them ourselves to make sure our recommendations are valid. Unfortunately, not all free antiviruses are made equal.
Free antiviruses that don’t provide premium services on the side might be unreliable for two reasons. First, providers don’t get money, which means they may resort to questionable practices to make a profit. Second, free tools might not be up to standard simply because it’s hard to invest in the security of software that doesn’t bring in the money. Here’s what dangers this might bring:
- Providers may sell user data. What better way to make money than by selling your personal data you supply in exchange for a free service? Unfortunately, it could end up in the wrong hands.
- No software updates. Database and software updates require money, and free antivirus providers may be unable to pay for them, especially if they don’t participate in such shady practices as selling user data. Considering new types of malware are being developed every day, the product will not be able to detect zero-day threats.
- Great way to spread malware. Free products are always tempting for users trying to save money, so using an offer of an attractive free antivirus product may be an effective way for cyber felons to expose you to malicious threats and phishing scams.
However, if a free antivirus is the only option you want, pick a freemium Mac antivirus from our list. Free antivirus providers that also offer premium plans are much more reliable and secure. That’s because they offer free services with the intent to sell you the premium ones in the future.
While you may not get many features for free, the services are trustworthy, and you should get basic macOS protection.
Free Mac antiviruses we do not recommend
There is antivirus software we don't recommend using purely due to security concerns. One of them is Avast. Back in 2019, their browser extension was removed from various marketplaces because it was allegedly collecting a suspicious amount of user information. This included location, age, gender, and so on.
Although Mac devices are considered to be safer against malicious threats than those running on different operating systems, macOS malware exists. For this reason, getting an antivirus is a must.
Although paid antivirus products offer much stronger security thanks to the additional features they include, it’s better to have free virus removal software than none at all.
While most free antiviruses don’t offer a lot of features, they do cover the basics. We tested 25 programs, and the best free antivirus software for Mac turned out to be TotalAV. That’s because it offers all the essentials for extra security and demonstrates phenomenal independent laboratory and in-house test results.
How we tested these free Mac antiviruses
When testing antivirus tools, we focus on these areas: real-time protection, scanning options, web protection, additional features, and user experience.
Real-time protection helps us determine how effective an antivirus tool is when it comes to detecting malware in real time. This is important because new malicious threats emerge daily, and antivirus malware databases must be updated constantly to include new detections. Unfortunately, free antiviruses rarely offer real-time protection. In fact, on our list, only Avira Antivirus offers this for macOS users.
Therefore, we researched scanning options and how well free scanners are able to detect malicious threats. To test our contenders, we created a clean macOS environment and downloaded 10 malicious files ranging in size and type. We then performed quick and deep system scans to check how well the tested AVs could detect them.
To test the free macOS antiviruses that claim to detect malicious websites, we also tested 10 malicious URLs to check whether or not the AVs were able to detect and block them.
To learn more, check out how we test antivirus and security software.
TotalAV passed our tests with the best results because of its excellent malware detection rates, useful free features, and intuitive apps.Get TotalAV
More antivirus guides from Cybernews
Can Macs get viruses?
Yes. macOS is considered to be one of the safer operating systems because it’s in full control of your software and hardware. However, Mac devices are not threat-proof. That’s why getting the best antivirus for Mac is crucial.
Are Mac free antiviruses good enough?
Yes, there are free Mac antiviruses that are considered to be good. Free versions of premium antivirus tools are the safest because you can be sure providers are investing in security and do not rely on data selling as a way to profit. is the top free Mac antivirus because it ensures top malware detection rates.