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Best free Mac antivirus software in 2022


Viruses and 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 – better be safe than sorry and protect yourself online. In a market full of antivirus solutions, it’s already difficult to choose the right one for Mac, and even harder to pick a free one.

We tested loads of free antivirus products that are trustworthy to help you out. Our top recommendation is TotalAV because it has a truly free version with all the essentials and great malware detection rates. But it’s not the only strong competitor – let’s look at our top picks for the best free antivirus software for Mac.

Top 5 best free antivirus for Mac:

  1. TotalAV – best free antivirus for Mac overall
  2. Norton – Mac antivirus for versatile protection
  3. Surfshark AV – secure antivirus for Mac with a free trial
  4. Bitdefender – basic free antivirus software
  5. Avira – completely free Mac antivirus with essential features

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. Free antiviruses provide you with basic protection only, meaning you’re most likely not going to be protected in real time. So all it will do is remove malware that’s in your system, but it won’t stop threats from entering your device.

Plus, paid antiviruses include many more useful features, including a VPN or a password manager. This means that by paying, you can get an all-rounded cybersecurity bundle to protect you from all that digital evil.

Best free antiviruses for Mac – our detailed list:

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

TotalAV banner
Firewall:Paid
Real-time protection:Paid
Free version:Yes
Current deal:🔥Get TotalAV, now 84% OFF!🔥

When looking for a free antivirus for Mac, TotalAV is the best way to go. That’s because you get a completely free version that provides you with all of the essentialities.

Independent laboratory tests: During independent laboratory tests, the antivirus snatched the top results, blocking 100% of threats. Plus, it found zero false positives, which is a rare sight to see.

In-house tests: Even during our own tests, both quick and system scans of the antivirus managed to block 10 out of 10 threats. And considering it was gentle on system resources, the results are phenomenal.

User interface: The interface of TotalAV is great – it’s easy to navigate and understand even for beginners. And the best part – you’re not constantly annoyed with suggestions to upgrade.

Features: While you don’t get real-time protection with the free version, you get a WebShield for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. It’s a feature that looks out for threats in real time, including blocking harmful links.

Plus, TotalAV’s Smart Scan will go up and beyond to find threats. This includes startup programs, junk, and duplicate files. And if you’re one for an ad-free experience, TotalAV Adblock will be a great help. It removes pop-ups, banners, and video ads as well as keeps you safe from third-party trackers.

Pricing: If you decide that you want to unlock all possible features, the prices of TotalAV start from $19.00/year. You can use the 30-day money-back guarantee to try the product out.

To find all features of this product, visit our TotalAV review.

2. Norton Antivirus – free Mac antivirus for essential protection

Norton banner
Firewall:Paid
Real-time protection:Paid
Free version:No
Current deal:🔥Get up to 66% OFF Norton Antivirus🔥

Norton Antivirus doesn’t have a completely free plan, but they do have a free trial of the pro version and a 60-day money-back guarantee that you can make use of. It will let you secure your devices with market-leading antivirus software.

Independent laboratory tests: Considering Norton is an antivirus market veteran, it’s no surprise that it managed to block 100% of threats during lab tests. As if that wouldn’t be enough, it also detected zero false positives.

In-house tests: Meanwhile, our in-house tests showed different results. The quick scan found 0 out of 10 threats and took around 8-9 seconds. However, the system scan found all of the malicious files.

User interface: Setting Norton Antivirus up takes a bit of time. You have to log in, install the app, restart your device, and log in again. But, once you’re in, everything else is simple. The features are neatly organized and easy to find.

Features: Since you’re getting a free trial of the paid version, you’re loaded with advanced security measures. Aside from real-time protection that protects you from various malicious threats, you also get a dark web monitor. It checks whether any of your data has been compromised. The included VPN service will let you stay anonymous online. Plus, thanks to the password manager, you won’t have to remember any of your passwords except one.

Pricing: If you think Norton is an ideal service for you and decide to upgrade, its prices start from $19.99/year.

To find all features of this product, visit our Norton Antivirus review.

3. Surfshark AV – secure Mac antivirus with a free trial

Surfshark AV banner
Firewall:No
Real-time protection:Paid
Free version:Free trial
Current deal:🔥Get up to 83% OFF Surfshark Antivirus!🔥

With a free 7-day trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, Surfshark Antivirus is a great premium Mac antivirus option that you can use for free for over a month!

Independent laboratory tests: Surfshark Antivirus is positively evaluated by independent lab tests. Like most software on this list, it snatched a 100% score at malware detection rates.

In-house tests: During our tests, Surfshark found 8 out of 10 malicious threats. It took only 4 seconds to reach such results. As for resources, Surfshark didn’t need too much, so you don’t have to worry about scans visibly affecting the overall device performance.

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.

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. Not to mention that you also get Surfshark Search which is a private search engine to keep you safe from your data being collected.

And my personal favorite – the Incogni feature. What it does is it contacts data brokers and makes sure they remove your information from their databases.

Pricing: You can use the money-back guarantee when it's nearing the end. But you can purchase Surfshark One starting from $29.88/year if you want to keep enjoying the all-rounded cybersecurity bundle.

To find all features of this product, visit our Surfshark Antivirus review.

4. Bitdefender – basic and completely free antivirus software

bitdefender user interface
Firewall:Paid
Real-time protection:Paid
Free version:Yes
Current deal:🔥Get all Bitdefender plans at 60% OFF!🔥

Bitdefender is another free antivirus for Mac that is solid for basic protection.

Independent laboratory tests: Blocking 100% of threats that are thrown its way, Bitdefender is one of the top antiviruses in independent laboratory test results. Not to mention that it also reported no false positives.

In-house tests: In terms of our own tests, the quick scan found all 10 threats in 20 seconds. The system scan found 9 malicious files but at the same time, it took only a few seconds. The best part is that the antivirus is gentle on system resources as well.

User interface: Downloading and setting up the antivirus is an effortless task, but if you want to start scanning, you’ll have to wait around 5 minutes. That’s because the software takes time to download the virus database.

Features: All that the free version has to offer for free Mac users is a virus scanner. There are no additionalities or real-time protection. While Bitdefender could’ve been more generous in terms of features, at least it provides basic protection from cyber felons.

Pricing: If you’re still leaning towards Bitdefender, see if your budget allows you to pay $23.99/year for the premium version. It’s much more feature-rich, including real-time, web attack, ransomware, and wifi protection. Not to mention that you also get a Bitdefender VPN, a password manager, a file shredder, and more! You can try it out risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

To find all features of this product, visit our Bitdefender review.

5. Avira – free antivirus for Mac with versatile features

Avira antivirus banner
Firewall:Paid
Real-time protection:Free
Free version:Yes
Current deal:🔥Get 1 year of Avira at 40% OFF!🔥

A completely free Mac antivirus with a nice range of features is exactly what Avira could be described as in one sentence.

Independent laboratory tests: While AV-Comparatives’ tests show the antivirus blocks 99.6% of threats, AV-TEST results show a 100% score. And in terms of false positives, the antivirus didn’t find a single one.

In-house tests: Our researchers tested the antivirus as well. While real-time protection found 9 malicious files as soon as they unzipped them, both quick and system scans found all 10 threats. However, it’s worth noting that the system scan was heavier on resources.

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.

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.

Pricing: The paid plans of Avira are much better than the free one, so if someday you decide to upgrade, the prices start from $30.99/year. And, if you’d ever like to test the premium version, it comes with a 2-month money-back guarantee.

To find all features of this product, visit our Avira review.

How we tested these free Mac antiviruses

Even if you’re picking a free antivirus, you should be aware of what comes with the package and look for the best set of features. Here are some of the criteria we used to pick the best free antivirus software for Mac:

  • Malware detection rates. Free or not, an antivirus is supposed to be able to detect 98% if not 100% of threats. That’s why we looked at independent lab test results, such as AV-test and Virus Bulletin.
  • In-house tests. Our researchers took matters into their own hands and tested the antiviruses themselves. In-house tests let us look at how these security programs deal with threats in the real world.
  • Extra features. It’s not surprising that free antiviruses are not as feature-rich as paid ones. However, the more generous, the better. Look for antiviruses that include different scanning options and additional protection features, for instance, real-time protection.
  • User experience. No one wants a difficult setup process or an app that is difficult to navigate. We made sure that our chosen antiviruses aren’t too cluttered and are suitable for both beginners and advanced users.

How do I install free antivirus on my Mac?

Installing a free antivirus on any device is a piece of cake. All you have to do is:

  1. Head over to the official website of your chosen antivirus. We recommend TotalAV, which is now 84% OFF
  2. Find and click the “Free Download” or similar button
Totalav official website
  1. Follow the installation instructions
Totalav installation process

That’s it! You can now run your first scans.

Free Mac antivirus tools compared

TotalAVNortonSurfsharkAVBitdefenderAvira
Brandlogologologologologo
Rating
4.6
4.7
4.4
4.9
4.3
Free versionYesFree trialFree trialYesYes
FirewallPaidAvailable with the free trialNoPaidPaid
Real-time protectionPaidAvailable with the free trialAvailable with the free trialPaidFree
Features
  • Whitelist
  • Adblock
  • WebShield
  • System tune up
  • Data breach scanner
  • Duplicate finder
  • Large & old files
  • Disk usage
  • Browser cleaner
  • Uninstaller
  • Secure VPN
  • Password manager
  • Safe Web
  • Silent Mode
  • Automatic upgrades
  • VPN
  • Surfshark Search
  • Surfshark Alert
  • Incogni
  • Example text
  • Virus scanner
  • Custom location scan
  • Scan scheduling
  • VPN with 500 MB/month limit
  • Password manager
  • Junk cleaner
  • Quarantine management
ReviewTotalAV reviewNorton reviewSurfshark AV reviewBitdefender reviewAvira review

Why free antiviruses might be dangerous

Free antiviruses might be dangerous because, well… they’re free. This means the providers don’t get money and need to dig it up from somewhere. Here’s what dangers this might bring:

  • They may sell user data. What better way to make money than making you the product and selling your data?
  • No software updates. Database and software updates require money, so free antivirus providers aren’t able to pay for them. 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, so disguising as a free antivirus product may be an effective way for cyber felons to infect your devices.

However, if you’re on a budget and a free antivirus is your only option, pick a freemium Mac antivirus. Free antivirus providers that also offer premium plans are more reliable. That’s because they offer free services with the intent to sell you the premium ones in the future. That’s why you don’t get many features included for free, yet the services are reliable.

Free Mac antiviruses we do not recommend

There are some antivirus software that we wouldn’t recommend using purely due to security concerns. One of them is Hola VPN. It has developed a poor reputation after a group of researchers found that it’s used to distribute malware and spam without the user’s knowledge.

As for freemium options, we’d avoid such virus removal tools as Avast. Back in 2019, their browser extension was removed from various marketplaces because it was allegedly collecting a suspicious amount of their user information. This included location, age, gender, and so on.

Conclusion

Different types of threats are emerging every day, and while Mac devices are considered to be the safer operating system, it’s not threat-proof. 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 dozens of 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.

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