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Best antivirus for Macs 2021: tailor-made protection for Apple users

Antivirus for Macs

The best antivirus for Macs can give you the experience of sailing safely on the waters of the web, where without it you'll be constantly worrying about pirate attacks. Forced oceanic metaphors aside, many people think because they use a Mac they're safe online but the reality, these days, is different. And with more personal data online than ever before, it pays to play it safe.

Antivirus software works to protect your Mac from malware attacks which can, potentially, gain access to your personal information. This isn't just your latest Instagram picture post, we mean banking details and important logins for things like email.

While Apple devices are certainly safer than Windows machines, they're still at risk. A macOS machine runs on Unix, which is sandboxed, meaning it's not easy for a virus to do a lot of damage. That also means any virus which is designed to attack a Mac is very specialist. As such you need an equally specialist solution. Enter the software specifically built as antivirus for Macs rather than the usual one-app-fits-all you'd get with other operating systems.

We've found the very best Mac antivirus software so that you can rest easy knowing your slab of machine smarts is protected even when you connect to potentially threatening open networks, like Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or airport. 

There are paid for and free options with different features for each. Here are the best antivirus for Macs we've found on the market.

Best antivirus for Macs 2021: apps and software compared

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

1: Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Best overall antivirus for Macs

Max devices protected: 3 | Online protection: Online banking and web protection | Extra protection: Multi-layer ransomware

Very smart antivirus system
Privacy protection focus
Scan for Windows too
No firewall

Bitdefender Antivirus for Macs is the best overall line of defense for your Apple Mac. At its core, this uses an antivirus engine that's highly regarded as smart and very fast. That covers you for viruses on your Mac but this also does a whole lot more.

Ransomware, a big issue nowadays, is covered by a multi-layer protection meaning you will be kept safe online. There's also a browser extension that stops you from being tracked to keep you more anonymous while browsing. This will even block web trackers which not only helps maintain your online privacy but can speed up your experience. Add in the anti-phishing protection this offers and you're in for a very clean and private browser experience.

Bitdefender fights adware too so you should notice a lot less rubbish popping up when online. There's even a free VPN, with limited data, as well as a protection layer for Time Machine to keep your back-ups safe too.

This, uniquely, defends against Windows viruses too. That means you won't act as a transmitter potentially passing it along to the Window machines of others where it can do damage.

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is the best option out there right now.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9

(Image credit: Intego)

2: Intego Mac Internet Security X9

Best antivirus for Macs of the Pro variety

Max devices protected: 5 | Online protection: Smart firewall | Extra protection: Multi-layer ransomware

Powerful firewall
Accurate scanning
Simple to use
Slows machine down

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 offers something our number one spot holder doesn't - a firewall. It's a smart one too, offering intelligent protection to stop viruses before they even get to your machine. For anything that slips through it'll be met by protection that has all the latest virus defenses in place thanks to an impressive antivirus system that's been working and evolving on Macs for over two decades.

You also get excellent anti-phishing protection for a safer online experience. This will even make sure cheeky third-party apps that want at your data don't stand a chance of getting near it. Despite this being a great system for more advanced users, with lots of options, it's still nice and simple to use making it ideal for newbs too.

All that powerful protection means this can slow your machine down a little, compared to some other options, but if you've got plenty of power to spare then this is a great way to invest that in what's arguably the best antivirus for MacBook Pros.

Norton 360 Deluxe

(Image credit: Norton)

3: Norton 360 Deluxe

Best antivirus for Macs needing cloud backup and VPN too

Max devices protected: 5 | Online protection: Intelligent firewall | Extra protection: Cloud backup and VPN

Strong antivirus and ransomware protection
Lots of devices supported
VPN included
Slows some Macs

Norton 360 Deluxe is the culmination of years of experience in the world of antivirus. As such this is not only good on your Mac but also on lots of other devices including smartphones and even PCs, with five devices covered at the same time. Expect powerful antivirus protection as well as anti-ransomware but even they're given another layer of protection thanks to an intelligent firewall. 

All that has the addition of cloud backup, a very nice feature for the price. Factor in the addition of a VPN too and this starts to looks like a serious amount of protection and support for what you pay. Though it's worth mentioning this won't just cost you in money, it'll chew through a chunk of your processing power too, so make sure you have a fast machine if you're going to use this powerful beast of a suite.

While this is a more pricey option there are often deals so it's worth keeping your eye out for a saving before you commit.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

(Image credit: Kaspersky)

4: Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

Best Mac antivirus for malware detection

Max devices protected: 3 | Online protection: Configurable virus scans | Extra protection: Webcam highjacking protection

Excellent malware protection
Feature rich
Secure banking online
Pricey option

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac comes from a well known and long-standing brand that has plenty of experience in this area. As such you get some of the best malware protection, on top of the tailor-made antivirus for Macs. This will keep your Mac safe from attacks but also helps with privacy when online thanks to URL blocking and an encrypted browser for extra safety. There's smart ransomware protection to set your mind at ease too.

We like the specific webcam highjacking protection that means there's no need to cover that camera as you'll know nobody can gain access.

Yes, the interface has a lot going on that can be confusing at first, but essentially it's easy to use once you get going. You'll pay more than most charge for this big name brand but then you'll get more for your money too.

Avast Premium Security

(Image credit: Avast)

5: Avast Premium Security

Best Mac antivirus for ease of use

Max devices protected: 10 | Online protection: Ransomware shield | Extra protection: Wi-Fi intruder alerts

Powerful core Mac antivirus
Ransomware Shield
60-day free trial

Avast Premium Security is a super easy to use protection system for your Mac which, despite a minimal interface, offers a raft of features. At its core the antivirus for Macs protection is excellent with an intelligent system working to keep your devices clean. But you also get the company's Ransomware Shield which works to protect against this type of malware meaning you're protected even against undiscovered threats. 

Web browsing security is excellent with phishing sites detected. We also enjoyed the Wi-Fi intruder alert which lets you know if your home network is compromised. 

This is an expensive option if you only use it for one Mac. But with up to 10 devices covered on the more pricey plan, it works out more value for money. That said there is a 60-day free trial so this is well worth a try before you buy.

If you're looking to add some new kit to go with to your new protected home internet setup then be sure to take a look at our picks for the best gaming PC. We've also noticed that this is a great time to pick up a cheap gaming laptop.

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.