The best free antivirus platforms for Mac in 2018

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Windows 10 is the most common operating system, meaning more malware is coded with Windows users in mind. But despite persistent perception to the contrary, MacOS is just as susceptible to malware as Windows 10. Apple’s operating system is far from invulnerable, and new Mac threats appear regularly. That’s why it’s important to keep up on software updates and basic security.

Fortunately, there are many fantastic anti-malware platforms designed to give your Mac a booster shot against the latest viruses, adware, and ransomware, as well as historic threats. Many of them are made by the same companies that produce the best Windows antivirus solutions.

The best free antivirus for Mac

Avast Security for Mac 

Avast Security

Avast Security for Mac is one of the most popular security suites available, and it’s easy to see why. It’s effective and free for non-commercial use, providing on-demand tools for quickly performing full-system malware scans, as well as sifting through specific email threads, attachments, and various web activities like web pages, downloads, and JavaScripts. Furthermore, it offers drag-and-drop scanning for individual files and phishing protection, along with the ability to scan external drives and attached volumes for potential infections. You can also initiate scans for connected devices like external hard drives.

The application’s interface is straightforward and self-explanatory, and features a navigational pane on the left that consists of five primary buttons and a real-time graph that aggregates shield activity and allows users to quickly check the overall stats of their computer. The free version also offers to install two other programs during installation: Avast Internet Security ($30 per year) and Avast SecureLine VPN ($60 per year). Neither are necessary for detecting and removing malware, however, so pay attention during installation if you don’t want them.

Download it:

Avast

The rest

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac

Windows users have long turned to Malwarebytes’ free version, affectionately known as MBAM, as a backup for always-on malware software. The Mac Malwarebytes version started as an adware removal tool, but as of today, it’s also a full-fledged tool for protecting your machine against other forms of malware. Plus, it’s just as effective in MacOS as it is in Windows, a fact that’s aided by the Malwarebytes team’s constant research on current threats — the company identified the first Mac malware threat in 2017.

Using the program couldn’t be easier. Just launch it, hit scan, and the software will quickly let you know if you’re infected with any Mac-specific malware — oftentimes when other software has missed something. Like the Windows iteration of the free version, though, this is not an always-on solution and is thus more suited for performing deep scans and ridding yourself of particularly pernicious MacOS malware like Fruitfly.

There are scheduling and proactive blocks, but these features expire after two weeks if you are using the free version. To get live protection you’d need to pay for the premium version, which starts at $40 for a year.

Download it:

Malwarebytes

Sophos Antivirus Mac Home Edition

Straddling the line somewhere between necessity and excess, Sophos offers all the basic utilities you’ve come to expect from quality antivirus software, and a whole lot more. It has custom, on-demand, and scheduled scans for specified files, folders, and drives, along with additional tools for deleting and quarantining any software Sophos deems a potential threat.

The software even incorporates real-time protection features that will quarantine unknown files that are exhibiting suspicious behavior. Although the program has a tendency to scan slower than most, it’s fairly lightweight and non-obtrusively performs vital background tasks while barely leeching or exhausting your system’s resources.

Despite its robust feature set, Sophos manages to cram all this functionality into a compact interface. Initiating a full-system scan can be done directly from the top of the main menu, and you can configure exemptions quickly from easily navigable menus. The malware definitions also are constantly being updated, ensuring the program is never without the latest knowledge of potential threats. It’s one of the most hands-off antivirus programs on the market, and as such, sits among the best.

Download it:

Sophos

Bitdefender Virus Scanner

Built upon Bitdefender’s award-winning antivirus engine, Bitdefender Virus Scanner features a host of scan options, allowing you to quickly perform deep scans of your entire system, or those targeting specific locations. If you grant it access, the streamlined program even provides an option for scanning critical locations — such as your Mac’s launch agents and the entirety of your system library — thus allowing you to bypass lengthier scans when pressed for time. Moreover, it automatically updates with Bitdefender’s hourly malware definitions prior to scanning, while providing a quick means for blacklisting specific locations from system scans.

Bitdefender Virus Scanner automatically tries to disinfect and quarantine suspicious files it comes across, and though the feature is not unique to Bitdefender’s offering, the software can also quickly search for malware within various archives and file types (PDF, PKG, ZIP, RAR, etc.). From the homescreen, you can choose four different scanning options, in addition to an update button and a “view quarantine” button. It’s all very easy to understand and use.

Download it:

Bitdefender

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

Avira strikes a nice balance between ease of use and quick access to advanced utilities, ultimately rendering basic system scans just as simple to execute as those that are scheduled and file-specific. The software is equipped with standard spyware and adware protection, along with the ability to intercept harmful websites and block tracking. If the software finds an infected file or folder, it can repair/delete the problem so you don’t have to worry about it again.

Unlike most of the software in our roundup, Avira is coupled with a moderately lengthy installation and an update process that goes hand in hand with the software’s heavy use of system resources. It’s certainly not a dealbreaker when you consider the nonexistent price tag and its thorough antivirus engine, but it’s an unfortunate downside.

Avira’s full-feature interface uses a left-hand navigational bar for viewing the status of your system, scheduling tasks, and viewing past quarantine history, among other options. Virus definitions are updated in a timely fashion, too, regardless of how long the initial updates might take to finish. It’s resource heavy, but capable enough if you’re looking for automation, scan history, and other advanced features.

Download it:

Avira

Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Mobile

These parental control apps will help keep your kids' device habits in check

Looking for extra security and monitoring on mobile devices? Take a look at the best parental control apps for limiting time and keeping watch on your child's phone usage and behavior. We have the top options for Android and iOS here.
Mobile

Walk, run, and stretch with these handy iPhone fitness apps

Working out and getting yourself in shape isn't easy, but it's easier with the right set of apps. These best iPhone fitness apps will help you to track your calories, monitor your sleep, and achieve your fitness goals.
Music

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Computing

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.
Computing

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.