The time when Mac computers were impenetrable fortresses for malicious actors is now history. Neither vigilance alone nor the built-in system protection is enough to fend off malware attacks targeting these machines. Although native macOS security features such as Gatekeeper, XProtect, Notarization, and the Malware Removal Tool (MRT) are incredibly effective, crooks are growingly adept at bypassing them.

As the Mac user count saw a dramatic increase over the past decade, cybercriminals stepped up their repertoire to plague Macs with infections that run the gamut from annoying adware and browser hijackers to cryptominers and destructive ransomware. Therefore, an anti-malware app that detects and removes prevalent and zero-day threats is a great addition to out-of-the-box macOS defenses.

The good news is, this market is dynamically growing and there are plenty of Mac malware removal products to choose from. But, finding your best bet could be a challenge. Some of these apps lack real-time protection, some diminish the user experience with false positives, some are memory hogs, and some are scareware in disguise.

In this review, I will go over the top 5 malware removal tools for Mac that are both effective and user-friendly. If you aren’t using this extra protection layer yet, or if you are dissatisfied with your current AV and want to switch to a better alternative, read this summary of the best Mac anti-malware 2021 to make an informed decision.

Best malware removal tools for Mac 2021 – The comparison table

Product Highlights

Rating and Price


1. Avast Security for Mac

  • Free version includes real-time protection

  • Detects Wi-Fi security issues

  • Blocks web trackers and shows harmful site alerts

  • Phishing protection

  • Stops ransomware attacks

  • 30-day money-back guarantee for premium version users

annual subscription for 1 Mac

2. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9

  • Provides protection plus Mac optimization

  • High virus detection scores

  • Easy to use

  • Detects Windows threats

  • 30-day trial

1 year of protection (€129.99 – 2 years) for 1 Mac

3. Norton Security for Mac

  • Antivirus, antispyware, and ransomware protection

  • Fends off online threats

  • Password manager

  • Custom firewall

  • 2 GB cloud backup

annual subscription for up to 5 devices ($45 off for the first  year)

4. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

  • Blocks viruses and ransomware in real time

  • Above-average adware detection

  • Online security features included

  • VPN on board (200 MB per day)

  • Time Machine backup protection

  • 30-day trial

annually for 1 Mac ($20 off for the first year)

5. Malwarebytes for Mac

  • Free version includes a 14-day trial of premium

  • Outstanding detection and removal scores

  • Super-fast scans and low resource usage

annual price for 1 Mac

1. Avast Security for Mac

You can’t go wrong with Avast Security for Mac if you are looking for a tradeoff between the price tag, system productivity hit, and protection power. Its free version includes real-time virus blocking and the main premium perks except for ransomware defense and Wi-Fi intrusion alerts, with no strings attached.

On-demand network vulnerability audit, or Wi-Fi Inspector, is one of the awesome features setting Avast apart from the competition. It gives you a summary of potential security gaps in your wireless network and advises on ways to close them. You also get online safety essentials through anti-phishing and harmful website warnings.

The track record of Avast Security additionally spans decent Mac malware detection and removal scores in recent independent tests by AV-Comparatives (“Advanced+”), AV-TEST (“Certified”), and OPSWAT (“Gold” award). That said, it earns its top spot in my review for a reason.


  • Very intuitive
  • Fast scans
  • Network protection included
  • Free version has everything the average user needs


  • Ransomware protection requires premium subscription

2. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9

First things first, Intego stands out from the crowd because its products are dedicated entirely to the Apple ecosystem. Unsurprisingly, each component of Mac Premium Bundle X9 will run seamlessly on your machine.

The greater part of this suite’s malware protection capacity is encapsulated in the VirusBarrier tool. It blends real-time and on-demand scanning to achieve a level of security high enough to keep your Mac safe from both prevalent and emerging threats. The utility detects macOS and iOS malware, hacking attempts, keyloggers, harmful scripts, and even Windows infections that may parasitize your device as a link in a contamination chain targeting PCs of your friends and family.

An extra layer of protection is delivered through Safe Browsing, a package component aimed at blocking credential phishing pages, tech support scams, and other dubious websites. This feature works with Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Another great element of Premium Bundle X9 called NetBarrier monitors your network to spot hacker attacks and catch spyware red-handed.


  • User-friendly dashboard
  • Protects from malware and online threats
  • No credit card required to start your trial


  • Somewhat expensive

3. Norton Security for Mac

Norton, another big name in the industry, has got a worthwhile Mac product in store as well. Norton Security for Mac is built around an effective antivirus, antispyware, and anti-ransomware technology that stops mainstream and zero-day threats in their tracks. The extra bells and whistles for everyday security include the firewall tool as well as protection against unsafe sites and other online perils.

Norton Security for Mac subscription also provides cloud backup allowing you to store up to 2 GB of your sensitive data. This is a fundamental countermeasure for ransomware assaults that result in denying access to important files kept on disk. Additionally, you get a password manager that automates and secures your authentication routine.

This app might not be your best option if you like freebies, though. There is no free version as such, and a 7-day trial requires credit card details plus other billing information.


  • Speedy scans
  • Firewall fends off network attacks
  • Includes Mac ransomware protection


  • Cumbersome registration
  • No free version

4. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

The security logic of Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac consists of the following trio: antivirus, web protection, and anti-ransomware.

The first module includes real-time defense combined with flexible on-demand scanning options (quick, system-wide, and custom scans). The second hinges on Bitdefender’s cross-browser extension called TrafficLight, which filters out fishy online content. The anti-ransomware feature works by thwarting unauthorized changes to specified data and by adding extra security to your Time Machine backups.

This product also helps you avoid privacy issues by providing a VPN and an add-on that blocks trackers as you surf the web. The VPN component that comes with a 30-day free trial has a 200 MB daily traffic limitation unless you upgrade.

However, the usability of this software could use improvement. For instance, it offers no clear way to eliminate its icon from the Finder area, and the user interface looks a little cluttered.


  • High protection scores
  • VPN on board
  • Full-blown 30-day trial
  • Time Machine backup protection


  • VPN traffic restriction in the trial version
  • Menu bar widget is hard to remove

5. Malwarebytes for Mac

Targus portable chill mat can boast some useful additional characteristics, such as several height settings and extra USB ports. A dual cooling fan system lowers the temperature of the laptop significantly, protecting the hardware from overheating and extending the life of the device. Even on your laps, you won’t feel any discomfort from the hot air and the soft neoprene material feels like a soft cushion. It is equipped with four rubber stops to keep your laptop fixed in place.


  • Lightweight
  • Free version cleans contaminated Mac
  • Real-time protection is for premium uses only
  • Blocks adware and other prevalent Mac threats


  • Protection is limited to basic security with no extras


  • What is the best antivirus software for Mac?

The optimal Mac antivirus software combines effective protection against known and emerging cyber-threats, Internet security extras, low system footprint, and decent customer support under its hood. The availability of a free version, whether fully functional or at least providing on-demand virus cleanup, is also a hallmark of a product worth its salt.

  • Do you need virus protection on a Mac?

The answer was probably a “No” a decade ago, but things have changed ever since. Back in the day, the Mac user base was minuscule compared to the PC ecosystem, which explains why threat actors focused on haunting the latter. Nowadays, the macOS market share is on the rise, and so are attacks against Macs.

Zooming out, yes, virus protection on a Mac is strongly recommended as long as you want to keep your digital life safe. You can most certainly do without it if you still believe the “Macs don’t get viruses” myth, but this turns your machine into low-hanging fruit crooks will definitely want to gobble up at some point.

  • What does Apple recommend for virus?

You can spend days scouring the official Apple documentation for a third-party antivirus app endorsement, to no avail. In other words, the Cupertino company doesn’t give any such product its official blessing to be used on Macs. Meanwhile, it emphasizes that sticking with the App Store and identified developers for software downloads is half the battle, and the rest of the protection is achieved through the built-in XProtect, Gatekeeper, Malware Removal Tool (MRT), and Notarization instruments.

  • Can my Mac scan for viruses?

Not really. As previously mentioned, it does incorporate several native protection mechanisms, but their security logic doesn’t come down to scanning the system for viruses. Instead, Apple requires that developers submit their code for scanning in advance if they want their products to be labeled safe. If no malware is found at this verification stage, the app gets the green light to be executed on Macs; otherwise, it is blocked. This is how the Notarization and Gatekeeper tandem works.

Another macOS feature called XProtect uses a signature-based detection method to prevent known malware when being executed. Again, this isn’t exactly about scanning for viruses, but rather a response to a potentially malicious event. By and large, your Mac is constantly doing quite a bit of security work behind the scenes, but you won’t notice any of its protection features running a scan (in the classic sense) or anything similar.

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