Top 10 malware removal tools for Mac

6 min read

It’s perfectly possible, as a Mac user, to go through your whole life without ever being affected by malware. But it also may happen that a nasty piece of spyware, adware, and something even worse attack your Mac simultaneously. And if you use your Mac for work, that could cause serious problems. So why take the risk?

Things to consider when choosing a malware cleaner

When deciding on which antivirus tool to buy, there are several things to consider. As well as performance and results, look out for how many licenses are included in the basic cost, what additional features each option has, and whether it provides coverage of Windows malware. Why does it matter if it detects Windows malware? Because although the malware doesn’t affect Macs, Windows malware on your Mac can transfer onto a Windows PC on the same network.

Below, we’ve rounded up the best malware removal tools for the Mac to help you decide which to choose. Most of them have free options available or allow you to download a free trial so that you can test them yourself. As for free malware removal on the Mac, there are fewer options, but a couple of the tools listed below offer that.

The best malware cleaners for MacBook

1. CleanMyMac X

Pros:

  • Protects your Mac in real-time 

  • Easy to use 

  • Has lots of tools for optimizing and maintaining your Mac’s performance

  • Pleasant UI

  • A free trial is available

Cons:

  • No cons observed

While it’s not primarily an anti-malware tool, CleanMyMac X has an anti-malware utility in its arsenal. Press one button, and CleanMyMac X will scan your Mac, comparing what it finds with its database of known malware. If it finds anything, you can remove it with another click, or dig deeper and see what it found. You can also configure it to scan your Mac in the background automatically, alerting if it detects malware. 


CleanMyMac X features a powerful Smart Scan module. It scans your Mac thoroughly for unneeded files and other junk to save up space on your drive. With such a wide choice of features, CleanMyMac X takes the first place as the best Mac utility and anti-malware tool in one app. You can download the app here.

2. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

Pros

  • Offers free basic version

  • Includes optimization features

Cons 

  • Scanning takes a lot of time

There are several free options on this list, and some are better than others. Avira’s free version is pretty basic. While that means it’s easy to use, it also means that features like parental controls are only available in the paid-for version. Also, it didn’t score as well for performance in AV-Test Institute’s tests as most of the others on this list.

Did you know?

AV-Comparatives and AV-Test Institute are independent research institutions that evaluate and test security software. Then they distribute results to individuals, daily news websites, and organizations. 

AV-Test Institute conducted the last evaluation of security tools for Mac in February 2020.

3. Malwarebytes for Mac

Pros:

  • Clean user interface 

  • Quick scan 

  • Detects all files left after malware removal

Cons:

  • Limited feature set compared with others

Malwarebytes is a well-known name. With their State of Malware reports released every year, Malwarebytes helps macOS users stay on top of the latest security threats. 

The free version of the app scans quickly and has minimal impact on resources, but it doesn’t include background scanning. And neither the free nor premium versions scan email attachments, which can be a source of trojans and other malware on your Mac. 

4. Intego Mac Internet Security X9

Pros: 

  • Does well detecting all kinds of Mac malware 

  • Has a built-in firewall 

Cons:

  • Not so good with Windows malware 

  • More expensive than other antivirus programs

Intego’s Mac Security tools have been around for many years and, unlike many of the utilities here, is developed for the Mac rather than ported from a Windows app. In addition to scanning for malware on-demand and in real-time, it comes with a built-in firewall and network permissions manager. It did well in the AV-Comparative and AV-Test Institute’s tests for Mac malware, but not so well for detecting Windows and Linux malware.

5. Kaspersky Internet Security

Pros:

  • Good test results 

  • Lots of features

  • Protection against network attacks

Cons 

  • Some features require additional payment

Kaspersky is one of the most well-known names in the anti-malware business. And it’s Internet Security for Mac is one of the most highly-regarded tools. It scored well in AV-Comparative and AV-Test institute’s tests and in other anti-phishing tests. It also offers parental controls, protection against network attacks, and privacy protection. On the negative side, some of those features, like the VPN, require an additional payment. 

6. Avast Security for Mac

Pros:

  • Excellent free version 

  • Good protection 

Cons: 

  • Nags to upgrade to paid functionality

Avast is one of the better known free anti-malware utilities on the Mac, and with good reason. It works well and has plenty of features like a built-in password manager and a tool that scans incoming email attachments. It has very little impact on system resources, but it does frequently prompt to upgrade to the paid-for version, which can be annoying.

7. BitDefender

Pros: 

  • Doesn’t impact CPU usage

  • Autopilot feature

  • Protects browser against online attacks

Cons: 

  • VPN costs extra

BitDefender offers protection from ransomware and phishing attacks as well as the usual anti-malware protection. It has almost no impact on your system performance and includes an autopilot mode that allows you to set it and forget it. It’s pretty quick too and does a good job of removing Windows malware. It’s not the cheapest, and if you want the optional VPN, it costs extra.

8. Sophos Home Premium

Pros: 

  • Offers a license for 10 machines

  • Lots of extra features

Cons:

  • Resource-hungry 

Sophos Home Premium has an abundance of features and includes a license that covers 10 Macs and PCs for a price that’s similar to several tools that have a license for only one computer. Among those features are parental controls, remote management, webcam protection, and auto-ransomware tools. Some of those features are also available in the free version.

On the downside, Sophos may consume quite a high level of Mac’s resources. So if you’re already using other heavy-consuming apps, it may put your CPU to a lot of pressure. 

9. Eset Cyber Security

Pros: 

  • Scheduling scans 

  • Minimalistic interface

Cons: 

  • A bit slow 

  • Pro version doesn’t offer lots of features

Eset’s unique selling point is that it has a scheduling tool that allows you to dictate and refine exactly when different types of scans are run. You can schedule specific scans to run at time intervals you specify, or to be triggered by events, like a particular user logging in. It also has parental controls, an anti-phishing scanner, and a firewall.

That’s the good news, the bad is that Eset takes significantly longer to scan than other tools here.

10.Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac

Pros: 

  • Fast scanning 

  • Social network security features

Cons: 

  • Features license for only one Mac

  • Some features are limited 

Trend Micro is a well-known name in the Windows world, but not so well-known to Mac users. Its antivirus tool for Mac has a licence for only one machine, making it a more expensive option than some others here. However, it does offer protection against webcam hijacking and ransomware, as well as a social media privacy scanner.

It also scores well in tests conducted by AV-Comparative and AV-Test Institute. And it's fast and automatically scans external drives when you plug them in. However, its anti-phishing tools came up a little short in some tests.

As you can see, there is no shortage of antivirus tools available for the Mac. Whichever one you choose, you will be safer from malware than you would be otherwise. In addition to protecting you from malware, CleanMyMac X has several tools for clearing space, optimizing performance, and improving your privacy. While other tools on the list include features like parental controls and a VPN.





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