Mac: How to Scan for and Remove Malware with Free and Paid Tools

Macs are better protected against malware like viruses, Trojans, adware, etc. than Windows and Linux. However, they are not immune and more and more malware is designed specifically for Mac. Whether you just want to do a checkup or think your computer (or someone else’s) might be affected, here’s an overview of 7 solid Mac malware/virus scanner tools, including free options and paid.

This year we’ve seen new malware targeting Macs, including MacStealer and Atomic macOS Stealer, which can compromise iCloud Keychain passwords, credit card information, and more. We also saw the first Mac ransomware from the surface of the LockBit gang.

Although malware affects Windows and Linux machines significantly more than macOS, it’s still very important to stay aware and diligent to keep your Mac safe.

As a reminder, here is how Apple defines malware:

Malware is malicious software, which includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other programs that can harm your Mac or your privacy. Malware can be installed when you download stuff from emails, messages and websites.

Some malware is just plain annoying. More often than not, its intention is to control your Mac to collect personal and financial information, host illegal content, send spam, or damage other computers on the network.

Below, we’ll look at Apple’s tips for avoiding and removing malware with built-in macOS features, as well as some more advanced malware and antivirus software for Mac apps, many of which offer free trials.

Malware / Virus Scanner for Mac and How to Remove

Apple’s advice and protection

  • “If you receive a message telling you that something you downloaded from the Internet is malwarethe safest action is to move item to trashSO empty the bin.”
  • Apple also points out, “Avoid opening items from websites and emails unless you are sure they are from a legitimate and trusted source. If you are unsure of the source, delete the item. You can always download it again later, after making sure it’s not malware.
  • macOS Gatekeeper’s built-in security feature can also warn you about potentially malicious software before installing it, but users still have the option of overriding it and installing unidentified apps.
  • You can also configure your Mac to only allow software to be downloaded and installed from the App Store:
    • Head to the System Settings app > Privacy & Security > Scroll down and click App Store under “Allow apps downloaded from”

Malwarebytes Malware / Virus Scanner for Mac

antivirus for Mac tool Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is a leader in malware detection and removal and is the tool that many Geniuses use to help Apple Store customers. While macOS incorporates strong security, Malwarebytes goes further to discover and find malware:

  • Malwarebytes for Mac is a free download with a 14-day trial for the full feature set (no credit card or email required)
  • It is quick and easy to use the tool to find and remove malware
  • Malwarebytes Premium provides 24/7 protection against new threats, blocks apps from suspicious developers, stops annoying adware, runs scans automatically, and more.
  • After the 14-day free trial, Malwarebytes for home starts from $45/year.
Virus scanner for Mac CleanMyMac X
  • If a versatile Mac utility with malware and virus scanning sounds good, CleanMyMac X is a great option. It has 49 tools, including an in-depth malware detection and removal utility.
  • Other CleanMyMac X features make it easy to find, identify, and remove invisible files, outdated cache files, old downloads, log files, optimize your Mac’s performance, and more.
  • CleanMyMac X goes $35/year for a Mac

More antivirus options for Mac

If you want to learn more options for finding and removing malware on Mac, here are four more popular choices:

Thanks for reading our guide to malware and virus detection tools for Mac!

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