Mac: How to scan for and remove malware with free and paid tools

Virus scanner for Mac

Macs are better protected from malicious software like viruses, trojans, adware, etc. than Windows and Linux. However, you are not immune, and more and more malware is designed specifically for Mac. Whether you just want to run a scan or think your (or someone else’s) computer might be affected, here’s a look at 7 solid malware/virus scanner Mac tools, including free and paid options.

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 ransomware for Mac from the LockBit Gang interface.

While malware affects Windows and Linux machines much more than macOS, staying alert and diligent is still very important to keep your Mac safe.

For a refresher, here’s how Apple defines malware:

Malware is malicious software that includes viruses, worms, trojans and other programs that can harm your Mac or your privacy. Malware can get installed when you download items from emails, messages, and websites.

Some malware is just annoying. More often, the intent is to control your Mac to collect personal and financial information, host illegal content, send spam, or harm other computers on the network.

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

Malware/virus scanners for Mac and how to remove them

Apple’s advice and protection

  • “If you receive a message telling you that something you downloaded from the internet is malwareis the safest action Place the item in the trashThen empty the trash.”
  • Apple also points out, “Avoid opening elements of websites and email messages unless you are sure they are from a legitimate, 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 you install it — however, users always have the option to override this and install unidentified apps
  • You can also set your Mac to only download and install software from the App Store:
    • Go to the app “System Settings” > “Privacy & Security” > Scroll down and click “App Store” under “Allow apps downloaded from”.

Malwarebytes malware/virus scanner for Mac

Virus scanner for Mac Malwarebytes tool

Malwarebytes is the leader in malware detection and removal and the tool many geniuses use to help customers in the Apple Stores. While macOS has strong security features built in, Malwarebytes goes deeper to detect and find malicious software:

  • Malwarebytes for Mac is a free download with a 14-day full-feature trial (no credit card or email required)
  • The tool allows you to quickly and easily scan for and remove malware
  • Malwarebytes Premium offers 24/7 protection against new threats, blocks apps from suspicious developers, stops annoying adware, runs automatic scans and much more
  • After the 14-day free trial, Malwarebytes starts at $45/year for individuals.
Virus scanner for Mac CleanMyMac X
  • If a multipurpose Mac utility with malware and virus scanning sounds good, CleanMyMac X is a great option. It has 49 tools including a comprehensive malware detection and removal utility.
  • Other CleanMyMac X features make it easy to find, identify, and delete invisible files, outdated cache files, old downloads, log files, optimize your Mac’s performance, and more.
  • CleanMyMac X starts at $35/year for one Mac

More antivirus options for Mac

If you want to try other options for finding and removing malware on Mac, here are four other popular options:

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

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