Recommendations for Mac antivirus software?

I noticed that the NY Times’ product recommendation site:, is recommending that most computer users do not need anti virus software and the site does not recommend any.
I’ve used Intego’s software for years, on a recommendation from TidBits, as I recall.
Any opinions on this?

Could you share a link to the article where they say that?

That having been said:

  • Windows users definitely should run anti-malware software. But Microsoft’s bundled Defender system is pretty good, so I would say that you don’t need to replace with a third-party package unless you want some of the additional security features that these packages offer beyond virus scanning.

  • Apple provides very good security in macOS. Between the underlying system security model, Gatekeeper, and other features, it is hard (but not impossible, of course) for a system to get infected.

Of course, both of the above assume that you keep your system and Internet-accessing apps up to date (whether you use manual or automatic updates), run firewall software, and generally observe safe practices (e.g. don’t share sensitive data, don’t visit links to unknown/unsupported sites, don’t install apps from untrusted sources, etc.)

I would say that you don’t need to explicitly purchase/install a security software suite, but mostly because both Microsoft and Apple bundle pretty good security software with their respective operating systems. But you still need to make sure these features are enabled and properly configured.

And there are some situations where you may require more than what’s built-in. Especially if it’s a public-access computer or is running a server that is accessible from the Internet. But these are not typical of individual/home users.


We’ve never explicitly recommend antivirus software for Mac users, but Intego sponsored TidBITS a decade ago, so that might have been where you read about it. In that welcome article, I wrote:

I still believe that constant scanning for viruses is overkill for sophisticated Mac users — including most TidBITS readers — but for our friends, relatives, and colleagues who neither know nor care how things work behind the scenes, it would be worth talking with them about adding something like VirusBarrier X6 to their Macs.

These days, I’d be more likely to recommend Malwarebytes for the occasional scan. I still don’t like antivirus software that scans all the time, except for people who are really unsafe with their Internet browsing.


I am definitely no expert in this area, but my sense is that in the last few years most of Mac OS vulnerability comes from deep system, or code bugs that only Apple could patch.
Less a vulnerability to malicious files (viruses) than hacker opportunities/exploits to wreak havoc.

To digress, on the other side of the coin, gone are the days for me for downloading all sorts of the cool Mac apps that were hosted on various sites during the initial Mac heyday of third party opportunity … so any time popular apps and extensions requiring full disk access,… I’m a bit hesitant … like who is really vetting this stuff now?
I had sort of hoped that was what the App Store was supposed to be doing … but not quite, it seems.

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It can be two sides of the same coin, though, since vulnerabilities are often exploited through malware of some sort, and antivirus software can theoretically detect and delete it before it takes advantage of the vulnerability.

I wouldn’t stress too much if I were you. (Or rather, if you were me.) I download and install vastly more software than most users and I’ve never had any trouble with malware. But I get stuff directly from companies that pass easy sniff tests for being real. And, of course, if something requests permissions and I can’t figure out why it would care, I deny it.


Malwarebytes offers a free tier and will give most of us some peace of mind at zero cost.

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Here’s a link to the article in the WireCutter. I neglected to notice the date. I wonder why it turned up today I wasn’t searching the subject.


Consensus seems clear. Not necessary, particularly considering my cautious protocols.
No doubt I made the initial connection to Intego from their advertising in TidBits.
Thanks all.

I’ll just add that the free tier of Malwarebytes does not impact your CPU in any noticeable way with background scanning processes, so there really isn’t any good reason why you shouldn’t have it sitting there to run periodically or when you observe something strange. The current version of DetectX Swift is also free for now with only on-demand scanning.

macOS built-in security is not as extensive as that provided by Windows Defender.

+1 for Malwarebytes free version which only runs when you open it. It has been very useful.
On another point, a year or so back, the SecurityNow podcast mentioned that Antivirus software can sometimes be an avenue of attack, especially where it is always running and the developers lack the same level of skill as the computer’s engineers. Also there is the possibility of the antivirus company being hacked and malware imbedded in their software, as in the case of the SolarWinds hack.
Reading the above mentioned Wirecutter article led me to this article:

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FWIW: I’ve been using ClamXAV for many, many years and find it quite satisfactory.


I really like Intego and have used it for years, especially on my wife’s computer as she, while an very capable computer user, is really not interested in safe computing until something goes wrong lol. That’s OK because we use my more up-to-date Mac for most financial transactions. I also highly recommend Malwarebytes as a very smooth and quiet player software. I have the paid version on my iPhone, iPad Pro and my Mac with the Mac version set to do a nightly scan of the computer. Very fast, very good and worth the cost.

If you came to the link through the NYT web site, they are rotating all their Wirecutter articles through the front page portal of the Times itself. I don’t think they are paying any particular attention to the age of each review or article; but I do think they’re trying to expose everything to their larger audience and see what gets clicks.

Larger picture is that for whatever reason the Times decides to do things, their Technology editorial stance has become explicitly anti-technology in the past year. Social media is corrosive, devices and software are driven by The Big Three (Amazon, Apple, Google), and buying new devices should be discouraged because the ones we have work just fine.

There is a lot to think about there, and certainly some valid points. For example, I replaced a dead iPhone 7 with an iPhone 11 last fall when I could have had the latest-greatest iPhone 12, and I figure these next four years with it will be just fine, thank you.

As to the specifics of the antivirus piece: I’m ready to jump ship on AVG because it wants to do things that, for example, are better suited for Hazel. Meantime I’m not confident that it’s actually picking up any viruses in my relatively sedate desktop environment. But, the idea that I don’t need any antivirus software at all is counterintuitive, and I am going to explore Malwarebytes.

Thanks for that bit of information. Several years ago I had to uninstall Malwarebytes because even using the free tier the background process was using a lot of resources. It might be time to give it another try.

I logged into Tidbits and I don’t see anything from Integro. What is the name of the actual software?

Intego does NetBarrier and Virus barrier.

Oh, The company name is Intego, not Integro.


Neitther of those come up on the Tidbits member discount page.

Adam, do you know why?

It was a 10 year old sponsorship. I’m sure it expired at some point since then.

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