Best answer: During our testing, we used live malware and saw that the protections that come with Mac devices don't always stop them. Several threats are disguised to look like legitimate Mac programs and often sneak in through email messages and network connections. Though Windows malware doesn't affect Mac devices, it is easy to unknowingly send these threats to PC-using colleagues, family members, and friends. But a good antivirus program stops them while keeping your Mac safe.

How do I know if I have malware on my Mac?

If you start to notice really weird advertisements popping up in strange places on popular websites like YouTube, you might be infected. These ads tend to feature adult content or claim that a virus has been detected on your device and will often appear in places that you don't normally see ads.

You may discover that your personal email or social networking sites are sending out messages that you didn't write. If this happens, you should immediately change your password to stop any more messages being sent from your account.

If your Mac just isn't responding the way it should, you might have malware planted into your system somewhere. Sometimes, a program just won't load or will freeze. If it takes much longer for your Mac to wake up than it used to, there may be something lurking in the shadows.

You won't always know if you have a virus. Technology has improved for the bad guys just as much as it has improved for the good guys. There are viruses out there that are smart enough to know how to hide, deep in your system and work constantly to keep you from noticing it, all while performing malicious attacks. And once you're infected, it super easy for other devices connected to your network to become infected, too.

While you may think you don't need antivirus protection on your Mac, it is more important than ever, now that Apple has grown so popular. Even if you use a limited, free version, you will be doing yourself a favor that will keep you from the headache of cleaning out viruses in the future.

How can I protect my Mac right now?

The Mac operating system includes a number of security tools that help keep adware and malware off your computer, including default restrictions on opening apps from unidentified developers. If you stick to only downloading content from the Mac App Store and you are good about staying away from seedy websites, you can keep your computer secure from most virus issues.

In fact, Apple's security tools are why you'll hear many old-school Mac users say that you don't need anti-virus protection. The Mac is locked down pretty good, right out of the box.

However, there is more to protecting yourself than just avoiding bad apps and websites. You never know when you are going to pick something up that could create havoc on your Mac. That's why, for added protection, you should think about getting antivirus software.

Staff pick

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Protection against Mac and Windows malware

Bitdefender runs in the background deleting and eliminating Mac and Windows malware as it shows up. This protects both your Mac and friends' PCs from becoming infected. Bitdefender stops most threats before they download and includes phishing filters and a VPN.

Tech support recommended

Malwarebytes

Tech support's go-to

Malwarebytes is recommended by tech support at Apple who downloads this program to user's devices when contacted about performance issues. This software searches out malware and other exploiting viruses and blocks websites that are known to distribute malicious content.

Mac designed

Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9

A bundle of protection

Designed specifically for Mac devices, Intego is a popular antivirus kit that seamlessly integrates with your Mac. It comes with a powerful firewall, system scanner and scrubber, and parental controls to fully secure your computer. Most tools come as separate downloads so you decide which ones you really need.

Free Mac antivirus

Avast Essential Security for Mac

Free basic protection

Avast's Essential monitors your email messages for any phishing schemes, malicious links or downloads that could lead to a malware attack or identity theft. It also watches your network connection and stops hackers and snoops as they try to sneak in.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.