If your Mac is acting strangely, it may have a virus. It’s understandable if you’re perplexed because many people believe Mac computers are virus-free. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for your Mac to be infected with a virus.

Even though Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is one of the most secure today, many malicious programs (malware) have been developed to attack it. In 2020, AV-TEST discovered 674,000 new pieces of malware, a tenfold increase over the previous year and a strong indication that Mac viruses are on the rise.

Types of Malware That May Infect a Mac

Your Mac may be infected with various viruses, each with a unique set of issues. But in terms of viruses if it is Mac vs PC, then surely mac is less attacked with viruses. Among the several kinds of malware are the following:

  • Adware
  • Spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Trojan Horse


Adware is a kind of virus that causes many adverts to open in and out of your web browser. Ads that attempt to get you to click on a link and install a program to treat a virus on your Mac are common.


Malware, known as “spyware,” can lurk on your Mac for lengthy periods, observing what you do to steal your personal information. Using this data for advertising, fraud, or even accessing your bank accounts is possible. The prevalence of spyware programs on mobile devices is rising, even though many iPhone users think of these apps as viruses.


Ransomware may slow down your Mac or bombard you with notifications, then attempt to compel you to comply with particular requests (typically paying for a fraudulent “service”).

Trojan Horse

Any other type of malware that fools you into downloading and installing it by seeming to be something else is a trojan horse. A phishing scam may induce you to install bogus MacDefender, MacProtector, or MacSecurity software on your computer.

What Security Measures Does Apple take to Protect its Products?

XProtect is Apple’s anti-malware software that helps protect from viruses.

Apple takes security very seriously. They take it seriously enough to provide a Security Bounty, which will reward the finder of any security weaknesses in Apple’s system with $1 million. Apple has developed macOS with sophisticated capabilities to defend your Mac from most malware infestations. The following are some of the resources at your disposal:

  • Gatekeeper
  • Notarization
  • XProtect
  • Anti-malware program
  • Automated updates for security


The first line of defense against malware on your Mac is Gatekeeper. Updating your Mac is made easier with this feature, which isolates newly installed software from the rest of your system until Apple certifies that it is safe to use. When Apple notarizes an app, it is guaranteed to be safe to use, and the notarized version must be the same as the unnotarized version.

Gatekeeper is also responsible for the warnings you receive when you start a new app for the first time. These warnings imply that malware can’t run in the background without Gatekeeper asking for your permission.


When an app is approved for the App Store, it is scanned for malware and notarized if the results are positive. So, when you install new software on your Mac, Apple will be able to compare it to a notarized version to see whether there have been any modifications made.

In addition, if the program is not authenticated, Apple will block the installation and warn you of its dangers.


On your Mac, XProtect is Apple’s built-in anti-malware software. Every time an app is started or updated, a scan is performed to search for the most recent known malware. Malware will be blocked, and a warning will be sent to you if XProtect discovers it on your computer and you don’t delete it.

Anti-Malware Program

Malware that has found its way into your system files may be removed automatically using Apple’s Malware Removal Tool (MRT). The MRT will instantly eliminate the virus as soon as XProtect identifies a new danger in the background.

Automated Updates for Security

Installing the latest security updates is one of the greatest ways to keep your Mac safe from new viruses. As new malware is uncovered, Apple works tirelessly to fix the security weaknesses that caused the virus to exist. However, if you don’t have the most recent update, you won’t benefit from the updates.

Thanks to automated updates, you don’t have to worry about keeping your Mac up to date with the latest security concerns. Even if you’re not running the newest version of macOS, these upgrades will safeguard your Mac against new viruses.

Signs That Your Mac is Affected by Virus

Slower Execution Time

A slowdown in the performance of your smartphone or individual applications may indicate a problem. If this is the case, your Mac may have become part of a botnet, which might allow it to participate in a DDoS attack or engage in crypto-jacking. This additional activity slows down your computer.

Mysterious New Tools or Applications

If you detect additional programs or files added to your system without your authorization, this is a symptom of malware. A new homepage may also appear due to unexpected changes to settings.

Ads and Pop-ups Abound

Even if you are not connected to the internet, the adware may cause a deluge of adverts and pop-ups to bombard you. That’s something to watch if you detect an increase in inactivity.

Lower Storage Space

If malware has inadvertently been placed on your device, it will eat up storage. This implies that there will be less room for reputable applications and services. A rapid reduction in storage capacity might be a clue that your device has been tampered with.


Many apps are running in the background while your computer heats up. This might be a sign of malware lurking on your computer if it occurs when you are surfing the web or conversing with pals.

Inexplicable Conduct

Your Mac may be infected with some kind of malware, which may cause your computer to crash and freeze regularly. These symptoms, taken individually, aren’t always conclusive. There are several reasons for poor performance, such as an overcrowded Mac, so it’s good to eliminate unnecessary files to see if it helps.

Is an Antivirus Necessary on a Mac?

Even with all of the precautionary measures Apple takes, Macs are still able to be infected with viruses.

Most Mac users don’t need third-party antivirus software because of Apple’s built-in features. There are still certain precautions that you should take, such as not downloading files from the internet or installing new programs. If you deal with sensitive data on your Mac, installing antivirus software from a third-party vendor may be a good idea. However, if you only want to beef up your security software, you may do so.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering, “Can Macs catch viruses?” the answer is, unfortunately, yes. Cybercriminals may infect Apple devices even if Apple does a superb job protecting them from common threats.

Macs are pre-configured to search for available software updates and send you an email when new versions are ready for download. Since these updates include the most up-to-date security features, downloading and installing them is critical to preventing viruses and other issues.

Can Mac Actually Get Viruses? Myth vs Reality FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How likely is it to get a virus on a Mac?

Malware may infect your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Mini. Macs are less susceptible than Windows systems, although they can be hacked.

Is Apple safer than Windows?

Users believe Macs are impregnable to fraudsters preparing malware assaults. Reality is murkier. Both systems are insecure, according to data.

Can a Mac get viruses from websites?

Macs may catch malware and viruses. Macs are less prone to malware than PCs, but macOS’s built-in security protections can’t protect users from all internet dangers.

Can a Mac get a Trojan virus?

Macs and PCs have Trojan horses. Cybercriminals disguise this virus as genuine software you download.

Does updating Mac remove viruses?

Apple provided a free software upgrade (Security Update 2011-003) that automatically removes Mac Defender malware.

How do I clean my Mac from viruses?

CleanMyMac X scans for macOS-specific malware, adware, and ransomware. One-click erases evil programs.

  • Available here: https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/threats/adware