With all the new security warnings about Macs needing virus protection, I thought it a good time to note an antivirus app I’ve used for a few years, now. Let’s start this tip off with a bit of a disclaimer, though. Please don’t sue me (or Cult Of Mac) if you use this free app and get a virus on your Mac, okay? Today’s tip is just that: a quick tip to make you aware of a free antivirus app that runs on your Mac and costs nothing. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
That said, I’ve had pretty good luck with the app in the several years I’ve used ClamX AV, both on my Mac and the version for Windows computers on my *cough* gaming PC *cough*. The virus definitions seem to update often and regularly, and while I’ve not had it catch a virus, that’s not the point. For me, having free, up-to-date virus protection software on my computer is important.
If you freely choose to download this app, head on over to the Mac App Store and search for ClamXav, or hit the link I added to the app name above. The app will download and install to the Launchpad, where you can click to launch it. It can also be found in the Applications folder.
When you launch ClamXav for the first time, it will prompt you to download the most recent virus definitions. This could take a while, depending on your internet speed and the size of the .cvd file that the app uses to scan your files.
Once the updated virus definitions file has been downloaded, ClamXav is ready to scan your files. You can click on one of the pre-defined folders on the left – your home folder, Documents, Desktop – or you can add your own directory to scan, including your entire hard drive, by clicking on the little plus button in the lower left.
Click on the preferences tab, or hit Command-comma on your keyboard, to customize the settings. The General tab will let you have the app audibly alert you when it’s done and update virus definitions at launch or not. I suggest enabling that with a quick click on the checkbox.
The Quarantine tab will let you define a folder that ClamXav will watch continuously for viruses. I usually make my Downloads folder a Quarantine area. You can also exclude files from being scanned, but I tend to leave that alone. You can schedule ClamXav to run at set times, and you can read the log files if you suspect anything fishy going on.
Bottom line, you have to decide whether a free app is your answer for Mac virus protection on your own; I’m just a tipster, not a virus specialist. For those of you looking for a free antivirus app, this just might be the one you want.
Got an OS X tip? Need help troubleshooting OS X? Drop me a line or leave a comment below.