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How To Disable McAfee Antivirus: A Comprehensive Guide

McAfee is one of the most popular antivirus software providers, with millions of users worldwide relying on their products to protect their devices. However, there are times when you may need to temporarily disable your McAfee antivirus for troubleshooting purposes or before installing new programs.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the steps to disable McAfee antivirus on both Windows and Mac operating systems. We’ll also provide instructions on how to disable specific McAfee components like the firewall and WebAdvisor browser extension. Finally, we’ll suggest some of the best McAfee alternatives in case you decide their software isn’t right for you.

How to Disable McAfee Antivirus on a Mac

Disabling your McAfee security software on a Mac takes just a few steps. We’ll cover how to disable the main consumer antivirus suites: McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe.

How to Disable McAfee Total Protection or LiveSafe

  1. Click the McAfee icon in the top menu bar. This is the white "M" in the red shield. If you don‘t see it, click the magnifying glass and search for McAfee. Open the McAfee antivirus program.

  2. Click on the Total Protection Console or LiveSafe Console depending on your specific product.

  3. In the console, click the Home tab.

  4. Click the gear icon in the top right to open Settings.

  5. Click Real-Time Scanning. This will open the Real-Time Scanning settings window.

  6. Disable Real-Time Scanning by clicking the lock icon, entering your admin password, and toggling the switch off.

  7. Click the gear icon again and open Firewall settings. Disable the Firewall the same way.

  8. Repeat this process to disable Automatic Updates and Scheduled Scans.

  9. For Scheduled Scans, click the gear icon, enter your admin password, and change the frequency to Never to prevent automatic re-enabling.

  10. Disable any other security modules like SiteAdvisor in the same way.

  11. Close the preferences window. McAfee antivirus should now be fully disabled on your Mac.

How to Disable McAfee Antivirus on Windows

On Windows, the steps to disable McAfee antivirus depend on which specific product you have installed. We’ll go through the steps for McAfee Security Center, Total Protection, LiveSafe, and the enterprise VirusScan console.

How to Disable McAfee Security Center

  1. Right click the McAfee "M" icon in your system tray.

  2. Hover over Change Settings and click Real-time Scanning.

  3. In the Real-Time Scanning window, click the Turn off button.

  4. In the drop-down menu, select Never to prevent automatic re-enabling.

  5. Right-click the McAfee icon again, go to Change Settings > Firewall.

  6. Turn off the Firewall and set to Never resume.

How to Disable McAfee Total Protection

  1. Open the McAfee Total Protection program.

  2. Click the PC Security tab.

  3. On the left sidebar, click Real-Time Scanning.

  4. In the pop-up window, click Turn Off and set to Never resume.

  5. Repeat for Firewall and other security modules like Automatic Updates and Scheduled Scans.

How to Disable McAfee LiveSafe

  1. Open the McAfee LiveSafe application.

  2. Click the My Protection tab on the left.

  3. Select Real-Time Scanning and click Turn Off, choosing when to resume.

  4. Under Protect Your PC, click Firewall and turn it off the same way.

How to Disable McAfee VirusScan Enterprise

  1. Right-click the McAfee system tray icon and choose VirusScan Console.

  2. Right-click the following modules and select Disable:

    • Access Protection
    • On-Delivery Email Scanner
    • On-Access Scanner

Be sure to check with your IT or network admin before disabling any enterprise security software.

How to Disable McAfee WebAdvisor in Your Browser

McAfee WebAdvisor is a browser extension that blocks malicious websites. If you want to temporarily disable it:

  1. Open your preferred web browser – Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.

  2. Click the menu icon in the top right corner.

  3. Go to Extensions or Add-ons.

  4. Disable or remove the WebAdvisor extension.

Repeat for all browsers that have WebAdvisor installed.

How to Completely Uninstall McAfee Antivirus

If you want to permanently remove McAfee from your computer, follow these uninstall steps:

Uninstalling on macOS

App Uninstall Method

  1. Quit all McAfee processes and services.

  2. Go to Finder > Applications and drag McAfee to the Trash.

  3. Open Activity Monitor and end any remaining McAfee processes.

  4. Restart your Mac.

  5. Use a cleanup utility like AppCleaner to remove any leftover files.

Terminal Uninstall Method

  1. Open Terminal and enter one of the following commands:

    sudo /Library/McAfee/cma/ 

    (For McAfee v4.8)


    sudo /Library/McAfee/cma/scripts/

    (For McAfee v5.x)

  2. Press Enter and wait for the uninstall to finish.

  3. Restart your Mac when complete.

  4. Use App Cleaner to remove any remaining traces.

Uninstalling on Windows

Control Panel Uninstall

  1. Open Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a Program

  2. Select your McAfee product and click Uninstall/Change.

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to uninstall.

Settings App Uninstall

  1. Open Settings > Apps > Apps & Features

  2. Select your McAfee product and click Uninstall.

MCPR Tool Uninstall

  1. Download the McAfee Consumer Product Removal tool.

  2. Run the MCPR tool and follow the prompts to uninstall McAfee.

  3. Restart your computer when complete.

3 Best McAfee Antivirus Alternatives

If you decide to replace McAfee completely, consider these top-rated alternatives:

1. Bitdefender Antivirus

Bitdefender is our #1 pick for best antivirus software of 2023. It offers excellent malware protection and includes extras like device optimization tools, parental controls, a VPN, and dark web monitoring.

Get Bitdefender | Read Our Bitdefender Review

2. Norton 360 Antivirus

Norton 360 is a household name in antivirus software. It provides real-time threat protection, a VPN, dark web monitoring, 50GB of cloud backup, and more security features.

Get Norton 360 | Read Our Norton Review

3. Kaspersky Total Security

Kaspersky is a top antivirus choice with real-time malware defense, ransomware protection, parental controls, a hardened web browser, and a password manager.

Get Kaspersky | Read Our Kaspersky Review

FAQs About Disabling McAfee Antivirus

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about disabling McAfee security products:

How do I temporarily turn off McAfee antivirus on Windows 10?

  • Right click the McAfee system tray icon > Change Settings > Real-Time Scanning > Turn Off
  • Repeat for Firewall, Automatic Updates, etc. Set to "Never" resume.

What is the best way to uninstall McAfee completely?

  • Use the official McAfee Consumer Product Removal tool. It cleans all registry entries and program files.

Does turning off McAfee disable the firewall too?

  • No, the firewall must be disabled separately in the software settings. Turning off the main antivirus real-time scan does not affect the firewall.

Is it safe to disable McAfee temporarily?

  • It can be safe for short periods if you re-enable protection shortly after. Do not leave your device unprotected for extended times.

What is the best free McAfee antivirus alternative?

  • Avast Free Antivirus provides excellent protection at no cost. But for full security, Bitdefender or Kaspersky offer more features.

What happens if I uninstall McAfee without using the removal tool?

  • Leftover registry entries and files may cause problems. Uninstall issues are more likely without using the proper MCPR removal tool.

The Bottom Line

McAfee antivirus can usually be disabled easily through the software interface settings. Just be sure to turn it back on promptly after completing your required task. Don‘t leave your computer unprotected indefinitely.

If you want a fresh antivirus solution, top choices like Bitdefender, Norton, and Kaspersky provide airtight security with extra features lacking in McAfee. And you can always fall back to a free antivirus like Avast in a pinch.

But no matter what antivirus you use, make sure some form of protection is active at all times. Malware lurks everywhere online, so stay vigilant against the endless cybersecurity threats aiming to compromise your devices and data.


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.