How to Turn Off Your Antivirus Software (and Reasons Why You Might)

There may be times you need to turn off your antivirus software. Learn how to do it and the potential consequences.
Patti Croft, Author
Melinda Sineriz, Editor
Last updated Sep 12, 2022

If you have antivirus software, there may be times you need to turn it off. Disabling the software can be done through the antivirus app, using your device or browser.

You can turn off your antivirus temporarily or permanently. Keep in mind that doing so leaves your device vulnerable to viruses, however. Here are the steps to turning off antivirus software along with the reasons why you might choose to do so.

In this article
How to turn off antivirus software by operating system or browser
How to turn off antivirus software by antivirus programs
Why turn off antivirus software?
FAQs
Bottom line

How to turn off antivirus software by operating system or browser

The steps for turning off your antivirus software may differ depending on the device and browser you use, your specific antivirus software, and the operating system you have.

There are some common steps to disabling antivirus, and we’ll discuss the most popular methods and programs below to give you a more complete picture.

Windows

If using a Windows operating system, follow these steps to turn off the antivirus software.

  1. Go to your taskbar notification area (also known as a system tray) located at the bottom of your screen, typically in the bottom right near the clock.

Screenshot of notification tray

  1. Select your antivirus program.
  2. Right-click on the program, then select Shut Down Protection or something similar.
  3. If prompted to confirm, click Yes.

You may need to open the program rather than right-clicking to disable the antivirus program.

Mac

When you want to turn off your antivirus software on your Mac, the simplest way is to use the Spotlight function. That will quickly take you to your apps and other items.

  1. Press the Command button and your spacebar at the same time. Type in your antivirus name.
  2. When the antivirus symbol or name appears, click it to get to the program’s interface.

Screenshot of Mac search bar

  1. Depending on the antivirus program, you will look for Stop, Turn off, or Disable. You can click any one of these options.

Screenshot of shutting down an antivirus on a Mac

  1. You may be asked to confirm the option. Click OK or Yes.

As a note, you may be able to find your antivirus on the menu bar, but that is not always the case. If you do, you can right-click the icon and select the antivirus you want to turn off. 

Android

Your steps for turning off your antivirus on an Android device may be slightly different depending on the version you have.

On Android versions older than 8.0, you can force the antivirus app to close. The next time you launch the app, it will run in the background. Follow these steps for Android devices older than version 8.0.

  1. Open your device’s settings.
  2. Go to Apps, then select the antivirus app you want to turn off and tap on it.
  3. Click Force Close.

If you are using Android version 8.0 or higher, the device requires apps to create a permanent notification to keep running in the background. If you use Android version 8.0 or higher, you will follow these steps:


1. Swipe down to open your notification tray.

2. Swipe left on your antivirus app’s permanent notification. Then tap the gear icon.

3. Turn the toggle off for Permanent Notification.

iPhone

When you’re ready to turn off your antivirus app on your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Find the antivirus app on your iPhone and click on it.
  2. Locate the Menu option and look for the word Disable or Stop.
  3. When you get prompted for confirmation, click on Yes or Confirm.

Chrome browser

You can download antivirus protection extensions to use with Google Chrome. When you want to turn off the antivirus software, you can remove the extension. Here’s how to easily remove the antivirus extension:

  1. Click the vertical dots in the top right corner of your browser window. Then click More Tools.
  2. Select Extensions, then choose the antivirus extension you want to remove.

Screenshot of turning off antivirus in the Chrome browser

  1. Click Remove.

How to turn off antivirus software by antivirus programs

Windows Defender

Windows Defender antivirus is a part of Windows Security for Windows 10 and 11 rather than a third-party antivirus application.

  1. Click on the Start button and scroll to Windows Security.
  2. Click on Windows Security.

Screenshot of Windows Security

  1. Go to Virus & threat protection.
  2. Under Virus & threat protection settings, select Manage settings.
  3. Switch Real-time protection to Off.

Avast

  1. Go to your Windows taskbar notification area.
  2. Right click on the Avast logo.

Screenshot of right clicking on Avast

  1. Hover over Avast shields control.

Hovering over Avast shields control

  1. Choose how long you want to keep Avast antivirus disabled and click OK Stop.

AVG

  1. Click on the AVG icon.
  2. Click on Computer Protected.

Screenshot of AVG interface

  1. Toggle off File Shield and Behavior Shield.

Screenshot of AVG interface

  1. Click how long you want the shield to be turned off.

Screenshot of AVG interface

Find out how AVG stacks up as an antivirus in our full AVG antivirus review.

Bitdefender

  1. Launch Bitdefender and go to the Protection section on the left side of the main interface.

Screenshot of Bitdefender interface

  1. Click Open under the Antivirus section.

Screenshot of Bitdefender interface

  1. Go to the Advanced tab and select Bitdefender Shield.

Screenshot of Bitdefender interface

  1. Choose how long you want to keep the antivirus disabled and click OK.

Screenshot of Bitdefender interface

Malwarebytes

  1. Right-click on your Malwarebytes icon. It is the “M” icon.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes logo on a computer

  1. Uncheck the selections under Real-Time Protection.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes interface

  1. Select Yes when it asks whether you allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your computer.

McAfee

  1. Right-click the McAfee icon in your taskbar notification area.

Screenshot of McAfee logo on a PC

  1. Go to Change settings, then Real-time Scanning from your menu.

Screenshot of change settings in McAfee

  1. In the Real-Time Scanning window, click on Turn off.

Screenshot of McAfee interface

Norton

  1. Right-click the Norton icon in your taskbar notification area and choose Disable Auto-Protect.

Screenshot of right clicking on Norton

  1. When the Security Request dialog appears, use the drop-down menu to Select the duration.

Screenshot of Norton security request

  1. Choose how long you want to disable the antivirus and click OK.

Trend Micro

  1. Right-click the Trend Micro icon in your taskbar notification area and click on Exit.

Screenshot of right clicking the Trend Micro logo

  1. If you can’t find your antivirus icon, click the arrow in your taskbar next to the notification area.

Webroot

  1. Right-click the taskbar notification area icon and click on Shut down Protection.
  2. When you get prompted to confirm, click Yes.

Why turn off antivirus software?

Even though antivirus software helps to protect your device from ransomware, spyware, and other threats, there are times it could be beneficial to turn it off.

For example, if you need to free up some disk space, you may want to turn off an antivirus program temporarily. Your antivirus software is always running in the background while scanning for anything suspicious, and that means it takes a lot of your device’s resources and uses the hardware to full capacity.

Sometimes you may want to install another program, and your antivirus software may block you from doing so. You may need to disable it while installing the other software.

Another reason you may want to turn off your antivirus software is that it may detect false positives, which can get frustrating if you’re in the middle of a big project and your antivirus program keeps flagging a file for quarantine.

You also may have some privacy concerns. Antivirus software helps keep your device secure, but it is not designed for privacy. When you use antivirus software, you allow that program complete access to all your files and web browsing.

It should be a rare occurrence that you turn off your antivirus. The best antivirus software helps protect your device from getting hit with malware. When you turn it off, that disables the software and leaves your device vulnerable to hackers.

FAQs


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Is it safe to disable antivirus software?

It is relatively safe to disable antivirus software if you are doing it for a short time and for a good reason. An example would be turning it off to install another program that is blocked by your antivirus software. Be sure to turn your antivirus software back on as soon as you can and keep it updated.


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How do I disable antivirus software without uninstalling?

You can disable or turn off antivirus software without uninstalling it by selecting the option to disable, stop, or turn off the program.


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How do I uninstall antivirus software?

There are different ways to uninstall your antivirus software. That will depend on your device, operating system, and the app or software you use. You can usually uninstall the software by removing the program or using the method recommended by the antivirus manufacturer.

Bottom line

There are different reasons you may want to turn off your antivirus software. You may want to improve your computer performance speed, install a program that your antivirus is blocking, or disable it while streaming files. On rare occasions, you may want to troubleshoot issues with your device and need to turn off the antivirus to get that done.

The good news is no matter what your reasons, turning off your antivirus is relatively easy. You can use our guide to disable the software and turn it back on whenever you want.

When you turn off your antivirus software, you should only do so temporarily, as leaving it off might make you vulnerable to internet hackers.

For more information on getting the best antivirus software, check out our article for some of the ones that offer the most protection.

Author Details
Patti Croft
Patti Croft has a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and an MBA. She's also a Certified Health Data Analyst through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Patti worked in Information Technology for 16 years and loves everything tech and gadgets!