Best 10 VPN’s for Mac OS
Apple Mac computers are becoming increasingly popular, and have been for a number of years. Therefore there is an increasing need to deploy a VPN to browse the web anonymously via your Mac, iPhone or iPad.
Last Updated on
Getting Started with a VPN for Mac
VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” and works pretty much the same on all devices. If you are new to the VPN space then check out our article “What is a VPN? (Beginners Guide)” to find out the ins and outs of a VPN service provider.
Firstly, you will need to choose a suitable VPN provider. We have outlined our 5 Top Pick VPNs for Mac below. However, our all-time favorite is ExpressVPN due to their sheer wealth of experience and servers based all around the world.
Once you are VPN savvy then it is time to get started with setting up a VPN for your Apple device.
Do Macs Support VPNs?
Interestingly enough Mac OS X itself actually supports connecting to the leading VPN providers directly. Additionally, you can automatically reconnect if you connect to a VPN that uses OpenVPN (OpenVPN is the industry VPN gold standard open-source security protocol that utilizes SSL/TLS for key exchange).
However, it is important to note that many VPNs offer their own browser extensions or apps that you can automatically install. Thus, negating the requirement to use this inbuilt feature on your Mac.
Starting out with Mac VPNs
If you are just starting out we would suggest that you use TunnelBear or ExpressVPN. They both provide their own apps that you can download easily via their site. The apps allow you to easily select VPN server locations and change settings.
TunnelBear is the most affordable with their completely “FREE – Little Bear” package that allows you to get started with no money down – additionally, if you sign up for a year you get their premium VPN service for just $4.99 per month. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, has a bigger network but is a bit more pricey in comparison.
How do I turn on my VPN on my Mac?
If you want to use the Mac OS Network control panel to connect and manage your VPN, then follow the 10 step process below:
- Click on the Apple menu
- Select System Preferences
- Click Network
- Click the Wi-Fi icon
- Select Open Network Preferences
- Click the plus sign button
- Select “VPN” in the Interface box.
- Choose the type of VPN server you are connecting to and in the “VPN Type” box fill in a nickname that you will remember to find your VPN
- Select “Show VPN status in menu bar” so that you can manage your VPN directly from your menu bar
- Click “Apply” to save your preferences
When you use a VPN directly from your Mac OS it will not automatically reconnect to your VPN on startup (if you are not using the app provided by your VPN). If you want to do this then you need to install a VPN AutoConnect app. You can easily download a VPN AutoConnect app from the app store.
What is the Best Free VPN for a Mac?
There are a lot of VPNs that work well for the Mac Operating System (OS), some paid and some free. Below I have outlined 5 of the best and also added information on what ones offer a completely free service. Express VPN is top of my list due to the sheer number of servers and the impressive speed and efficiency of their VPN service for Mac OS.
Mac users, of course, want the best VPN to protect their privacy and data, so we took it upon ourselves to find the best VPN for macs in this eye-opening VPN services list.
#1 | NordVPN – Best VPN for Mac ($3.49/Month)
Nord VPN is a real tough cookie to crack when it comes to privacy. Mac users will enjoy a 256-bit AES encryption private and secure connection, promoting a strict zero logs policy, so none of your data will be kept on file.
Mac users will love Nord VPN’s iOS App to ensure all of their devices are safe and secure with 6 devices simultaneously running off your WiFi. Whatsmore is Mac users can pay with bitcoin payments so every aspect of the process is kept private.
Nord VPN may not be the cheapest option but it does offer 700 servers over 57 countries, including South America and South-East Asia. Nord VPN is easy to use, easy to set up, and offers Mac users attractive features for keeping their privacy online.
#2 | ExpressVPN
Due to their high performance and stability, Mac VPN services need to respond rapidly and provide ultra-fast servers with access across the world. With servers in over 142 server locations, Express VPN is true to its’ name, providing the speediest VPN services available.
Express VPN allows Mac users to access their favorite shows on Netflix anywhere in the world, access to stream your favorite movies, and keeps you safe and secure on public WiFi. They offer some cutting-edge features such as a kill switch, split tunneling, advanced leak protection and they provide OpenVPN as standard.
Another reason that ExpressVPN is our go-to Mac VPN is the handy shortcut feature so that you can quickly jump on to your favorite services (right below the on button).
Express VPN is available for Mac users from as little as $8.32/mo with 24/7 customer support, including live chat, 256-bit AES encryption, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It may not be the cheapest, but Express VPN works side by side with your Apple products, providing a top-notch secure connection anytime, anywhere.
(You can also check out an in-depth review of ExpressVPN)
#3 | Private Internet Access
From only $3.33/mo, Private Internet Access (PIA) offers an extremely affordable VPN service that can be applied to 5 licenses to be used simultaneously across multiple devices, such as, Mac and iOS.
PIA offers a seven-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to pay for their services with any major credit card, PayPal, and even Bitcoin. With Private Internet Access, you can encrypt your data with up to AES-256, authenticate it with SHA256, and handshake with RSA 4096.
If you’re looking for live support, PIA no longer offers this, however, their ticket support system is fast and responsive and they offer step by step video guides in their knowledgebase. PIA’s settings and encryption choices are easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to understand.
#4 | TunnelBear
TunnelBear is most certainly a quirky alternative when it comes to VPN services, with a range of pricing plans to suit all Mac users. For starters, TunnelBear offers a free plan to give you a taster of the full package, with no restrictions other than usage.
TunnelBear is true to their word when they say they only keep minimal connection logs and present an easy to use and easy to understand process for any user. From only $4.16/mo if you pay yearly, TunnelBear will give you a VPN service that will protect your Mac and multiple devices on an unlimited basis.
If you’re desperate for speed, however, TunnelBear may not be your best option as they are based in Canada, and if you don’t like their services, they don’t offer any refunds due to their free plan.
On the flip-side, your Mac VPN servers are available in 20 different countries so you’ll enjoy bypassing geo-restrictions all over the world. Strong 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption with SHA256 authentication is used in addition to TunnelBear’s kill switch, so you’ll be protected even if the connection drops.
#5 | VyprVPN
VyprVPN has servers in over 70 countries, making it highly accessible across the world for only £4.08/mo if you pay annually. What’s more is that VyprVPN offers a 3-day free trial so you can test their security and privacy waters without being locked into any commitments.
VyprVPN have a great support network across multiple platforms, including Mac and iOS, and is an idea choice for beginners. Their services configure automatically and offer an easy to use interface with no detrimental effect to the speed they offer.
One of the main benefits of VyprVPN for Mac users is that they use a technology called Chameleon which drastically reduces recognizable data to hackers and makes it a brilliant choice for users in countries with restrictive governments.
With over 700 servers based across the world, Mac users can enjoy the freedom of streaming from multiple devices whilst protecting their geolocation, privacy, and security.
#6 | Surfshark
Surfshark provide a quality Mac VPN at a low price. Once you’ve decided you love Surfshark, you can sign up to their 24 month plan from just £1.59 per month (that really is a bargain). Their Mac application offers a Quick Connect option. This will connect you to one of their servers in a matter of seconds, getting you online ASAP.
You’ll be able to access over 800 servers across 50 countries. You can do this on unlimited devices, including Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome, Android, Firefox, and through your router. Apart from Android, all of their apps support kill switch, offering even more protection.
Surfshark supports an ad-free zone with no trace or tracking. I’ve personally tested their no-log policy and can confirm it actually works. You can swap protocols from OpenVPN to IKEv2/IPsec with ease in only a few clicks.
Many people use a VPN to access streaming sites like Netflix. I’ve tested this and can report that Netflix works on a wide range of servers, including various U.S. locations and Asia. If you’re in the market for torrenting, this is also accessible as well as TOR.
In terms of speed, I did find this a little inconsistent at times. When I connected to a European server, my connection dropped around 15 Mbps. This became even worse on a U.S. server with nearly a 50% drop.
Saying that, their prices are incredibly low, so I’m finding it hard to complain. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee should you not be happy with your service. Surfshark allow you to pay for their services in multiple ways including PayPal and cryptocurrency.
#7 | ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN has over 300 servers you can access across 33 countries. Whilst they may not offer a huge selection of servers, they do have some free-to-access ones. They’ve also made it very easy to access their servers through their Mac application, with a few simple clicks.
If you don’t want to search through their servers, they have a Quick Connect button. They have support for plenty of devices including Mac, iOs, Android, Linux and Windows. Their standard pricing plan support up to 5 devices.
ProtonVPN’s pricing plans are pretty generous in my opinion. As I said earlier, they have a free option which is always nice. Their basic plan is $4 per month and will allow you to connect to 2 devices. Their plus plan would be my recommendation at $8 per month. You’ll have access to high speed servers, TOR servers, P2P and can connect 5 devices.
The Mac application will be set to a default OpenVPN protocol with AES-256 encryption. Unfortunately this is the only protocol on offer, so this may not suit your needs. ProtonVPN provide a strict no-logging policy which is what we like to see! I’ve tested this and couldn’t find any leaks on our connection.
Similar to Surfshark, our speed tests made the whole thing feel a little flat. Ranging from the U.K. to U.S., Asia and Switzerland, our speeds were dropping by up to 80% in some cases. This is far from ideal, but if you don’t mind a slow connection, their prices are quite good.
Streaming Netflix didn’t present any issues on some of the servers, but others failed. If you want to torrent, there are restrictions to certain P2P servers. ProtonVPN seem to offer quite a lot and some decent features, but their performance is somewhat lacking.
#8 | IPVanish
IPVanish’s Mac application is packed full of features. It’s fully customisable with a wealth of settings to dig through. At first this may seem a little overwhelming and can take a while to configure. But once you’ve got everything setup, your experience should be pretty flawless.
IPVanish have over 1200 servers across 60 countries. This makes it high up on the list in terms of what’s on offer connection wise. You can connect up to 10 devices with unlimited bandwidth and a strict no log policy.
There’s plenty of protocols to use including OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP. Their OpenVPN has AES-256 encryption, so this would be my recommendation. If you don’t want to download an app, they have a SOCKS proxy server, offering complete privacy.
They ‘advertise’ that you can access torrenting and TOR with over 40,000 shared IPs. However, when we tried to connect to Netflix, we encountered a few issues. 1 in 4 servers seemed to work, so it might take some fiddling around in order to find one that is suitable for you.
Their speeds weren’t horrendous but they weren’t the best either. U.S. connections dropped to just over 30 Mbps which meant we could still use the VPN effectively, but not optimal performance.
IPVanish currently have a 50% off sale, meaning you can get a VPN from $3.25 per month (if you sign up for 1 year). If you only want to commit to 3 months, you’re looking at $4.50 per month, and $5 per month if you want to do it on a month-by-month basis. In terms of pricing, this is very affordable and it’s certainly worth giving them a go!
#9 | Windscribe
Windscribe’s Mac application is simple to use. All you need to do is click on the Windscribe icon at the top and the window will open. There’s a variety of server options to choose from and it will connect you to one within a matter of seconds.
They have over 500 servers across 60 countries. You can access these on many devices including Mac, iOS, Linux, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Amazon, routers, and Kodi. You can generate OpenVPN, IKEv2 and SOCKS configs for all your devices.
Windscribe operate a strict no-logging policy and our tests confirmed this. If you’re looking for some fancy browser extensions, you can activate cruise control, ad blocking, timezone spoofing, and double hop. Double hop lets you proxy your connection through 2 servers on the Windscribe network.
I have absolutely no doubt that Windscribe provides a secure and private connection. However, when it comes to speed, again we’re let down slightly. Their EU servers had almost a 50% drop in connection speeds. This seems to be fairly common with VPNs and is becoming quite frustrating.
On the flip side, if you want to access Netflix, you’ll need to use something called Windflix. This will connect you to Netflix servers (as their standard ones don’t work). The same is said for torrenting too, but at least you can physically connect.
#10 | CyberGhost
CyberGhost is a cracking VPN for Mac. They have over 3,500 servers across 60 countries. One of the things they offer which I love is live chat support. Not all VPNs offer this, and not all of them may need it, but it’s a bonus in my opinion.
They run a no-log policy with a kill switch, so you can be reassured your privacy and security is protected. If you’re looking for a VPN for the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or similar, CyberGhost automatically connects you to the best server. You won’t experience any adverts and your activity won’t be tracked.
Previously, one of the big issues with CyberGhost was their Mac application. The interface was hard to use, but has recently been improved. Saying that, because it’s been updated, it does seem to slow things down. When we tried to connect to servers further away in the U.S. or Asia, speeds dropped significantly.
Thankfully CyberGhost provide a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. I don’t think you’ll need it, but it’s nice to have if things do go wrong. Prices start from just £2.10 per month if you sign up for a 3 year plan. If you don’t want to commit to at least 1 year with CyberGhost, their monthly cost is £10.29 per month which I feel is a little steep.
But, if it’s security you’re looking for, CyberGhost certainly excel in this area. They have 256 encryption, WiFi protection, ad blocking, and protection from malicious content. If you want to try CyberGhost out, they offer a 24 hour free trial, so it’s worth giving that a go first.
OK now you have selected the best VPN to fit your requirements, now it is time to put it to the test…
How to set up a VPN on your Mac, iPhone or iPad
It is really easy to set up most of the top VPNs on your Mac, iPhone or iPad. All of the top VPN providers offer easy to install applications. All you have to do is go to their website and pick the best plan for you.
Take Express VPN for example
- Firstly you select the “Get Started” button and then head off to their order page.
- Select your Subscription on the ExpressVPN on the order page
- Download and install the ExpressVPN app for Mac
- Then you simply connect to any of their 148 server locations
Once you have installed the app then there is a simple 3-Step configuration process before you can quickly get on and surf anonymously.
All in All
A VPN is a great investment that will keep you safe while browsing the web. You will be able to surf the web anonymously and also access blocked content. The best Mac VPN providers have dedicated Mac Apps. The best Mac VPNs use OpenVPN as standard to provide the best security and highest performance.
It is also good to check that your VPN has a Network Lock kill switch, offering further protection and security if your connection unexpectedly drops.
If you want to get started for free, try TunnelBear – or if you are all in then we would suggest ExpressVPN as your Mac VPN provider.