For Mac users who value their privacy and online independence, or who want to access region-restricted content, VPNs have become indispensable.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, encrypts all internet data on a device and passes it via an intermediate server in a location of your choice. In this post, we’ll examine the top VPN for Mac users on an all-around basis. This means they’re ideal for circumventing censorship, securing public wifi, unblocking region-locked websites and applications (Netflix, BBC, Amazon Prime Video, etc.), torrenting, and using Kodi. They’re compatible with all Macbook models, including the Macbook Air, Macbook Retina, and Macbook Pro. All previous macOS versions should be supported.
Best VPN for Mac and Macbooks
When it comes to selecting a VPN for your Mac, customers are spoilt for options. Almost every VPN service has a macOS client, but only a select handful are worth your time and money.
NordVPN has over 5,000 servers situated in several countries, with roughly half of them in the United States. The VPN maintains no records of your connection or activities and is encrypted to military-grade standards. On the website, live customer support is offered. Built-in features include an app-specific kill switch, a global kill switch, and DNS leak prevention. You may establish multiple concurrent connections.
NordVPN offers dedicated servers for a variety of purposes, including anti-DDoS protection, double-hop VPN, Tor over VPN, and ultra-fast optimized servers for streaming. All of them are shown in the app’s server list. Additionally, NordVPN unblocks several popular geo-restricted streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. Although not all servers can unblock certain websites and applications, you can typically find out which ones to connect to by searching the NordVPN knowledge base.
At the time of writing, NordVPN had two distinct macOS applications. One is available for download from the official NordVPN website and uses the OpenVPN protocol. NordVPN refers to this as its “legacy” software and advises Mac users to use other NordVPN apps accessible through the Apple App Store. This version replaces OpenVPN with IKEv2, which is not open source but is widely regarded as a fast and secure protocol. Although the IKEv2 NordVPN app is somewhat more secure than the OpenVPN version, use whichever works best for you.
Additionally, applications are available for Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Methodology: Identifying the best Mac VPN
There are an almost infinite number of VPNs available, but it pays to be selective about which one you use. That is because they all have unique performance, reliability, and security characteristics. To ensure that we only offer the finest VPN services, we evaluated how Mac customers would likely use their VPN and compiled a list of critical areas where the service must excel:
- macOS and iOS support: At the very least, we demand beginner-friendly macOS and iOS applications. Additionally, although certain functions, such as a kill switch, may be absent from iOS, many features should be included in all versions.
- Performance: We conduct speed testing monthly to determine which VPN is the quickest and how they’ve progressed since the last time. Naturally, we’d suggest only services that are fast enough for things such as live streaming, torrenting, and video conferencing.
- Anti-censorship: Our worldwide team compares VPNs to a variety of geo-restricted services to determine which are the most effective at circumventing regional limitations. Additionally, we appreciate companies that provide technologies designed expressly for circumventing mass monitoring in countries like China.
- Server locations: The more server locations your VPN offers, the more services you can access. Additionally, the likelihood of you having a nearby server increases, reducing the likelihood of experiencing excessive latency when connected.
- Security and privacy are two areas in which we will make no concessions. The VPN that we suggest must have unbreakable encryption, security against DNS and IPv6 leaks, and a no-logs policy. This is a starting point, and we emphasize services that go above and above.
- Pricing: A significant part of our duty is to ensure you never pay more than is necessary. This is why we regularly evaluate the pricing of VPNs against that of their competitors. Additionally, we’ll constantly inform you of any available bargains, discounts, free trials, or money-back guarantees.
How to configure a VPN on macOS
Setting up a VPN is similar to installing any other sort of application on macOS; just follow the instructions below.
- Choose a reputable VPN service; we suggest NordVPN in particular.
- Download the VPN client from the website of your provider.
- To install it, double-click the downloaded file. Confirm any pop-up windows that may occur.
- Launch the VPN application from the Applications menu or the bottom dock.
- To log in, enter your username and password. Depending on your provider, further verification may be required during the first setup.
- Choose a VPN server in the country from which you desire to access the internet.
- Select the server by double-clicking it or by pressing the Connect button.
- Allow for the establishment of the link.
That concludes our discussion! You can now pirate anonymously, unlock geo-restricted content, and secure public wifi connections, among other things. You may verify that it is functioning properly by Googling “What is my IP?” While the VPN is on, your IP address should be different.
Is it necessary to use a free VPN on my Mac?
For a variety of reasons, we strongly advise against using ostensibly “free” VPN services. To begin with, they are sluggish or restrict downloads. Most free VPNs impose data transfer limitations and bandwidth restrictions that are excessive for anything more than basic web browsing.
Second, free VPNs sometimes have lax privacy policies. They may, for example, use outdated encryption or maintain records of your behavior. Some companies even insert tracking cookies and advertisements into your browser and sell your browsing information to other parties. This is the opposite of what VPNs are intended to do.
Finally, free VPNs often include spyware that, once installed, infects your Macbook. Consider paying for a VPN provider with a solid reputation and stringent privacy standards.
Issues with free Mac VPN services
GoVPN bills itself as a completely free VPN for Mac and iOS devices. It is still uncertain what this program does. However, it does not seem to be connected to a VPN provider. It will assert that it is linked to a VPN, but your computer’s IP address will remain accessible to any website on the internet. Avoid it at all costs.
Fresh VPN provides a seven-day free trial of its service. Regrettably, the free trial period is much shorter than NordVPN’s 30 days. It is barely five minutes long. Seriously, that is all they are going to provide for testing and evaluation of their service on a Mac. There is insufficient time for a thorough examination, which demonstrates the vendor’s lack of confidence in the goods on sale.
If you search for “VPN” in the Mac software store, you’ll get a huge number of results, including some that promise to be free. Most of these free VPNs involve “In-App Purchases,” unreliable connections, or even outright spyware in some manner. Some commercial VPNs even include advertising in their free or trial versions. Expect to face download constraints, bandwidth restrictions, and lineups.
Why should Mac users use VPNs?
While macOS is usually regarded as a safe operating system, there are still several reasons for Mac users to use VPNs. While Macs are less prone to viruses than PCs, they are just as vulnerable to online dangers and obstacles:
- Governments, companies, and hackers are all spying on your internet behavior.
- Interception, modification, or diversion of your internet connection.
- Geo-restricted content, such as films and content that may be seen only in certain countries.
- Websites and mobile applications that keep track of your location and device’s IP address.
- Governments and companies restrict the internet.
The primary purpose of using a VPN on a Mac is to increase privacy. The security and privacy features of your Macbook are limited to the data stored on it. Once data is sent across the internet, it may lose its security and privacy. Your internet service provider or a hacker using a public wi-fi network may be able to monitor your online behavior. This information might be used against you in a variety of ways, such as your ISP restricting your bandwidth as a punishment for using P2P software, or a hacker executing a man-in-the-middle assault on your computer to dump malware payload.
Apart from the obvious privacy and security advantages, VPNs are indispensable for unblocking geo-restricted content. If you want to view a film or use an app that is only accessible to users in a certain nation, for example, you can simply change the location of your VPN server to that country and connect to it to access the content. This works regardless of whether the website is being blocked by the government, your ISP, or the website itself.
Certain applications and websites, such as Netflix and Hulu, have identified VPN users and are preventing them from streaming content from outside. However, a few Mac VPN providers have devised a solution that allows their customers to circumvent the VPN prohibition and watch from anywhere in the globe. For example, ExpressVPN and NordVPN both unblock Netflix and Hulu on certain servers.
How to configure a VPN manually on a Mac
Although we favor OpenVPN and Wireguard as VPN protocols, Macs do not provide built-in support for them. You may have set up a third-party VPN client, but this often involves manually configuring each server, which is time-consuming. It’s much more convenient to install a provider’s bespoke software, which comes pre-configured with all the servers you’ll need, as well as additional features like a kill switch and DNS leak prevention.
If your VPN provider does not provide a client application or you prefer not to utilize third-party VPN software, Mac users have a few manual VPN configuration choices. We’ll walk you through the process of setting up three of the most popular:
- Built-in VPN support (L2TP)
- Tunnelblick (OpenVPN)
- Viscosity (OpenVPN)
How to configure L2TP VPN on macOS
L2TP/IPSec is a VPN protocol that comes pre-installed on Macs and provides similar performance and security to OpenVPN. To configure an L2TP VPN connection, you’ll need the following information from your VPN provider:
- Your VPN provider’s username and password (username or email and password).
- The IP addresses of the VPN servers in each location to which you want to connect.
- The shared secret OR certificate of the VPN provider.
With this information in hand, proceed as follows:
- To begin with, go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Network icon.
- To add a new network interface, click + in the bottom left corner.
- Select VPN from the Interface drop-down list.
- Select L2TP over IPSec from the VPN Type drop-down selection.
- Type a name for this VPN connection in the Service Name area (can be anything you like).
- After clicking Create, the VPN configuration window will display.
- Enter the VPN server address in the Server Address box using the default setup.
- In the Account Name area, enter the username for your VPN account.
- Select Authentication Options.
- Type your VPN account’s password in the Password box.
- Select Shared Secret and input the pre-shared key if you are using a shared secret (a.k.a. shared secret or secret key).
- If you’re using a certificate, click Certificate, then pick and locate the certificate for your VPN service.
- To apply the changes, click Apply.
- The VPN is now configured; all that remains is for you to connect. To access the Network icon, go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Network icon.
- In the Network box, choose the VPN connection you made.
- Connect by clicking.
How to configure Tunnelblick on a Mac
Tunnelblick is a Mac-based VPN software that is compatible with the OpenVPN protocol. To get started, you’ll need your VPN provider’s OpenVPN configuration file for each server location you desire to connect to (.ovpn), as well as maybe your VPN account login and password.
Tunnelblick is available for free download here. To install Tunnelblick, double-click the.dmg file and then on the Tunnelblick icon. You may be prompted to confirm and enter your Mac login information.
- Launch Tunnelblick and click the “I have configuration files” button.
- Double-click the.ovpn files you downloaded. You’ll be asked if you want to install the settings for all users or just for you. Whichever you like.
- After installing the configuration, click the Tunnelblick symbol in the upper right corner of your screen and choose Connect.
- If asked, provide your VPN username and password.
- A message will be displayed to inform you that a connection has been created.
How to configure a VPN on macOS using viscosity
Viscosity is a premium VPN software for macOS that supports the OpenVPN protocol effectively. After a 30-day free trial period, the program is $9. The client is available for download here. Install the application by double-clicking the.dmg file and dragging it to your Applications folder. You may be prompted to confirm and enter your Mac login information.
To configure OpenVPN with Viscosity, you’ll need an OpenVPN configuration file (.ovpn) for each server you intend to connect to, as well as the username and password for your VPN account.
- Select Preferences… by clicking the Viscosity symbol in the upper right corner of your screen.
- Select Import connection > From file… by clicking the Plus symbol in the bottom left corner of the window that displays.
- Navigate to and choose the.ovpn file that your VPN provider sent you.
- The VPN connection should now be shown when you click the Viscosity icon in the upper right corner. To connect, click it.
VPNs for Mac users FAQs
Which VPN addon for Safari is the best?
ExpressVPN is the only VPN—and one of the few VPNs worldwide—that offers a Safari browser plugin. Notably, you will still need to install the ExpressVPN native app, which can then be controlled through the Safari extension.
The majority of other VPN browser addons are only compatible with Chrome and Firefox. If you have one of those browsers installed on your Macbook, you may still use them. Additionally, you may install any VPN’s MacOS program, which will protect Safari as well as any other applications on your device.
Can I use a VPN to circumvent campus restrictions?
Yes. If you’re using a VPN to access the web from a school, university, or business network that restricts access to particular websites, applications, or services, such restrictions may be overcome.
Simply open your VPN application, choose a server, and wait for the connection to establish. Before accessing the page you want to access, be sure to clear your browser’s cache and cookies. You should now be able to freely access the internet.
Which is the superior protocol, OpenVPN or IKEv2?
Both have almost the same throughput in terms of speed.
OpenVPN is an open-source project, which implies that anybody may examine its source code. As a result, it is often regarded as the safest alternative. Although IKEv2 is not known to have any security flaws, it is not open source.
IKEv2 is ideal if you’re on the road and utilizing a VPN on a mobile device that often changes networks or loses connectivity. It establishes a connection much more rapidly.
Is it legal to use a VPN on a Mac?
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are lawful in the majority of nations. Indeed, just a few nations prohibit the use of VPNs. It makes no difference whether the device you use to connect to the VPN, whether it’s a desktop or mobile device running Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS. What matters most is the place in which you are. Of course, although VPN usage is lawful in the majority of countries, it is still prohibited to use a VPN for criminal purposes.
Can I use my Mac VPN on my iPhone as well?
Yes, the majority of large VPN providers provide VPN client software for both desktop and mobile operating systems, including Mac, iPhone, and iOS. Additionally, the majority of high-quality VPN services enable you to connect several devices concurrently (often 5 or 6 at once). This implies that you may connect to VPN servers on both your Mac and iPhone simultaneously.
Is there a VPN for Mac available from Apple?
If you’re an iCloud user who pays for the service, you already have access to a feature called Private Relay. While many have referred to this as a “built-in VPN,” it does not enable you to fake your location, access geo-restricted services from overseas, or circumvent local internet restrictions.
The good news is that the majority of VPNs provide specialized macOS and iOS applications. Additionally, these services, unlike Apple’s Private Relay, will encrypt data from all of your applications, not just the Safari browser. Additionally, big ISPs seldom record your actual IP address, which is a significant benefit for anybody worried about their digital privacy.
How can I update my Mac’s IP address?
There are a few methods to change your macOS IP address. However, before you begin tinkering with the system settings, consider resetting your router. This should instantly issue you a new IP address. If this sounds like too much effort, you may connect to a VPN program or manually update your IP address using the procedures below:
- By tapping the Apple symbol, you can access the menu.
- Select System Preferences from the menu bar, followed by Network.
- Select your network from the drop-down menu, then click the Advanced option.
- Click Renew DHCP Lease in the TCP/IP section.
- That is all there is to it — you should now be surfing with an entirely different IP address.
Will a VPN cause my Mac to slow down?
Typically, your data is sent directly between you and your internet service provider. However, your VPN functions as a mediator, enabling it to encrypt your traffic but adding steps to the process. This implies that while connected, your speeds will always be reduced.
On the bright side, top providers have begun to make significant headway in this area, with several introducing their lightning-fast protocols in place of the two-decade-old OpenVPN protocol. Unless you start with an incredibly sluggish connection, you should have no problems.