What is the Best VPN for Mac?

Best VPN for Mac
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Summary: The Best VPN for Mac

People use their Mac computers every day to browse the web, manage their day-to-day lives, and stream movies. While the MacOS is renowned for its built-in security, it won’t protect you once you head out on the web. A virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to ensure your online privacy, freedom, and security.

Here is our top 3 list of recommended VPNs to use on your Mac:

  1. ExpressVPN: Fastest speeds and secure connections
  2. NordVPN: Most privacy-oriented and easy to use
  3. Surfshark: Affordable and reliable

Would you like to learn more about using a VPN on your Mac? Want to know how to set up a VPN connection? Find out all that and more in our article below.

Each day our lives become more and more entwined with the internet. From paying bills to watching our favorite television shows, we go online a lot. So do the hackers looking for ways to steal our confidential information. To strengthen online safety and privacy, many people turn to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to keep the bad guys at bay. A VPN masks your internet connection and lets you browse the web safely and anonymously.

A good VPN also erases the invisible geographic borders that might limit what you can access, whether due to censorship issues or streaming limitations related to broadcasting rights. VPNs also let you confidently use public Wi-Fi networks without worry that prying eyes are capturing your data.

But wait, you say. I have a Mac and they are known for great security. That’s true, but only within the device itself. Once you head out to the worldwide web, none of your Mac’s security features will protect you online. That’s where using a VPN for Mac comes in.

If you’re ready to add a VPN, it might be difficult to decide which one to choose. There are countless VPN services available today, and picking the right one can be hard. We’ve got you covered and taken the guesswork out of selecting the best Mac VPN. Read on for our top 3 VPN for Mac recommendations.

Best Mac VPN: Our Recommendations

Today, most VPNs are built to work with MacOS. We’ve gone beyond simple Mac VPN compatibility to zero in on the top 3 that deliver a winning combination of speed, ease-of-use, and the strongest privacy features. If the VPN is also P2P-friendly, we took that into consideration, too. Here are our top picks for a VPN for Mac.

1. ExpressVPN: Fastest speeds and secure connections

There’s a reason ExpressVPN consistently ranks at the top of every VPN list – Mac or otherwise. Blazing connection speeds on virtually all their VPN servers across an impressive number of countries delivers a fast and stable online experience. ExpressVPN will also unblock Netflix and other streaming services. You can also download through P2P networks.

ExpressVPN is easy to use, and their Mac interface is exceptionally user-friendly. It also boasts a solid 4.5 iOS app rating and a dedicated Safari browser extension.

ExpressVPN is not the cheapest VPN option out there. But for people who already purchased a high-end Apple device, investing in an equally impressive VPN service seems like a natural choice.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
From
$6.67
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN: Most privacy-oriented and easy to use

Another solid choice for a VPN for Mac is NordVPN. Although delivering slightly slower VPN speeds than ExpressVPN, it also offers a more user-friendly price point. With over 5,000 servers in 59 countries worldwide, NordVPN offers robust options for spoofing your location. It deftly handles streaming, and will unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime video. It’s also P2P-friendly.

For those concerned with maximizing privacy, NordVPN’s unique Double VPN encryption technology is unmatched. Their strict no logs policy goes even farther to protect your privacy.

NordVPN also offers an easy user interface. Even novice VPN users will find their way easily and with minimal frustration.

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3.30 a month for a 2-year subscription plus 3 free months!
From
$3.30
9.3
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

3. Surfshark: Affordable and reliable

For users looking for a less expensive Mac VPN alternative, Surfshark is a solid contender. Don’t let the lower cost fool you. Surfshark is on par with its more expensive competition. Offering more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, Surfshark also offers unlimited simultaneous connections.

The Surfshark Whitelister service offers split tunneling. This makes it easy to decide which of your internet traffic goes over the VPN connection, while the rest accesses the internet as normal.

Moreover, Surfshark has dedicated P2P servers for torrent downloads, making Surfshark a very download-friendly VPN provider. Surfshark also works well with the US version of Netflix, and offers an easy-to-use Mac interface. Their 30-day money-back guarantee is a great incentive, too.

Surfshark
Deal:
Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.49 a month
From
$2.49
9.0
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

A VPN For Mac Users: What to Look For

Virtual routerWhen you’re choosing a VPN for your Mac device, narrowing down your options is easier when you first identify the features most important to you. Not all VPN providers will meet your needs. The top features most users want, include:

  • Compatibility: It goes without saying that you’ll want a VPN that works with your Mac. Today, all of the top ranked VPN providers offer seamless integration with MacOS.
  • Speed: If you stream often, you’ll want a VPN that doesn’t bog down your connection.
  • Security: If privacy is your top priority, look for a VPN that offers strong encryption and a “no logs” policy.
  • Easy to use: If you’re new to the world of VPNs, finding one that offers a simple-to-understand user interface will help you get up to speed quickly.
  • Server locations: If you want to access data and services from a specific geographical location, make sure the VPN you select has servers in that country.
  • Price: If you’re trying to save money, picking the cheapest (or free) VPN sounds great. Just be sure those less expensive options still deliver good quality. You don’t want your security jeopardized in the name of saving some cash.

The VPN you ultimately choose will provide the best combination of the factors most important to you. There may be other requirements not on the list above (like how P2P-friendly the VPN is), that will factor into your decision. We’ve done in-depth reviews of all the top VPN providers, and offer a score for each. To come up with our top 3 best VPNs for Mac, we used the criteria noted above.

Free vs. paid VPN service

Free VPNs can seem very attractive, just because they’re free. However, many free VPNs aren’t particularly secure. Many keep logs of users or sell your personal information to third parties. Sometimes they even leave malware on your device.

Many free VPNs also have a data or speed limit, so you can only protect a certain amount of MBs or GBs of internet traffic with the VPN. Speed limits often dramatically slow down your connection.

If these limits aren’t a deal-breaker for you, we recommend you look at our top 5 best free VPN services. This way, you can be sure which free VPN service guarantees your security. It’s also a good option to check out the best cheap VPNs if you don’t want to spend too much money.

Why a VPN for Mac?

Users turn to a VPN service for three primary reasons, which we’ve summarized below. For a full explanation of all the advantages of a VPN, check out our article on the benefits of using a VPN.

  • Better online security: When you connect to the internet with VPN software, all the traffic you send online is encrypted. This means it cannot be read or inappropriately used by anyone else. Whether it’s a third-party advertiser or a hacker, your internet data is valuable. Keeping it from prying eyes keeps you safer.
  • More online privacy: With a VPN, your IP address is anonymized, meaning what you’re doing on the internet can’t be traced back to you. For users who enjoy such anonymity, a VPN is a must.
  • Access to blocked content and websites: What you have access to online often depends on where you happen to be physically located. Whether due to a country’s censorship policies (like in China) or broadcasting rights limitations (Netflix, Hulu, etc.), using a VPN to connect to the internet eliminates these barriers.

Installing Mac VPNs

There are two ways to set up a new VPN on your Mac device – either via the instructions from your chosen VPN provider or by manually configuring the VPN yourself. For most users, we recommend using the installation program provided by the VPN provider. This is easier and takes the guesswork out of navigating unfamiliar technical terms.

However, you might want to set up your Mac VPN yourself. Use the following steps to manually set up a VPN server for your Mac:

  1. In the Apple menu, go to System Preferences.
  2. Select Network.
  3. Click on the plus sign in the bottom left corner.
  4. Select VPN under Interface.
  5. Select the protocol that you prefer. OpenVPN is the safest and generally best option, but depending on the circumstances, MacOS might not provide that option when setting up a VPN manually. In that case, choose IKEv2.
  6. Fill in your login information. You can get this information from the website of your VPN provider.

how-to-set-up-vpn-on-mac

Final Thoughts

Using a VPN service to browse the web with your Mac is a sound way to protect yourself online. It eliminates geographic restrictions and ensures private internet access. If you want a VPN connection that does it all, then ExpressVPN is your best bet. When privacy and ease-of-use are at the top of your list, NordVPN is an excellent choice. If unlimited simultaneous connections and split tunneling are important, SurfShark delivers on both counts.

If nothing in our top 3 list ticks all the boxes for you, please take a look at our comprehensive list of the best VPNs.

Best VPN for Mac: Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about selecting and using a VPN with your Mac? Check out our FAQ. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, drop a comment below.

ExpressVPN offers a large number of servers in many locations. On all these servers, downloading torrents via P2P networks is allowed. ExpressVPN also works well with Netflix. This provider offers excellent software for all operating systems. ExpressVPN offers a simple and clear user interface on MacOS. The combination of speed, stability, and excellent customer service makes ExpressVPN the best VPN for Mac.

There are several free VPNs that work well on MacOS. However, a common drawback of these free versions is their speed and/or data limits. Most users don’t want to be limited in either. That’s why most people turn to paid VPNs.

There are two ways to set up a VPN on your Mac. You can install the VPN software and then enable it. We recommend this, because it is the easiest method. You can also set up the VPN in your System Preferences. Learn how to do that here.

A VPN provides a secure connection between you and the internet. Whether you use MacOS, Windows, or Linux, the data traffic that goes through your internet connection is always encrypted when you use a VPN. The VPN creates an encrypted, virtual tunnel, routed over one of your VPN service provider’s servers.

When you secure your internet connection, you can surf the web anonymously and more securely on your Mac. A VPN prevents external parties from accessing your personal information, too. With the right VPN, you can also access media in other countries, including foreign Netflix catalogs.

Tech journalist
Liz is a professional writer with a special interest in online privacy and cybersecurity. As a US expat who travels and works in diverse locations around the world, keeping up with the latest internet safety best practices remains her priority.