What is the Best VPN for Mac? Our Top 5 Best macOS VPNs

Apple computer, VPN shield icon and a trophy
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Summary: The Best VPN for Mac

You probably use your Mac every day to browse the web, manage your day-to-day activities, and stream movies. While the macOS is renowned for its built-in security, it doesn’t offer complete protection. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to safeguard your privacy and security, and enjoy unrestricted freedom online.

Here are the best VPNs for Mac:

  1. NordVPN: Lightning-fast VPN servers with advanced privacy tools.
  2. Surfshark: Affordable, reliable, and perfect for improving online safety for the whole family.
  3. CyberGhost: Optimized streaming, and a 45-day money-back guarantee.
  4. ExpressVPN: Speedy connections, and a vast number of servers worldwide.
  5. Intego Privacy Protection: Excellent VPN, works with popular Intego antivirus.

Do you want to know more about our five best VPNs for Mac, and why we chose these providers? Or perhaps you want to know how to configure a VPN on Mac? Continue reading the article below for more information.

The explosive growth of the internet has brought with it many security risks. And the nature of these online threats continues to evolve, becoming ever more complex as the years roll by. One way to stay safe online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN encrypts your data and reroutes your traffic, allowing you to browse the web securely and anonymously. It also lets you bypass censorship and access geo-blocked content.

Macs are generally seen to be safer than Windows PCs, and they are, to an extent. However, your Mac is not impervious to the snooping eyes of hackers, advertisers, your internet service provider (ISP), and government agencies. That is why you need a VPN.

Choosing VPN software for Mac can be incredibly difficult. There are countless VPN providers available today, and each one claims to have the best VPN for Mac. Well, don’t worry, because we’ve taken the guesswork out of choosing the best Mac VPN.

Keep reading for our top five VPNs for Mac!


Best Mac VPNs: Our Recommendations

We’ve gone beyond simple Mac VPN compatibility to zero in on the top VPN services that deliver a winning combination of speed, ease of use, and the strongest privacy features.

1. NordVPN: The overall best VPN for Mac

Screenshot of NordVPN homepage website with added logo in the corner

ProsCons
Excellent security features, including Onion Over VPNMac software interface isn’t as developed as Windows’
Kill switch and double VPN
Extremely fast
30-day money-back guarantee

NordVPN is our overall best VPN for Mac. It offers lightning-fast VPN connection speeds — the only other top VPN that comes close is ExpressVPN, however, NordVPN has a pocket-friendly price and ExpressVPN doesn’t.

With over 5,000 servers in 59 countries worldwide, NordVPN offers countless options for spoofing your IP location. It supports streaming and will typically unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming platforms without issues. It’s also P2P-friendly if you’re interested in torrenting securely.

If you want maximum privacy, you’ll be glad to know that NordVPN uses RAM-based diskless servers. This guarantees no logging. It also offers industry-standard encryption and protocols, as well as unique features like Double VPN to protect your privacy.

What’s more, NordVPN comes with a kill switch, and if you’re using OpenVPN protocol, you can choose which apps are affected by the kill switch.

The NordVPN software has an easy-to-use interface. Even novice users would find their way around easily and without frustration. NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
Only $2.98 a month for a two-year subscription with a 30-day money-back guarantee!
From
$2.98
9.3
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

2. Surfshark: Best Mac VPN for price-conscious users

Screenshot of Surfshark VPN homepage with logo

ProsCons
Incredibly cheapFewer advanced security features than NordVPN
User-friendly softwareA little over half the number of servers as NordVPN
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Reliably unblocks streaming sites

If you’re looking for a less expensive Mac VPN alternative, Surfshark is a solid option. Don’t let its lower cost fool you; Surfshark is on-par with its more expensive competitors. Offering more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries and unlimited simultaneous connections, Surfshark is one of the best VPNs available today.

Surfshark supports split-tunneling via its Whitelister tool. This means you can decide which of your apps and websites to route via your VPN connection. Surfshark offers AES 256-bit encryption, multiple VPN protocols, no logging, and Multihop servers—this feature is essentially the same as NordVPN’s Double VPN.

Surfshark has dedicated P2P servers for torrenting. It also works well with the US version of Netflix and can unblock many other streaming platforms.

The Surfshark VPN software for Mac is pretty straightforward, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Surfshark
Deal:
Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.21 a month
From
$2.21
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

3. CyberGhost: A good Mac VPN for streaming

Screenshot of CyberGhost VPN, homepage with logo

ProsCons
45-day money-back guaranteeNo independent security audit
Extensive server network
Optimized streaming servers

While other VPNs are good for streaming on Mac, CyberGhost offers dedicated, optimized streaming servers. This, and its vast network of over 7,000 servers in 88 countries, makes CyberGhost a good choice for unblocking streaming sites.

CyberGhost offers military-grade AES 256-bit encryption and excellent protocols. It also comes with a kill switch, supports split-tunneling, and has a clear no-logging policy.

CyberGhost’s website says it was the first VPN in the industry to publish a Transparency Report. However, one of the major drawbacks of CyberGhost is that it’s not audited by a third party.

CyberGhost’s subscription plans aren’t as pricey as some other providers’, like ExpressVPN. And while it’s not the cheapest, CyberGhost has the longest money-back guarantee of any premium VPN: 45 days!

CyberGhost
Deal:
Try CyberGhost for $2.29 per month!
From
$2.29
8.8
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

4. ExpressVPN: A great Mac VPN with super-fast speeds

Screenshot of ExpressVPN provider website homepage

ProsCons
Excellent customer supportAllows five simultaneous connections; fewer than other top VPN providers
Lightning-fast connection speeds
Zero-logging policy

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for Mac users thanks to its blazing-fast connection speeds. This VPN provider has a widespread network of RAM-based servers: over 3000 servers in 94 countries.

ExpressVPN offers AES 256-bit encryption and multiple protocols. It supports split-tunneling, has a kill switch, and has a clear zero-logging policy.

ExpressVPN usually unblocks Netflix and other streaming services. It supports P2P downloads.

ExpressVPN is easy to use, and its Mac interface is user-friendly. It boasts a solid 4.5 iOS app rating. There’s even a dedicated ExpressVPN Safari browser extension.

While it is a good VPN, ExpressVPN is not the cheapest option out there. But it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Compared to other top VPN providers, ExpressVPN offers fewer simultaneous connections, and its competitors tend to have lesser problems unblocking streaming sites.

ExpressVPN
Deal:
Great discount on annual subscription + 30-day money-back guarantee!
From
$6.67
8.9
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

5. Intego Privacy Protection: A good VPN for Mac with an antivirus

Screenshot of Intego website homepage with added logo in the corner

ProsCons
Straightforward user interfaceVPN and antivirus sold separately
Fast responses from customer support
Works with Intego antivirus for Mac

Intego has one of the best antiviruses for Mac, and you can also get Intego Privacy Protection VPN to complement your security provisions. This VPN isn’t an afterthought by any means. It’s styled on Private Internet Access (PIA), a well-known and highly rated VPN.

Intego Privacy Protection VPN is a product of Kape Technologies, the same company behind ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and, as you might’ve guessed already, PIA. Clearly, the company knows what it’s doing, as Privacy Protection has the same sleek user interface and fast VPN servers as PIA.

Intego Privacy Protection VPN has over 25000 servers in 77 countries. It offers AES 256-bit encryption and numerous advanced protocols. It also has a no-logging policy.

We strongly recommend using antivirus and a VPN, and Intego’s products complement each other well.

Intego Privacy Protection VPN
From
$1.67
  • Similar to Private Internet Access in many ways
  • Supports Torrenting and unblocks Netflix
  • Zero logging
Visit Intego Privacy Protection VPN

VPNs for Mac: What to Look For

VPN shieldWhen you’re picking VPN software for Mac, narrowing down the options is easier if you identify the features that are most important to you.

Some VPN services have fewer features than others, and some generally offer better performance. So, take the following points into consideration, just as we have, when choosing the best VPNs for Mac:

  • Compatibility: It goes without saying that you want a VPN that works with your Mac. Today, all the top-ranked VPN providers offer seamless integration with macOS—although some excel at this better than others.
  • Speed: If you stream often, you’ll want a VPN that doesn’t bog down your connection. Many free VPNs for Mac impose limitations on your VPN connection speed. Premium VPNs are usually faster and don’t come with any bandwidth cap.
  • Security: If privacy is your top priority, look for a VPN that offers strong encryption and has a no-logs policy. This should be non-negotiable to keep your data safe.
  • Easy to use: A good VPN for Mac users will fit seamlessly with Apple’s user experience. Be sure to pick a VPN that has a simple, easy-to-use interface. One that won’t slow you down with an overly complicated layout and settings. Look out for mobile app support too!
  • Server locations: If you want to access data and services from a specific geographical location, make sure the VPN you select has servers available in that city or country. The best Mac VPNs can unblock websites in countries across the world.
  • Price: If you’re trying to save money, picking a free VPN or the cheapest VPN might sound appealing. But you don’t want to jeopardize your safety just to save some cash. There are some affordable premium VPNs for Mac like Surfshark that won’t put a hole in your wallet but still offer you excellent features and solid privacy.

The VPN you ultimately choose should have the features that you find most important. There may also be other things worth considering that aren’t on the list above, such as support for P2P downloads.

We have in-depth reviews of all the top VPN providers, and we’ve ranked them based on their features and performance.

Free vs. paid VPN service

Hands holding VPN shield icons, free vs paid VPN with white background

Things can seem very attractive, simply because they’re free. However, free VPNs aren’t usually secure. Some keep logs of user data and sell your personal information to third parties.

Most free VPNs enforce data caps or speed limits. Slow connection speeds can affect your downloads and streaming quality, which can be frustrating. And, data limits can stop you from streaming or torrenting.

If these factors aren’t a deal-breaker for you, we recommend looking at our top five best free VPN providers. If you want a premium VPN but you don’t want to spend too much, check out our article on the best cheap VPNs.


Why a VPN for Mac?

There are three main reasons people opt to use a VPN service, and we summarize them below. For a full explanation of all the advantages of a VPN, check out our article on the benefits of using a VPN.

  • Security: When you connect to the internet with a VPN, your traffic is encrypted. So, even if a hacker intercepts your traffic, it’s impossible to access your personal data.
  • Privacy: A VPN anonymizes your IP address. This makes it much harder for third parties to track what you’re doing online. However, doesn’t give you complete impunity or make you immune to prosecution for illegal activities, but you’ll enjoy much greater protection for your privacy.
  • Access to blocked content and websites: The content you can access online sometimes depends on where you are physically located. This may be 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 VPN on your Mac device—either by installing the VPN client of your chosen provider or by manually configuring the VPN.

For most users, we recommend installing a VPN client for Mac. This is easier and you don’t have to deal with unfamiliar technical terms. You’ll find your provider’s VPN software at the Mac app store or on their official website.

However, if you want to set up a VPN for Mac manually, follow the steps below:

  1. On the Apple menu, go to “System Preferences.”
  2. Select “Network.”
  3. Click on the “+” sign in the bottom left corner.
  4. Select “VPN” under “Interface.”
  5. Select the protocol that you prefer. OpenVPN protocol is the safest and is generally the best option, but, depending on the circumstances, your Mac might not provide that option. 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

Check out our article on how to manually set up a Mac VPN for more information.


Final Thoughts

Using a VPN on your Mac is a sound way to protect yourself online. It eliminates geographic restrictions and gives you more privacy and security.

If you want a VPN that promises lightning-fast speeds and complete privacy, check out NordVPN. For whole-family protection on an unlimited number of devices, and a super-friendly user interface that even kids can use,  SurfShark is a great choice.

If you want more information about our top five best VPNs for Mac, check out our article on the best VPN providers of 2022.

Best VPN for Mac: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about selecting and using a VPN on your Mac? Check out our FAQ section below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, drop a comment, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

NordVPN is the best overall VPN for Mac. It offers a wide range of lightning-fast servers, advanced security features, excellent unblocking capabilities, and it is priced reasonably. For more options, check out our article on the best VPN for Mac.

There are several free VPNs that work well with macOS. However, we don’t recommend free VPNs because they tend to have speed and data caps. Also, some providers are known to sell user data to third parties.

There are two ways to set up a VPN on your Mac. The first option is to install your chosen provider’s VPN software. However, you can also set up a VPN manually in your System Preferences—our article on manually configuring a VPN on Mac contains step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.

A VPN provides a secure connection between your device and the internet. It creates an encrypted, virtual tunnel, routed over your provider’s servers. In doing so, VPNs change your IP address, which allows you to stay anonymous and bypass online restrictions.

With a VPN, you can surf the web anonymously and more securely on your Mac. A VPN prevents external parties from snooping on your personal information. It also allows you to access blocked content, including foreign Netflix catalogs.

Your Mac does not have a built-in VPN. However, you can easily set up a VPN on macOS. The easiest way to do this is to install VPN software, but you can also manually set up a VPN on Mac.

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.