10 Best VPNs for Mac (SAFE & FAST) Tested in February 2021

It’s frustrating and time-consuming to find a good VPN for your Mac. I’ve tested 32 VPN apps on my MacBook Pro, and most of them were glitchy and useless. They were either painfully slow or unable to bypass geoblocks (and I found out that some even logged my browsing activity). But I was relieved to find a handful of VPNs that work well.

Every service on my list has been hand-picked based on its performance, security, and usability. I also checked to make sure that you can use them to stream, torrent, and play games.

NordVPN is my number one choice because it’s easy to set up, provides lightning-fast speeds, and has robust security features. Plus, you can test it out completely risk-free using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Short on Time? Here Are the Best VPNs for Mac in 2021

  1. NordVPN — #1 VPN for Mac with fast speeds, robust security features, and unblocks international streaming sites (plus, you can try it free for 30 days).
  2. ExpressVPN — Feature-rich macOS app with great security features, but it can be pricey.
  3. Surfshark — NoBorders mode gets around censorship and firewalls, but it has fewer servers.
  4. CyberGhost — User-friendly app that’s perfect if you’re new to VPNs, but it doesn’t work in China.
  5. Private Internet Access — P2P-optimized servers and a solid privacy policy make it great for torrenting on macOS, but it’s not good at unblocking streaming sites.

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NordVPN Hack — Try It Free for a Month! If you’re looking for a VPN just for the short term, to binge the latest Netflix show, or to protect your Mac while you travel, you can use this hack to try NordVPN free for a month. NordVPN offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested the refund policy, and it’s quick and easy to get your money back if you’re unhappy with the service.

The Best VPNs for Your Mac – Updated in 2021

1. NordVPN — Fast Speeds for Streaming and Torrenting Without Lag

  • Lightning-fast speeds so you can stream, torrent, and browse without long loading times
  • 5,500 servers in 60 countries so you can access geoblocked content
  • Easy-to-use macOS apps
  • 6 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Apple TV, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, and more

NordVPN February 2021 Deal: Get NordVPN's 2 year-plan at 68% off! Plus you'll be entered in a lucky draw to win either 1, 12, or 24 additional months completely free!

NordVPN is the fastest of the VPNs I tested on my Mac. Normally when you connect to a VPN, your speed dips a little because your traffic has to travel farther to a server. But, when I ran 12 different NordVPN servers through speed tests, there was no noticeable speed loss (which is really impressive). This means you can stream, torrent, and browse with no annoying buffering or delays.

One of the reasons NordVPN is so fast is that it has a huge server network, with 5,500 servers in 60 countries. This means that there is always a server nearby to give you the fastest speeds (even if you’re traveling), and its servers aren’t slowed down by overcrowding.

NordVPN is an excellent choice for movie marathons on your Mac — it worked with every streaming site I tried (and I tried all the big ones — Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more).

I found NordVPN really easy to use throughout my tests. The macOS apps are intuitive, so you don’t need to be a VPN expert to get started. I was able to download, install, and connect in 3 minutes. There are two macOS apps — it seems confusing at first, but it’s not. Each app uses a different security protocol (IKEv2 or OpenVPN). I noticed that the NordVPN site recommends using IKEv2 because it’s a little faster — but I prefer to use the OpenVPN option (and it has additional security features).

It uses military-grade (256-bit AES) encryption on both macOS apps. That’s the highest level of encryption you can get — there’s no risk of anyone intercepting your traffic to steal sensitive information like your banking details.

You also get DNS/IPv6 leak protection and an automatic kill switch. Leaks reveal your online activity to your ISP, so I ran some independent leak tests to check — and it passed every one of them. And here’s something most people don’t know: you can get up to 68% off NordVPN by using its latest deal.

You also get a money-back guarantee so that you can try NordVPN out for 30 days first. I asked for my money back via the 24/7 live chat. The chat agent asked if there were any issues that they could help troubleshoot for me, but they quickly processed my request. They told me the refund would take 5-10 business days, so I was quite surprised to get my money back the next day.

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2. ExpressVPN — Feature-Rich Safari Extension for Safe Browsing

ExpressVPN devices

  • Fast connections for smooth streaming and torrenting
  • 3,000 servers in 90 countries, so there’s always a server nearby
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Apple TV, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, and more

ExpressVPN’s latest deal February 2021: Get 3 months completely free on your annual subscription with this current offer! It’s not for certain when this deal will end so it’s best to check the deals page to see if it’s still available.

ExpressVPN is one of a few VPNs with a full-featured, secure Safari extension — complete with a kill switch and DNS leak protection. Browser extensions are lightweight and quick to install, so they’re a good option to encrypt your browser traffic if you’re running an older, slower Mac. Its full macOS app is just as easy to use.

The ExpressVPN network is reliable and fast, with 3,000 servers in 90 countries. During my tests, my connection speed averaged at 36 Mbps — that’s fast enough to browse, torrent, and stream in HD without any buffering.

I was able to unblock all the big international streaming sites — including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. ExpressVPN also gave me access to a few other services, like Vudu. Because of my speed, I watched Parks and Rec in HD on Netflix US without waiting more than a few seconds for the next episode to load.

ExpressVPN’s macOS app is secure. It uses 256-bit AES encryption, and it offers the OpenVPN protocol. There’s also an automatic kill switch (called Network Lock) to hide your IP and browsing activity if you lose your VPN connection. I like that it reconnects you automatically — my connection dropped, and I only had to wait a few seconds before I was up and running again. ExpressVPN has its own DNS leak test, but I ran some independent checks to be sure. There were no leaks: ExpressVPN masked my IP and DNS requests correctly.

You can use its split tunneling feature to route specific apps through your VPN (and leave others unencrypted, using your real IP address). It’s useful for sites you can only access with an IP address from your country — like local streaming services and PayPal. I used it to encrypt everything except my banking app because my bank flags it as fraud if I try to access my account with an international IP.

At first glance, ExpressVPN’s subscriptions can be a bit pricey — but I was able to save 49% by using ExpressVPN’s latest coupon. The best part for me is that you don’t have to commit right away – you can use the 30 day money-back guarantee to try ExpressVPN risk-free. I got my money back within 3 days of asking for it over the 24/7 live chat — even though the refund policy says that it takes 5-7 business days.

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3. Surfshark — Easily Bypasses Censorship and Firewalls

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Surfshark.

  • Impressive speeds for streaming or torrenting on your Mac
  • NoBorders and Camouflage modes let you bypass censorship and firewalls without anyone knowing
  • 3,200 servers in 65 countries to access international streaming sites and torrent indexes
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

February 2021 Update: Surfshark doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 81% off!

Surfshark’s NoBorders Mode uses obfuscated servers to bypass censorship, and its Camouflage mode gets around firewalls. This lets you use your Mac to unblock sites on monitored WiFi networks (like at school and work) and overcome government restrictions. I tested it by logging into the public WiFi at my local library. Normally, the library’s firewall would block me from accessing torrent indexes, but Camouflage mode kicked in and got around the filter in less than 10 seconds.

Surfshark is also useful for accessing international streaming sites — I had trouble with Amazon Prime Video, but it loaded Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max without any issues. Despite having a slightly smaller network (with 3,200 servers in 65 countries), Surfshark is fast. I was worried that having so many users on fewer servers would cause congestion, but I tested Surfshark during peak times, and my speeds were quick.

I found it easy to use the macOS app — most of the security features are automatically enabled, so you don’t need to worry about any complicated settings. You get all the basics: 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and leak protection. In addition, there’s a built-in ad, tracker, and malware blocker (that also protects you from phishing attempts). I was impressed with this because the ad blocker stopped ads from showing up on my Facebook feed.

A third security mode — MultiHop — gives you double encryption by sending your traffic through servers in two different countries. MultiHop noticeably slowed my connection down, and it isn’t necessary for everyday activities, so that I wouldn’t use it for streaming and browsing.

I used Surfshark’s latest coupon, and I got my subscription for $2.49/month per month. The good news is that you can combine this coupon with its money-back guarantee and test it out first for 30 days. The refund process is easy — the 24/7 live chat agent only asked me one question before processing my refund. I got my money back within 10 business days.

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4. CyberGhost — Simple macOS App That’s Good for Beginners

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with CyberGhost.

  • Good connection speeds for streaming and browsing without interruptions
  • Straightforward macOS app that requires minimal setup
  • 6,600 servers in 90 countries so you’ll always find a server nearby, even if you’re traveling
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

February 2021 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 83% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost has a straightforward app for macOS that’s ideal if you’re new to VPNs (or if you don’t want to waste time setting up your new service). But this doesn’t mean it’s basic — you can customize CyberGhost to your needs. I especially liked testing its Smart Rules feature — you can set it to launch and connect when you open certain apps or as soon as your Mac starts up.

CyberGhost operates 6,600 servers in 90 countries, and it has dozens of streaming and P2P-optimized servers. The streaming servers are labeled with the services they can unblock (so you don’t have to spend time trying multiple servers to find one that works). I tested its Disney+ and Netflix servers, both of which let me watch in HD.

CyberGhost is quick, but it’s not the fastest VPN I tested on my Mac. I maintained a steady average speed of 10.81 Mbps (fast enough to torrent and stream in HD without any buffering). But my normal connection speed is already pretty fast — if your Mac runs a little slower, CyberGhost might cause your connection to lag.

Its ad blocker kept the ads off my YouTube videos while I was watching, and CyberGhost even blocked a few suspicious pages that I accidentally opened through Google Search. Alongside the blockers, CyberGhost protects you with 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IPv6 leak protection.

The one-month plans are a bit expensive, but you can get up to 83% off your subscription with CyberGhost’s new deal. You can also use the 45-day money-back guarantee to test CyberGhost first — but only if you opt for a 6-month (or longer) subscription. If you choose a monthly plan, you only get a 14-day money-back guarantee. Still, I found the refund process easy. The support agent didn’t ask me any questions, and I got my money back after a few business days.

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5. Private Internet Access — P2P-Optimized for Safe Torrenting

  • Fast speeds for torrenting
  • 29,890+ servers in 75 countries give you access to blocked torrent indexes
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

Private Internet Access (PIA) has P2P-optimized servers with port forwarding and watertight security features — so it’s a good choice if you use your Mac for torrenting. 256-bit encryption prevents anyone from seeing your activity, so you’re safe if you accidentally download a copyrighted file. It also gives you an automatic kill switch and DNS/IPv6 leak protection, which passed each of my leak tests.

My connection was relatively quick and reliable on the 13 servers I tested. The Quick Connect feature gave me the best performance (it connects you to the fastest server based on your location). I averaged around 20 Mbps, and it took me about 35 minutes to download a 500MB file. I also tested its streaming ability — PIA gave me reliable access to Netflix, but I wasn’t able to unblock BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.

I was pleased to see that PIA offers several security protocols in the macOS app. Alongside OpenVPN, you have access to L2TP and WireGuard. I was initially excited to see WireGuard on this list because it’s meant to be faster than OpenVPN, but I didn’t notice a difference between them in my PIA tests.

I used PIA’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out for free. During the signup process, I found out that you can get a 78% discount at the moment. The refund process was a bit annoying because I had to search for my order number before the live chat team could help — but I got all my money back within 10 business days.

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6. VyprVPN — Chameleon Protocol Overcomes VPN Blocks

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with VyprVPN.

  • Proprietary Chameleon protocol gets around VPN blocks
  • 700 servers let you can access geoblocked content in 70 countries
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol makes it easy to access blocked and censored websites without anyone knowing. It does this by making your VPN traffic look like regular, unencrypted traffic — which slips past VPN detection software (and deep packet inspection) so you can use VyprVPN in countries where VPNs use is restricted, like China.

OpenVPN is available on the macOS app, but I found that its Chameleon protocol was slightly faster on my MacBook. I tested 25 of VyprVPN’s 700+ servers — it isn’t as fast as some of the other VPNs I tested, but I could browse and torrent without any lag. I could even stream Netflix in HD.

VyprVPN’s macOS app uses 256-bit encryption to protect your data, and there’s an automatic kill switch. There’s also a NAT firewall that stops hackers and botnets from trying to access your device by blocking inbound traffic.

VyprVPN’s subscriptions are on the pricier side — but you can take advantage of its latest deal to get it for $1.66/month per month. There’s also a 30 day money-back guarantee so that you can test VyprVPN for yourself risk-free. I used the money-back guarantee to try it for this review — and I got my money back 8 business days later.

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7. IPVanish — Unlimited Connections to Protect All Your Devices

  • Stable speeds for browsing, but some buffering when streaming
  • 1,600 servers worldwide for easy access to geoblocked sites
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

IPVanish gives you unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use it to protect your Mac, iPhone, and iPad at the same time. It protects you with 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch that you can customize to reconnect automatically.

There’s an additional scrambling feature that hides that you’re using a VPN. It’s useful if you’re in a place where VPNs are banned — but it slowed my connection down, so I’d only switch it on as a last resort.

It was fast enough for browsing during my tests, but my Netflix stream buffered for around 45 seconds. It can also unblock HBO Max, but I couldn’t watch BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, or Hulu. I don’t recommend using it for torrenting because it was too slow to download large files in a reasonable time.

You can get up to 100% off your subscription — and you can also use IPVanish’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test it before you commit. The refund process was complicated — there’s no 24/7 live chat, so I had to request my money back via the website. It took 3 business days to get a reply and a further 7 days to get my money back.

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8. SaferVPN — Automatic Protection on Public WiFi

A small assortment of devices compatible with SaferVPN.

  • Best Server selection tool automatically finds the fastest server
  • Automatic WiFi protection to make sure you’re safe on public WiFi networks
  • 1,000 servers in 50 unblock websites and streaming services easily
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

SaferVPN comes with automatic WiFi protection that switches on as soon as you connect to a public network, so you don’t need to worry if (like me) you always forget to turn on your VPN. Your data will be safe.

The macOS app is simple to set up — the download and installation process only took me 2 minutes. If you use the Best Server Selection tool, the app will connect you to the fastest server. This gave me the most reliable performance during my tests. When I manually selected a server, my speed dropped dramatically. It was quick enough to browse, but I struggled with streaming because of the buffering.

It uses 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch to keep your traffic safe — and there are several security protocols (including IKEv2 and OpenVPN). The macOS app automatically selects the best protocol, so you don’t need to go through a complicated setup process.

You can use IPVanish’s latest deal to get a 81% discount. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test SaferVPN risk-free. It was easy to request my refund using the 24/7 live chat, and I got my money back within 10 business days.

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9. PrivateVPN — Secure macOS Apps to Protect Your Privacy

  • Fast speeds for browsing, streaming, and even gaming on your Mac
  • 150 servers worldwide, including streaming-optimized servers
  • 6 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Roku, and more

PrivateVPN offers robust security features and a straightforward macOS app to get you started right away. Setup was easy because the security features (including 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and DNS/IPv6 leak protection) are automatically enabled. You don’t have to worry about any manual configuration.

There are a small number of streaming-optimized servers, and I could use PrivateVPN to unblock Netflix US, HotStar, and Hulu. It also has specific servers for lesser-known streaming sites (including 9Now, Channel 4, and IPTV), but its regular servers unblocked these services anyway, so you might not need to use them.

My connection was fast enough to browse and watch videos without waiting too long for them to load, but it slowed down during peak times. PrivateVPN has only 150 servers, and it becomes overloaded when too many users log in simultaneously.

While signing up, I noticed that it currently has a promotion where you can get up to 77% off your subscription. You can also try PrivateVPN risk-free by using its 30-day money-back guarantee. I requested my money back using its live chat, and there were no issues. I got my money back in my bank account 7 business days later.

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10. ZenMate — Quick Setup So You Can Start Right Away

  • Good speeds for browsing without long load times
  • Fast installation process so you can get back to browsing and streaming
  • 2,600 for unblocking restricted content around the world
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Roku, and more

ZenMate’s macOS app is lightweight, and the installation process is quick — it only took me 3 minutes to download, install, and configure it. You get all the standard security features: 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. But, there are no obfuscation options, so I don’t recommend it if you need to hide that you’re using a VPN (like in China and Saudi Arabia).

I tested 8 servers (it operates 2,600 servers in 80 countries), and my speeds were steady but slow (it averaged 5.6 Mbps). It was just fast enough to stream Netflix in HD (for which you need 5 Mbps) with a little buffering, but not Ultra HD. I tried ZenMate with several other streaming sites and unblocked BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Hulu.

If you make the most of ZenMate’s latest offer, you can get 80% off your subscription. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can try it for yourself risk-free. The refund process took longer than I’d hoped because there’s no live chat, so I had to send my request via the email contact form. But, I got a reply within 24 hours, and my refund was back in my bank account 5 business days later.

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Quick Comparison Table: Best Mac VPNs

256-bit Encryption Kill Switch Allows P2P Unblocks Safari Extension
NordVPN Some servers Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, iPlayer, Vudu, and more x
ExpressVPN All servers Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, iPlayer, Vudu, and more
Surfshark Some servers Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, iPlayer, and more x
CyberGhost All servers Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, iPlayer, and more x
PIA All servers  Netflix, Disney+,  HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more x
VyprVPN All servers Netflix, Disney+, iPlayer, and more x
IPVanish All servers Netflix, Disney+, iPlayer, and more x
SaferVPN Some servers Netflix, Disney+, iPlayer, and more x
PrivateVPN All servers Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more x
ZenMate Some servers Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more x

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Warning: You Should Avoid These Dangerous VPNs

During my testing process, I discovered some dangerous VPNs that you shouldn’t use. These VPNs claim to keep you safe online and not log any of your data — but my research showed otherwise. To protect yourself and your Mac, here are a few VPNs you need to avoid:


UFO VPN’s privacy policy claims that it doesn’t record your activity — but a security breach in 2020 proved this isn’t the case. It leaked almost 900GB of users’ data (including IP addresses and passwords), proving that UFO VPN stores sensitive data that can be used to track you — even though it claims it doesn’t.

2. Unlocator

I dug into Unlocator’s privacy policy and found this worrying phrase:

We keep a log at a personally identifiable level, which is purged at a 24-hour interval. The purpose of this log is to look at abuse patterns from malicious usage of the service.This means that it records information that can be used to identify you, and they only delete it every 24 hours. Unlocator says this to ensure that nobody is abusing the VPN, but this information could be harvested and used against you (especially if a VPN server is hacked).

3. Hola VPN

HolaVPN’s homepage claims it doesn’t “track, collect, or share your private data.” So you can imagine my surprise when I found this in the full privacy policy:

“Log data may include the following information- browser type, web pages you visit, time spent on those pages, access times, and dates.” Hola stores information about the websites you visit — which is a big no-no. It means that everything you do online can be traced back to you. Even worse, it admits to passing on your information to third parties:

“We may also transfer or disclose Personal Information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies.” This isn’t a privacy policy I’d trust.

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Research Methodology: How I Tested and Ranked The Best VPNs for Mac

I feel a responsibility to be completely transparent about how I test and rank VPNs so that you know what I’m basing my recommendations on. These are the main criteria I looked for when testing the best VPNs for macOS:

  • Easy to use macOS apps — I looked for dedicated Mac apps that are easy to install and use, so you don’t have to waste time on complicated setups.
  • Compatibility with other Apple devices (and multiple simultaneous connections) — I’ve recommended apps that you can use on your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, as well as on your Mac, to give you the best value. Each one gives you multiple simultaneous connections, too, so you can use your VPN with all of your Apple devices at the same time.
  • Military-grade encryption — I have only recommended VPNs that use the highest encryption (256-bit AES) so that you know your traffic is completely secure.
  • Proven no-log policies — None of my recommended VPNs record or sell your information.
  • Fast speeds — I ran several servers from each VPN through multiple speed tests at different times of the day and night and have only recommended those with consistent speeds that are fast enough for browsing, streaming, and torrenting.
  • Large server networks — Good worldwide coverage means you can access geoblocked sites (like Netflix) from anywhere.

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Is It Safe to Use My Mac Without a VPN?

No — macOS has advanced security features, but it isn’t bulletproof.

Without a VPN, everything you do online is visible to hackers, surveillance agencies, and your ISP. You’re essentially leaving a trail of your personal information everywhere you go.

A VPN protects you with end-to-end encryption. It sends all of your online activity through an encrypted tunnel invisible to outsiders and separate from regular internet traffic. No one can see what you’re doing online when you use a VPN. They can’t track the websites you’re visiting, steal your bank details, or check your search history. You’re genuinely anonymous.

Are There Any Free VPNs for Mac?

Technically yes — but the ones I tested were either very limited or unsafe to use.

I looked at free Mac VPNs to see if there are any worth recommending. I found some that felt safe to use (because they featured similar security measures as my recommended paid VPNs), but they restricted my speeds, data usage, bandwidth, and server access. I had slow connections that were frustrating to use.

Even worse — I found out that a few of the free VPNs I tested were spying on my activity and recording what I was doing. This is no surprise; free VPNs need to cover their running costs, and they can do this pretty easily by selling information about their users to marketing companies.

If you only need a VPN for a short time (or you want to test one out without committing), all of the VPNs on my list have a money-back guarantee, so you can try them out and get your money back if you’re not satisfied.

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How To Manually Configure a VPN on Your Mac

All of the VPNs I recommend have dedicated macOS apps, but some of those apps don’t automatically support OpenVPN for Mac. If you want to use a security protocol that isn’t available, here are three ways to manually configure a VPN for Mac instead.

For L2TP Connections:

L2TP is a security protocol that is similar to OpenVPN but has built-in support on your Mac. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac (you can find it in your Dock or under the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen).
  2. Open Network settings and click “+” It’s at the bottom of the list of connections on the left.
  3. Click “Interface,” select “VPN,” and choose “L2TP over IPSec.” You’ll be given the option to create an “Account Name” so it’s easier to find the right connection next time.
  4. Go to Authentication Settings. Here, you can fill in the password and Shared Secret authentication provided to you by your VPN (your VPN provider might also specify other info like TCP/IP settings or DNS servers).
  5. Click “Connect.” And that’s it! Your L2TP connection is set up on your Mac.

For Tunnelblick:

Tunnelblick is a free, open-source client designed specifically for using OpenVPN with macOS. You’ll need to get a .ovpn configuration file from your VPN provider (these can usually be downloaded from the VPN website or found under your account credentials).

  1. Download Tunnelblick.
  2. Click “I have configuration files.” Tunnelblick requires OpenVPN configuration files from your VPN provider to work.
  3. Click “Okay” on the “Add a Configuration” box.
  4. Go to “VPN Details.” You can find this in the Tunnelblick menu.
  5. Find your .ovpn files and drag and drop them into Tunnelblick. Make sure you only highlight .ovpn files — not any other file type.
  6. Click “Apply to All” and “Only Me.” And that’s it! You’re all set up with Tunnelblick.

For Viscosity:

Viscosity is another OpenVPN client alternative. You have to pay to use it, but you can get it free for 30 days using its free trial. You’ll need your VPN provider’s OpenVPN configuration files to set up Viscosity on your Mac.

  1. Download Viscosity.
  2. Follow the installation process. Open the Viscosity .dmg file and drag and drop the client into your Applications folder when prompted. Viscosity’s Installer will automatically launch.
  3. Open Viscosity and go to Preferences. Once the client is downloaded and installed, find Preferences in the Viscosity menu.
  4. Go to Connections > + > Import Connection. This will take you to set up.
  5. Click “From File” and open your .ovpn configuration file. This is the OpenVPN file you got from your VPN provider.
  6. Create a username and password to finish configuring your connection.
  7. Find your VPN connection in the Viscosity menu. That means you’re connected and ready to go!

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FAQs on VPNs for Mac

😍 What’s the best VPN extension for Safari? Is it enough to use an extension, or do I need a VPN app?

ExpressVPN has the best VPN extension for Safari. It’s one of the only VPNs I tested that offers a dedicated Safari extension at all. I was impressed with how feature-rich the extension is — most VPN browser extensions are relatively simple, but ExpressVPN provides a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

But extensions only protect your browser traffic — you need a VPN app to secure all of your activity. A browser extension is useful if you’re running an older Mac device and need to use less RAM — it can help you unblock restricted content and browse the internet in privacy.

😎 Which Mac VPN is best for Netflix?

All of the VPNs on my list work with Netflix. Plus, they are fast enough to let you watch Netflix in HD, with little to no buffering.

If I had to choose, I’d use NordVPN for streaming every time because it bypasses geoblocks reliably and quickly.

🤑 Can I get a free VPN for my Mac?

There are free VPNs for Mac, but they’re either very limited or unsafe. Free VPNs come with lots of hidden dangers that you need to know about.

The safest free VPNs still restrict your speed, bandwidth, data usage, and server access in an attempt to persuade you to upgrade to a paid subscription. Some free VPNs even log and sell your private information.

There is a trick that lets you use a premium VPN for free for a short time, though: All of my recommended Mac VPNs come with a money-back guarantee, so you can try them out. None of them restrict your usage, and they’re all safe to use.

🤓 How do I install a VPN on my Mac, iPad, or iPhone?

You can download your VPN’s macOS and iOS app directly from its website (or find it in the App Store).

These apps have everything you need to get started. Still, if you want to customize your VPN experience or use a different security protocol, you can configure your VPN manually using my guide.

😅 Do Mac VPNs work in China?

Yes — but not every VPN is up to the task. Because the Great Firewall of China blocks VPN traffic, you need a VPN that gives you access to obfuscated servers, and that scrambles your OpenVPN metadata so that the firewall can’t tell that you’re using a VPN.

6 of the VPNs on my list work in China: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, VyprVPN, and PrivateVPN.

🙃 Does Mac have a built-in VPN?

No, macOS does not come with a built-in VPN. There are VPN configuration settings in the Network section of your System Preferences — but these are for joining a Virtual Private Network, such as the ones used by companies with remote workers. It’s not a VPN provider, so it doesn’t have all the features you need to protect your Mac.

🤗 Are there other ways I can improve my Mac’s security?

A VPN is the best way to secure your Mac. Macs have lots of great security features, but they don’t protect your privacy — only a VPN, with its end-to-end encryption, can truly guarantee you online anonymity and keep hackers, trackers, and snoopers from infiltrating your Mac.

One downfall of VPNs is that they don’t include complete anti-malware software (although some give you a degree of malware protection by blocking suspicious websites). You should always use reliable anti-malware software as well.

I also advise you to use a password manager to generate completely secure passwords so that your online accounts can’t be hacked.

Get the Best VPN for Mac Today

macOS has strong security features, but you need a VPN to protect you when using the internet. VPNs encrypt your traffic to make sure you’re safe from hackers, trackers, and snoopers — no one can see what you do online, even your ISP.

Of all the services I tested, NordVPN is the best Mac VPN. It’s fast, great for torrenting, and can unblock all your favorite streaming sites. Plus, you can get NordVPN for free for a short time by using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try NordVPN for FREE Now!

To summarize, here are the best VPNs for your Mac

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