10 Best FREE VPNs for Mac in 2019 – Which One Is Right for You?

Need a free VPN for your Mac, but don’t know where to start? I’ve tested 37 services to find the 10 best free VPNs for macOS that offer speed, streaming, and security.

best vpns macos

If you’re looking for a free VPN for your MacBook, or need a VPN to use while you’re on vacation, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve tested 37 VPNs on my MacBook Pro, and have found the 10 best free VPNs based on security, speed, and streaming.

Free VPNs can be a great solution, but you need to choose carefully to keep your MacBook safe. Untrustworthy free services can install malware on your device and leak your personal information or location.

Most free services don’t work on macOS devices. The ones that do work usually have serious speed and data limits. But that could be the least of your troubles. Some free VPNs take advantage of you and harm your security by selling your data to third parties for profit.

The good news is that most top-rated VPNs offer a free trial period, a money-back guarantee, or both. You can use these guarantees to test a premium VPN for free without committing to a subscription. NordVPN is my top recommendation, and it has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can use its premium features risk-free for an entire month.

If you’re still swaying toward using a free VPN on your MacBook, I’ve done the hard work for you. I’ve tested the top free VPNs for safety, speed, and compatibility, to bring you the 10 best free VPNs for macOS.

Best Free VPNs for Mac – Quick Guide

  1. NordVPN – My top recommendation has top-notch security features, fast connections, and unlimited data. You can try it risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Windscribe – 10GB of free data per month with premium security features and high-speed connections, but no Netflix access.
  3. hide.me – 2GB of free data per month, military-grade encryption, and five high-speed server locations. That’s enough data to stream in standard definition for two hours, but there’s no UK server, so you can’t watch BBC iPlayer.
  4. Hotspot Shield  – Industry-leading encryption and built-in malware protection, but limited to just 500MB of free data per day. That’s enough for only four hours of light browsing or 30 minutes of streaming in standard definition.
  5. ProtonVPN – Unlimited free data and premium security features, but torrenting isn’t allowed.

What’s the Catch With Free VPNs?

A trustworthy free VPN can be the perfect solution for short-term or occasional use. But there are several drawbacks you should be aware of when it comes to using a free service.

Security

Some free VPNs use shady tactics to profit from you. They may compromise your security by planting trackers on your Mac, or by selling your data to third parties, exposing you to harmful risks like identity theft. 

Premium VPNs use advanced security features, like military-grade encryption and kill switches, that keep your online activity and personal information hidden.

Limitations

Most free VPNs limit your data and bandwidth. Once you’ve exceeded the data allowance, you won’t be able to browse or stream. Limited bandwidth slows your connection speed down, causing buffering and lag.

They don’t update their IP addresses regularly, making it easy for streaming sites like Netflix to identify and block them. Once the servers’ IP is blocked, you won’t be able to unblock any streaming services.

Premium VPNs update their IP addresses often so that they can bypass geoblocks and filters. They offer unlimited bandwidth and data, so there are no limits on how much you can watch and browse.

Compatibility

Very few free VPNs offer apps for macOS. I discovered that most of the free macOS VPN apps available on the App Store are outdated, glitchy, and frustrating to use. 

Premium VPNs are designed to be used on all of your devices, from macOS and iOS to Linux and even smart TVs.

The Best Free VPNs for Mac

So, is it possible to find a safe, free VPN? Yes, it is. I’ve tested 37 free VPNs to find the best services to keep your Mac secure.

Remember, though, free VPNs always have some limitations. It just depends on what you’re willing to compromise on.

1. NordVPN

nordvpndevices_optimized
  • Over 5,000 servers in 59 countries
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth
  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Built-in ad and malware blocker
  • DNS leak protection
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Sling TV
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, browsers

NordVPN is a premium service with an excellent macOS app, high-end security, and unlimited data. It’s my top recommendation for your Mac, and you can try it risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. 

You can connect to over 5,000 servers in 59 countries. In other words, you can access geoblocked content from all over the world. And, there is always a server close to you, no matter which country you’re visiting.

It is lightning-fast, which is great for seamless browsing and buffer-free streaming. I tested several different countries and had reliable and fast speeds in each location. 

It can easily bypass geo-restrictions and VPN blocks to access Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming sites. You can torrent safely on its P2P-optimized servers, too.

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NordVPN protects your MacBook with secure 256-bit AES encryption, an automatic kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy. Its DNS leak protection feature prevents security flaws in your MacBook from accidentally revealing your DNS requests to your internet service provider (ISP).

You can block ads and trackers with its built-in CyberSec feature. It automatically blocks any suspicious sites or pop-ups that may infect your device with malware. CyberSec also blocks ads on streaming sites like CWTV and YouTube so you can watch without any interruptions.

Because it allows up to six simultaneous device connections, you can protect all the devices in your household with just one NordVPN account.

If you have any issues using the NordVPN app on your Mac, you can use NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat to contact technical support.

Read more about why NordVPN is my top recommendation for your MacBook in our review.

Get Started with NordVPN!

2. Windscribe

Windscribe-devices-new
  • 10GB of free data every month
  • High-speed servers in 10 locations
  • Supports torrenting
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and zero-logging
  • Built-in ad and malware blocker
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, and YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox

Windscribe has a secure and straightforward macOS app that comes with 10GB of free data per month. That’s enough data to stream a couple of movies, but it can’t access Netflix US or Hulu.

If you need extra data, you can get an additional 5GB by tweeting Windscribe.

You can access servers in 10 countries, including the US. Because all free users connect to these locations, the servers are often overloaded. My connection speeds dropped during peak times, but streaming and browsing were hassle-free once the congestion eased.

You can use its UK server to unblock BBC iPlayer, and the US server can unblock HBO GO, but not Netflix US or Hulu. Its Netflix-optimized servers are only available to premium users.

It supports P2P connections, and its generous data allowance makes it ideal for downloading large files. You can use it to bypass digital censorship, too.

Windscribe protects your Mac with 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS leak protection. It keeps a no-logs policy, so your data is never stored. Kill switches and DNS leak protection are usually only available with premium VPN packages.

Its built-in ad blocker, R.O.B.E.R.T., stops pop-ups interrupting your streaming session or infecting your Mac with malware. It also blocks trackers.

Windscribe’s apps are easy to install and use. It took me less than five minutes to download and install the macOS app. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections so that you can protect all of your devices at once.

Its 24/7 live chat is available to free and premium users. If the chatbot, Garry, can’t answer your question, it refers you to a human support agent. There’s also a ticketed support system on the website.

See why Windscribe took second place on my list by reading our detailed performance review.

Get Windscribe for Free!

3. hide.me

hideme-devices
  • 2GB of free data every month
  • Five server locations
  • Split tunneling feature
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and IP leak protection
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Works with: Netflix Canada, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, Sky Go, YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and browsers

hide.me offers 2GB of free data every month and access to servers in the US, Canada, Singapore, and the Netherlands. 2GB is enough to check your emails and stream in standard definition for two hours, but it isn’t enough to torrent or watch a movie marathon.

Because you don’t need to register to use the free plan, there is no risk of your information falling into the wrong hands.

hide.me’s macOS app automatically reconnects to the VPN server if your connection drops. I didn’t notice any connection drops during my tests, and its servers are super quick. My connection speeds were reliable across each of its servers.

I was able to unblock Netflix in Canada, but not in the US. You can’t stream UK-based streaming services like BBC iPlayer because hide.me’s UK servers are only available to premium users.

One of hide.me’s standout features is its split tunneling. You can route some of your traffic over your VPN, and the rest through your local IP address. Split tunneling allows you to access local websites and wireless devices on your local network without disconnecting your VPN. Only a few premium VPNs offer this, and it’s not something I often see with free VPNs.

It offers excellent security features, including 256-bit AES encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and the all-important kill switch. It uses multiple VPN protocols, including OpenVPN.

There’s also IP leak protection. Sometimes, device and software malfunctions can reveal your actual IP address to websites and apps. hide.me’s built-in IP leak protection keeps your IP hidden, even if there’s a problem.

There are no ads, and you can access its friendly customer support service 24/7 via live chat.

Check out the results of our hide.me tests. 

Get hide.me for Free!

4. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield
  • 500MB of free data per day
  • Reliable speeds and one free server in the US
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and malware protection
  • Works with: YouTube and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and browsers

Hotspot Shield’s easy-to-use, dedicated Mac app uses the unique Catapult Hydra protocol, which is designed to improve your connection speeds and latency. You can stream for about 30 minutes a day with 500MB of data, but the free plan limits you just one server in the US.

You can’t use Hotspot Shield to unblock Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO GO. Still, it can access geoblocked YouTube videos and Kodi add-ons.

I was able to browse with minimal lag. But, because all of its free users connect to the US location, its free server is often overloaded. During peak times, your connection speed can drop.

The free version provides the same high-level protection as the paid subscription. There’s military-grade encryption and a built-in kill switch. This means if the server fails, your location stays hidden from your ISP.

Its built-in malware protection blocks suspicious websites to protect you from potential malware infections and phishing scams.

Hotspot Shield is ad-supported. Its privacy policy states that it shares your approximate location and device identifiers with Google to help create targeted ads. It’s only your approximate location, however. Because your real IP is masked, Google can only see the VPN server’s IP address.

You can only connect one device with the free plan, so you can’t protect any other devices when you’re using your MacBook. You have access to its extensive FAQ section, but there’s no option for live support with the free plan.

See how Hotspot Shield performed in our extensive tests by checking out our review.

Get Hotspot Shield for Free!

5. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN iOS devices
  • Unlimited free data
  • Servers in three countries
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Built-in ad blocker
  • Works with: YouTube and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux

ProtonVPN offers unlimited free bandwidth and data, so there are no restrictions on how long you can browse.

However, you can’t use it to unblock any streaming sites, and it doesn’t allow torrenting, either. It can bypass digital censorship, though, so if you need a VPN to access YouTube, Google, or your social media accounts, ProtonVPN is a good choice.

You can connect to servers in three countries – the US, Holland, and Japan. Limited servers mean that you can’t access any geoblocked sites or streaming services from any other country.

ProtonVPN doesn’t allow simultaneous connections, so you can only use it one device at a time. If you want to protect your cell phone or tablet as well as your Mac, you need to upgrade to the premium plan.

Be prepared for slow connection speeds, too. During my tests, I found that my connection was deliberately throttled, which is frustrating when you’re browsing and watching videos. It’s still fast enough to load websites, but it’s too slow to watch HD YouTube videos.

ProtonVPN’s privacy features are excellent. It uses 256-bit AES encryption and a choice of IKEv2/IPSec or L2TP/IPSec to keep your data safe. There’s a strict no-logs policy, which means none of your data or online activity is stored or shared elsewhere.

ProtonVPN also includes a built-in ad blocker with its macOS app, which makes for breezy browsing with no interruptions.

If you have questions or need further support, you can get in touch via ProtonVPN’s ticketing system. They’ll respond to you by email, usually within 24 hours.

Read more about ProtonVPN’s features in our review.

Get ProtonVPN for Free!

6. TunnelBear

tunnelbear devices
  • 500MB of free data every month
  • Severs in 23 countries
  • Allows torrenting
  • Super-secure encryption, kill switch, and GhostBear mode
  • Works with: YouTube, Google, Kodi, and HBO GO
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera

TunnelBear’s macOS app is perfect for beginners because of its easy-to-use interface.

It offers fast speeds on servers in 23 countries, including the US and the UK. The free plan only offers 500MB of data per month. This is enough for you to watch 30 minutes of your favorite YouTube channel, but you can’t download large files. You can get another 1GB of free data by tweeting TunnelBear.

Unfortunately, you can’t use TunnelBear for streaming. I wasn’t able to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, or ITV Hub. It does allow torrenting, though.

TunnelBear uses 256-bit encryption to keep your Mac safe. Its no-logs policy means that your data and browsing activity is completely anonymous and never recorded.

You can use its GhostBear mode to bypass censorship and deep packet inspection (DPI). It makes your data look like regular traffic to government surveillance agencies and firewalls. You can even use it to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Its ticketed customer support system is accessible to both free and premium users.

You can learn more about TunnelBear by reading our review.

Get TunnelBear for Free! 

7. Opera VPN

operavpn android device
  • Unlimited free data
  • Three server locations
  • Works with: Netflix Sweden, YouTube, and HBO GO
  • Compatible with: the Opera browser

OperaVPN is a browser extension for Opera. It offers unlimited free data and servers in three locations, but you need to install the Opera browser on your MacBook to be able to use it.

Because it’s only a browser extension, your traffic is only encrypted when you use the Opera browser. Anything you do outside of the browser uses your local IP address and isn’t encrypted.

You can choose from servers in Europe, Asia, or the Americas. You can’t select specific countries within these regions, which means you can’t use Opera VPN to bypass geoblocks.

When I tried to access Netflix US and Canada, it automatically diverted me to Netflix Sweden. You can watch this library with no problems.

I couldn’t access BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub while connected to the European server. I also had no luck with Hulu. However, I could access HBO GO and YouTube.

Its Optimal Location feature connects you to the fastest available server, but connection speeds are still pretty slow.

The VPN is compatible with all of Opera’s other extensions, including the ad and tracker blocker and Facebook Messenger extension.

There is a FAQ section on the Opera VPN website, but no other form of customer support.

Read more about why Opera VPN is one of my top recommendations in our review.

Get Opera VPN for Free! 

8. Speedify

Speedify devices
  • Servers in 37 countries
  • 2GB of free data every month
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Allows torrenting
  • Works with: HBO GO, Kodi, and YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android

Speedify offers 2GB of free data each month, which is enough for you to listen to 400 songs, or browse for about 24 hours. It has free servers in 37 countries but only lets you connect on one device at a time.

It uses channel bonding to increase your connection speed and lower your latency. This method combines two or more internet connections, such as cellular data and wi-fi. It does increase your speed, but because it’s sending twice as much traffic, it uses twice as much of your internet data allowance. This means you can go over your wi-fi or cellular data limits pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, Speedify can’t get around Netflix’s geoblocks. I wasn’t able to access BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, or Hulu, either. It can unblock HBO GO, Kodi add-ons, and international YouTube videos, however. You can also torrent on any of its servers.

Speedify offers ChaCha encryption, but its kill switch is only available with the iOS app. Your MacBook is not protected if your VPN connection fails.

Its website states it has a no-logs policy. Further digging into Speedify’s privacy policy shows that it keeps partial logs. Speedify stores information about your approximate location, bandwidth usage, and the duration of your connection. It doesn’t log your activity or IP address.

Want to read more about Speedify? Check out our review.

Get Speedify for Free!

9. Betternet

betternet devices
  • 500MB of free data per day
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • High-speed connections
  • Works with: YouTube and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Chrome

Betternet offers 500MB of free data per day. You browse for around four hours, but it’s not enough data to torrent or play online games. It also only offers one free server, and it’s based in the US. You can’t access geoblocked sites or streaming services based outside the US with Betternet.

Betternet’s speeds were surprisingly reliable during my tests. With so many users connected to just one server, the network can be congested. Still, I was able to browse with minimal loading times. 

Betternet doesn’t unblock Netflix US or Hulu. I faced a premium payment wall when I tried to access any streaming sites, except for YouTube. It does allow torrenting, though.

Its 256-bit encryption keeps your internet traffic secure, but it has a partial logs policy. It doesn’t record your online activity, but it stores information about your approximate location and device.

Betternet shows you ads while you’re browsing. It shares the information it stores with third parties so that it can tailor the ads to you.

It’s worth noting that Betternet’s headquarters are within the jurisdiction of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. But, because it doesn’t log your browsing activity, it can’t share your internet history with the government.

We put Betternet to the test and carefully examined every feature it offers. Read the results in our review.

Get Betternet for Free! 

10. VPNBook

VPNBook
  • Unlimited free data
  • Eight server locations
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Works with: Netflix US, Hulu, HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, and ITV Hub
  • Compatible with: Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Ubuntu (all via OpenVPN)

VPNBook offers unlimited free data, and you don’t need to register an account to use it. There are servers in eight global locations, including the US and the UK.

Unlike many free VPNs, it can access Netflix US, Hulu, and HBO GO. You can connect to the UK server to unblock BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, too. You can’t torrent with VPNBook.

During my tests, I enjoyed reliable speeds and was able to stream without much buffering.

Installing VPNBook is a little more complicated than it is with other vendors. You need to download the OpenVPN app from the App Store, and then load the config file of the server you want to connect to into the OpenVPN console. If you’re after a UK server, you need to install the VPNBook proxy instead.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of help on the VPNBook site to get started. You can also email them directly if you have questions.

It offers military-grade encryption to guarantee your security while streaming and browsing.

Digging into its privacy policy revealed that it stores partial logs, including your actual IP address. It audits these logs and deletes them weekly.

Learn more about VPNBook’s features in our review.

Get VPNBook for Free!

FAQs

What are the risks of using a VPN on my Mac?

Free VPNs leave you vulnerable to all kinds of risks.

Limited security features mean you can’t be sure that your connection is secure and private. Many free services use lower encryption, which can expose your personal information to hackers and trackers and cause accidental IP leaks.

Sometimes, free VPN providers sell your data to third parties, putting you at risk of identity theft.

Premium VPNs use advanced security features that keep you completely anonymous and safe.

Does a VPN impact speed?

A premium VPN can actually improve your connection speed. 

ISPs often throttle your bandwidth, especially when you’re streaming. This causes lag and buffering. By routing your traffic directly to a VPN server, instead of your ISP’s servers, you can bypass throttling and network congestion. 

However, the same can’t always be said for free services. Many free VPNs also throttle your bandwidth to slow your connection down. Usually, this is to encourage you to upgrade to a premium plan.

How do I know how much data I need?

If you just want a VPN for quick, secure browsing, 500MB of data per month may be enough.

However, if you want to stream or play online games, you need 10GB per month or more.

You don’t need to worry about data caps when you use a premium VPN because they offer unlimited data.

Summary

A VPN is the best way to protect your MacBook while you browse, stream, and torrent.

It’s important to remember that many free VPNs can’t be trusted. Some don’t work, and others can compromise your security. They may even sell your personal information for profit.

The free VPNs on my list are trustworthy and safe to use, but they are best-suited as short-term solutions because of their limitations.

If you’re looking for an unlimited short-term solution, I recommend trying a premium, unlimited service like NordVPN. You can test it risk-free because of its 30-day money-back guarantee.

My budget-savvy colleagues have compiled a list of the best VPN deals and coupons to save you money. Check out our coupons page to explore the latest offers.

New to VPNs and not sure where to start? You can read everything you need to know in our comprehensive VPN guide.

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