Using a VPN on your Mac can benefit you in many ways. You’ll remain anonymous online, reduce the chance of being attacked and be able to access content from anywhere in the world. To make sure you get a first-class VPN experience, you should use one of our best VPN for Mac picks.
If you want to get straight to the point, we recommend using ExpressVPN. It’s fast and simple to use, and it’s our best VPN for streaming, too. Plus, it’s compatible with all Mac devices and many Mac operating systems.
Aside from circumventing geoblocks and hiding your IP address, a VPN can keep you safe from cybercrime. Although you might think your Mac is immune to any kind of hacking, the truth is, a Mac can get infected by a virus or malware just the same as a PC. Using a virtual private network can help you to stay safe, as can installing a decent antivirus.
The Best VPNs for Mac
- ExpressVPN – Fast and secure, easy to use
- NordVPN – Excellent security, friendly pricing
- CyberGhost – Inexpensive, secure
- Private Internet Access – Simple to use, cheap
- Windscribe – Free plan, unlimited connections
- Proton VPN – Free plan, unlimited bandwidth
ExpressVPN is our chosen VPN for Mac. Its streamlined interface makes it a good match for Mac users, and the ExpressVPN icon shows up on the Mac menu bar. It works on all MacBook and iMac models that run at least Yosemite 10.10, all the way up to Catalina 10.15.
To get connected, you just need to click the big “on” button. That’ll connect you to a recommended server, but if you need to change server locations, you can do that easily, too. ExpressVPN has thousands of servers spread across 94 countries, giving you plenty of choices.
Its security is excellent and uses AES 256-bit encryption. It also includes a built-in kill switch, which is enabled by default and will keep you safe if the VPN fails. ExpressVPN also takes your privacy seriously and has a strict no-logs policy in place.
ExpressVPN has the fastest speeds of any of the VPNs we’ve tested, which is great for streaming and other activities. You get unlimited bandwidth, and ExpressVPN is capable of getting into pretty much any country’s Netflix library, as well as other services, such as BBC iPlayer (read our best VPN for BBC iPlayer).
You get five simultaneous connections, and it’s compatible with many other devices. That includes other Apple devices, too, such as Apple TV. There’s also a Safari browser extension. Read more about this service in our ExpressVPN review.
Much like the Mac itself, ExpressVPN is expensive. It’s worth the money, though, and we’re sure you’ll appreciate the excellent quality of service over how much it costs. Plus, if you choose a lengthier subscription, you should see some savings. If you decide you don’t like it, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee to fall back on.
- Easy to use
- Excellent security
NordVPN is another solid VPN choice for Mac and is comparable to our top pick in many ways (read our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN piece).
It has a user-friendly interface that supports the Mac menu bar, and you can get connected quickly to one of its many server locations. NordVPN is compatible with macOS Sierra 10.12 or higher.
Its security is top-notch, using AES 256-bit encryption. It also gives you the option of using its double-hop servers, which basically encrypt the VPN tunnel twice over. The company doesn’t keep any logs, so you don’t need to worry about privacy. A kill switch is included, as well.
NordVPN’s speeds are good, but it can slow down quite a bit over long distances, which you can read more about in our NordVPN review. Picking a different server can sometimes help, though. You get unlimited bandwidth, and it’s able to break through most streaming platforms walls, too.
It’s compatible with other Apple devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, and you connect up to six devices at the same time.
NordVPN’s price is more friendly than ExpressVPN’s. It offers good value at a fair cost, but opting for a longer plan is beneficial, too. A 30-day refund window is in place, in case you don’t like it.
- Double-hop servers
- Top-notch security
- Easy to use
- Inconsistent speeds
We can also recommend CyberGhost as a good Mac VPN. Its interface may take some getting used to, but it’s not difficult to use. It has Mac-friendly features and is compatible with macOS Sierra 10.12, High Sierra 10.13 and Mojave 10.14. Read our CyberGhost review for more details.
It comes with good security, as well as a kill switch. However, CyberGhost’s kill switch is different. It’s permanently enabled, meaning you can’t turn it off. Although that’s good in the fact that you won’t get caught out, not having any control whatsoever is annoying. A no-logs policy is in place, too.
CyberGhost’s speeds are fast, but like NordVPN, they can slow down when connecting to distant servers. There are lots of server locations to choose from, though, so you should be able to find a decent one. Plus, CyberGhost can access most streaming platforms easily and there’s no bandwidth limit to worry about.
You can connect up to seven devices at a time, which is great if you own every Apple gadget available. CyberGhost is compatible with many Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad and even the Apple Watch. Keep in mind, though, that seven is also CyberGhost’s limit on installations.
CyberGhost is inexpensive, so long as you don’t opt for the monthly plan. Longer subscriptions work out better in the long run.
Both Android and iOS users benefit from a seven-day free trial (read our best VPN for Android piece), but Mac users only get one day. That said, there is a money-back guarantee, which is 14 days for the monthly plan and 45 days for longer ones.
- Automatic kill switch
- 7 simultaneous connections
- No kill switch controls
- Can be slow
- Only a one-day trial on Mac
Next up is Private Internet Access, which is a good choice if you want a no-frills experience. Its interface has a minimalist look, but it has everything you need within it.
It launches from the menu bar, which might be annoying for some people, but you still have a lot of control. It’s compatible with macOS version 10.10, up to 10.13, so you’ll need a different VPN if yours is higher.
PIA’s security is good, but it uses a lower encryption rate by default. After install, it’ll be set at 128-bit encryption, so you’ll need to change it manually to the recommended 256-bit level. A kill switch is provided, and it keeps no logs, which you can read about in our PIA review.
It’s capable of fast speeds, but they’re inconsistent across its thousands of servers. You get unlimited bandwidth, but PIA can only get into the U.S. version of Netflix and has trouble getting into other streaming services at all.
With PIA, you can have 10 devices simultaneously connected, and it’s compatible with other devices, such as iPhone and iPad.
Pricewise, PIA has always been a cheap option that doesn’t lack in quality. Like other VPN services, lengthier plans work out better. A 30-day refund window is in place, too.
- Simple to use
- Good security
- Installs with lower encryption
- Inconsistent speeds
- Trouble with some streaming platforms
Windscribe is a good VPN service that offers both a paid and free plan. Both of those are pretty good, and its free plan topped our list of the best free VPN services. That said, which one you go for will depend on what your needs are.
It is compatible with macOS 10.9 and above, and it offers a clean, easy-to-use interface. A Windscribe icon will also show in the menu bar.
Windscribe’s speeds are fine for most activities, including streaming. It has plenty of servers, and it also has some dedicated to streaming, called Windflix servers, and they work well. However, if you’re on the free plan, you’ll only have access to a handful of its servers, and that won’t include the Windflix ones.
Plus, although paying users will benefit from unlimited bandwidth, free users will be limited to 2GB per month — or 10GB if you enter a valid email address.
Besides your Mac, you can use Windscribe on many other devices, including an iPhone. You also get unlimited connections with the free or paid plan.
If you’d prefer to go with Windscribe’s paid plan, you’ll save money by choosing a longer plan. There’s no free trial because you can use the free plan, and doing so is a good idea because Windscribe only allows a refund within three days of purchase.
- Dedicated streaming servers
- Generous free plan
- Unlimited connections
- Three day refund period
Our last entry is ProtonVPN. Much like Windscribe, ProtonVPN offers both a free and paid plan. It’s a good provider that offers an easy-to-use interface with simple server navigation. There aren’t many settings to tinker with, though.
ProtonVPN’s security is excellent, and its top two paid plans benefit from the use of its Secure Core servers, too. A kill switch is included, and it has a strict no-logs policy.
The problem with ProtonVPN is its speeds. They’re not as slow as some VPNs, but they’re not fast either, as you can read in our ProtonVPN review. You do get unlimited bandwidth, though, including with the free plan, which is rare.
It doesn’t have many servers, compared to our top picks, but you should still find one to suit, and it is able to get into most streaming services, too.
ProtonVPN can be used on other devices, including other Apple products, and it allows 10 connections at the same time.
Its pricing comes in four varieties, with the first being a grand total of zero. That gets you one connection, unlimited bandwidth and three servers to choose from, giving you a decent free VPN for MacBook. Your next choice after that is the Basic plan, which gives you another connection and access to all of its servers.
The Plus plan is the best option, though. With that, you have all of the above and an extra three connections. Plus, you can use ProtonVPN’s Secure Core, streaming and Tor servers.
You could step up to the Visionary plan, but although you get a total of 10 connections and the use of its encrypted email service, it’s not worth the price hike. A 30-day refund period is also in place.
- Free plan
- Unlimited bandwidth, even with the free plan
- Good security
- Slow speeds
- No live chat support
- Free servers are sometimes unusable
How We Chose the Best VPN for Mac
Most of the providers in our VPN reviews offer the same features, but that doesn’t mean they all offer the same quality of service. To make sure you get a streamlined experience, you should make sure the VPN service includes the following criteria.
Ease of Use
One of the most important criteria is the VPN’s ease of use. You should choose a Mac-friendly VPN that has a preconfigured client. That will give you a user-friendly experience and ensure you have some solid software at your fingertips.
You shouldn’t overlook extra security as a Mac user. In the past, Mac devices had fewer security issues than Windows, but that was mainly because Windows machines dominated the market. A recent Malwarebytes report shows that the amount of malware on Macs is exceeding that of PCs.
Antivirus software can deal with such threats, but a VPN can help you stop encountering them in the first place by securing your connection.
Your online privacy is important, and although a VPN service can ensure your activities stay private through an encrypted connection, you need to ensure the VPN provider itself isn’t making a record of everything you do. Check that the VPN provider has a strict no-logs policy in place. Having that means none of your online shenanigans will be logged.
Speed and Bandwidth
The VPN’s speed and bandwidth allowance are something to consider, too. Fast speeds will mean you’re not twiddling your thumbs while waiting for something to load. Plus, if you want to stream, you’ll need it to be fast so you don’t encounter any buffering issues.
As for bandwidth, choosing a VPN service that sets a monthly data limit isn’t always a good idea. If your online tasks are minimal, you should be fine, but if you plan on carrying out data-hungry activities, that allowance is going to disappear quickly. For activities such as streaming, you should choose a VPN that has unlimited bandwidth.
While we’re on the subject of streaming, if you’re a Netflix fan or a subscriber to any other online streaming platform, you should check if the VPN is compatible with it. For instance, not many VPNs can get into Netflix due to the Netflix ban, but there are a handful that can break through the barrier.
Compatibility and Simultaneous Connections
If you’re an Apple fanboy, you might want to check what other devices the VPN service is compatible with. Most VPN providers support major operating systems — Windows, macOS, Android and iOS — but it’s a good idea to double-check. Plus, if you do have multiple devices, you should check how many simultaneous connections the VPN allows.
The VPN’s price shouldn’t be a deciding point for your security; its value is more significant. That said, each of the providers varies in that area, so it’s important to make sure you can afford it. There are often ways of reducing the cost, too, such as signing up for a lengthier subscription.
Do I Need a VPN With Mac?
Although Apple has implemented a number of security measures on its operating system, that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. There are different types of threats when it comes to connecting to the internet, so you shouldn’t assume you’re safe just because you’re using a Mac.
For one, if you connect to public WiFi, you’re automatically putting yourself at risk. Although many people use hotspots, there’s no telling how secure the connection is. By connecting to one without any protection, you’re basically opening the door to hackers.
On top of that, although macOS’s Gatekeeper software helps to keep untrusted apps away by giving you a warning, you can technically still install them. Third-party apps can bring all sorts of unwanted guests to the party.
Both of those security risks can expose you to a virus or malware, theft of your sensitive data, such as credit card information, and also leave you exposed to snooping possibilities.
If you want to stay fully protected, you should install one of our best antivirus for Mac selections, as well as one of our best Mac VPN picks.
Censorship, Streaming and Geoblocks
Security aside, a VPN can help with many other things, too. If you try to access certain content and find you’re blocked from it, that’ll most likely be because of censorship or geoblocks. Many countries control what we can see online, as you can read in our internet censorship guide.
Plus, lots of online services are only available in certain regions, or at least the content with it can be different. For example, Netflix is available in a ton of countries, but each country has a different library. If you’re traveling, you might find that your favorite show isn’t available. Other services, such as HBO and Hulu, are only available to the U.S. audience, too.
Thankfully, a VPN can help you bypass any of the above blocks by changing your IP address and making you look like you’re physically in a specific country. Check out our best VPN for Netflix, as well as our HBO and Hulu VPN guides, for some dedicated recommendations.
Can I Use a Free VPN for Mac?
Searching for a free VPN to use on Mac will return a ton of results, but the chances of any of those VPNs being good are slim. There are many reasons why they might not be good — you can read our worst free VPN providers roundup to get an idea — but we’ll go through some of the main ones here.
Other free VPNs are loaded with ads, which can mean the company is more focused on earning money by throwing up an ad everywhere you look, rather than actually securing your connection. Plus, there are some free VPNs that don’t use the level of security stated, leaving you with a lower encryption level or nothing at all.
There are a few exceptions when it comes to a free Mac VPN, though. Providers such as Windscribe and ProtonVPN offer a free plan, which is pretty good. The advice, though, is that if it’s free and not a reputable company, you should stay clear.
You shouldn’t assume your Mac is untouchable because it’s simply not true. A VPN will help you stay secure wherever you are, and you’ll benefit from its other features, too. You should choose a VPN that is simple to use and works well with Mac devices. It should also come with good security and privacy, as well as fast speeds.
We’ve chosen ExpressVPN as the top VPN for Mac because of its ease of use on all devices, its excellent privacy and security, plus it provides the fastest speeds around. You’ll also benefit from a ton of server locations, unlimited bandwidth and five simultaneous connections. Why not give it a go with its 30-day money-back guarantee?
If you have experience with using a VPN on Mac, let us know about it in the comment section. Take a look at our other VPN articles while you’re here, too. As always, thank you for reading.