While Windows might still be the dominant home computing OS, Apple’s range of Mac computers has undeniably revolutionised the sector.
They are the devices of choice for most professionals and when it comes to status symbols, there is no better computer around.
Whether you prefer a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or iMac, if you are using an Apple Mac computer, the chances are you are serious about your computing and know your stuff.
So, you should be aware of how important using a VPN is with any device these days. The question is, which VPN is the best to use with your macOS device?
ExpressVPN is currently the best Mac VPN service but there are some other good choices which we will explore in this article. We will tell you which are the best Mac VPN apps this year, to help you make the right decision.
Table of Contents
How to choose a VPN for Mac?
Choosing the best Mac VPN is not a simple task. All macOS computers are special and have features and settings which differ from other devices. This means it is vital that you choose the right VPN client for your device.
In making this decision, there are a number of different factors you should look for. These are:
- MacOS apps: For the best possible user experience, you need a VPN service with a dedicated app for the macOS such as ExpressVPN. Most top VPNs fit the bill these days, and certainly all of our recommended Mac VPNs below have a great Mac client ready to use.
- Strong encryption: There is a myth that Mac devices are impenetrable, but the truth is that your data is only as secure as your internet connection. Strong encryption is therefore as vital for Mac fans, especially on things like public Wi-Fi. All our recommended VPN services offer state-of-the-art encryption as standard.
- Fast connection speeds: Mac computers are usually fast, but to get the most out of your device, you will be wanting fast connection speeds as well as unlimited bandwidth. Most VPNs can slow your internet down, but the best will only have a negligible impact and offer super fast download and upload speeds.
- Features: Think about what you need a Mac VPN for. Most Mac VPNs includes features like a kill switch and leak protection, but not all will. If you need a kill switch or a split tunneling feature, make sure you are choosing a VPN that offers one.
- Servers: With servers, we always believe that quality matters more than quantity, so we suggest you look for a VPN provider that offers not just a high number of server locations, but high quality infrastructure in the right VPN server locations for you.
- Suit your requirements: Different people use VPNs for different things and some VPN providers are better at delivering one thing than another. Whether you are looking to get around state censorship, unblock Netflix, or simply ensuring your data is secure when online, be sure to choose the VPN for your specific needs.
Top 7 Mac VPNs:
While there are plenty of Virtual Private Network services that support Apple Mac systems, after some extensive testing we’ve decided on the following seven best Mac VPN services:
- Easy to use Mac app
- Audited no log policy
- Registered off-shore
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Time proven provider
- Strong encryption
- Monthly package expensive
- Owns VPN ‘review’ sites
ExpressVPN is our top recommended Mac VPN service overall. Their offering for Mac owners is head and shoulders above the rest and really easy to use as well.
The dedicated ExpressVPN Mac app is the best we have come across and works with all recent versions of the macOS, including the latest updates.
We love the Mac-specific ‘connection per app’ feature which allows Mac users to use split tunneling to choose which apps will connect through their service and which will not.
The ability to choose additional security on top of the standard AES 256-bit encryption where it is most needed is a real bonus and the presence of rarer features like port forwarding is a big plus too.
Like all users, macOS device owners can benefit from ExpressVPN’s huge server network, which currently covers 148 VPN server locations in 94 different countries. You can also enjoy strong privacy protections thanks to their no logs guarantee.
ExpressVPN also offer fast download speeds ideal for streaming things like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and all the other major streaming services.
Prices are a little higher than some other providers on this list which is why it’s best to take a 1-year plan for the largest savings. With a 30-day money-back guarantee, live chat support, and the best service around, they still offer terrific value for money.
Our #1 Recommended VPN for Macs
30-day money back guarantee
- Good range of apps
- Discounted prices
- Registered off-shore
- Audited no log policy
- Good range of servers
- Complicated business structure
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers a fantastic dedicated Mac VPN app which is beautifully designed and amazingly simple to use, even if you want to deploy some of their many advanced features like DNS leak protection.
These features and the add ons that are available with NordVPN too are a real highlight of the service as are the privacy protections and ability to hide you IP Address from hackers and your ISP.
As well as top-level encryption and water-tight privacy protections, NordVPN also offers such extras as a double VPN feature, which reroutes traffic down a secure VPN tunnel through two different VPN servers for extra protection, VPN over Tor servers, which also sends your data through the Tor network, and much more.
NordVPN also has a sizeable VPN server network too with more than 5,495 VPN servers in 60 countries around the world.
In our most recent connection speeds tests we found them to be one of the fastest VPN services available, ideal for accessing streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer.
With extremely competitive prices, live chat support, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN is a quality VPN service and real contender for the crown as one of the better VPNs for Mac devices
- Audited no log policy
- Good range of apps
- Good download speeds
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Not great for streaming
- Registered in the US
If you’re an Apple addict, the chances are you have multiple Apple devices running off the same account. This means IPVanish might be the best Mac VPN option for you as they offer unlimited simultaneous connections with every single account.
Their overall offering is not too shabby either. Like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, IPVanish also offers a neat and well-designed Mac client which works on all recent versions and is really simple to use.
Their VPN app is not crowded with extra features, but if you need them, there are some crucial ones like a kill switch easily accessible in the settings menu. Their server network is also a big one, with more than 2000 servers spread across 75+ VPN server locations.
IPVanish’s download speeds are great – ideal for using streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime video. Their encryption is up there with the very best too.
IPVanish offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which gives you plenty of time to try before you buy. With competitive prices and those unlimited connections, IPVanish is a real contender at the top of our list of best Mac vpns.
4. CyberGhost VPN
- Easy to use Mac app
- More servers than most
- 45-day money back guarantee
- Registered in Romania
- Unaudited no log policy
- Owns ‘VPN Review’ websites
If you are new to VPNs and want a Mac VPN provider that keeps things as simple as possible, then CyberGhost VPN is a great bet.
Their Mac app is one of the most user-friendly we have encountered, with single click options that set things up depending on what you are doing online. It rally is some of the best VPN software around.
If you want to unblock Netflix, torrent some files, or just secure your connection, CyberGhost lets you tailor your settings with ease and maximise the efficiency of your connection.
Speeds are decent too, ideal for streaming things like Netflix and they offer up to seven simultaneous connections with every account.
And with a 45-day money-back guarantee too, for beginners, plus live chat support, there is nothing to lose by giving CyberGhost a try.
- Beginner friendly app
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Registered in Switzerland
- Unaudited no log policy
Along with ExpressVPN, VyprVPN was one of the first VPNs to commission an independent audit of their service. They passed with flying colours which is no surprise as they have been around for a long time and have consistently offered a top service for many years.
This remains the case and while some will say VyprVPN could offer a few more bells and whistles, the fact remains that they do the basics very well indeed and there are some good features such as a kill switch and leak protection included.
VyprVPNs encryption and no logs guarantee is state-of-the-art and they have independent verification to prove this. They have a large number of servers, which is great for unblocking content meaning you can stream things on Netflix and other streaming services easily.
The service did used to offer a free-trial but this is no more. Instead if you want to give them a go you’ve got a 30-day money-back guarantee which gives you plenty of time to get your money back and to test them thoroughly.
- Good range of server locations
- Great for streaming
- Cheap prices
- Registered in the EU
- Unaudited no log policy
Surfshark is still a relatively young VPN, having only being launched in 2018. But it has really hit the ground running and has made serious waves in the VPN world.
It offers a wide range of powerful VPN features, such as a kill switch and leak protection, that has enabled it to climb quickly through the ranks and reach the top VPN lists much faster than many of its rivals have managed, even ExpressVPN.
What’s on offer? With Surfshark, you can access a strong VPN network, with 3,200+ servers in 65 countries located all over the world. It has robust 256-AES encryption as standard, a great kill switch, and you can connect as many devices as you like with a single account.
For a young VPN, the connection speed you can achieve on most servers is pretty impressive and it can unblock Netflix and other streaming sites with ease too.
There is already a good range of user-friendly apps for a wide range of devices to choose from including those running the macOS high sierra and other versions as well as iOS operating systems.
There are downsides. Surfshark’s logging policy is not ideal and it does also use virtual VPN server locations. But overall, it is still a good Mac VPN option, with reasonable prices, live chat support, and that essential 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Very good app range
- Excellent for streaming
- Large range of server locations
- Unaudited no log policy
- Lesser proven provider
WeVPN is a fast, and secure Mac VPN service with excellent apps for macOS devices as well as many other popular devices too. These apps look great and are simple to use.
It offers robust encryption and a strict no-logs policy that reads very well but hasn’t yet been subjected to the independent audit that some other providers on this site have had.
WeVPN offers more than 100 servers in over 48 different VPN server location around the world. While this is not as many servers as some other providers, all of the most popular locations are covered.
Speeds are good, thanks in no small part to its use of the WireGuard protocol as standard. Prices are reasonable too and it also features a 30-day money-back guarantee.
WeVPN is a user-friendly and up-and-coming VPN that an offer Mac owners the private internet access they need.
How we ranked these services
In recommending the best VPNs for Mac, our researchers have considered the overall performance that a VPN company offers to its users.
But Mac users are looking for some specific features that others don’t need and this is something we have also considered when pulling this list together.
Some of the key features we were looking for when considering the best VPN for Mac users include:
1. Great Mac apps
While some VPNs have standardised apps across all platforms, many will still have individual apps designed specifically for individual platforms. This can be a positive or a negative thing. Sometimes Mac VPN software might be inferior to its Windows or mobile alternatives.
But sometimes, the Mac client has been carefully thought through and developed to ensure a VPN performs to its optimum capacity on your macOS device and delivers the fast and stable VPN connection you need.
We have looked for those VPNs that offer the best available Mac apps and ExpressVPN was definitely our top pick.
2. Custom Mac features
Macs are not the same as PCs as tablets aren’t to mobile devices. The macOS operating system (from High Sierra through Mojave, Cataline, Big Sur, and Monterey) works very differently and offers some features that just can’t be accessed on other devices.
The best VPN providers like ExpressVPN take advantage of these in the service they offer and we have sought out those that have built a Mac client that is tailor-made for Macs and offers unique features like split tunneling.
We know that Mac VPN users have a wide variety of technical abilities and the massive popularity of Macs means that many will be new to VPNs.
That is why usability is key, both in the design of the apps and how the VPN is installed and functions. We have also considered how interoperable Mac apps are with their iOS app counterparts and how easy they are to download from the app store.
ExpressVPN and the other top VPNs keep it simple and that’s what we have looked for in this guide.
4. Strong encryption
This is a myth that Mac’s are more secure than PCs and that macOS users don’t have to worry about security.
But while they are more secure, you do still need to take the normal precautions and ensuring your data is encrypted is central to this.
The best Mac VPN will offer unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption as standard and that’s what we have set as a minimum benchmark in listing our recommendations.
We have also looked at other security features included in the macOS VPN clients, like split tunneling and a kill switch to ensure your Mac device is as secure as possible.
5. No logs policy
Privacy is paramount these days but you are only as private as your internet connection. That’s why a VPN is essential, as it stops your Internet Service Provider and indeed Apple from seeing what you are doing online by hiding your real IP Address.
But a VPN is useless for this if it is logging your activity and real IP Address too, so we always look for a VPN company that keeps zero user logs and ideally they will have had this independently verified, as ExpressVPN has.
What Mac VPN is best for you?
As we noted above, while ExpressVPN is our recommendation of the best all-round VPN for Mac, if you are planning to use your VPN for specific things, then another VPN provider might be better suited for you.
If online privacy and securing your data is the top priority for you, then ExpressVPN is definitely the VPN to choose thanks to its solid, independently verified no user logs policy, robust kill switch, and protection from DNS leaks.
ExpressVPN delivers the private internet access you need.
However, if you want a more affordable VPN that still offers a top service, then NordVPN might be a better fit for you, while VyprVPN and Surfshark are also reasonably priced. Then there is the 45-day money-back guarantee available with CyberGhost VPN.
ExpressVPN is great but it isn’t the cheapest premium VPN you will find in the mac app store.
If you want a VPN to protect all of your macOS devices and maybe those of your family too, NordVPN will let you connect up to six devices and CyberGhost VPN up to seven.
But head and shoulders in front on this are IPVanish and Surfshark. Both of these premium VPNs now offer unlimited simultaneous connections. It can only be a matter of time before many others join them.
There are other VPNs on the list that can unblock sites like Netflix, but ExpressVPN is the only VPN in the VPN industry we have found to consistently unblock them all.
How to download and set up a Mac VPN
The hard part about getting the best Mac VPNs for your macOS device is choosing the right one. Once you have made your choice, getting things downloaded and set-up is easy.
Each VPN is slightly different, so check with your provider for precise details, but they all follow roughly the same process.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow using ExpressVPN as an example:
- Sign up to ExpressVPN by clicking a link on this page and then following the clear steps on the ExpressVPN internet site.
- Download the ExpressVPN app, either from the ExpressVPN website or from the official Apple App store onto your macOS device.
- Open the ExpressVPN app and sign in using the account details you were given when you signed up.
- Connect to ExpressVPN either by clicking the quick connect button or choosing your preferred location from the list of servers and then clicking connect to establish a VPN connection.
- Use the internet as normal. You are now connected to ExpressVPN and everything you do online is secure and protected.
If you have any problems downloading and installing ExpressVPN and establishing a VPN connection with them or any other VPN, a quick chat with their customer support team should sort it out.
They will help you with Netflix and BBC iPlayer streaming issues and other problems too.
ExpressVPN offers a live chat and ticket service and this should be enough to get everything up and running smoothly.
The short answer to this is, yes.
All of the VPN’s we have recommended in this article as best VPNs for Mac offer a dedicated Mac app which you can download for free once you have signed up for their service.
These apps have been custom-designed to work with all devices that run on macOS. We have tested all of them on the latest version of macOS, and all worked absolutely fine.
So, whether you are using the latest MacBook Pro, the new Apple iMac Pro, or an older MacBook Air or an older bit of kit, you should have no problems using any of our recommended VPN services.
All of them will work on Mac and iOS devices too. Often the iOS app is identical to the Mac app, but even if there are differences they will be minimal.
If you want our recommendation for the best Mac app, it would have to be ExpressVPN.
Earlier in this article, we touched on the fact that there is a myth that Mac devices are safe and so security tools like a VPN are not needed.
This is absolutely not the case. Mac’s are more secure than Windows PCs and many other devices, mostly because Apple is so strict about what software that makes it into their Mac app store.
But you can still download software from the internet onto a Mac too. And if you have an internet connection or are using a public Wi-Fi connection, you are still vulnerable to hackers and other threats. VPNs can help you to unblock sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer on your Mac too.
The benefits of a VPN are as vital to Mac users as those using any other devices. This is why VPNs like ExpressVPN have created dedicated Mac apps. And this is why most computer savvy Mac users use a VPN too.
No, Mac computers do not come with built-in VPNs.
All macOS devices have the capability to run a VPN built-into the operating system. But Apple does not have its own VPN technology and therefore does not provide any VPN software as standard with its devices.
If you want the benefits of a VPN on your MacOS device, you will need to download an external VPN and, as we have shown in this article, there are a number of terrific VPN providers for Mac users to choose from.
If you are wondering why we haven’t recommended any best free Mac VPN providers in this guide, the simple answer is that they are almost always more trouble than they are worth.
Running a VPN costs money and if they are offering you the service for free, they must be making their money from somewhere else. Usually, this will be from selling your data, which means free VPN services are both insecure and not private.
Then there are those free VPN providers that will plague your device with adverts. Some free VPNs even come bundled together with malware or spyware, while too many have links to Communist China and probably send your data there.
Other free VPNs will offer major service limits, such as speed or internet traffic caps which make them next to useless for the majority of people.
A premium VPN like ExpressVPN will only cost you a few dollars a month. If you cannot stretch to this and need a free option, go for ProtonVPN. Their free plan has some speed limits and only three servers, but it does at least still offer the security and privacy you need.
But in general, a free Mac VPN is just not worth the hassle as free service providers are almost without exception inferior to paid ones.
Yes, in the overwhelming majority of countries, it perfectly legal to install and use a VPN on your macOS device, or any other device for that matter.
VPNs are only illegal in handful of, mostly authoritarian countries like China, Russia, and Iran. In places like these, lots of people use VPNs to bypass government censorship and internet controls but are aware that there may be consequences if they are caught doing so.
For users in other countries, it is perfectly legal to have a VPN on your device and use it when connecting to the internet.
We would stress that using a VPN to try and cover-up illegal activity online is not recommended, either by us or the VPN providers recommended in this guide. Illegal activity is still illegal, whether you are using a VPN or not and inevitably if you are caught, you will face legal consequences.
But if you are just using a VPN to keep your net connection secure and private, you are doing absolutely nothing illegal.
Not really, no.
A VPN will work on a Mac device in much the same way as it will on any other. When you connect to a Mac VPN, your internet traffic will be diverted down an encrypted tunnel and through an external server before it goes off to the websites or services you are connecting with.
When your data passes through the VPN server, the IP Address attached to it will be changed to help mask your own IP Address and enhance your online privacy. If you enable features like the VPN kill switch this will also be activated to enhance your online privacy and security.
All VPNs have different apps and some VPN apps for Mac will look slightly different to their apps for other operating systems. Some apps may contain features not available on other devices or alternatively not have some features that are available elsewhere.
But the core functions of the VPN will be exactly the same on a Mac VPN as any VPN on any other device.
Is there a VPN with a browser extension for Safari?
One question that Mac users com to us with fairly regularly is whether there is a VPN that we would recommend that comes with a Safari browser extension.
Browser extensions are available with some VPN providers but not all. Those that do still offer them will usually have them set up for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Occasionally there will also be a provision for Microsoft Edge or Opera. But we are not aware of any VPN provider that currently offers a browser extension for Safari.
ExpressVPN has muted the possibility of one, but there is no timeframe for its development that we are aware of and it certainly hasn’t seen the light of day yet.
Some Mac users might be frustrated by this. But it is important to note that browser extension do only offer a very limited VPN service. Sure, they will protect your browsing, but they will not offer protection when you are connecting to the internet through other apps.
Using a dedicated Mac VPN app, you are all to protect everything on your Mac device that goes online and enjoy full protection.
If you want to exempt some apps from your VPN, our advice would be to look for a VPN that offers split tunneling and then use that to set up apps to connect to the internet directly and let everything else enjoy the protection offered by your VPN.
If you have a Mac computer, a VPN is every bit as essential as for any other device. In this article, we have identified the top 7 VPNs for Mac, with ExpressVPN coming top of the pile.
It offers the best online security, with features like a kill switch (known as Network lock), DNS leak protection, split tunneling, and a terrific no logs guarantee along with five simultaneous connections and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
But the best VPN for you will also depend on what you plan to use it for. We have also given some examples of when different VPNs might best suit your needs too.
If you’re still undecided then give our recommended provider, ExpressVPN, a try. It’s easy to use and, don’t forget, they’ve got a 30-day money back guarantee so if you disagree with our assessment you can get a full refund.
Try our #1 Recommended Mac VPN
Other articles you may like
- 21 of the safest VPN apps
- Top VPN apps for the iPhone
- 5 Amazon Fire TV Stick VPN apps to enhance your entertainment
Illustration © Leonardo255 | Dreamstime.com