Apple devices are known for their security, yet you can improve your privacy status even more with a Mac VPN. Apart from hiding your real IP address and encrypting data while using a public network, compatible VPNs can also unblock streaming platforms and give access to global content.
The problem is that whether you’re using an Apple Macbook or an iMac, not many VPN service providers offer macOS applications. Thus, most review websites focus on Windows when ranking the services and you might have a hard time finding truly Mac-focused products.
For this reason, we've tested quite a few VPNs regarding their performance on macOS devices, including streaming capabilities and security features. In this article, you’ll find a detailed list of our top choices to help you pick the best VPN for Mac.
Top 5 best VPNs for Mac:
- NordVPN – the best overall VPN for macOS
- Surfshark – the best value VPN
- Atlas VPN – super fast VPN for Mac enthusiasts
- IPVanish – solid Mac VPN with great additional features
- PureVPN – affordable all-around Mac VPN
Why do I need a VPN for macOS?
The reasons why you need a VPN on Mac have little to do with your OS selection. It's a more widespread Internet privacy problem and the various restrictions that prevent it from being free and accessible as it was in its inception. Thus, a VPN helps in these ways:
- Accessibility. Even as an Apple user, you're likely being denied some Apple Media Services if you're living in a smaller market. In contrast, if you're living in China, you're also denied access to most western websites. This is something that a Mac VPN helps to solve by giving you access to the Internet as if you're connecting from another country.
- Privacy. Government and private companies feed on your data for advertising and various other things. A VPN for macOS helps you shield your real identity with a brick wall – hiding your IP and the IP of the website you're browsing.
- Connection speeds. Your ISP can throttle your connection speed, especially if it detects torrenting activity. However, you can easily hide your connection with a Mac VPN and avoid slow downs while streaming or downloading torrents.
- Security. Premium macOS VPNs use military-grade encryption protocols to secure your data. Since Doxxing and many other nasty exploits await unsuspecting users whose data has been leaked somewhere on the internet, using a VPN can add an extra layer of security.
- No geo-restrictions. Many streaming platforms have location-based restrictions that prevent you from watching your regular content while traveling. Top VPNs for Mac can circumvent these geo-restrictions and unblock all popular streaming sites wherever you go.
Best VPN software for Mac – our detailed list
Although there are many VPN providers to choose from, only a handful of them makes a good addition to your Mac device. After I filtered out those that underperform or cut essential features, I was left with only a few that nail the critical areas, like speeds, security, and additional subscription benefits.
1. NordVPN – the best VPN for Mac in 2022
|Servers/countries:||5500+ servers in 59 countries|
|Required macOS version:||macOS 10.12 or later|
|Current deal:||🔥Get NordVPN with 68% OFF + 3 months FREE🔥|
NordVPN is the best VPN for Mac that has an awesome macOS app that doesn't skimp on any of the advanced features available elsewhere. They keep their signature high bar of quality. The app has received numerous improvements, and this tendency doesn't seem to be slowing down.
The Mac client of NordVPN has a kill switch which shuts down your entire connection to protect you from IP leaks. There’s also the threat protection feature – it keeps you safe from cyber felons, ensuring you don’t get malware on your Mac device.
It's also unique that they exclusively added a Presets feature to their macOS apps. With it, you can create presets for server types that you want to join, so you can quickly access them from the main app screen. That way, with one click, you can instantly connect where you want to.
Another important thing to note is that there are two versions of the app: the one you can download from their website and the App Store will be different. The one from the website supports only OpenVPN but allows beta updates, while App Store has all the tunneling protocols unlocked.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth NordVPN review.
- Great speed test scores
- SOCKS5 proxy
- P2P servers
- Independently-audited no-log policy
- 24/7 live chat
- Unblocks Netflix
- Threat protection
- No free version on Mac app
2. Surfshark – the best price/value VPN service
|Based in:||The Netherlands|
|Servers/countries:||3200+ servers in 95 countries|
|Required macOS version:||macOS 10.12 or later|
|Current deal:||🔥Get 83% OFF Surfshark + 3 months FREE🔥|
Surfshark is a great VPN for Mac since its app has received special treatment to make it fit in with the overall macOS user interface. Yet it's in our top 3 not only because of its looks.
For protection, this VPN uses military-grade encryption and has a kill switch. Also, it offers WireGuard and IKEv2 tunneling protocols – great options for various use cases and excellent speeds.
Surfshark is quite capable all around. It unblocks most streaming media websites, regardless of where you're located. You can use it with torrent clients to hide your downloads, and the service has a strict no-log policy to protect your privacy. Their upload and download speed test results leave most of the competition in the dust, as well.
Finally, Surfshark takes care of your data even beyond your connection. If your personal information ever leaks, you can set up real-time data breach alerts to monitor the dark web for your email, ID, or credit card information. That way, you'll be informed in time to mitigate any potential damage.
All of this is available for a price that makes the rest of the competition look too expensive. The value to price ratio for this service is outstanding, when you factor in unlimited bandwidth and simultaneous connections.
The only drawback is Surfshark Mac is missing a couple of features that are available on other devices: Shadowsocks and split tunneling (Whitelister). Some form of split tunneling can be achieved by using their browser extensions, but it will only cover your web traffic.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth Surfshark review.
- Great speed test scores
- Low subscription price
- Unblocks several Netflix libraries
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Data breach alerts
- Has browser extensions
- Strict no-logs policy
- No Shadowsocks/Whitelister on Mac app
- No unlimited free version
3. Atlas VPN – fast, feature-filled Mac VPN
|Servers/countries:||750+ servers in 37 countries|
|Required macOS version:||macOS 10.15 or later|
|Current deal:||🔥Get Atlas VPN, now 81% OFF🔥|
Atlas is a fast VPN that offers a fully decked-out macOS version – including some excellent safe browsing features.
Atlas VPN doesn’t have a massive list of servers – but with a fleet of more than 750 servers in 37 server locations, it still had no issues accessing all the main streaming services and torrenting. The fast and secure WireGuard protocol offers excellent speeds, too, so you’ll have no issues with high-definition content as well.
But the main killer feature here is the security: SafeBrowse feature will block malicious websites, keeping you secure from malware attacks. Meanwhile, SafeSwap will keep rotating your IP address as you’re connected. This makes it even harder for anyone to track you, as your online activity is now attached to several anonymous IP addresses. With unlimited simultaneous connections, Atlas VPN will work not only on your Mac but on pretty much any VPN-capable device that you have.
And finally – Atlas VPN is seriously affordable as well. At a price of just $2.05/month, it’s an excellent value option for anyone looking for an affordable Mac VPN. In case you change your mind, there’s always a 30-day money-back guarantee.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth Atlas VPN review.
- Unblocks most streaming websites
- Excellent browsing security features
- Live customer support
- Super fast WireGuard protocol
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Based in the US
- Small list of servers
4. IPVanish – one of the cheapest quality VPN services
|Servers/countries:||2000+ servers in 50 countries|
|Required macOS version:||macOS 10.13 or later|
|Current deal:||🔥Get up to 69% OFF IPVanish + Antivirus🔥|
IPVanish is a super fast Mac VPN, offering excellent security, faster speeds, and some special customization options, that make it quite different from other providers on this list.
With the fast and secure WireGuard protocol, IPVanish is one of the fastest VPNs on our list. The 2000 servers in 50 countries also fully allow torrenting, and can also unlock some major streaming platforms, including Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
The On-Demand feature will let you customize your Mac to automate VPN connections: for example, enabling it only when connecting to less-secure public Wi-Fi networks. This makes it an excellent feature if you’re looking for a VPN to protect your Mac while working in cafes, hotels, and other public places.
If massive monthly prices for iCloud storage got you down, IPVanish has another ace up its sleeve. It offers SugarSync – an AES-256 encrypted storage service. With secure cloud storage of up to 500 GB, you can use this VPN to hold some of your files documents: and there’s also a super convenient option of uploading them via email.
How much for all of this? The cheapest IPVanish plan starts at $3.33/month for a long-term plan. If you pick up a yearly plan, you can also use the 30-day money-back guarantee – so you’re not risking anything.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth IPVanish review.
- Unblocks Netflix
- Connection automatization options
- Secure cloud storage service
- Excellent value for money
- Great performance
- Price increases after a year
- Fails to unblock some streaming services
5. PureVPN – the service with the best features
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||6500+ servers in 78 countries|
|Required macOS version:||macOS 11.0 or later|
|Current deal:||🔥Get PureVPN 82% OFF + 3 months FREE🔥|
PureVPN offers excellent performance, and solid security features – making this a great addition to an already-secure Mac ecosystem, at a very affordable price.
The macOS version of the app offers IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec tunneling protocols, as well as kill switch, split tunneling, and port forwarding features, letting you customize the VPN connection according to your needs. But it’s the security aspect where PureVPN really shines – as it’s the only VPN in the market with an always-on security audit. This means that an independent third-party company consistently monitors the security measures and privacy of this VPN, giving you the most peace of mind there can be.
PureVPN is also great for unblocking various streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It’s also excellent for torrenting, which is great if your ISP or government are limiting P2P connections. With over 6500 servers in 78 countries, you’ll be spoiled with choices. Not to mention that having 10 simultaneous connections lets you use this VPN on just about any device that you own.
With all these premium features, PureVPN still manages to be seriously affordable – at $1.99/month for a long-term plan, this is excellent value for money. All in all, PureVPN is a premium macOS VPN at a bargain price.
macOS versions of some VPNs are often less extensive than their Windows counterparts. Not Atlas VPN: this fast VPN offers a fully decked-out macOS version – including some excellent safe browsing features.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth PureVPN review.
- Customizable kill switch
- Excellent security measures
- Unblocks most streaming services
- No WireGuard on macOS
- Requires macOS 11 or later
6. PrivateVPN – macOS VPN for streaming
|Servers/countries:||200+ servers in 63 countries|
|Required macOS version:||macOS 11.0 or later|
|Current deal:||🔥Get PrivateVPN, now 85% OFF!🔥|
Offering an intuitive macOS application, PrivateVPN will be a handy pal in securing your online time and accessing all major streaming services.
Speaking of the abilities, PrivateVPN provides you with quite a handful of useful features. With it, the Mac client gets port forwarding support that improves your torrenting experience, HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies, and the obfuscation feature for bypassing geo-restricted content. And speaking of bypassing restrictions, let us mention that accessing Netflix global libraries is also an effortless task.
But entertainment isn’t the only important thing here. With PrivateVPN, your browsing time on macOS will be encrypted with military-grade encryption or a 128-bit model (it’s up to you). You can also pick between OpenVPN tunnel or L2TP/IPsec to enhance your network protection and speed.
Overall, PrivateVPN offers quite similar possibilities for all operating systems. However, the macOS application lacks a PPTP tunnel, DNS leak protection, and the ability to kill certain apps during disconnection from a VPN connection.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth PrivateVPN review.
- Unblocks all major streaming platforms
- Port forwarding
- Customizable encryption model
- Obfuscation feature
- HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies
- No DNS leak protection for macOS
- No WireGuard tunnel
How we tested and selected these VPNs
First of all, we had to separate the wheat from the chaff. If a VPN service is boasting about new and amazing features, we have to check whether they actually apply to macOS users. Then again, several other factors are always important when choosing a safe VPN.
- Security. The number one check box to tick when it comes to VPNs is security. You're using a VPN to improve your anonymity and online protection, so make sure that the service you'll be using meets the expected security standards. This includes strong encryption, secure tunneling protocols, and failsafe measures like a kill switch.
- macOS client. It goes without saying that if you want to use the service on Mac, make sure that the provider actually has an app for it. However, even if it's available, make sure that it's actually functional. Some of them are stripped-down copies of their Windows counterparts with no kill switch, so steer clear of those.
- Speed. Some internet speed reductions are completely normal with a VPN. That's the price you're paying for a safe connection. However, some implementations are more efficient than others, translating into real-world performance. Those VPNs get extra credit and are ranked higher.
- Entertainment options. If you have a fast VPN, you might as well check whether they unblock streaming platforms and support torrenting. Why pass up all that awesome content?
- Price. Most quality VPNs that you'd want to install on your Mac cost money. However, don't think that the more you pay for a service, the more you'll be getting. Sometimes you can get a lot for a small price, which completely changes the game. We always evaluate the pricing based on the overall package that you get.
Video review: best VPNs for Mac
How do I set up a VPN on my Mac?
If you've chosen your VPN service provider, you'll need to set up the software. Nowadays, the process is as easy as installing an app. Each provider may have unique setup guides, so to be on the safe side, you should always consult their page to find exact instructions.
If you're using a Mac, there are two ways to obtain the software: the App Store and your provider's page.
Install via the App Store
- Go to the App Store and download the VPN you want. NordVPN is our #1 choice, 68% off now
- Click Get and confirm your Apple ID
- Download the app and connect to your preferred country
Install via Web page
- You'll have to go to the provider's web page and go to the downloads section.
- There, select your OS version and download the .dmg file
- Once it downloads, you'll have to install it on your machine (open the file and follow the instructions)
- When the installation completes, you'll be able to log in using your credentials and start browsing safely
How to manually configure a VPN for Mac
It's also possible to set up a VPN on your Mac manually. However, this process is a bit more complicated than simply downloading a VPN. In any case, here's how you do it:
- Go to the Apple menu, then go to System Preferences and click on Network
- Click on the Add button and go to the Interface menu and click on VPN
- Open the VPN Type menu and pick the VPN connection type. Name the service and press Create
- Type in the server address and the account name for your VPN connection
- Go to Authentication Settings and enter the info you received from the network admin
- Go to Advanced to enter extra info
- Choose Apply and click OK
Is it safe to use a VPN on Mac?
Yes, it’s completely safe and even recommended to use a VPN on a Mac. By combining the overall security of the OS with the protection from a VPN, not only are you using a secure UNIX-based operating system, but you're also routing your Internet connection through encrypted passages.
That is if you're using a trustworthy VPN service. Some free VPNs are notorious for collecting your data and selling it off to third parties. Such matches won't improve your privacy and could even be a security vulnerability.
Always do your research before picking up a VPN service provider. Look critically, if a VPN is only available as a free service – look into how it's funded. And as always, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What is the best free VPN for Mac?
There are not that many free VPNs for Mac that could be good recommendations. Even on our list, there isn't a single one with a free version, only premium VPNs with 30-day money-back guarantees.
That said, some VPN services could pass as decent free alternatives. Usually, they're offered as teasers for the full paid version. One of the best picks in this category would be ProtonVPN. It has strong encryption and no data caps, so you can download as much data as you want. With that said, it's limited in other ways.
Although macOS VPN options aren't as abundant as those available on Windows, there are plenty of great VPNs to choose from. Whether you're focusing on privacy, streaming, or looking for the cheapest available option, there's something available for everyone.
A quality VPN service, like NordVPN, will remove Internet blocks and make you anonymous. Which is important whether you're on a MacBook Air or an iMac.
More VPN guides from Cybernews:
What is the best Mac VPN in 2022?
The best VPN for Mac is NordVPN. Its security is unmatched, the speeds are incomparable, and it even provides you with such features as a kill switch and threat protection.
Does Mac have a built-in VPN?
Yes, macOS has built-in VPN support, which is not the same as having a built-in VPN. You still need to have an external server that would accept your incoming connection. Apple doesn't help with this part of the VPN puzzle.
What is a shared secret in Mac VPN?
A shared secret or pre-shared key (PSK) is a string of data that is sent to a VPN server before sending any credentials. That way, only if the shared secret is correct does it allow further communication when exchanging credentials.
How do I send all traffic through VPN Mac?
Usually, when you connect with a VPN service, all your data is automatically routed via a VPN. If you would like some of the data to connect directly, you should use a split tunneling feature.
Best VPN for Mac to unblock Netflix?
If you only need to unblock Netflix, the best (and one of the cheapest) options should be Surfshark. It unblocks more libraries than just US Netflix, which means that you'll be able to see exclusives from other countries as well.