Best VPNs for Mac in 2023
While Mac devices are already very secure, adding a VPN will only enhance the protection and your experience browsing online. A best VPN for Mac devices will secure your data online, provide blazing-fast connection speeds, and has well-designed and user-friendly apps.
Apart from hiding your real IP address, encrypting data while using a public network, and preventing data tracking, compatible Mac VPNs can also unblock streaming platforms and give access to global content.
Considering that the VPN market lacks MacBook-focused products, we've tested quite a few services regarding their performance on macOS devices. 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 Mac
- Surfshark – the best value VPN for macOS
- IPVanish – super fast VPN for Mac enthusiasts
- ExpressVPN – simple but strong Apple Mac VPN
- CyberGhost – geographically diverse VPN service
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:
|Fast tunneling protocols:||WireGuard|
|Security features:||Kill switch, Threat protection|
|Privacy:||No-logs policy, RAM-only servers|
- 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 advanced 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 2023
|Servers/countries:||5500+ servers in 60 countries|
|Unblocks: ||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more|
|Current deal:||🔥Get NordVPN with 63% OFF + 3 months FREE!🔥|
NordVPN is the best VPN for Mac devices overall 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.
Security and privacy: the Mac client of NordVPN has a kill switch that shuts down your entire connection to protect you from IP leaks. The threat protection feature also keeps you safe from cyber felons, ensuring you don’t get malware on your Mac device. Not to mention the advanced AES-256 encryption to protect your data and a strict no-logs policy.
Features: it is unique that they exclusively added a Presets feature to their macOS apps. With it, you can create presets for server types you want to join, so you can quickly access them from the main app screen. There’s also the Meshnet feature for creating a secure connection between you and your friends' devices, in addition to essentialities, such as the WireGuard (NordLynx) tunneling protocol, split tunneling, or specialty servers.
Application: 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. Nevertheless, NordVPN has made sure you receive user-friendly and nicely-developed programs to use.
NordVPN is undoubtedly one of the most advanced VPN services available today that also offers a Mac-focused application. It gets even better after learning that the starting price is $3.29/month.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth NordVPN review.
- Great speed test scores
- P2P servers
- Independently-audited no-log policy
- Unblocks Netflix
- Threat protection
- No free version on Mac app
2. Surfshark – the best price/value Mac VPN service
|Based in:||The Netherlands|
|Servers/countries:||3200+ servers in 100 countries|
|Unblocks: ||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more|
|Current deal:||🔥Get 82% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE🔥|
Surfshark is another top 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.
Security and privacy: this VPN uses military-grade encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and has a kill switch. Plus, there’s whole antivirus software, making this provider one of the most secure VPNs today.
Features: 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. You can use the IP rotator so your IP address would be changed every other minute. There’s the CleanWeb feature that blocks blacklisted websites. Also, it offers WireGuard and IKEv2 tunneling protocols.
Application: unfortunately, 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. Nevertheless, this VPN knows how to build an easy-to-use app that’s also nice to look at.
All of this is available for a price ($2.30/month) 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.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth Surfshark review.
- Great speed test scores
- Low subscription price
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Data breach alerts
- Strict no-logs policy
- No Shadowsocks/Whitelister on Mac app
- No unlimited free version
3. IPVanish – one of the safest VPN services
|Based in:||United States|
|Servers/countries:||2000+ servers in 50 countries|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube|
|Current deal:||🔥Get 72% OFF IPVanish!🔥|
IPVanish is a safe VPN for Mac, offering unique security features, fast speeds, and some special customization options, that make it quite different from other providers on this list.
Security and privacy: IPVanish uses market-standard AES-256 encryption that’s trusted by governmental institutions. It has a functional kill switch feature that protects your IP address whenever a VPN connection drops. Plus, the company follows a strict no-logs policy.
Features: 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. You also get AES-256 encrypted storage that allows you to safely store your files of up to 500GB. Apart from that, the WireGuard tunnel supports Mac and can provide you with lightning-fast connection speed.
Application: IPVansih’s application is quite old-school compared to other market-leading VPNs. Nevertheless, it’s easy enough to use that it would be suitable for a beginner. The macOS application is less customizable than Windows devices’ but it still includes all the available features.
How much for all of this? The cheapest IPVanish plan starts at $3.33/month for a long-term plan. Summing it up, this deal is truly better than paying for iCloud alone.
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
4. ExpressVPN – user-friendly and secure VPN for macOS
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3000+ servers in 94 countries|
|Unblocks: ||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+|
|Current deal:||🔥 Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF the 1-year plan! 🔥|
ExpressVPN is another macOS-friendly VPN on our list. This provider offers a simplistic, easy-to-navigate, and feature-rich app, which makes it one of the best VPNs for MacBook Pro and other versions.
Security and privacy: ExpressVPN mainly uses the AES 256-GCM cipher to protect your data online. Additionally, there’s an independently audited no-logs policy and a strong kill switch. However, ExpressVPN’s ownership, Kape Technologies, raises a few security concerns.
Features: You’ll get a split tunneling feature with your macOS app, which is rather rare with VPNs. In addition, there’s a tracker blocker, obfuscated servers for more secure and hidden connections, and shortcuts to quickly launch your favorite websites.
Application: ExpressVPN’s macOS app is pretty much the same as the Windows counterpart. You’ll get the same features, app look, and ease of use. However, there’s no map interface to pick your server location.
Overall, ExpressVPN offers the necessary features for a macOS VPN. However, this is a rather costly provider, the subscription starts at $6.67/month. And you can try this VPN risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
To learn more about this provider, read our in-depth ExpressVPN review.
- Audited no-logs
- Split tunneling for macOS app
- Unblocks most of the popular streaming sites
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Owned by Kape Technologies
- Not many features
- On the pricier side
5. CyberGhost – VPN with the most servers around the world
|Servers/countries:||9700+ servers in 91 countries|
|Unblocks: ||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+|
|Current deal:||🔥 Get CyberGhost VPN, now 83% OFF + 2 months FREE 🔥|
With over 9700 servers in 91 countries, CyberGhost stands out as a suitable Apple Mac VPN to use in the most isolated places globally. Moreso, it has some advanced security features and successfully unblocks geo-restricted content, so you get rather a multipurpose tool.
Security and privacy: CyberGhost has nearly everything in place regarding robust security. It uses industry-leading AES-256 encryption and has an automatic kill switch feature, which protects your IP in case a VPN connection is interrupted. Another important aspect – is the independently audited no-logs policy, which helps you trust the provider a bit more, considering that it also belongs to Kape Technologies.
Features: with this VPN, you receive quite a handful of features in the macOS app. To begin with, there are specialized servers for gaming, streaming, and torrenting. So, your way to a better experience is straightforward. But that’s not all. There’s also an ad blocker, which can even help you block YouTube ads and avoid adware overall. And with the WireGuard tunneling protocol, it’s also one of the fastest VPNs for Mac.
Application: CyberGhost is actually one of the easiest VPN clients for Mac to use. All the features are clearly listed on the left side of the tab, and you will find the server list with an indicated load right in the middle of the page.
All in all, this VPN provider is a modern and secure option not only for your MacBook but also for other devices. What’s also great is that its starting price is as little as $2.19/month, and there’s a 45-day money-back guarantee on the side.
Learn more about the features in our CyberGhost review.
- Massive server fleet
- Intuitive VPN client for Macintosh
- Excellent connection speeds
- Cheap pricing
- Owned by Kape technologies
- Kill switch feature could be improved
How we tested and selected these VPNs
First of all, we had to separate the wheat from the chaff. If a VPN service is boasts 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 application for it. However, even if it's available, make sure that the Mac VPN app is 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.
Other VPNs we tested for macOS
Even though only 5 Mac VPNs made it to the list, more potential services can work great for your MacBook. For example, PureVPN is the first VPN service with an always-on audit, meaning it can be independently tested by a third-party company without prior notice. Not to mention an impressive server fleet with over 6500 servers and a well-developed macOS client.
There's also Atlas VPN, which stands out as both a secure and beginner-friendly VPN provider. It has the SafeBrowse feature for blocking malicious websites, the IP rotator for making you even harder to track, and more useful tools. But, most importantly, all of the features can be found in its modern MacBook app. And you can even try Atlas VPN's free version to feel the service before committing to it.
Speaking of free versions, Proton VPN is applicable too. It's an open-source Mac VPN, which comes with some robust security features, like an ad blocker or the WireGuard tunnel. However, the macOS client also lacks some important features, including split tunneling.
Last but not least, we have an option for those who want to use their Macs for either streaming or torrenting. With PrivateVPN, you can easily unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Video, and more, and port forwarding support improves your torrenting experience.
Video review: best VPNs for Mac
How do I set up a VPN software on my Mac?
If you've chosen the best VPN software for Mac, 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 MacBook Pro, Air, or any other version, 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, 63% off now
- Click Get and confirm your Apple ID
- Download the app and connect to your preferred country
Install via Web page
For this, we also recommend picking our best VPN for macOS NordVPN.
- 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 macOS?
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 Atlas VPN. It has strong encryption and great speed results, so you can browse online seamlessly and with no lags. 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:
Best VPNs for Windows: secure your data on Windows devices
Best VPNs for iPhone: browse safely with the best VPN for Apple products
Best VPNs for Chromebook in 2023: access websites & apps securely
Best VPNs for Windows 11: encrypt all of your internet traffic on Windows 11
What is the best Mac VPN in 2023?
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.
Is NordVPN safe to use on Mac?
Yes, NordVPN is completely safe to use on Mac devices. This is one of the safest VPNs you could pick to protect your data online and to keep you anonymous while browsing.
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.
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