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The Best Free VPNs for Mac

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Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

The best free VPN clients for Mac protect your online privacy and the security of your MacBook or iMac.

VPN software adds a layer of encryption to your internet connection and hides your real IP address from third-parties.

Based on our latest macOS tests, the five best free VPNs for Mac are:

  1. Windscribe: Our top-rated free VPN for Mac. Read summary or Visit Windscribe
  2. ProtonVPN: A free Mac VPN with unlimited data. Read summary or Visit ProtonVPN
  3. Hide.me: Private and fully-optimized for MacOS. Read summary or Visit Hide.me
  4. Hotspot Shield: Fast Mac VPN with P2P support. Read summary or Visit Hotspot Shield
  5. TunnelBear: Free Mac VPN with a 500MB data cap. Read summary or Visit TunnelBear

The five free VPNs for Mac we recommend are fast, secure, and have a user-friendly native app for macOS devices.

Windscribe is the top-rated free VPN for Mac. It bypasses geo-restrictions to access web content worldwide. It even streams US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

However, even safe free VPNs have limitations: slower speeds, data caps, or the inability to unblock popular websites and apps.

EXPERT TIP: For unlimited VPN use, consider a top premium VPN for Mac. Our editor’s current pick is ExpressVPN.

The Top 10 Free VPNs for Mac Compared

In the table below, you can compare the 10 best free Mac VPNs side-by-side. You’ll find information on server locations, logging policy, data allowance, and more.

The Best Free VPNs for Mac: Performance Ratings

Use the table below to compare how the top-rated free Mac VPNs perform in each key testing category:

The 5 Best Free VPNs for Mac in 2021

  1. 1. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for Mac

    Fast and secure free Mac VPN that unblocks US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

    Ranked #1 for Free VPNs for Mac
    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit Windscribe

    Pros

    1. Generous 10GB monthly data cap
    2. Works with Netflix & other streaming sites
    3. Fast speeds
    4. Allows torrenting on free servers
    5. Works in China
    6. Unlimited simultaneous connections

    Cons

    1. Menu bar app
    2. Minor MacOS compatibility issues
    3. No live chat support

    Free VPN for Mac Rating: 8.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 88.0/10
    • 88.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 99.0/10

    Windscribe Free is the best free VPN for Mac. Not only that, but it’s also the overall best free VPN of 2021.

    The VPN comes with a generous monthly data allowance of 10GB, and it allows usage on an unlimited number of devices at once.

    The free service is fast, secure, and its native MacOS app is easy to use.

    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    54Mbps
    Data Cap10GB Per Month
    MacOS CompatibilityYosemite & Later
    Mac App StoreNo
    Email Address RequiredYes
    Compatible with
    1. macosMacOS
    2. iosiOS
    3. appletvApple TV

    The best free Mac VPN for streaming

    Windscribe is the only safe free VPN that works with US Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.

    During our tests, we accessed geo-blocked movies and TV shows from all 10 of Windscribe’s free server locations.

    With Windscribe’s fast speeds and WireGuard support, we were able to stream TV shows and movies in HD without any buffering.

    We also set up our Mac as a virtual router and shared our Windscribe VPN connection with other devices that don’t support VPN connections, like our Apple TV and PS4.

    The only drawback to using Windsribe’s free plan for streaming is its 10GB monthly data allowance. We were only able to stream four hours of HD content before running out of data.

    You can increase your allowance by 5GB by tweeting to the company, but this is still not enough bandwidth if you plan on streaming regularly.

    Windscribe's app for Mac.

    Windscribe’s app for MacOS.

    Works in China & good for torrenting

    Windscribe’s Mac app comes with a ‘Stealth’ connection protocol which obfuscates VPN traffic to bypass censorship.

    Testing Windscribe through our strict China VPN testing methodology, we discovered the free VPN successfully connects out of China.

    The vast majority of premium VPNs fail to work in China, so the fact Windscribe’s free tier manages to work is extremely impressive.

    Equally, Windscribe allows torrenting traffic on all its free servers. We downloaded a legal torrent file in seconds on our test iMac, again thanks to Windscribe’s fast local speeds.

    Torrenters will be happy to know that the free VPN comes with a kill switch, built-in DNS leak protection, and secure AES-256 encryption, too.

    Poor customer support & minor app issues

    Windscribe’s MacOS app is very easy to use, with a simple layout and large button for easy connections.

    However, if you experience issues, there is no human live chat support. You can speak to Garry, an automated chatbot, but we have never found it helpful.

    The only other downside to Windscribe is that the Mac app is a basic menu bar app.

    The problem with menu bar apps is that they’re small, limited in functionality, and hard to configure.

    Additionally, Windscribe’s Mac app doesn’t behave like a typical menu bar app. When interacting with it, it forces you out of the foremost app and jumps to the desktop.

    In the latest MacOS Big Sur release, the VPN finally lets you detach the app from the menu bar. But, this simply turns the app into a floating window, which doesn’t improve user experience.

    Don’t let the issues above dissuade you from using Windscribe, though. It’s still the best free VPN for Mac. Let’s hope Windscribe can remedy its small problems soon.

    How to use Windscribe for free on Mac:

    • Sign up for Windscribe via the registration page.
    • Increase your monthly data allowance from 2GB to 10GB by providing a username and password.
    • Get an extra 5GB of data, increasing your monthly bandwidth to 15GB, by tweeting about Windscribe. Login to your account and click ‘Tweet 4 Data’.
    • Download the Windscribe Mac app and log in using your account details.
  2. 2. ProtonVPN: Unlimited Free Data

    The only trusted free Mac VPN with no restrictions on data usage.

    Screenshot of ProtonVPN Free's Mobile App
     100% 
    (2 user reviews)
    Visit ProtonVPN

    Pros

    1. Unlimited data allowance
    2. Fast speeds
    3. Strong security features
    4. Open-sourced & audited apps
    5. IP & DNS leak protection

    Cons

    1. Just one simultaneous connection
    2. Only three server locations
    3. Doesn’t work for streaming
    4. Blocks torrenting traffic
    5. No live chat customer support

    Free VPN for Mac Rating: 7.8/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 1010.0/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 11.0/10

    ProtonVPN is the safest and most secure free VPN for Mac. It has an effective kill switch, a privacy-friendly logging policy, and it comes from a well-respected cybersecurity company. If you want a free VPN primarily for encrypting unsafe networks and hiding your IP address, ProtonVPN is the best option.

    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    95Mbps
    Data CapUnlimited
    MacOS CompatibilitySierra & Later
    Mac App StoreNo
    Email Address RequiredYes
    Compatible with
    1. macosMacOS
    2. iosiOS

    Unlimited data allowance, but no streaming

    ProtonVPN is the only safe free VPN that offers unlimited data and bandwidth. This means that, unlike the other VPNs in this list, you can use it as much as you want.

    The main problem with ProtonVPN, though, is that you won’t be able to benefit from most high-bandwidth activities while connected to a free server.

    The VPN doesn’t work with US Netflix, Hulu, or any other streaming site. Also, torrenting traffic is actively blocked by the VPN, so you won’t be able to use it with any torrenting clients or with Kodi. This is disappointing as it makes ProtonVPN’s unlimited data allowance less useful.

    ProtonVPN's app for Mac.

    ProtonVPN’s app for MacOS.

    Robust security features

    ProtonVPN’s free tier benefits from the same best-in-class security protections as the paid version.

    ProtonVPN Free encrypts traffic using the secure AES-256 cipher, data is authenticated using an SHA-348 hash, and connections are established via an RSA-4028 handshake.

    The Mac app comes with a kill-switch enabled by default, too, so you won’t accidentally leak your true IP address if your VPN connection suddenly disconnects.

    The VPN comes from the same company behind ProtonMail, which is an acclaimed encrypted email service.

    It also operates under a minimal-logs privacy policy and is based in Switzerland, a jurisdiction that does not mandate any data-gathering for VPN providers. All this adds up to make ProtonVPN one of the most trusted VPNs for keeping your data both private and secure.

    Only one simultaneous connection

    In addition to the lack of streaming and torrenting support, there are a few issues with ProtonVPN that mean we don’t recommend it as highly as Windscribe for Mac users.

    Most noticeably, you can only use ProtonVPN Free on one device at a time. While this will be enough for a single iMac or MacBook, you won’t be able to secure your iPad or iPhone, along with any of your family’s devices.

    To get around this, you’ll have to install ProtonVPN on your router. This can be quite difficult to set up, but once configured, you can secure every device on your network with ProtonVPN.

    How to use ProtonVPN for Free on Mac:

    • Sign up for ProtonVPN via the registration page. You will need to provide an email address and password.
    • Download the ProtonVPN Mac app and log in using your account details.
    • No other configuration is required. You will automatically be given unlimited data allowance and the choice of three server locations.
  3. 3. Hide.me: 10GB Free Data Per Month

    Quick torrent downloads and an enhanced app for MacOS.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (1 user reviews)
    Visit Hide.me

    Pros

    1. Available through the Mac App Store
    2. Updated for Apple Silicon
    3. No account registration required
    4. Fast speeds on nearby servers
    5. Allows P2P traffic
    6. Attractive and user-friendly app

    Cons

    1. Only four server locations
    2. WireGuard blocked for free users
    3. Doesn’t work for streaming

    Free VPN for Mac Rating: 7.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 77.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 8.28.2/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10

    Hide.me is a fast, secure, and trusted free VPN for Mac. You don’t have to provide any account details to sign up, and it comes with a generous 10GB data allowance. Although it doesn’t have as many features as some other VPNs in this list, Hide.me is an excellent and easy-to-use Mac VPN.

    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    72Mbps
    Data Cap10GB Per Month
    MacOS CompatibilityCatalina & Later
    Mac App StoreYes
    Email Address RequiredNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMacOS
    2. iosiOS
    3. appletvApple TV

    Optimized for MacOS and Apple Silicon

    Unlike all other free VPNs for Mac, Hide.me has fully-optimized its apps for MacOS. Firstly, Hide.me is one of only a few services available to download through the Mac App Store.

    The benefit of downloading through the App Store is that you benefit from Apple’s app sandboxing requirement. This limits what parts of your system the VPN can access, increasing privacy and reducing any security risk.

    Downloading via the App Store also means that you can use your existing Apple ID payment method to subscribe to Hide.me, and the app is kept up-to-date through automatic updates. These relatively small improvements combine to make Hide.me a convenient and enjoyable experience on MacOS.

    Also, Hide.me is the first VPN provider to be fully compatible with Apple Silicon. Apple Silicon is the new line of processors that power the latest MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis.

    All the other VPNs we recommend require software translation to function on these machines, which can negatively impact performance. By running natively, Hide.me is faster and runs with fewer issues than non-optimized VPN apps.

    Hide.me's app for Mac.

    Hide.me’s app for MacOS.

    Fast download speeds & private torrenting

    In our latest tests, Hide.me achieved a download speed of 81Mbps when connected to a nearby server. This is a speed loss of just 11%, which is very impressive for a free VPN.

    We were able to achieve these speeds as the VPN does not throttle its free servers. After contacting it, a representative from Hide.me told us that the free VPN doesn’t put any speed caps on users’ traffic, which should mean that they experience speeds similar to premium users.

    You can make use of these fast download speeds by using the VPN for torrenting, too. Hide.me allows P2P traffic on its free servers, it has a functional kill switch, and can be bound to your torrenting client via the SOCKS proxy. This kept our torrenting activity private while keeping speeds fast.

    The only caveat is that Hide.me’s four server locations — US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany — are all similarly located. As a result, if you’re in South America, Africa, or Asia, you may experience slower speeds as there’s no nearby server to connect to.

    10GB monthly data cap

    Hide.me’s biggest limitation is that it only allows you to use 10GB of data each month. Although this is relatively high for a safe free VPN, Windscribe’s maximum data cap is 50% larger, and it doesn’t come close to ProtonVPN’s unlimited bandwidth.

    This is plenty if you plan on using Hide.me for casual browsing, securing unsafe public WiFi networks, and occasional torrenting. However, it’s worth looking elsewhere if you perform high-bandwidth activities often.

    How to use Hide.me for free on Mac:

    • Download Hide.me via the App Store. You do not need to create an account.
    • No other set-up is required. You can use the VPN without entering any personal details.
  4. 4. Hotspot Shield: 500MB Free Data Per Day

    Very fast and easy-to-use VPN with just one server location.

    Hotspot Shield mobile screenshots
     88% 
    (5 user reviews)
    Visit Hotspot Shield

    Pros

    1. Easy-to-use MacOS app
    2. Download through the Mac App Store
    3. Doesn’t require account details
    4. Very fast download speeds
    5. Works with torrenting

    Cons

    1. Just one server location (US)
    2. Logs some user data
    3. 500MB daily data cap
    4. Based in the privacy-hostile US

    Free VPN for Mac Rating: 6.8/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 5.55.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 5.55.5/10

    Hotspot Shield is a very fast free VPN for Mac. The client can be downloaded through the App Store, it has a built-in malware blocker, and uses military-grade encryption. However, the VPN is based in a Five Eyes jurisdiction and collects some user data. Hotspot Shield is still a good choice if you prioritize speed, but we don’t recommend it for privacy.

    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    44Mbps
    Data Cap500MB Per Day
    MacOS CompatibilitySierra & Later
    Mac App StoreYes
    Email Address RequiredNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMacOS
    2. iosiOS

    Superb speeds

    Thanks to its proprietary Catapult Hydra VPN protocol, Hotspot Shield Basic is a very fast free VPN. In our latest round of tests, we experienced a 0% speed loss when using Hotspot Shield, with the service keeping our speeds at 100Mbps.

    The VPN does claim that peak speed is capped on the free server to prioritize traffic for premium subscribers. However, we did not notice any difference in speed when connecting to both the paid and free US servers. In both cases, speeds remained fast and reliable.

    However, Hotspot Shield Basic does come with one major downside that prevents it from being the fastest free VPN: you can only connect to a US server.

    Although our speeds remained fast connecting from the UK, you’ll experience a more significant drop in speed if connecting from a further-away location, like Australia or India.

    Intuitive & attractive app for MacOS

    Hotspot Shield’s MacOS app is attractive, easy-to-use, and it features a useful dashboard that displays information about your current session. To connect to the VPN server, simply click the large ‘On’ button from the main screen.

    Once connected, you’ll be able to see your new IP address, server load, the amount of data transmitted, and a live gauge of speed performance.

    Hotspot Shield's app for Mac.

    Hotspot Shield’s app for MacOS.

    Like Hide.me, Hotspot Shield’s app is also only available via the App Store. This means you benefit from automatic updates and also from the App Store’s security and privacy protections.

    Hotspot Shield Basic also doesn’t require an account, so you can use the VPN without entering any personal details, like your email address or payment details.

    It also comes with built-in malware protection. While this is certainly no replacement for a fully-featured digital security product, Hotspot Shield will notify and block you from accessing sites infected with malware.

    Not recommended for privacy

    Hotspot Shield is let down by its sub-par privacy policy. Although the VPN has recently improved its logging practices, it still collects too much personal information.

    Hotspot Shield Basic logs the following information:

    • Your IP address
    • The domains that you access
    • Your approximate geographical location

    After contacting it, a Hotspot Shield representative told us that in all cases, this information is aggregated, encrypted, and not tied to your account in any way.

    We were told that this is to prevent fraudulent activity and that your IP address will be deleted from the system at the end of your session.

    Although Hotspot Shield claims this logging could not be used to identify you from your online activity, it is clear that the VPN collects far more information about you than other VPN services.

    Although we trust the VPN to adequately protect this information, we recommend you don’t use this VPN if you prioritize privacy and anonymity.

    How to use Hotspot Shield for free on Mac:

    • Download Hotspot Shield via the App Store. You do not need to create an account.
    • No other setup is required. You can use the VPN without entering any personal details.
  5. 5. TunnelBear: 500MB Free Data Per Month

    Beginner-friendly Mac software with an insufficient monthly data allowance.

    TunnelBear VPN
     100% 
    (2 user reviews)
    Visit TunnelBear

    Pros

    1. Simple & user-friendly Mac app
    2. Private logging policy
    3. Quick speeds across its server network
    4. Torrenting permitted on all VPN servers
    5. 23 server locations
    6. AES-256 encryption & other security features

    Cons

    1. 500MB monthly data limit
    2. Menu bar app
    3. Doesn’t work with Netflix
    4. Limited customer support
    5. Based in a Five Eyes jurisdiction

    Free VPN for Mac Rating: 5.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 22.0/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 55.0/10

    TunnelBear is a beginner-friendly VPN with a fun and easy-to-use app for MacOS. It’s a good choice for privacy and security, as TunnelBear conducts regular independent audits and is transparent about its security and logging practices. That said, its tiny 500MB monthly data allowance makes the VPN useless beyond occasionally encrypting public WiFi sessions.

    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    94Mbps
    Data Cap500MB Per Month
    MacOS CompatibilitySierra & Later
    Mac App StoreNo
    Email Address RequiredYes
    Compatible with
    1. macosMacOS
    2. iosiOS

    Large server network

    TunnelBear is the only VPN in this list that doesn’t limit the number of servers that free users can connect to. You can utilize all the same servers as paying subscribers, without any limit on speed performance or locations.

    In total, TunnelBear has servers in 23 countries, which is by far the most we’ve seen from a free Mac VPN.

    This includes popular locations like the US, UK, and Japan, along with less-common countries like Brazil, India, and New Zealand. As a result, you’ll be able to get an IP address from almost any location with TunnelBear.

    Tunnelbear's app for Mac.

    Tunnelbear’s app for MacOS.

    Audited by a trustworthy security firm

    Although TunnelBear is a free VPN, it benefits from the same high-level privacy and security features as the paid version.

    TunnelBear was one of the first VPNs to be audited by a third-party cybersecurity firm and the VPN now completes one of these audits every year, with the most recent in January 2020.

    The reports regularly find TunnelBear to be an extremely safe and secure VPN, with security protocols that lead the industry.

    The service operates under a private logging policy, and its Mac app uses AES-256 encryption, SHA256 data authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy via 3072 bit DH key exchange. In short, you can trust TunnelBear with your most sensitive data.

    The only drawback is that TunnelBear is based within Canada, which is part of the Five Eyes alliance. This is a group of five countries that collect and share surveillance data. In theory, one nation could collect data from a VPN user and share it with another Five Eyes member.

    As TunnelBear is a privacy-first VPN and collects only anonymous server data, it does not have any user data that could be handed over to a surveilling government. In fact, TunnelBear has been asked to provide user data on 14 separate occasions and has been unable to every time.

    500MB per month is not enough

    TunnelBear’s free plan comes with just 500MB of data allowance per month, which is far lower than all the other free VPNs we recommend for Mac.

    Similar to Windscribe, you can tweet the company to get an extra 1GB of data. However, this is single-use, so you’ll still be given 500MB of data the following month.

    Given the low data cap, TunnelBear is not a viable long-term option. You will use up your allowance very quickly if torrenting or streaming, and it won’t last long for general web browsing, either.

    Unless you want a quick and simple way to encrypt and anonymize a single network session, you should avoid TunnelBear.

    How to use TunnelBear for free on Mac:

    • Sign up for TunnelBear via the registration page.
    • To increase your first monthly data allowance from 500MB to 1.5GB, tweet the company. Once verified by its support team, you will be granted an additional 1GB of data.
    • Download the TunnelBear Mac app and log in using your account details.

Free Mac VPNs to Avoid

VPN services require constant investment from the VPN company to function properly.

This money goes towards server infrastructure, support staff, development costs, and a range of other essential components.

In the absence of paying subscribers, many free VPN services fund their service through objectionable methods.

These methods include collecting and selling user data to advertisers, refusing to pay the costs involved to implement safe security practices, and some are simply scams.

Here are some popular free Mac VPNs that are dangerous to use:

Hola

Despite its popularity, Hola is one of the very worst VPNs and does not attempt to protect its user’s privacy and security.

Our Hola VPN review found that it’s not a VPN at all, as it does not encrypt any of your internet traffic. Instead, it is a peer-to-peer network where the true IP address of each user is shared.

This means that while using Hola, you will give your IP address to another user and will be accountable for any activity they perform.

To function in this way, Hola logs the websites you visit, your IP address, and a whole range of personally identifiable information. You should avoid Hola at all costs.

Opera VPN

Opera VPN is a free service that’s built in to the popular Opera web browser. However, it’s actually a proxy service and doesn’t come with the level of protection or anonymity as a fully-featured VPN service.

Opera VPN only routes traffic from within the browser through the VPN tunnel. This means that any other activity, like torrenting or iCloud photo syncing, is left unencrypted and vulnerable.

Opera also admits in its privacy policy that it “makes money by selling your data onto third parties,” so even your traffic within the Opera browser won’t be kept private and anonymous. It’s worth using no VPN at all over Opera.

If you want to read more about its intrusive logging policy and security limitations, read our full guide to Opera VPN safety.

Betternet

Although Betternet is positively rated on the Mac App Store, it tracks its users and is not very transparent about its ownership structure. Betternet is owned by Aura, the same company that’s behind Hotspot Shield.

However, our most recent investigations into free VPN apps noted that this is not stated anywhere on Aura or Betternet’s site, with the only reference buried in the VPN’s shared privacy policy.

In addition to this, an academic report found that Betternet had the highest number of embedded tracking libraries of all the VPNs studied.

Our Betternet review also found that the VPN suffers from DNS leaks if it is not properly configured. In all, Betternet fails as a tool for privacy and you should avoid it.

How We Test Free VPNs for Mac

To ensure the free Mac VPNs that we recommend are the best available, we follow a strict and scientific review process.

We test each and every VPN on our iMac, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini — allowing us to verify a service’s quality across a range of MacOS devices.

For free Mac VPNs, we test specifically for:

  • A generous monthly data allowance.
  • Easy to download and install the app for MacOS.
  • Retains no personally identifiable logs.
  • Fast speeds when connected to nearby and far-away servers.
  • Ability to stream some geo-restricted streaming libraries.
  • No limits on torrenting and P2P activity.

Here’s a more in-depth look at all the factors we test for when ranking the best free VPNs for Mac:

1. Data Cap: 30%

Minimum Requirement: 500MB per month.
We Recommend: 10GB a month or higher.

A data cap will limit the amount of bandwidth you can use each month. It’s the most popular way that safe free VPNs restrict their service.

This will inhibit the number of times you can stream, torrent files, or browse the web using your VPN —making it the most noticeable limitation you’ll face day-to-day. For this reason, every free Mac VPN must allow you to use a relatively large amount of data each month.

As well as checking every VPN’s data allowance policy, we download each service and check if there are any methods to obtain extra data each month. We’ve found that some VPNs increase your data allowance by up to 500% if you provide a username and password.

Overall, we tend to only recommend VPNs that offer at least 10GB of data each month. We strongly discourage using VPN service below this amount.

2. Mac App: 20%

Minimum Requirement: A Native app for Mac with some features.
We Recommend: An easy-to-use and feature-packed Mac app that can be downloaded through the App Store.

Every free Mac VPN app should be as intuitive to use as Apple’s built-in applications. Each VPN should also include a baseline of standard features, regardless of it not being a premium service.

We make sure that there is a native app for MacOS that can be easily downloaded either via a web page or through the App Store. We then check to see how simple it is to connect to a VPN server and change IP location.

We then look to see if the Mac VPN app has a kill switch, a split tunneling feature, or any more advanced functionality.

Due to the sandboxing and system requirements of MacOS, many VPN providers don’t make the effort to implement all its features. The best will, though, making the application as fully-featured as its Windows counterpart.

3. Logging Policy: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Anonymized connection logs.
We Recommend: No logs.

As free VPNs have to make money somehow, many of them resort to intrusive data collection on users that can then be sold to advertisers. This makes using one of these VPNs as a tool for privacy and security essentially pointless.

In many of the free Mac VPNs we tested, we found serious privacy flaws. Our independent free VPN research has found that 80% share or log users’ real IP addresses.

To test for this, we inspect every VPN’s privacy policy. We record what information it collects, the purpose of the collection, and how long it’s stored for. In addition, we look for any services that present their logging practices clearly and concisely.

All the services on this page are freemium VPNs, which means paying subscribers subsidize free users, so no data collection is necessary. We will never recommend any VPNs that log any personally identifiable user data.

4. Speed: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Average download speeds above 60Mbps.
We Recommend: Average download speeds above 80Mbps.

Many free VPNs often oversell their server space, meaning too many users are connected to one server at any given time. This results in slow speeds, connection dropouts, and an overall frustrating experience.

To measure every free Mac VPN’s average speeds, we perform a number of manual speed tests. We test each VPN while connected to servers around the world.

We perform 12 monthly speed tests per location on our MacBook Pro. Depending on its results, each VPN is then given a rating out of 10.

The best VPNs will either allow you to access the same servers as paying subscribers or use clever techniques, like load balancing, to reroute traffic to a larger pool of servers. This makes these VPNs fast enough for HD streaming and quick torrent downloads.

5. Streaming: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Works with some less popular streaming services.
We Recommend: Works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

Compared to premium alternatives, free Mac VPNs are far less likely to work with streaming sites. This is because most VPNs reserve this ability for paying subscribers. Additionally, free servers often have many users connected at once, making it easier for streaming services to detect and block the server’s IP address.

To see which free Mac VPNs work with streaming sites, we test all of them weekly on our MacBook Pro and iMac. We track how each VPN performs over time, with results going back multiple years.

We don’t state a VPN unblocks any streaming service until it’s worked for four consecutive weeks. This removes the risk of any anomalous results and means we know for certain that it’ll work for you, not just that it worked once.

The best free Mac VPNs will unblock multiple Netflix libraries, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. The worst will block streaming altogether.

6. Torrenting: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Some P2P-friendly servers and a minimal-logs privacy policy.
We Recommend: Torrenting allowed on all servers, a kill switch, and a no-logs privacy policy.

We’ve developed an in-house test to calculate a torrenting rating for every VPN. This test is standardized and applies the same to each service we test.

Here’s how we test every VPN’s torrenting ability:

  1. We calculate a VPN’s P2P speed rating by downloading a torrent file on a 150Mbps connection. We measure the file transfer duration to find the average bitrate.
  2. We examine each service’s torrenting and logging policy, as many don’t allow free users to torrent. We’ll also verify that the VPN has never handed over any user data to law enforcement in the past.
  3. We check the VPN’s P2P servers and assign them a unique rating. Only a VPN that allows torrenting on all of its servers gets the maximum rating.
  4. We survey the VPN’s advanced torrenting features. We look for strong encryption and extra networking features.

Overall, the best free Mac VPNs will have an average torrenting bitrate of at least 4MiB/s, will keep no logs, allow P2P file-sharing on its entire server network, and support port forwarding.

Additional Testing Criteria

As well as our six main testing categories above, we also look for other characteristics to find the best free Mac VPNs.

For instance, we categorically disallow any VPN app that includes ads or pop-ups. Some free VPNs include advertisements within the app to support their business. While this is an annoyance and worsens user experience, these ads also pose a threat to your privacy. For example, Betternet is a free VPN that does not outright collect user data, but the free version includes Google Ads.

Betternet’s privacy policy states that Google Ads collects personal data to serve you more targeted ads — including your “mobile advertising identifier, IP address, and device information.” For this reason, none of the services we recommend include in-app advertisements.

In addition, we also expect at least a basic level of encryption and security. All the VPNs we endorse come with strong encryption techniques to securely tunnel traffic, with Perfect Forward Secrecy and an AES 256-bit cipher. The VPNs also come with a kill switch, IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection, and privately-owned DNS servers. These features prevent your identity from being revealed at any point.

Finally, we also consider how easy the VPN is to register and start using. We prefer services that don’t require you to input a name or email when signing up and don’t consistently try and push you to upgrade to the paid subscriptions.

FAQs

Why do I need a VPN for my Mac?

Here are the three main reasons to use a VPN on your Mac:

  • Hide your internet history and torrenting activity from your ISP. When not connected to a VPN on MacOS, your ISP can see all websites you visit and every torrent file you download. This applies even when in a private browsing session.
  • Encrypt and secure public WiFi networks. ‘Free’ WiFi hotspots in public spaces, like cafes and hotels, are often used by criminals to steal sensitive data from other people on the network. By rerouting all traffic through a secure VPN tunnel, VPN software prevents hackers from intercepting and stealing your data.
  • Unblock streaming services. To enforce copyright agreements, streaming sites restrict the amount of content available by region. While paid Mac VPNs are typically more reliable at accessing this content, we found that Windscribe works with streaming sites from around the world.

Will my Mac VPN work with my other devices?

Your Mac is certainly not the only device that needs protection, so it’s important to install the VPN client on as many of your devices as possible.

All the five VPNs on this page have apps for iPhone, iPad, and even allow router-installation, so you can protect your Apple TV, too.

Windscribe is the only one that allows you to use the VPN on an unlimited number of devices at once, though, so that’s the best choice if you have several internet-connected devices.

How do I set up a VPN on Mac?

Each of the top free VPNs for Mac come with a simple custom app for MacOS devices. This means that all you need to do is download the software from the VPN’s website or through the Mac App Store and log in.

If you do need assistance on setting up a VPN, read our guide on how to install a VPN app on Mac.

How do I change my IP address on Mac?

The easiest and safest way to change your IP address on your iMac or MacBook is to use one of the trusted VPN services that we recommend.

Once you’ve set up your VPN and enabled all the available security features, just select a VPN server location and click the connect button. Your true IP address will now be hidden and replaced by the new VPN IP address.

You can check this by using our What Is My IP Address tool. If your displayed IP address is different from your usual one, then the VPN has successfully changed your Mac’s IP address.

Does Mac have a built-in free VPN?

Apple MacOS devices have built-in IKEv2 VPN support. You can find VPN configuration options within System Preferences.

To enable the VPN on your Mac, you’ll still need to use configuration files from a VPN service, which can be downloaded through the provider’s website.

You can read more on how to set up Mac’s built-in VPN in our full guide.

We recommend using a custom VPN app for Mac, though, as it’ll not only save you time but it’ll also ensure that the necessary security features are properly configured.

Are these VPNs compatible with my version of MacOS?

Here is a summary of the MacOS compatibility of the best free VPNs for Mac:

  • Windscribe — MacOS Yosemite 10.10 (Released in 2014) and later.
  • ProtonVPN, Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear — MacOS Sierra 10.12 (Released in 2016) and later.
  • Hide.me — MacOS Catalina 10.15 (Released in 2019) and later.

If you’re not on a recent version of MacOS, we strongly recommend updating as soon as possible. New MacOS releases often include essential security patches which are necessary to keep your device safe.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio