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Best Free VPN for Mac

Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

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 for Mac will improve your online privacy and the security of your MacBook or iMac. VPNs add a layer of encryption to your internet connection, and hide your real IP address from snooping third-parties, like your ISP or government.

Additionally, the most effective free VPNs for Mac can bypass geo-restrictions and unblock web content all over the world. The very best VPN clients even work with geo-blocked streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

There are countless free VPN clients that work with Mac. But many of them are slow, leak your IP location, and won’t unblock many popular websites. That’s why we’ve created a list of the best free VPNs for MacBooks and iMacs.

Here are the best free VPNs for Mac in September 2020:

  1. Windscribe: The best free VPN for Mac. It works with US Netflix and it comes with a generous 10GB monthly data cap. Read summary
  2. ProtonVPN: A fast and secure free VPN with an unlimited data allowance. Read summary
  3. Hide.me: The fastest free VPN on Mac devices. Also comes with a 10GB monthly data allowance. Read summary
  4. Tunnelbear: One of the most popular free VPNs for Mac, with access to free servers in 23 countries. Read summary
  5. Avira VPN: A free VPN suitable for absolute beginners. Decent speeds and good security levels. Read summary

Don’t mind paying for extra features? See the best VPNs for Mac here.
Every single one of the free VPNs that we recommend comes with a user-friendly native app for MacOS devices.

However, even the best free Mac VPNs come with a series of limitations: slower speeds, data caps or the inability to unblock popular websites and apps. To unlock the full potential of a VPN, have a look at the overall best VPNs for Mac. You can take advantage of their risk-free refund guarantees, if you want to try one before committing long-term.

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

5 Best Free VPNs for Mac in 2020

1. Windscribe VPN

A fast and secure VPN that works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

  1. Straightforward MacOS VPN app
  2. Fast short-distance download speeds
  3. Works with US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  4. Torrenting allowed on some free VPN servers
  5. Minimal web logs
  6. VPN servers in 10 countries plus city-level choice
  1. 10GB monthly VPN data cap
  2. No live chat support
  3. Won't work in China
  • Top Speedi

    54Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    10 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #1 Free VPN for Mac

Windscribe is currently the best free VPN for Mac. It has a great custom VPN client for MacOS, which you can use on your MacBook, iMac or Mac Pro with very little setup. In fact, even those with no VPN experience will be able to install the software in a matter of minutes.

Moreover, Windscribe Free is reliably fast connecting to nearby VPN servers, and comes with some great security extras, such as a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection, to keep you anonymous online. When you use Windscribe, your web connections will be secured with AES 256-bit encryption.

Recently, Windscribe has started to work with consistently with US Netflix and it now also unblocks BBC iPlayer. That’s pretty rare these days, and it’s therefore one of Windscribe’s greatest benefits.

You can use the free version of Windscribe on any number of devices at the same time. But, remember the 10GB monthly VPN data cap. That’s a pretty generous allowance for free VPNs, but it can run out quick if you’re a heavy streamer or torrenter.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Windscribe VPN review.

2. ProtonVPN

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

  1. Simple, intuitive VPN app for MacOS
  2. Good VPN speeds on nearby servers
  3. Unlimited VPN data
  4. Privacy-friendly VPN logging policy
  5. Good choice of security extras
  6. Works on range of other devices too
  1. Limited to three VPN server locations
  2. P2P not permitted on free servers
  3. Can’t stream Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  4. Can only use it on one device at a time
  5. Won't work in China
  • Top Speedi

    60Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    3 countries, 16 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #2 Free VPN for Mac

ProtonVPN’s free VPN for MacOS isn’t quite as good as Windscribe’s, but it’s still a great choice if you don’t want any caps on your VPN usage.

This free MacOS VPN is private, secure and safe. It has a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection, as well as a minimal logging policy. Just like Windscribe, it uses AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN connection protocol, our current favorite.

Unlike most other free VPNs, ProtonVPN doesn’t limit users with a restrictive VPN data cap. This means you can use ProtonVPN as much or as little as you want, although you can only use the VPN on one device at a time.

Unfortunately, ProtonVPN doesn’t allow P2P activity on any of its free servers. It also doesn’t unblock Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

However, ProtonVPN recorded good speeds in our latest tests, so if you want a good free VPN for anonymous web browsing, ProtonVPN may be the one for you.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ProtonVPN review.

3. Hide.me

The fastest free VPN for Mac we've seen this year.

  1. User-friendly MacOS VPN app
  2. Fast downloads on nearby VPN servers
  3. Privacy-friendly logging policy
  4. Good range of security features
  5. P2P allowed on some free VPN servers
  6. 24/7 live chat support
  1. Only five server locations available
  2. No access to Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  3. Won't work in China
  • Top Speedi

    72Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    4 countries, Not disclosed servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #3 Free VPN for Mac

The free version of Hide.me VPN is the fastest we’ve tested connecting to nearby VPN servers. It also offers a much higher monthly VPN data cap than TunnelBear at 10GB, but its still not as good as ProtonVPN’s unlimited data allowance.

Nevertheless, Hide.me is one of the most private and secure free VPNs around, with a minimal logging policy, a VPN kill switch, and DNS leak protection.

While torrenting and P2P traffic is allowed on two of the five server locations available, sadly Hide.me doesn’t unblock streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

If you have any issues while using Hide.me, there’s 24/7 live chat support available to free users, which is much better than most complimentary VPN services.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Hide.me review.

4. TunnelBear

A popular free VPN with 23 VPN server locations available.

  1. Sleek MacOS VPN client
  2. Quick download speeds on nearby servers
  3. Close to being a zero-logs VPN
  4. Access to 23 VPN server locations
  5. Torrenting permitted on all VPN servers
  6. Useful security features
  1. 500MB monthly VPN data cap
  2. Doesn't unblock streaming services
  3. Very little customer support
  • Top Speedi

    52Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    23 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

Ranked #4 Free VPN for Mac

TunnelBear’s free VPN plan isn’t much of a long-term solution due to the stingy 500MB monthly data cap, but it’s good for trialling out the MacOS VPN software.

TunnelBear is known for its bear-themed native VPN apps, and the one for MacOS is no different. But don’t let the animated bears fool you, the free VPN software is still pretty powerful, and very easy to use.

Just like its rivals above, TunnelBear comes with a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection to keep your real location hidden. Also, TunnelBear doesn’t log any personally identifiable user logs.

In terms of speed, TunnelBear Free is pretty quick if you connect to a nearby VPN server. The VPN also allows torrenting on all its free 23 server locations, but the monthly data cap will be a huge restriction to any P2P activity.

Overall, TunnelBear is a good free VPN to get started, but it currently can’t compete with the likes of Windscribe, ProtonVPN or Hide.me.

For a more in-depth look, read our full TunnelBear review.

5. Avira Phantom Free VPN

Basic secure free VPN suitable to VPN newbies.

  1. Very easy to use MacOS client
  2. Quick same-country downloads
  3. Minimal VPN logging
  4. Browser extension for Google Chrome
  5. Use it on as manydevices as you like
  1. Automatic VPN server selection only
  2. 1GB monthly VPN data cap
  3. No VPN kill switch
  4. Doesn't work with Netflix
  5. No customer support on the free plan
  • Top Speedi

    51Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    1 country

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

Ranked #5 Free VPN for Mac

Avira Phantom Free VPN is geared towards VPN newbies who want to protection their web traffic on public WiFi. It’s not the fastest and not the most private free VPN, but it will do the job if you plan on using it infrequently.

We like that you can use Avira Phantom VPN on an unlimited number of devices at the same time. Sadly, you can’t pick the server location to connect to as the Avira VPN app decides this for you.

Avira VPN’s free MacOS app comes with DNS leak protection, but the VPN kill switch is unfortunately reserved for paying customers. The same applies to customer support. And while you can torrent files with Avira VPN, but you won’t be able to unblock US Netflix or BBC iPlayer with it.

There is also free browser extension for Google Chrome, though, which is an added bonus.

To sum up, Avira VPN has a lot of ground to make up if it wants to catch up with its other VPN rivals. But, it’s a decent VPN for beginners who want to see what using a VPN on their Mac is like.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Avira Phantom Free VPN review.

Free VPNs for Mac FAQ

What's the Best Free VPN for Mac?

The best free VPN for MacOS is Windscribe – it’s safe, secure, fast, and gives you access to VPN servers in 10 countries worldwide.

Screenshot of Windscribe Free MacOS VPN app

Windscribe Free also works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, which is unmatched by any other safe free VPN.

However, even the best free VPNs come with limitations, like restrictive data caps. Windscribe comes with a 10GB monthly allowance, so if you are looking for the absolute best VPN for your MacBook or iMac you’ll need to pay for it.

Do I Really Need a Free VPN for Mac?

MacBooks and iMacs are known for being more resistant to malware and viruses than Windows devices, but you still need to use a VPN to protect yourself from hackers and snoopers.

Having good antivirus software or relying on MacOS’ own security isn’t enough to keep you safe online.

A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic with strong protocols and ciphers so that you can safely use your devices at home and on public WiFi.

If you don’t use a VPN on your MacOS device while browsing, streaming, or torrenting your ISP – and any other unwanted third parties sniffing traffic – will be able to see what you’re doing online.

In some countries, ISPs are required to hand over certain user information to the government, and some sell your data for targeted advertising.

Using your MacBook on public WiFi without VPN protection puts your personal data at risk. Hackers can take advantage of weak network security in order to steal your data, including your credentials for online banking.

Are Free Mac VPNs Safe?

There are loads of free VPNs around, but not all of them are safe to use. Using a free VPN on your Mac isn’t always the best choice – some free VPNs suffer from security flaws and others may even sell your personal information to China.

We’ve spent hours testing the free VPNs for MacOS that we’ve listed above and have concluded that they are 100% safe to use.

However, if you want to benefit from extra security features such as a VPN kill switch you might need to purchase a premium VPN subscription – NordVPN is a good choice.

Does Mac Have a Built-in Free VPN?

Apple MacOS devices have built-in VPN support (using the L2TP/IPSec or IKEv2/IPSec VPN protocols) – you can find VPN configuration options within System Preferences > Network settings > + > (Inferface) VPN.

Screenshot of MacOS VPN settings

In order to enable the VPN on your MacBook or iMac, you’ll still need to use configuration files from a VPN service, though, whether you pay for it or choose a free VPN.

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 set up.

You can also turn an old MacBook or iMac into a VPN server. You can find our step-by-step walkthrough at the other end of that link, but be warned that it isn’t for beginners.

How to Set Up and Use a Free VPN on Mac

It’s easy to get a free VPN on your Mac. Each of our top free VPN picks listed above come with a simple custom app for MacOS devices, meaning that all you need to do is download the software from the VPN’s website and log in.

Some of our recommendations provide OpenVPN configuration files so that you can set up the VPN manually. This allows you to install the VPN at router level in order to protect all internet-connected devices in your home.

Once it’s all set up, make sure to enable the VPN kill switch and leak protection if available. All that’s left to do is connect to your preferred server.

If you need a little extra help setting up a VPN on your Mac, check out our guide How to Install a VPN on Your Mac.

How to Change Your IP Address on Mac

The easiest and safest way to change your IP address on your iMac or MacBook is to use a trusted VPN service – one of the free services listed above are good choices.

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 should now be hidden and replaced by the new VPN IP address.

You can check this by running a VPN leak test on browserleaks.com:

Screenshot of Windscribe Free's leak test results on browserleaks.com

Windscribe Free leak test results connected to a US VPN server. We test from the UK.

As you can see, our MacOS IP address has changed from one in the UK to another in the US. Our true IP address is safely hidden from any snooping third parties.

What's the Best Free Mac VPN for Netflix?

Most free VPNs for Mac don’t work reliably with Netflix, or other popular streaming sites. If you use a free VPN to stream Netflix, you’ll probably get an error message from Netflix asking you to switch off your proxy, like this:

Screenshot of the image that Netflix displays when it detects a VPN or proxy service.

Netflix displays an error message when it detects a VPN.

 

If you get one of these Proxy Error messages, you can try again using another VPN server – if the free VPN provides many server options.

Otherwise, you should use Windscribe free VPN. As we mentioned above, it now unblocks US Netflix on its free US servers.

However, if you’re looking to unblock other (or several) Netflix libraries, you will have to use a paid VPN for Netflix. At the moment, the best VPN for Netflix is ExpressVPN – it unlocks over 19 Netflix catalogues, and is excellent for unlocking US Netflix.

To know more about Netflix VPNs, read our list of the best Netflix VPNs for Mac.

What's the Best Free Mac VPN for Torrenting?

If you don’t want your ISP to see what you’re downloading from torrenting websites, it’s vital that you use a safe and anonymous VPN. There are a handful of free torrent VPNs that you can use on your Apple Mac device to hide your IP address while you torrent.

Just like its our best free VPN for Mac, Windscribe also leads our selection of free VPNs for torrenting. However, if you’re a heavy torrenter you’ll need a VPN that allows P2P traffic, without data caps, and no server location limitations.

If you’re looking for the very best VPN for P2P activities, we recommend using ExpressVPN, our top VPN for torrenting in 2020.

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