To make sure you get the very best VPN for Mac we tested 69 VPNs for key attributes including speed, encryption, and server streaming ability.
Our experts retest these VPNs weekly to ensure that our information and findings are accurate and always up to date.
For use on MacOS specifically, we test every VPN for:
- If the VPN has an intuitive and easy-to-use app for Mac.
- Whether the VPN has good compatibility with all Apple platforms.
- If the VPN works with geo-locked streaming services, like Netflix.
- OpenVPN functionality, a kill switch, and AES-256 encryption.
- Fast download speeds on nearby and far-away servers.
- Servers optimized for torrenting and quick P2P file-sharing.
Here’s a full list of the factors we test for when ranking the best VPNs for Mac:
1. Mac App: 25%
Minimum Requirement: A Native app for Mac with limited features.
We Recommend: An intuitive and fully-featured Mac app that can be downloaded through the App Store.
It is essential that we only recommend VPN software that comes with a pre-configured and intuitive app for MacOS. This gives you a VPN app that is as easy to use as your Mac’s native apps.
We download every VPN we test onto our iMac and MacBook Pro, so we get a full sense of how well each service performs on different device types and screen sizes.
We survey every VPN’s Mac app and keep a detailed record of what features it is and what’s missing. In particular, we check whether the app can be downloaded through the Mac App Store, whether it runs natively on Apple Silicon, and if the app can be placed in the Mac menu bar.
2. Apple System Integration: 20%
Minimum Requirement: Has native apps for iOS and iPadOS.
We Recommend: An easy-to-use app for iPhone, an optimized app for iPad, and a Smart DNS feature for Apple TV.
As a Mac user, you’ll likely also have an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. You’ll also be able to use your one VPN subscription on at least 5 devices simultaneously. To ensure a VPN scales well across the entire suite of Apple devices, we test each one on every platform. This includes iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS.
When testing on the range of Apple’s operating systems, we looked for whether the VPN had an intuitive app for iPhone, if the iPad app was optimized for a larger screen, and whether it provided a Smart DNS tool for Apple TV.
To quantify the score for this subcategory, each VPN is penalized by a score of 0.2 for each missing feature. We keep this data in a table that’s updated weekly from our ongoing tests.
3. Streaming: 15%
Minimum Requirement: Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
We Recommend: Works with more than 10 Netflix libraries, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video.
Without a VPN, there are many iOS streaming sites you won’t be able to access. A VPN will hide your IP address and spoof your location, so you can stream previously blocked TV shows and movies.
We test each VPN with every popular streaming service, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. The more streaming apps a VPN can access, the higher we score it in this category.
We track every VPN’s streaming ability over time, with results stretching back four years. This tells us how reliable the VPN is, not just that it worked at a single moment in time. A VPN must have worked for at least the previous four weeks for any given streaming service.
4. Encryption & Security: 15%
Minimum Requirement: AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN, and a kill switch.
We Recommend: Double hop, customizable encryption, and dedicated IP addresses.
Without strong encryption and security, a VPN will do nothing to protect your Mac against online threats. This is particularly important on Mac, where many VPN services don’t provide a kill switch or split tunneling feature.
We check each VPN for the most essential encryption features, including the AES-256 cipher, DNS leak protection, and the OpenVPN protocol. To verify that these are being properly implemented, we then run each VPN through packet-sniffing software.
We reward VPNs that adequately encrypt and protect your data, with the very best VPNs offering advanced features, such as double hop and dedicated IP addresses. We decrease the score of any VPN that doesn’t include the option to change VPN protocol or secure traffic with a kill switch.
5. Speed: 15%
Minimum Requirement: Average download speeds above 70Mbps.
We Recommend: Download speeds of at least 80Mbps and server connections under 3 seconds.
To make sure the VPNs we recommend are the fastest on the market, we use the combined results from our extensive manual speed test process and our in-house automated speed test tool.
To calculate a speed score for each VPN, we test every service while connected to servers around the world. After performing over 12 monthly tests per location, each VPN is assigned a local and international speed score out of 10. The lower the download speed loss, the higher the VPN scores.
Using our 100Mbps test connection, a fast VPN will have speeds above 90Mbps on a local connection and above 70Mbps on an international one. We don’t recommend any VPNs on this page that fall below this benchmark.
6. Torrenting: 10%
MacOS is the only Apple platform that supports torrent downloads. We test every Mac VPN on BitTorrent and uTorrent.
After downloading an uncopyrighted torrent file, we score each VPN based on key P2P ratings. This includes the recorded bitrate, the number of P2P servers, and its logging policy. This gives us a comprehensive view of each VPN’s torrenting ability.