Apple Macs are slightly more secure than PCs because of the way MacOS is designed, but they’re not 100% secure and you still need a VPN for your MacBook or iMac.
What’s more, unless you use a VPN your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can see everything you do on online; yes, every single website you visit and app you use.
Even worse, if you ever connect to a public WiFi network without first connecting to a VPN server, your personal information sent over the internet will be visible to snoopers and hackers.
Pretty scary stuff, right?
That’s why using a reliable VPN service on your Mac is crucial. It will secure your internet connection, and keep your online activity private and confidential.
Finding a trustworthy VPN service is not easy though and even if most big-name VPN providers work with MacOS, the speeds and levels of privacy vary a lot.
We therefore tested 98 VPN services on our test Macbooks and iMacs, and we were very impressed with the five VPNs below. They’re not perfect though, so make sure you carefully read the drawbacks we’ve highlighted.
But before we dig deeper, here’s a quick preview of the top three Mac VPNs, and a list of the important features we looked out for in our review process.
The Most Important Factors When We Review a VPN for Mac
- Easy-to-use native Mac apps
- Privacy-focused logging policies
- No IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks
- Strong privacy & security features
- Fast download & upload speeds
- Works with Netflix & torrenting
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
Read More Information on the 5 Best VPN Services for Mac
Do I Need a VPN on My Mac?
If you want to keep yourself safe online, you absolutely need a VPN running on your Mac.
Just like with any other device, using a secure VPN service will:
Encrypt your web traffic
This will make it impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing online, including your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
Hide your IP address
This means that nothing you do while connected to the VPN will be linked to your true IP address, and therefore your browsing activity can’t be traced back to you as an individual.
Help you bypass geo-restrictions
Using a VPN will allow you to stream content from anywhere in the world as you can spoof your IP address in order to appear to be connecting in from another country, helping you to avoid the dreaded Netflix proxy error.
Allow you to bypass online censorship
Many VPNs have special obfuscation tools that beat Web censors in countries like China and the UAE. By using a VPN you will be able to access content that is otherwise blocked in censored nations.
How to Use a VPN on Mac
Installing a VPN service on MacOS is just as simple as installing it on Windows, and requires no special extra steps.
As long as your chosen VPN service has a custom Mac app, it will usually be as simple as:
- Visiting your VPN provider’s website and logging into your account
- Finding and clicking the download button for Mac
- Opening the downloaded file, following the installation wizard, and launching the app
- Entering your username and password
- Connecting to your chosen VPN server location
Once you’re connected, the VPN will continue to run in the background and you can carry on using your Mac as normal.
We cover this process in more detail in our ‘How to Install a VPN on Your Mac‘ guide.
You can also choose to install your VPN at router level so that every device on your home network is covered at once – this is a little more technical, but it can be a great workaround for VPNs that aren’t available on Mac.
Most popular VPN services will provide their own installation guides for various routers, but we’ve also produced our own step-by-step router setup guide to walk you through the process from start to finish.
How to Add a VPN to Safari
Adding a VPN extension to Safari is quick and easy. All you have to do is:
- Find a VPN service that offers a full-featured extension for Safari
- Download the Safari extension from the VPN provider’s website
- Enter your VPN username and password that you set up on signup
- Choose your VPN server location, configure any available settings, and connect
Bear in mind, though, that the majority of VPN extensions for Safari are proxies rather than full VPN extensions, so they won’t provide the same level of security as the desktop Mac app.
What is the Best Free VPN for Mac?
If you don’t want to pay for a VPN, or you want to test a few services first, there are a few free VPNs for Mac that provide a good level of security.
Be careful though as not all free VPNs are to be trusted. We recently conducted an independent investigation and discovered that over 500 million people could be using potentially unsafe free VPNs. And some free VPN apps are secretly run by very dubious companies.
Out of the 98 VPN services we’ve tested, we recommend using these VPNs on your Mac:
For a more detailed overview, you can read our best free VPNs for Mac roundup here.
Popular VPNs That Don't Work on Mac
Most popular paid VPN services will have a custom VPN app for MacOS, however we have come across a couple that don’t.
Two VPN services that don’t come with custom Mac apps are:
- FrootVPN – manual setup using OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSec, or Stunnel
- Trust.Zone – manual setting using OpenVPN or L2TP
These two VPN providers have manual workarounds for Mac devices, but this is nowhere near as easy as just downloading and installing a custom VPN app onto your Mac.
There are also many free VPN services that don’t provide custom Mac apps, but you should avoid the majority of these free apps.
Does Mac Have a Built-In VPN?
All Mac devices come with the capability to connect to a VPN, but you’re better off signing up to a well-known VPN service rather than attempting to configure your own.
Not only does this save you the hassle of fiddling around with manual VPN setup, it also means the entire installation process is as simple as clicking a few buttons and then entering your login details.
If you’re determined to use your Mac’s built-in VPN functionality, take a look at our guide to how to install a VPN on Mac.
How Do I Change the Location of My Mac?
The easiest way to change the location of your Mac is to use a VPN or proxy, as this will spoof your IP address on every website you visit.
You can also fiddle with the network and location settings if you’d rather do that, but this won’t encrypt your web traffic.
If you don’t want any websites to be able to see your true location, you can disable location services in Safari in the ‘Preferences’ menu. You can do this on a per-website basis, or for every site you visit using Safari altogether.
We’ve put together a guide on how to change your IP address that shows you several different ways to change your IP address on Mac, as well as the possible reasons for doing so. You can also take a look at the best VPNs to hide your IP address.
Is Using a VPN Legal?
Using a VPN to protect your online privacy is 100% legal.
As long as you’re not using a VPN service to hide any illegal activity, you’re perfectly within your rights to use one on any device.
There are a handful of countries, though, where VPNs are banned or restricted in some way. These include:
Anyone caught using a VPN in Belarus will be charged an unspecified fine.
Iran hasn’t disclosed the exact repercussions for those caught using a VPN, but it’s wise to choose one carefully to avoid this happening.
Using a VPN could lead to a fine and a formal invitation to the Ministry of National Security for a ‘preventative conversation.’
The fine for those caught using a VPN in North Korea remains unspecified.
Using a VPN service that hasn’t been approved by the Chinese Communist Party can result in a fine of up to $2,200.
The fine for using a non-government approved VPN in Russia is $5,100 for the user and $12,000 for the VPN provider.
VPNs are heavily restricted in Turkey and the punishment for using one is not yet known.
Anyone caught using a non-approved VPN in Iran could face up to one year in prison.
Only corporate VPN services are permitted in Oman, so using one for personal reasons could get you a fine of up to $1,300.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
If someone uses a non government-approved VPN to commit a crime in the UAE, they could face a fine of up to $136,000 or even a jail sentence.
Take a look at our ‘Are VPNs Legal?’ guide for more information on country-specific VPN restrictions.
What Is the Best VPN for Mac Torrenting?
Torrenting on Mac works largely the same as it does on Windows, so any VPN service that’s good for one is generally good for the other.
Among the best VPNs for torrenting on Mac are:
All of these VPN services provide easy-to-use custom VPN apps for Mac, along with excellent speeds and privacy-focused logging policies to protect you during P2P activity.
You can read our best VPNs for torrenting guide if you want to find out more.
What Is the Best VPN for Mac in China?
A VPN is essential if you want access to the unrestricted internet in China. Not all VPN services will work in China, though, as the censorship measures in place (the so-called Great Firewall) are hard to bypass without being detected and blocked.
All of our top VPN services for China work on Mac devices, so as long as you stick with one of our recommended VPNs, you can’t go far wrong.
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