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The Best Free & Paid VPNs for Mac

Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook

Simon Migliano 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 and more.

Fact-checked by JP JonesAdditional Testing by Luke Williams

EXPERT ADVICE: Free VPNs for Mac are often slow, have data limits, and are blocked by streaming websites. ExpressVPN, the best VPN for Mac, is fast, unlimited, and with technology that bypasses most geo-blocks. Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days.

The best VPN apps for Mac protect your internet privacy and security on your MacBook and iMac. They add a layer of encryption to your internet connection, and hide your real IP address from third parties.

After putting 65 VPNs through our extensive review process, we found three safe free VPNs and three excellent paid VPNs for macOS.

What Is the Best Free VPN for Mac?

Our tests reveal that the best 100% free VPN apps for Mac are:

  1. Proton VPN Free: Best Free VPN for Mac
  2. Windscribe Free: Best Free Mac VPN for Streaming
  3. Atlas VPN Free: Best Free Mac VPN for Beginners

The best free VPN for Mac in 2024 is Proton VPN Free. It’s an excellent free macOS VPN that delivers fast, private, and secure connections. It also allows unlimited data usage, which many safe free VPNs don’t do.

The problem with safe free VPNs is their limitations: slower speeds, data caps, or the inability to bypass streaming geo-blocks. For faster and unlimited VPN use, you’ll have to use a paid VPN for Mac.

What Is the Overall Best VPN for Mac?

Based on our latest tests, the overall best VPNs for Mac are:

  1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for Mac Overall
  2. NordVPN: Best Runner-up for Mac
  3. Surfshark: Best VPN Free Trial for Mac

The overall best VPN for Mac is ExpressVPN, with an outstanding 9.5/10 rating in our Mac-specific tests. ExpressVPN’s very intuitive macOS app continues to deliver excellent results, producing fast, secure and unrestricted connections on Macbooks and iMacs.

Our recommended VPNs are fast, private and secure, with user-friendly native macOS apps. You can download them directly onto your device, some even via the Mac App Store.

We’ve tested all these VPNs on Catalina, Ventura, Monterey, and Big Sur to ensure they secure your internet traffic – including on Safari.

The Best VPNs for Mac Compared

Use the table below to compare our recommended Mac VPNs side-by-side based on speed, logging policy, number of Netflix regions unblocked, monthly data allowance, and more.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our ratings are based on our own testing results and are unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

macOS VPNs Tested65
Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Test DevicesiMac, MacBook Pro & Mac mini

Analysis of the Best Free Mac VPNs

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

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

    Ranked #1 Free VPN for Mac
    Screenshot of Proton VPN's mobile appVisit Proton VPN

    • Unlimited data allowance
    • Extremely quick speeds on free servers
    • Effective security settings
    • Built-in IP & DNS leak protection
    • Open-sourced & audited application

    • Just one simultaneous connection
    • Servers in only 3 countries
    • Doesn’t unblock streaming platforms
    • Blocks all torrenting & P2P traffic
    • No live chat customer support

    Overall Mac Rating: 6.7/10

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

    • 9.2/10
    • 9.5/10
    • 9.4/10
    • 1.0/10
    • 0.0/10

    Proton VPN Free is the best free VPN for Mac. More than that, it’s the overall best free VPN we’ve reviewed.

    The VPN’s free Mac client is easy to use and compatible with macOS Sierra 10.12 (released in 2016) and later software versions.

    What stands out are Proton VPN’s phenomenal download speeds using the WireGuard protocol, which are much faster than Windscribe’s and Atlas VPN’s.

    The client also has an effective kill switch to protect against IP leaks, it doesn’t log personally-identifiable usage data, and it comes from a well-respected cybersecurity company.

    If you want a free VPN primarily for encrypting unsafe network connections and hiding your IP address, Proton VPN is our top choice.

    ProtonVPN's free VPN app for macOS

    Cheapest PriceFree
    Mac App StoreNo
    macOS CompatibilitySierra & Later
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection98Mbps
    US NetflixNo
    Simultaneous Devices10
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only

    Unlimited Data Allowance but No Streaming

    Proton VPN is the only safe free VPN that offers unlimited data and bandwidth. This means that, unlike the other free VPNs we recommend, you can use it as much as you want.

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

    This is because the VPN doesn’t bypass most streaming geo-restrictions. Throughout our years of testing, Proton VPN Free has never worked with US Netflix, Disney+, or any other major streaming platform.

    Also, torrenting and P2P traffic is actively blocked by the VPN, so you won’t be able to use it with any torrent clients or with certain P2P-based streaming apps.

    Proton VPN Free blocks P2P traffic

    You can’t torrent on any of Proton VPN Free’s servers.

    This is disappointing as it makes Proton VPN’s unlimited data allowance less useful.

    Dependable Security & Privacy Settings

    Proton VPN’s free tier benefits from the same best-in-class security protections you find in the paid version.

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

    Testing Proton VPN Free with Wireshark on macOS

    Proton VPN successfully encrypted our test data transfers.

    The Mac app also comes with a kill switch, which we’re glad is enabled by default. This way, your true IP address won’t leak if your VPN connection suddenly disconnects.

    These settings are supported by privacy-first logging policy and the company’s Swiss jurisdiction, which doesn’t mandate any data-gathering for VPN providers.

    All this adds up to make Proton VPN one of the most trusted VPNs for keeping your data both private and secure.

    One Device Policy & Few Server Locations

    In addition to the lack of streaming and torrenting support, there are a few issues with Proton VPN that may put off some users.

    For instance, you can only use Proton VPN 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.

    Also, Proton VPN only offers access to 3 free server locations: Japan, the Netherlands, and the US.

    Connection speeds were optimal connecting to any of these locations, however both Windscribe and Atlas VPN offer more location variety.

  2. 2. Windscribe Free: Best Free Mac VPN for Streaming

    100% free Mac VPN with superb unblocking capabilities.

    The Windscribe VPN app running on two mobiles; one displaying connection options, the other connected to a New York server.Visit Windscribe

    • Unblocks 6 Netflix regions, BBC iPlayer & other streaming platforms
    • Allows torrenting on free servers
    • Still works in highly-censored countries
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • 10GB monthly data cap
    • Minor macOS compatibility issues
    • No live chat support
    • Slower than Proton VPN
    • Unaudited logging policy

    Overall Mac Rating: 6.7/10

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

    • 8.0/10
    • 8.9/10
    • 8.8/10
    • 8.5/10
    • 7.4/10

    Windscribe has been one of our top-rated VPNs for Mac since 2016, and its unblocking prowess is still unrivalled among free VPNs.

    Similarly to Proton VPN, Windscribe’s apps are user-friendly have all the security and privacy settings necessary for protection.

    The VPN also allows free data usage of 10GB per month, and unlimited connections at once.

    What has worsened over the years are Windscribe’s international speeds. They won’t affect streaming too much, although we sometimes did experience picture blurriness.

    Windscribe VPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest PriceFree
    Mac App StoreNo
    macOS CompatibilityYosemite & Later
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection90Mbps
    US NetflixNo
    Simultaneous DevicesUnlimited
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only

    An Outstanding Free VPN for Streaming

    Windscribe is the only safe free VPN that works with UK Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Max (HBO).

    Windscribe Free Amazon Prime Video US

    We streamed the US Prime-exclusive ‘World War Z’ using Windscribe Free.

    During our tests, we accessed geo-blocked movies and TV shows from all 11 free server locations.

    Speeds were good enough for us to stream TV shows and movies in HD without buffering most of the time.

    The only main drawback to using Windscribe’s free plan 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.

    Unblocks Websites in Highly-censored Countries

    Windscribe is so effective at bypassing geo-restrictions that it also works in high-censorship countries like China.

    In the Mac app, you can select the ‘StealthVPN’ connection protocol, which obfuscates VPN traffic to bypass internet filters.

    Testing Windscribe via our remote server in Shanghai and StealthVPN, we can comfortably say it’s still one of the most reliable VPNs for China.

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

    A Good Free VPN for Torrenting

    Where Proton VPN disappoints, Windscribe pleases, particularly for torrenting and file sharing.

    Windscribe continues to be an exceptional free VPN for torrenting. It allows P2P traffic on all free servers, with a very respectable average transfer speed (bitrate) of 6.3MiB/s.

    Just like Proton VPN, Windscribe also offers a tried-and-tested kill switch, built-in DNS leak protection, and secure AES-256 encryption.

    Importantly, make sure you stop torrenting before your data runs out, otherwise your real IP address will leak (even with the kill switch activated).

    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.

    You can see for yourself how Windscribe Free works on macOS in our brief video below:

    Demonstration video of using Windscribe Free on Mac.

    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. Menu bar apps are small, limited in functionality, and hard to configure.

    Plus, Windscribe’s Mac app doesn’t even 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 version, you can detach the app from the menu bar. But, this simply turns the app into a floating window, which doesn’t really improve user experience.

  3. 3. Atlas VPN Free: Best Free Mac VPN for Beginners

    User-friendly VPN client for macOS ideal for beginners.

    Atlas VPN mobile appVisit Atlas VPN

    • Attractive & user-friendly Mac app
    • No email or payment details required
    • P2P traffic allowed on all servers
    • Available on the Mac app store
    • Works with US Netflix, Max, & Disney+
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • Only 3 free server locations
    • Apps are basic and lack customization
    • Doesn't work with streaming websites
    • Monthly data usage limit of 5GB
    • No live chat customer support
    • No browser extensions

    Overall Mac Rating: 5.1/10

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

    • 9.3/10
    • 8.0/10
    • 8.7/10
    • 3.0/10
    • 5.5/10

    Atlas VPN is a secure VPN owned by Nord Security, the parent company of popular VPNs NordVPN and Surfshark.

    The Mac app is basic with little options to customize, however it is very easy to use even for someone who has never used a VPN before.

    The VPN is also quick enough to stream a number of US content libraries, including US Netflix, Max (HBO), and Disney+.

    That said, it only has 3 free server locations, and its 5GB monthly data cap is far from ideal for regular VPN users.

    Atlas VPN's free app for macOS

    Cheapest PriceFree
    Mac App StoreYes
    macOS CompatibilityCatalina & Later
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    SupportEmail Support

    Basic But User-friendly Application

    We were impressed by how easy to use Atlas VPN is. It was very easy to connect to or change a server location from the server list.

    It would have been even better if there was a ‘quick connect’ button on the homescreen to immediately connect to the nearest server location, or a recent one.

    This is one Atlas VPN’s main drawbacks; the lack of customization options the other high-ranked free VPNs offer.

    But for a VPN beginner, what Atlas VPN offers is just fine and will deliver a good VPN experience without much hassle.

    A Solid Choice for Security

    Atlas VPN’s free software benefits from the same high-level privacy and security protection as its paid version.

    The Mac app uses ChaCha20 encryption (via the WireGuard protocol),SHA256 data authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy via 3072 bit DH key exchange.

    Moreover, Atlas VPN doesn’t log any user activity on its servers although it does record your device information.

    Crucially, there is a working VPN kill switch, enabled by default, that prevents any unexpected IP address leaks.

    Only 3 Server Locations & Slower International Speeds

    The biggest downside to using Atlas VPN is that it only has free servers in 3 countries: the US, Netherlands, and Singapore.

    The US servers are surprisingly good at unblocking American streaming services like US Netflix, Max (HBO), and Disney+.

    Using the free version of Atlas VPN to stream HBO Max

    Atlas VPN’s free app includes a US server that works for streaming.

    But, unless you’re close to one of these countries, you’ll likely experience slower connections.

The Best VPNs for Mac Ranked by Rating

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Overall Best VPN for Mac

    Our top-rated VPN for Mac, delivering excellent speed & unblocking results.

    Ranked #1 out of 65 VPNs for Mac
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devicesVisit ExpressVPN

    • Attractive & intuitive Mac application
    • Very fast on long-distance connections
    • The best VPN for unblocking streaming platforms
    • Best-in-class security & privacy settings
    • Compatible with all Apple devices
    • Allows torrenting on all 3,000 servers

    • More expensive than other VPNs
    • No split tunneling on macOS
    • Some servers trigger search engine CAPTCHAs
    • No multi-hop or other advanced features

    Overall Mac Rating: 9.5/10

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

    • 9.5/10
    • 9.2/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.9/10
    • 9.3/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Mac primarily because of its intuitive macOS app and its unblocking capabilities.

    While ExpressVPN’s native Mac app doesn’t offer as many extra features as VPNs like NordVPN and PIA, it’s better designed and easier to use.

    The VPN stands out for its fast and stable international connections, which unblock over 95% of streaming services we tested it with.

    If you’re not put off by the higher-than-average cost, then ExpressVPN’s performance will satisfy just about anyone.

    ExpressVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    macOS CompatibilityYosemite & later
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection97Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Simultaneous Devices8
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Easily Unblocks Content Platforms

    ExpressVPN has consistently proven itself to be one of the fastest VPNs on long-distance connections.

    For example, our speed test results recorded just a 7% speed loss when connecting to the UK from the US.

    Combining these fast speeds with the VPN’s formidable unblocking qualities makes ExpressVPN the most effective VPN for Streaming.

    In our streaming tests on Mac, ExpressVPN unblocked all major streaming services including US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

    Testing ExpressVPN with Netflix on macOS

    ExpressVPN unblocks all major streaming sites without issues.

    While some VPNs have specific servers dedicated to unblocking streaming platforms, ExpressVPN doesn’t. Most servers work fine to access geo-restricted content, though.

    These are the ExpressVPN servers we recently tested for unblocking popular content around the world:

    • For American content: USA - New Jersey - 1
    • For Australian content: Australia – Melbourne
    • For British content: UK – Docklands
    • For Canadian content: Canada – Toronto
    • For Japanese content: Japan – Tokyo

    Great Usability with Best-in-class Security

    The ExpressVPN is the most intuitive and user-friendly macOS we’ve reviewed.

    You can quickly connect to a server by clicking/tapping the big connect button on the homescreen.

    Alternatively, you can access all server locations via the Preferences burger menu in the top-left corner of the app.

    The Mac app is particularly slick compared to the NordVPN and Surfshark ones, which are bulkier and ‘busier.’

    The Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are particularly good. Since they’re connected to the main app, you can fully control the software directly from your browser.

    Simply because ExpressVPN is easier to use, and offers fewer features, doesn’t mean it’s less dependable for security and privacy. Far from it.

    By default, ExpressVPN encrypts internet traffic using wolfSSL and a UDP Lightway connection, which provides a good balance between performance and security.

    The VPN also comes with a yet-to-fail kill switch (called Network Lock), and all traffic runs through RAM-based servers than never write data to disk.

    Expensive but Worth the Extra Cost

    Although ExpressVPN has been delivering exceptional test results since we started testing it in 2016, it is more expensive than other VPNs.

    For instance, you can spend 50% less opting for Surfshark’s multi-year subscription over ExpressVPN’s.

    But, ExpressVPN beats NordVPN and Surfshark in most our testing categories, and in our opinion is worth the extra cost.

  2. 2. NordVPN: Best Runner-up

    Very fast, secure & affordable VPN for macOS.

    NordVPN Mobile App ScreenshotVisit NordVPN

    • Fast speeds on nearby & far-away servers
    • Diskless VPN servers & no identifying logs
    • Unblocks most streaming platforms
    • Double VPN (multi-hop) feature for added security
    • Downloadable from the Mac App Store

    • Confusing differences between app versions
    • Desktop app can't be resized
    • Servers in fewer countries than main rivals
    • Renews at a higher price per month

    Overall Mac Rating: 9.3/10

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

    • 9.2/10
    • 8.8/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.0/10

    NordVPN came close to beating ExpressVPN, and is a great option for Mac users thanks to its fast NordLynx protocol, excellent unblocking performance, and low price.

    While NordVPN’s macOS app isn’t as compact and well-designed as ExpressVPN’s, it performs very similarly for speed and unblocking streaming services.

    From a security standpoint, we think it’s marginally more secure if we consider the additional features NordVPN offers, such as multi-hop servers and Threat Protection.

    However, NordVPN covers roughly 40% less countries and isn’t as smooth to use as ExpressVPN. It is considerably cheaper on an initial subscription, though.

    NordVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    macOS CompatibilityYosemite & later
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Exceptional Security with Many Extra Features

    NordVPN has massively stepped up its security standards, since one of its Finland servers was compromised in March 2018.

    Since that incident, the company has introduced many security extras and has commissioned several security audits.

    The app’s security highlights include ChaCha20 encryption, diskless servers, a fully-working kill switch, and Double VPN servers to encrypt traffic twice by routing it via two VPN servers.

    Threat Protection is also worth mentioning. This is NordVPN’s ad and tracker blocker, which blocked 60% of ads and 66% of analytic trackers in our tests.

    We found PIA’s MACE more effective than Threat Protection, however it’s a good addition to NordVPN’s arsenal of security and privacy tools.

    A Good Streaming Alternative to ExpressVPN

    NordVPN performs similarly to ExpressVPN when it comes to streaming.

    Generally speaking, ExpressVPN is better for unblocking US content platforms while NordVPN is more suitable for UK and Canadian ones.

    The provider’s UK VPN servers are faster than ExpressVPN’s and are particularly effective at unblocking British TV services like BBC iPlayer and Channel 4.

    Streaming BBC iPlayer using NordVPN

    NordVPN is one of the most reliable VPNs for streaming BBC iPlayer.

    It’s a similar story for the VPN servers in Canada, which unblocked DAZN, Fubo TV and Netflix Canada at faster speeds than ExpressVPN.

    Mac Usability Issues

    The main issue with NordVPN’s mac app is that the minimum window size is too large because of the server map.

    This complicated using other apps side-by-side with NordVPN on our MacBook Pro, which was mildly annoying. We’d prefer being able to collapse the window down to a single column.

    We also dislike how many settings, like server options and Threat Protection, are hidden behind undescriptive icons. You have to hover over each one to understand their purpose.

    We also wish NordVPN would add Dark Mode to its Mac app, like it did with its Windows software.

  3. 3. Surfshark: Best Free Trial for Mac

    Beginner-friendly and very affordable VPN for Mac.

    Surfshark appVisit Surfshark

    • Seven-day free trial available directly on Mac
    • Unblocks many streaming services
    • Diskless servers & multi-hop features
    • Available through the Mac App Store
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • Slower long-distance speeds
    • Unaudited logging policy
    • Kill switch not enabled by default
    • Suffers from IPv6 connection leaks

    Overall Mac Rating: 8.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our Mac VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.7/10
    • 8.7/10
    • 9.1/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 8.6/10

    The main reason why you would want to use Surfshark over ExpressVPN or NordVPN is because it’s more affordable and you can trial it for free by simply downloading the app from the Mac App Store.

    At just $2.29 per month on a multi-year plan, Surfshark delivers good speeds and offers a high degree of security.

    However, it does fall short of ExpressVPN particularly in terms of speed, where Surfshark has slowed down considerably in recent months.

    Surfshark's VPN app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$2.29/mo over 26 months See all plans
    macOS CompatibilitySierra & later
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Simultaneous DevicesUnlimited
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Free Trial Available from the Direct Download

    Unlike ExpressVPN and NordVPN, where you have to sign up via mobile first, Surfshark offers a seven-day free-trial when you download the app from the Mac App Store.

    The free trial allows you to fully test Surfshark on Mac, any other device, before committing to a subscription.

    If you then decide to sign up, Surfshark is much more affordable than ExpressVPN. On a multi-year plan, Surfshark costs just $2.29 per month, considerably less than ExpressVPN’s $6.67 per month.

    And, from the moment you subscribed to a Surfshark paid plan you still have the right to get a full refund with 30 days, in case you’re not happy with the VPN.

    Useful Unlimited Device Policy

    If you do opt for the seven-day trial, remember than you can use Surfshark on as many devices as you want.

    For this reason, you may decide Surfshark is for you, if you know most of your household will be using the VPN concurrently.

    Three Different VPN Server Types

    Surfshark’s macOS app isn’t as intuitive as ExpressVPN’s, but it’s by no means difficult to use.

    An example of this is how the VPN servers are split into three distinct categories, which aren’t explained in the app.

    To help you use the app more easily, here is our explanation of the three different server types:

    • Locations: The default tab with all 100 server countries.
    • Static: The IP address always remains the same when using that server. This is not a dedicated IP address, since multiple users can use that same static IP address. Static IPs are only available via Germany, Japan, Singapore, UK, and US servers.
    • Multi-hop: Adds an extra layer of security by routing your traffic through two VPN servers. It slows down your internet speed, but makes you harder to track.

Mac VPNs to Avoid

Following our tests of 52 VPNs, we’ve identified a number of risky ones for Mac we firmly advise you don’t use.

Below are five of the worst free Mac VPNs we’ve reviewed:

Hola VPN

Overall Ranking: #40 out of 65 VPNs

Overall Rating: 4.1/104.1

What we don’t like: Hola Free VPN logs your internet activity, it doesn’t use encryption, and it shares your idle bandwidth with other Hola VPN users.

Touch VPN

Overall Ranking: #43 out of 65 VPNs for Mac

Overall Rating: 3.1/103.1

What we don’t like: Touch VPN has an intrusive logging policy, uses the insecure PPTP protocol, and has no security features. It even leaked DNS requests in our tests.

Turbo VPN

Overall Ranking: #47 out of 65 VPNs for Mac

Overall Rating: 2.2/102.2

What we don’t like: Turbo VPN is infested with third-party advertising, and it has worrying links to a suspicious Chinese company.

VPN Proxy Master

Overall Ranking: #39 out of 65 VPNs for Mac

Overall Rating: 2.2/102.2

What we don’t like: VPN Proxy Master logs too much that could be used to identify you. It also lacks important security settings, including a kill switch.

Betternet VPN

Overall Ranking: #44 out of 65 VPNs for Mac

Overall Rating: 3.0/103.0

What we don’t like: Betternet’s free VPN lacks standard security settings like a VPN kill switch, suffers from WebRTC and DNS leaks, and has only one free VPN server.

How to Set Up a VPN on Mac

All the VPNs for Mac we recommend in this guide come with a native app for macOS devices.

All you need to do is download the software from the VPN’s website, or through the Mac App Store, directly onto your Mac.

After that, you’ll need to follow the onscreen instructions. The process takes between 5 and 10 minutes from start to finish.

Follow the below steps to install a VPN on your Mac:

  1. Download your VPN app from the provider’s official website.
  2. Or, go to the App Store and search for the VPN service. Tap ‘Get’ and authenticate the download.
  3. Once the VPN software has downloaded, click on the Installer file and begin setup.
  4. Follow the onscreen prompts to install the VPN.
  5. Before being able to use the VPN, you may be asked for login credentials, or to create a free account.

Our guide on how to set up a VPN on Mac covers all setup methods in detail, including how to install a VPN on a router.

How to Use a VPN on Mac

The brief video tutorial below shows you how quick and simple using a VPN on a Mac is.

How to use a VPN on macOS.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the software, open the VPN app and connect to a server by pressing the ‘Connect’ button.

You can select different server locations from the application’s server list, and different protocols from the settings menu.

Importantly, make sure you’ve enabled the kill switch, and that any IP/DNS leak protection setting is turned on. This guarantees extra privacy and security.

How We Test VPNs for Mac

To ensure the 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 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.

The table below displays how the top-rated free and paid Mac VPNs performed in our key testing categories:

VPNs with a data cap receive a reduction to their overall rating.

Below is a detailed explanation of all the factors we consider when ranking the best VPNs for Mac:

1. Mac App: 30%

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

Every 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 whether it’s a paid service or not.

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 their features. The best will, though, making the application as fully-featured as its Windows counterpart.

2. Privacy & Logging Policy: 20%

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

A private logging policy limits the chance you’ll get identified from your online activity. Intrusive logging is more common in free VPNs, but we’ve also reviewed many paid Mac VPNs that collect too much user data.

Any paid-for VPNs that collect anything more than aggregated server data have been automatically excluded from this list.

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 free 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.

3. Speed: 20%

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

We found that many of the VPNs we tested oversold 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 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 a monthly speed test per location on our MacBook Pro. Depending on its results, each VPN is then given a rating out of 10.

As you’d expect, the free services are always slower than the paid options. The best free VPNs will 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.

4. Streaming: 20%

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

Most VPNs, especially free ones, often have many users connected at once. This makes 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 Mac VPNs will unblock multiple Netflix libraries, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. The worst will block streaming altogether.

5. 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 100Mbps 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 Mac VPNs will have an average torrenting bitrate of at least 5.0MiB/s, will keep no logs, allow P2P file-sharing on its entire server network, and support port forwarding.

Data Cap Penalty: Up to 50% Reduction

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 limitation inhibits 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.

We apply a penalty to the VPN’s final overall Mac rating based on its data cap:

  • Unlimited bandwidth: No deduction to the overall rating
  • 10GB per month: -20% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per day: -25% to the overall rating
  • 5GB per month: -30% to the overall rating
  • 1GB per month: -35% to the overall rating
  • 200MB per day: -40% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per month: -50% to the overall rating

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.

Additional Testing Criteria

As well as our six main testing categories above, we also look for other characteristics to find the best 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 a strong 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 lots of personal information when signing up. If it’s a free service, we appreciate VPNs that don’t consistently try and push you to upgrade to paid subscriptions.


Does Mac Have a Built-in VPN?

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

To set up Mac’s built-in VPN, you’ll still need to use configuration files from a VPN service, which you can download via the provider’s website.

We always recommend using a native VPN app for Mac, though. It saves you time, and ensures the necessary security features are configured correctly.

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 we recommend in this guide.

Once you’ve set up your VPN and enabled all available security settings, select a VPN server location and click the connect button.

Once you’re connected to the VPN server, your true IP address will be hidden and replaced by the new VPN IP address.

Verify your IP address has changed by using our What Is My IP Address tool. If your visible IP address is different from your usual one, the VPN has successfully changed your Mac’s IP address.