Disclosure: Top10VPN.com is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy a VPN through links on our site.

Best VPN for Mac

By Simon Migliano | Updated March 12, 2020

Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook

Your Apple MacBook or iMac is just as vulnerable to snoopers, hackers and cyber criminals as any Windows PC. As a result, you need to know the best VPN for Mac.

Don’t install any VPN, though, because hundreds of VPNs are either ineffective or unsafe. To avoid your ISP logging your web traffic, and to protect your data over unsecured public WiFi — you need to use a trustworthy Mac VPN client.

We tested 72 VPNs on our test MacBook and iMac, but we found only five that we can truly label the best Mac VPNs of 2020. They have fast VPN servers across the world, keep your IP address hidden, unblock US Netflix, and allow anonymous torrenting traffic.

Furthermore, all these five macOS VPNs are compatible with Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra and Sierra.

Mac VPN Testing Checklist

  1. Easy-to-use native Mac client
  2. Fast download & upload speeds
  3. No logging of web activity
  4. No IP address, DNS or WebRTC leaks
  5. Supports US Netflix & P2P traffic
  6. Kill switch & other advanced features

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

The Best VPNs for Mac

1. ExpressVPN

Ranked #1 out of 72 VPNs for Mac

  1. User-friendly Mac client
  2. Compatible with all Apple devices
  3. Supports macOS versions as far back as 2009
  4. Unlocks US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  5. No torrenting restrictions
  6. VPN kill switch (Network Lock)
  1. More expensive on shorter plans
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

At the moment, ExpressVPN is the best VPN service we’ve reviewed, and it’s even further ahead of its rivals on macOS.

The ExpressVPN client for Mac is user-friendly and you can use it simultaneously on many devices at once (up to five, in fact).

It’s the only VPN provider in our list, which works across all Apple products, including Apple TV. Its MediaStreamer allows you to reroute your DNS requests and unblock geo-restricted content directly on your Apple TV. This is great for unlocking Netflix’s geo-restricted libraries.

Worried your old Mac won’t work with ExpressVPN? Don’t be, because ExpressVPN supports macOS versions as far back as Mac OS X Snow Leopard, which was released all the way back in 2009.

We recorded fast speeds across ExpressVPN’s entire server network, and we successfully unblocked major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

ExpressVPN is a very secure VPN, thanks to AES 256-bit encryption and a VPN kill switch to hide your IP address at all times (as long as the VPN is running). Also, its privacy-first logging policy means your web traffic data is protected.

While ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPNs, we think the quality of its Mac VPN client is worth the higher price. Don’t forget, you can try ExpressVPN for 30 days and, if you don’t like it, get a ‘no-questions-asked’ refund by contacting their 24/7 live chat support.

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

2. NordVPN

Ranked #2 out of 72 VPNs for Mac

  1. Very fast download speeds
  2. Simple and quick Mac installation
  3. Unlocks Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  4. P2P allowed on many servers
  5. Complete no-logs policy
  6. Large VPN server network
  1. Incompatible with older versions of macOS
  2. Experiencing issues with Apple TV
  3. Obfuscated VPN servers don't always work in China
  4. Doesn't accept PayPal
  • Best Price

    $3.49/mo over 36 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    93Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    58 countries, 5,500+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

NordVPN is a cheaper alternative to ExpressVPN that provides a user-friendly, simpler VPN client for Mac.

NordVPN is very quick, although its speed over longer distances (e.g. Sydney to New York) are slower than faster VPNs like ExpressVPN.

Confusingly, there are two NordVPN Mac apps you can download: one version from NordVPN’s website and the other from the Apple App Store. The difference between the two is the VPN protocols included with the software: we recommend using the Apple App Store version – the IKE version – as it comes with OpenVPN UDP/TCP as well as IKEv2. The kill switch on this version is also more secure.

NordVPN is one the best VPNs for unlocking geo-blocked video content around the world. It claims to be able to unblock 400 streaming platforms across the world. We verified that it does work with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

Moreover, NordVPN’s strict no-logs policy and AES 256-bit encryption means your web traffic is safe and anonymized as long as NordVPN is running on your Mac.

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

3. CyberGhost

Ranked #3 out of 72 VPNs for Mac

  1. Newly-updated Mac app
  2. Fast and reliable speeds
  3. Strict no-logs policy
  4. Works for US Netflix
  5. Optimized torrenting servers
  6. Huge network: 6,200+ servers
  1. Does not support older macOS versions
  2. P2P not allowed on Australian servers
  3. Doesn't work in China or Turkey
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 7,100+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost is a very good VPN provider, made even better by its custom-built Mac client, which was recently revamped.

The new macOS VPN app has rectified all the main issues of their previous software client. In fact, it’s now sleek and easy to use.

Furthermore, CyberGhost is a fast VPN that provides optimized streaming and torrenting servers to easily stream Netflix and BBC iPlayer, or download torrents anonymously. If you’re based in Australia, remember that you won’t be able to torrent on Australian servers.

And if you want a VPN for China, then CyberGhost is not the VPN for you as it just doesn’t work there. ExpressVPN is hands-down the best VPN for China.

Privacy-wise, CyberGhost operates under a strict no-logs policy and the app benefits from the ever-important kill switch, ensuring your online activity is safe and secure while the VPN is running.

CyberGhost’s price point is very attractive, and you’ll have 45 days to ask their 24/7 live support for your money back, in case you’re not happy with the VPN service.

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

4. IPVanish

Ranked #4 out of 72 VPNs for Mac

  1. Very fast same-country speeds
  2. Quick and easy setup on Mac
  3. Works with US Netflix
  4. No torrenting restrictions
  5. Completely no-logs VPN
  6. A favorite among Kodi fans
  1. Short seven-day refund period
  2. Doesn't work with BBC iPlayer
  3. Won't work in China
  4. No VPN browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $3.25/mo over 12 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    84Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    50 countries, 1,300 servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

IPVanish is an ideal VPN service for Mac users who prioritize Kodi and torrenting.

Not only is IPVanish ultra-fast on Mac, it also has one of the largest VPN server networks we’ve seen, with over 40,000 IP addresses.

The custom Mac app could be more user-friendly, but IPVanish makes up for it with a ton of powerful security features such as a VPN kill switch.

IPVanish’s no-logs policy and lack of P2P restrictions make it an ideal VPN service for torrenting. Most of its US servers also work with American Netflix, however we can’t recommend IPVanish for streaming as it often to fails to unlock other major streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer.

It’s also pointless trying to use it in China as IPVanish wasn’t built to get round aggressive online censorship. Other than that, IPVanish is a very reliable and trusted VPN service.

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

5. PrivateVPN

Ranked #5 out of 72 VPNs for Mac

  1. Very fast download speeds
  2. User-friendly Mac app
  3. Unlocks 19 Netflix libraries
  4. Torrenting allowed on all servers
  5. Strict no-logs policy
  6. Dedicated streaming servers
  1. No kill switch on Mac
  2. Small VPN server network
  3. Limited live chat support
  4. Lack of VPN browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $1.89/mo over 2 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    86Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is another cheap but good VPN service for Apple Mac users, with fast speeds for a slick VPN experience.

The custom Mac app is looking dated now, but unlocking streaming sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer is a breeze, thanks to clearly labeled servers. One of PrivateVPN’s biggest strengths is that it works with 19 Netflix libraries including USA, UK, Canada, France and Japan.

PrivateVPN is also one of the most secure VPN services, with a solid no-logs policy and high levels of encryption on your VPN connections.

The real downside of using PrivateVPN on a Mac is its lack of a VPN kill switch, though, which is a real shame. This means that if your VPN connection drops, your real IP address will be exposed.

PrivateVPN’s live chat support can also be very temperamental, and we didn’t find it as helpful as other VPN provider’s live support.

If you’re prepared to put up with these shortcomings, as well as a relatively small VPN server network, PrivateVPN is a good alternative to the four VPNs above.

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

macOS VPNs: FAQs

Why Do I Need a VPN on My Mac?

Many Mac users still feel that Apple Macs are not vulnerable to viruses and security vulnerabilities. The reality is that nowadays Macs are just as vulnerable as Windows PCs. That’s because MacBooks, iMacs (and Mac Minis) are far more widely used, therefore bad actors target them more frequently than in the past.

To be clear, Apple Macs are still secure machines, as Apple points out. However, we really believe you also need to run a VPN otherwise your online activity, and sensitive data, is potentially exposed.

Here’s a quick summary of the main benefits of using a VPN on your Apple Mac:

  1. Encrypt and anonymize your web traffic

    A VPN encrypts and anonymizes your internet traffic, making it impossible for anyone to see the data being passed through the VPN connection.

    This is particularly useful when you connect to an untrustworthy public WiFi network, for example. These WiFi networks are often unsecured and are easy targets for hackers to carry out MITM attacks.

    If you’re unaware of the dangers of unsecured public WiFi networks, read our guide to help you understand the risks and why connecting to a VPN will you protect you.

  2. Hide your IP address

    Your IP address is your unique identifier on the web. It allows websites and applications to know your location, and third-parties, like governments and advertisers, to track and target you.

    When you connect to a VPN server, you get an anonymous IP address which masks your real IP address. Once connected to a no-logs VPN, your web activity is virtually untraceable.

  3. Bypass geo-restrictions

    Many websites around the world have geo-blocks in place. This means not all the content available on the internet is accessible to you no matter where you’re located.

    Using a VPN will allow you to get round geo-restrictions and access web content (particularly video content) from anywhere in the world.

    Netflix is a very popular reason for getting a good Mac VPN. The US video library has the most video titles in the world, and many streaming fans around the world use a VPN to unlock this ‘hidden’ content.

  4. Bypass online censorship

    Some VPN clients use clever obfuscation tools that beat censorship in countries like China.

    To circumvent strict web censors, we recommend using ExpressVPN or Astrill VPN. They have proved to be the most reliable VPNs for bypassing censorship in our tests.

a map showing everywhere in the world where using a VPN is legal

Using a VPN client on your Mac is perfectly legal, but there are some caveats.

Despite using a VPN itself being legal, any illegal activity remains illegal when using a VPN. This includes downloading and sharing copyrighted digital material.

Moreover, there are a handful of countries where VPNs are banned outright, or restricted in some way. You can view the ten countries with the harshest VPN restrictions, below.

Country VPN Status Social Media Blocks Censorship Surveillance
Belarus Illegal Moderate Extensive Extensive
China Restricted Extensive Extensive Extensive
Iran Restricted Moderate Extensive Extensive
Iraq Illegal Moderate Moderate Minor
North Korea Illegal Extensive Extensive Extensive
Oman Restricted Minor Extensive Moderate
Russia Restricted Moderate Extensive Moderate
Turkey Restricted Moderate Extensive Extensive
Turkmenistan Illegal Extensive Extensive Extensive
UAE Restricted Moderate Extensive Moderate

 

Our ‘Are VPNs Legal?’ guide explores these country-specific VPN restrictions in a lot more depth.

How to Use a VPN on Mac

Installing a VPN client on Mac is easy, so long as you follow the tips in this guide. Just make sure your chosen VPN provider has a native Mac app.

Then, to install and use a VPN on your Mac, follow the steps below.

  1. Visit the VPN provider’s website and sign up if you haven’t already done so
  2. After creating your account, log in
  3. Locate the ‘Download VPN’ section and click the button for macOS
    Screenshot of the download button for the Mac app on ExpressVPN's website
  4. Open the downloaded file, then follow the steps
  5. Launch the app and input your username and password
  6. Connect to your desired server location
  7. All done. Continue to use your Mac as you normally would

If you’re still having issues, or you want more extra tips, read our ‘How to Install a VPN on Your Mac’ guide, which lays out the setup process more thoroughly.

Best Free Mac VPN

Illustration showing a piece of cake labeled 'Free VPN' being cut from a cake labeled 'VPN'

The current best free VPNs for Mac are:

  1. Windscribe
  2. ProtonVPN
  3. TunnelBear
  4. Hide.me
  5. Avira Phantom

A free VPN can be great if you’re on a budget or you’re just wanting to test out what a VPN can do for you. Rest assured, we’ve got you covered – our five recommendations for free VPNs for Mac provide decent speeds and a good level of security.

Make sure to stick closely to these five, though, as some free VPN providers cannot be trusted.

Our latest independent investigation found that over 500 million people could be using unsafe free VPNs which hand over their personal data, and some free VPN providers are secretly operated by shady companies.

If you are still eager not to pay for a VPN, you can check our full line-up of the best completely free Mac VPNs.

How to Change your IP Location on a Mac

The easiest way to change the IP 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.

Screenshot of the proxy settings menu on Mac

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.

Best Mac VPN for Torrenting

The best VPN clients for torrenting on a Mac are:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. IPVanish

All of these VPN services provide easy-to-use custom apps for Mac, along with blazing speeds and privacy-focused logging policies to make you untraceable during P2P activity.

If you want to find out more about why these providers get our pick, and how a VPN keeps your torrenting session safe and secure, why not have a look at our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.

Best Mac VPN for China

An illustration of devices with restricted internet access in China

The best Mac VPNs that bypass online censors in China are:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. Astrill VPN
  3. PrivateVPN

These VPNs are essential if you want to circumvent the so-called Great Firewall in China and gain access to popular apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. It’s notoriously difficult to bypass, so only the best VPNs succeed.

If you want a deep dive into VPN legality in China, or just want more details on why these providers are the best, read our best VPN for China guide.

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.

Screenshot of the network settings screen on Mac

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.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is our Head of Research and has tested hundreds of VPNs since 2016. His research has been covered by the BBC, The New York Times, CNet, Wired, and more. Read full bio