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Best VPN for Mac

By Simon Migliano | Updated October 1, 2019

Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook

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 client 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 74 VPN clients 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.

Main Features Good Mac VPNs Must Have

  1. Easy-to-use native Mac apps
  2. Privacy-focused logging policies
  3. No IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks
  4. Strong privacy & security features
  5. Fast download & upload speeds
  6. Works with Netflix & torrenting

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

Best VPNs for iMac, Macbook & Mac Pro

1. ExpressVPN

Ranked #1 out of 74 VPNs for Mac

  1. Our fastest overall VPN service
  2. User-friendly Mac app
  3. Works with Netflix & iPlayer
  4. No torrenting restrictions
  5. Minimal logging policy
  6. Loads of privacy extras
  1. 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

ExpressVPN is the best VPN service we’ve reviewed, and it’s just as good when you use it on a Mac.

Not only does ExpressVPN provide consistently fast speeds across its VPN server network, it also works for Netflix and other popular streaming sites.

The custom ExpressVPN app for Mac is user-friendly and you can use it on loads of other devices too – up to five at once, in fact.

On the privacy side of things, ExpressVPN is incredibly secure, and its minimal-logging policy means your personal information is protected.

Sure, ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPN services we’ve seen for Mac, but it’s definitely worth it for the extremely high quality on offer.

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

2. NordVPN

Ranked #2 out of 74 VPNs for Mac

  1. Very fast download speeds
  2. Simple, quick Mac install
  3. Unlocks Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  4. P2P allowed on many servers
  5. Complete no-logging policy
  6. Large VPN server network
  1. Obfuscated VPN servers don't always work in China
  • Best Price

    $3.49/mo over 36 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    90Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 5,200+ 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, basic VPN service for Mac.

NordVPN is very quick, too, although it just misses out on the top spot for Mac due to its slightly less reliable international speeds.

The custom NordVPN Mac app is slick and user-friendly, and it’s one of the few VPN services to still work reliability for both Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

NordVPN’s strict no-logs policy is great news for user privacy, and there’s a ton of advanced features built into the Mac app to keep you safe online.

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

3. IPVanish

Ranked #3 out of 74 VPNs for Mac

  1. Very quick same-country speeds
  2. Quick, easy setup on Mac
  3. Works with Netflix
  4. No torrenting restrictions
  5. Completely no-logs VPN
  6. Huge VPN server network
  1. Doesn't work with BBC iPlayer
  2. Short seven-day refund period
  3. No good for China
  • 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 torrenters, too, and most of its US servers work with Netflix.

True, it’s not much good for fans of BBC iPlayer or anyone in China, but otherwise IPVanish is a super reliable VPN service for Mac.

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

4. CyberGhost

Ranked #4 out of 74 VPNs for Mac

  1. Fast, reliable speeds
  2. Newly-updated Mac app
  3. Works for Netflix
  4. Optimized torrenting servers
  5. Strict no-logs policy
  6. 6,200+ servers
  1. No torrenting in Australia
  2. Doesn't work in China
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 36 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,200+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost is one of our favorite cheap VPNs for Mac, managing to compete with its premium rivals on almost every front.

CyberGhost is a fast VPN for Mac, too, which comes in handy for streaming Netflix in HD using its optimized streaming servers.

It’s also good news for privacy fans, as CyberGhost operates a strict no-logs policy and packs in loads of advanced security features such as a VPN kill switch.

A recent update to CyberGhost’s MacOS app means it’s now sleek and easy to use, which is a huge improvement on the older version.

We’d advise Australia-based torrenters to pick an alternative to CyberGhost, though, and there are better options for Mac if you’re going to be connecting from China.

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

5. PrivateVPN

Ranked #5 out of 74 VPNs for Mac

  1. Very fast download speeds
  2. User-friendly Mac app
  3. Works with Netflix & iPlayer
  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
  • Best Price

    $2.88/mo over 15 Months

    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 VPN service for Apple Mac users, with super-fast speeds for a slick VPN experience.

Access to streaming sites like Netflix is reliable thanks to PrivateVPN’s clearly labeled servers, and the custom Mac app is simple enough, if a little dated.

PrivateVPN is also one of the most secure VPN services we’ve seen, with a true no-logs policy and a high level encryption keeping you safe online.

The read downside of PrivateVPN’s Mac app is its lack of VPN kill switch, though, which is a real shame. PrivateVPN’s live chat support can also be very temperamental.

If you’re prepared to put up with these shortcomings, as well as PrivateVPN’s relatively small VPN server network (with just one location in Africa), it could well do the job for you.

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

Popular Questions

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:

  1. Encrypt your web traffic

    This will make it impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing online, including your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
    Screenshot of the streaming error screen on Netflix

  4. 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:

  1. Visiting your VPN provider’s website and logging into your account
  2. Finding and clicking the download button for Mac Screenshot of the download button for the Mac app on ExpressVPN's website
  3. Opening the downloaded file, following the installation wizard, and launching the app
  4. Entering your username and password
  5. 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:

  1. Find a VPN service that offers a full-featured extension for Safari
  2. Download the Safari extension from the VPN provider’s website
  3. Enter your VPN username and password that you set up on signup
  4. 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 74 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.

Most popular paid VPN services will have a custom VPN app for MacOS, however we have come across a handful that don’t (Trust.Zone being one of the more popular examples).

Providers that don’t have a native MacOS client will often have manual workarounds instead, but they’re 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.

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.

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.

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. You can also take a look at the best VPNs to hide your IP address.

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:

  1. Belarus

    Anyone caught using a VPN in Belarus will be charged an unspecified fine.

  2. Iraq

    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.

  3. Turkmenistan

    Using a VPN could lead to a fine and a formal invitation to the Ministry of National Security for a ‘preventative conversation.’

  4. North Korea

    The fine for those caught using a VPN in North Korea remains unspecified.

  5. China

    Using a VPN service that hasn’t been approved by the Chinese Communist Party can result in a fine of up to $2,200.

  6. Russia

    The fine for using a non-government approved VPN in Russia is $5,100 for the user and $12,000 for the VPN provider.

  7. Turkey

    VPNs are heavily restricted in Turkey and the punishment for using one is not yet known.

  8. Iran

    Anyone caught using a non-approved VPN in Iran could face up to one year in prison.

  9. Oman

    Only corporate VPN services are permitted in Oman, so using one for personal reasons could get you a fine of up to $1,300.

  10. 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:

  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • IPVanish

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.

About the Author

  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio