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Best VPN for Mac

Simon Migliano
Simon MiglianoUpdated

If you don’t install a VPN on your Mac, you make yourself highly vulnerable to a ton of threats to your online privacy, such as unwanted surveillance from your ISP and even targeted advertising based on your browsing history. That being said, choosing the most suitable one isn’t easy, as so many providers claim to offer the ‘best VPN for Mac users’. We help you make the right choice by running extensive tests on each VPN to ensure it works well on all popular Mac devices, including older versions of MacOS and OSX, without sacrificing privacy features, and publishing our findings in our comprehensive, user-friendly reviews.

The best VPN services for Mac allow you to enjoy private, encrypted browsing along with worldwide access to your favorite sites and apps, free from surveillance and unwanted data collection. Our proprietary speed-testing tool is constantly running in several different locations worldwide, meaning we can provide you with the most up-to-date VPN speed test data on the current market. To see which VPN we recommend for a specific purpose, tell us why you need one below, or read on for the best picks for Mac.

The 5 Best VPN Services for Mac
  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. CyberGhost
  4. IPVanish
  5. HideMyAss!
Read on for our detailed analysis of each VPN.
Our pick for Mac
ExpressVPN

Incredibly fast and ultra secure. HD streaming. 24/7 live chat support.

Best price
$6.67 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
94 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
3
What we like
  • Very fast speeds, average of 45Mbps globally
  • Reliable access to Netflix
  • No restrictions on P2P traffic
  • Very easy to use. Instant set-up on all devices
  • Connect securely to 90+ countries
  • Chrome, Firefox and Safari browser extensions
What we like less
  • Price could be lower on shorter plans
  • Three simultaneous connections only
Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is our pick for Mac as it’s simply the best all-round VPN. Its biggest strength is reliability. No other VPN offers such consistently fast speeds across its entire network, even on distant connections. Nor do many match its uninterrupted access to Netflix and other big streaming services.

The Mac app is user-friendly and easy-to-use and the list of supported other devices long. The three connection limit could be more generous, but that will still be enough for most.

ExpressVPN is equally strong on privacy. The VPN killswitch is a must-have feature and its logging policy is very sensible, collecting only anonymous usage stats in order to maintain performance on the huge global network.

Customer care is best-in-class with 24/7 live support and friendly, helpful agents. It also still works well in China, which says a lot about how good it is.

It’s not the cheapest option but you can bring the monthly fee right down to $6.67 on a 15-month plan, which is superb value for such an all-round performer.


Read our full ExpressVPN Review

2
NordVPN

Very fast zero-logs VPN. HD streaming & extra privacy features.

Best price
$3.99 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
62 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
What we like
  • Fast speeds - 54Mbps global average
  • High speed access to Netflix, iPlayer and more
  • P2P and torrenting permitted on many servers
  • Easy-to-use apps. Simple set-up on all devices
  • Connect securely to 62 countries
  • Specialty servers optimized for individual needs
What we like less
  • Slow email support
  • Browser extensions are proxies
  • No city-specific servers
  • Extra protocols require manual config
Bottom Line

NordVPN is a cheaper alternative to ExpressVPN for Mac that does the basics incredibly well – even if it lacks the full package offered by its rival.

It’s very fast, secure and one of the very few services to reliably work with both Netflix and iPlayer. Downloads on local connections peak at 332Mbps while uploads average 80Mbps, making it one of the fastest on the market.

The Mac app is slick and user-friendly and while you can protect up to a generous six devices at once, dedicated apps are limited to only the most popular platforms. Manual VPN protocol selection and no city-level servers are a minus but we do like privacy features such as the VPN killswitch and the strict zero-logs policy.

The customer support is good but can be slow. It’s not the best option for China either. So while NordVPN falls a little short of ExpressVPN overall, on a two-year subscription, it works out a lot cheaper at $3.99 per month.


Read our full NordVPN Review

3
CyberGhost

Fast zero-logs VPN with great privacy features. Good choice for streaming fans.

Best price
$2.75 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
60 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
7
What we like
  • Fast download speeds - 37Mbps global average
  • Quick, easy access to Netflix, iPlayer and more
  • Optimized servers for torrenting and P2P use
  • Simple set-up on most popular devices
  • Connect securely to 60 countries
  • Strict zero-logs policy
What we like less
  • Torrenting not available on US servers
  • Server network could be bigger
  • Garish app compared to typical Mac software
Bottom Line

Cyberghost is our top budget VPN pick for Mac. Not only is it very cheap but it also competes with its more premium rivals on several key fronts, especially streaming and privacy.

Access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services is rock solid thanks to dedicated streaming servers. Torrenting/Kodi performance is equally good except on US servers, where P2P traffic is sadly banned.

Download speeds on local connections are typically over 92Mbps (with some locations much faster than that) and while they drop off on international servers, it’s always enough for HD streaming.

A strict zero logs policy and first-party DNS servers make CyberGhost a top privacy pick, along with the automatic killswitch and other useful extras.

The Mac app is pretty user-friendly but rather garish compared to other software on the platform. At $2.75 on an 18-month plan though, it’s incredible value and easy to overlook the shortcomings.


Read our full CyberGhost Review

4
IPVanish

Super fast zero-logs VPN. Great for P2P. Lots of extra privacy features.

Best price
$6.49 per month
Money-back guarantee
7 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
61 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
10
What we like
  • Fast download speeds - 34Mbps global average
  • Top class upload speeds and latency
  • Currently working with Netflix
  • P2P and torrenting permitted on all servers
  • Simple set-up on popular devices
  • Connect securely to 61 countries
What we like less
  • Apps could be more user-friendly
  • Short refund period (7 days)
Bottom Line

IPVanish is a top pick for Mac users who prioritise Kodi and torrenting, due to excellent speeds, zero logging and extensive privacy tools.

It’s ultra fast on local connections but less consistent internationally across a network that’s mid-sized for locations but super-sized for servers and IP addresses. Access to Netflix will be a bonus for streaming fans but BBC iPlayer remains blocked.

The desktop apps could be more user-friendly but make up for it with powerful privacy features, including IPv6 leak protection and a killswitch. The Amazon Fire TV native app is a big plus although IPVanish does lack browser extensions or support for other streaming devices.

It can be made to work at a push in China but there’s better options available. Customer support is so-so. IPVanish isn’t cheap but it only requires a 12-month commitment to slash the monthly price by 46% to a reasonable $6.49.

If P2P is your priority then IPVanish really is a superb VPN for Mac that also works well on all fronts.


Read our full IPVanish Review

5
HideMyAss!

Extremely fast VPN. Quick, easy HD streaming and 24/7 live chat.

Best price
$3.50 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
190+ Countries
Simultaneous Connections
5
What we like
  • Great speeds - 40Mbps global average
  • Easy access to Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • P2P/torrenting permitted on many servers
  • Easy-to-use apps with simple set-up on most devices
  • Connect securely to over 190 countries
  • Specialty servers optimized for streaming
What we like less
  • Based in the privacy-unfriendly UK
  • Collects detailed connection logs
  • Limited to OpenVPN on the desktop app
  • No native apps for streaming devices
Bottom Line

HideMyAss! makes our pick for Mac as it’s the VPN service with most server locations, bar none. If you want to be able to disguise your location to appear in almost every country in the world then HMA! is the only choice.

It’s also great for streaming thanks to download (and upload) speeds that few rivals can match, optimized servers and reliable access to both Netflix and BBC iPlayer. A lack of native apps for streaming devices hold it back from being our top streaming pick though.

P2P users note that HMA! has some privacy issues, as it’s based in privacy-unfriendly UK and keeps detailed logs of connection metadata for up to three months. Of course if you’re simply looking to hide your IP address and browsing activity it will do the job.

The apps are just great – arguably the best-designed and most easy-to-use available. Customer support is quick and helpful. Go with HMA! if server choice and a sweet Mac app are your priorities.


Read our full HideMyAss! Review

How we picked the best VPN for the Mac

Our top picks for Mac have the fastest results in our speed tests both on local and international server connections. They also deliver the most consistent access to popular streaming services, such as Netflix. We favor transparent, minimal logging policies along with advanced privacy features such as DNS and IPv6 leak blocking to make sure you’re always protected. We spend hours with the testing the apps on Mac so we can share what they are truly like to use.

We are always testing all the VPNs on our site to make sure our reviews and recommendations for Mac are always accurate. We run regular speed tests using our global network to monitor VPN performance in popular locations. We try out the apps on a range of devices to give you the fullest picture and even put user support to the test.

How to use a VPN with a Mac?

Before you start using a VPN on your Mac, you need to decide whether you’re going to install the software at router level or download the app directly onto your device. A major advantage of having the VPN on your router is that you can protect all the connected devices in your home at once, however it can be pretty fiddly if you want to switch servers.

Downloading apps onto individual devices is the more popular method for VPN newbies as it’s a lot simpler, however you’re usually only able to use the software on 3-5 devices simultaneously.

You then need to choose which protocol you’re going to use to connect – we recommend OpenVPN in most cases as it strikes the best balance between privacy and performance. Most providers will offer a few others, but unless you have a specific need for them we would advise sticking to OpenVPN.

For the best performance you then need to connect to a server as close as possible to your physical location. The majority of VPNs have an option to automatically connect to the ‘best server’, which is usually at least in the same country as you.

Once you’re connected, the VPN will continue to run in the background and you can just carry on using your Mac as normal. Be sure to activate the killswitch feature though, as this means all your internet traffic will be blocked should the VPN connection drop for any reason. Also be aware that should you need to switch servers, your internet connection will most likely drop during the transition, simply to prevent your true IP address from being leaked when you’re not connected to a VPN server.

For more information, hints and tips, check out our helpful guide to installing and using a VPN on a Mac.

How to choose a VPN: 8 Tips

  • Does it have a user-friendly Mac app?

    All major VPN providers offer a dedicated app for Mac users, however the quality of these does vary massively from one provider to the next. Our top picks all have sleek, user-friendly Mac apps that still pack in loads of configurable manual settings without being too cluttered or confusing. You should also make sure the protocol you’ll want to use (OpenVPN for most people) is available on the Mac app, which it will be for the top providers.

  • Does it offer fast, consistent speeds?

    There’s no point in choosing a VPN with a super-sleek Mac app if the performance is no good and is going to affect your everyday activity. As a general rule, the faster speeds, the better, and you should also look for low latency on local servers for a seamless browsing experience.

  • Does it have servers in the locations you need?

    The nearer the VPN server to your physical location, the better the performance. A higher number of servers tends to mean less congestion and improved speeds but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Take a look at our speed test results to get the best idea, especially if you’re looking to connect to a specific country.

  • Will it work with your favorite websites and apps?

    Do you enjoy watching Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Not every VPN will work with these websites. We are continuously testing whether each VPN is working with Netflix and other popular sites, and share these results in our VPN reviews.

  • Check connection, encryption and security features

    The sheer amount of VPN jargon can be overwhelming, even if you are pretty tech-savvy. Do look out for OpenVPN though, as this connection protocol offers the best overall blend of speed and security. Ignore talk of military or bank-grade encryption and just look for AES-256, as that’s the gold standard. Unless you know your DNS from your IPv6, a VPN killswitch is the main thing to look out for among security features as it will protect you from exposing your real IP address should your connection drop unexpectedly.

  • What is their logging policy?

    Most VPNs will tell you that they’re “zero logs” but the reality is a little more complex. In order to deliver consistent performance across a vast server network, the majority of providers will need to monitor at least some connection details of their users. Theres good ways to do this and not-so-good. The logging policy section of our reviews saves you having to read through a ton of privacy policies and terms of service we tell you all the information in plain English. Ideally you want to look for a provider that doesn’t collect any personally identifying details, or even better, one that doesn’t store any logs at all!

  • Are their client apps and software easy to use?

    Most of you aren’t only going to be using a VPN on a Windows device, so you need to choose a provider that offers a good range of custom apps for other devices such as your phone. Look for a VPN with software that’s well-designed, user-friendly and powerful and you will be much more likely to use it all the time. We share the results of our hands-on testing of each VPN app in the the Ease of Use part of its review. We spend all day testing VPN apps, so hopefully we know a thing or two!

  • Finally, check the price and money-back guarantee

    Even the most expensive VPN plans are very affordable but you will likely have a budget in mind. 12-month plans typically offer the best value and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing a VPN with a long refund period, preferably 30 days and with no questions asked. These guarantees are much more common than traditional free trials but are essentially the same thing.