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The Best Free & Premium VPNs for Mac

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Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook
Simon Migliano
6 Comments

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. Read full bio

EXPERT ADVICE: Free VPNs for Mac are often slow, have data caps, and are blocked by streaming websites. ExpressVPN, the best Mac VPN, beats geo-blocks at fast and unrestricted speeds. Try it risk-free for 30 days.

The best VPN apps for Mac protect your internet privacy and security on your MacBook, iMac or Mac Mini.

Secure VPN software adds a layer of encryption to your internet connection and hides your real IP address from third parties.

After putting 70 VPN services through our testing process, we found five safe free VPNs and three excellent paid-for VPNs for macOS.

The best completely free VPN applications for Mac are:

  1. Windscribe: Our top-rated free VPN for Mac.
    Read summary or Visit Windscribe
  2. Proton VPN: A free Mac VPN with unlimited data. 
    Read summary or Visit Proton VPN
  3. Hide.me: Private and fully-optimized for macOS.
    Read summary or Visit Hide.me
  4. Atlas VPN: Fast free Mac VPN with a 2GB daily data cap.
    Read summary or Visit Atlas VPN
  5. Hotspot Shield: Fast Mac VPN with P2P support.
    Read summary or Visit Hotspot Shield

The problem with safe free VPNs is that they have 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 premium VPN for Mac.

The three best premium VPNs for Mac are:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best all-round VPN for Mac.
    Read summary or Visit ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN: The best alternative Mac VPN.
    Read summary or Visit NordVPN
  3. Surfshark: The best VPN free trial for Mac.
    Read summary or Visit Surfshark

In summary, the VPNs for Mac we recommend are fast, secure, and have a user-friendly native app for macOS devices.

We’ve tested them on Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, Sierra, Yosemite, and more to ensure they secure your web browser traffic – including on Safari.

The Top Free & Premium Mac VPNs Compared

Compare the 10 best Mac VPNs side-by-side based on server locations, logging policy, monthly data allowance, and more.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing VPNs for Mac using our unbiased macOS VPN review process to recommend the most suitable VPN software.

Here are the key Mac VPN testing statistics at a glance:

Test DevicesMacBook Pro, iMac & Mac Mini
macOS VPN Clients Tested78
Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed9,500+
Streaming Services Tested Daily12

Best Mac VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

The table below compares how the top-rated Mac VPNs perform in each key testing category:

The Best Free VPNs for Mac in 2022

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

    Fast and secure free Mac VPN that unblocks UK Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

    Ranked #1 Free VPN for Mac
    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit Windscribe

    Pros

    • Generous 10GB monthly data cap
    • Works with Netflix & other streaming sites
    • Reasonably fast speeds
    • Allows torrenting on free servers
    • Works in China
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    Cons

    • Menu bar app
    • Minor macOS compatibility issues
    • No live chat support

    VPN for Mac Rating: 8.5/10

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

    • 88.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 88.0/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 99.0/10

    Windscribe Free is the best free VPN for Mac. Not only that, but it’s also the overall best free VPN of 2022. It’s compatible with macOS Yosemite 10.10 (released in 2014) and later.

    The VPN comes with a generous monthly data allowance of 10GB, and it allows usage on an unlimited number of devices at once.

    The free service is fast, secure, and its native macOS app is easy to use.

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

    Demonstration video of Windscribe Free on Mac.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection54Mbps
    macOS CompatibilityYosemite & Later
    Mac App StoreNo
    US NetflixNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    The best free Mac VPN for streaming

    Windscribe is the only safe free VPN that works with UK Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.

    During our tests, we accessed geo-blocked movies and TV shows from all 10 of Windscribe’s free server locations.

    With Windscribe’s fast speeds and WireGuard support, we were able to stream TV shows and movies in HD without any buffering.

    We also set up our Mac as a virtual router and shared our Windscribe VPN connection with other devices that don’t support VPN connections, like our Apple TV and PS4.

    The only drawback to using Windsribe’s free plan for streaming 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.

    Works in China & good for torrenting

    Windscribe’s Mac app comes with a ‘Stealth’ connection protocol which obfuscates VPN traffic to bypass censorship.

    Testing Windscribe through our strict China VPN testing methodology, we discovered the free VPN successfully connects out of China.

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

    Equally, Windscribe allows torrenting traffic on all its free servers. We downloaded a legal torrent file in seconds on our test iMac, again thanks to Windscribe’s fast local speeds.

    Torrenters will be happy to know that the free VPN comes with a kill switch, built-in DNS leak protection, and secure AES-256 encryption, too.

    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.

    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.

    The problem with menu bar apps is that they’re small, limited in functionality, and hard to configure.

    Additionally, Windscribe’s Mac app doesn’t 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 improve user experience.

    Don’t let the issues above dissuade you from using Windscribe, though. It’s still the best free VPN for Mac. Let’s hope Windscribe can remedy its small problems soon.

    How to use Windscribe for free on Mac:

    • Sign up for Windscribe via the registration page.
    • Increase your monthly data allowance from 2GB to 10GB by providing a username and password.
    • Get an extra 5GB of data, increasing your monthly bandwidth to 15GB, by tweeting about Windscribe. Login to your account and click ‘Tweet 4 Data’.
    • Download the Windscribe Mac app and log in using your account details.
  2. 2. Proton VPN: Unlimited Free Data

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

    Screenshot of Proton VPN's mobile app
     100% 
    (2 user reviews)
    Visit Proton VPN

    Pros

    • Unlimited data allowance
    • Fast speeds
    • Strong security features
    • Open-sourced & audited apps
    • IP & DNS leak protection

    Cons

    • Just one simultaneous connection
    • Only three server locations
    • Doesn’t work for streaming
    • Blocks torrenting traffic
    • No live chat customer support

    Free VPN for Mac Rating: 7.7/10

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

    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 11.0/10

    Proton VPN is the safest and most secure free VPN for Mac. It has an effective kill switch, a privacy-friendly logging policy, and it comes from a well-respected cybersecurity company.

    If you want a free VPN primarily for encrypting unsafe networks and hiding your IP address, Proton VPN is the best option.

    Proton VPN is compatible with macOS Sierra 10.12 (released in 2016) and later software versions.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    macOS CompatibilitySierra & Later
    Mac App StoreNo
    US NetflixNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    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 VPNs in this list, 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.

    The VPN doesn’t work with US Netflix, Hulu, or any other streaming site. Also, torrenting traffic is actively blocked by the VPN, so you won’t be able to use it with any torrenting clients or with Kodi. This is disappointing as it makes Proton VPN’s unlimited data allowance less useful.

    Proton VPN's app for Mac.

    Proton VPN’s app for macOS.

    Robust security features

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

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

    The Mac app comes with a kill-switch enabled by default, too, so you won’t accidentally leak your true IP address if your VPN connection suddenly disconnects.

    The VPN comes from the same company behind ProtonMail, which is an acclaimed encrypted email service.

    It also operates under a minimal-logs privacy policy and is based in Switzerland, a jurisdiction that does not 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.

    Only one simultaneous connection

    In addition to the lack of streaming and torrenting support, there are a few issues with Proton VPN that mean we don’t recommend it as highly as Windscribe for Mac users.

    Most noticeably, 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.

    To get around this, you’ll have to install Proton VPN on your router. This can be quite difficult to set up, but once configured, you can secure every device on your network with Proton VPN.

    How to use Proton VPN for Free on Mac:

    • Sign up for Proton VPN via the registration page. You will need to provide an email address and password.
    • Download the Proton VPN Mac app and log in using your account details.
    • No other configuration is required. You will automatically be given unlimited data allowance and the choice of three server locations.
  3. 3. Hide.me: 10GB Free Data Per Month

    Quick torrent downloads and an enhanced app for macOS.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (1 user reviews)
    Visit Hide.me

    Pros

    • Available through the Mac App Store
    • Updated for Apple Silicon
    • No account registration required
    • Fast speeds on nearby servers
    • Allows P2P traffic
    • Attractive and user-friendly app

    Cons

    • Only four server locations
    • WireGuard blocked for free users
    • Doesn’t work for streaming

    VPN for Mac Rating: 7.6/10

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

    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 8.28.2/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10

    Hide.me is a fast, secure, and trusted free VPN for Mac. You don’t have to provide any account details to sign up, and it comes with a generous 10GB data allowance.

    Although it doesn’t have as many features as some other VPNs in this list, Hide.me is an excellent and easy-to-use Mac VPN. You can use Hide.me with macOS Catalina 10.15 (released in 2019) and newer software versions.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection72Mbps
    macOS CompatibilityCatalina & Later
    Mac App StoreYes
    US NetflixNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    Optimized for macOS and Apple Silicon

    Unlike all other free VPNs for Mac, Hide.me has fully-optimized its apps for macOS.

    Firstly, Hide.me is one of only a few services available to download through the Mac App Store.

    The benefit of downloading through the App Store is that you benefit from Apple’s app sandboxing requirement. This limits what parts of your system the VPN can access, increasing privacy and reducing any security risk.

    Downloading Hide.me via the App Store also means you can use your existing Apple ID payment method to subscribe to Hide.me, and the app is kept up-to-date through automatic updates. These relatively small improvements combine to make Hide.me a convenient and enjoyable experience on macOS.

    Also, Hide.me is the first VPN provider to be fully compatible with Apple Silicon. Apple Silicon is the new line of processors that power the latest MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis.

    All the other VPNs we recommend require software translation to function on these machines, which can negatively impact performance. By running natively, Hide.me is faster and runs with fewer issues than non-optimized VPN apps.

    Hide.me's app for Mac.

    Hide.me’s app for macOS.

    Fast download speeds & private torrenting

    In our latest tests, Hide.me achieved a download speed of 81Mbps when connected to a nearby server. This is a speed loss of just 11%, which is very impressive for a free VPN.

    We were able to achieve these speeds as the VPN does not throttle its free servers. After contacting it, a representative from Hide.me told us that the free VPN doesn’t put any speed caps on users’ traffic, which should mean that they experience speeds similar to premium users.

    You can make use of these fast download speeds by using the VPN for torrenting, too. Hide.me allows P2P traffic on its free servers, it has a functional kill switch, and can be bound to your torrenting client via the SOCKS proxy. This kept our torrenting activity private while keeping speeds fast.

    The only caveat is that Hide.me’s four server locations — US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany — are all similarly located. As a result, if you’re in South America, Africa, or Asia, you may experience slower speeds as there’s no nearby server to connect to.

    10GB monthly data cap

    Hide.me’s biggest limitation is that it only allows you to use 10GB of data each month. Although this is relatively high for a safe free VPN, Windscribe’s maximum data cap is 50% larger, and it doesn’t come close to Proton VPN’s unlimited bandwidth.

    This is plenty if you plan on using Hide.me for casual browsing, securing unsafe public WiFi networks, and occasional torrenting. However, it’s worth looking elsewhere if you perform high-bandwidth activities often.

    How to use Hide.me for free on Mac:

    • Download Hide.me via the App Store. You do not need to create an account.
    • No other set-up is required. You can use the VPN without entering any personal details.
  4. 4. Atlas VPN: 2GB Free Data Per Day

    Beginner-friendly Mac software from a trustworthy VPN company.

    Atlas VPN mobile app
     20% 
    (1 user reviews)
    Visit Atlas VPN

    Pros

    • Fast speeds on the WireGuard protocol
    • Large data cap
    • No email or payment details required
    • Attractive & user-friendly Mac app
    • P2P traffic allowed on all servers
    • Available on the Mac app store

    Cons

    • Only two server locations
    • Doesn't work with streaming sites
    • Based in a Five Eyes jurisdiction
    • No live chat customer support

    VPN for Mac Rating: 7.5/10

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

    • 9.39.3/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 6.96.9/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 8.18.1/10

    Atlas VPN is a safe VPN service with an easy-to-use app for macOS. It’s owned by Nord Security, the parent company of top premium VPNs NordVPN and Surfshark. This makes it one of the most trustworthy VPNs on this list.

    That said, it only has two server locations and it doesn’t work with any streaming sites. Overall, Atlas VPN is an excellent choice for beginners, but not for users who want a wider feature set.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection97Mbps
    macOS CompatibilityCatalina & Later
    Mac App StoreYes
    US NetflixNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    Fast & reliable download speeds

    Atlas VPN performed better than every other free Mac VPN in our speed tests. Connecting from the UK to the nearest server, our speeds dropped from 100Mbps to 97Mbps. This meant we could download files almost as quickly as without the VPN.

    The VPN encrypts WireGuard connections using ChaCha20, so your traffic will be secure as well as fast.

    Atlas VPN's app for Mac.

    Atlas VPN’s app for MacOS.

    Good choice for security

    Atlas VPN’s free tier benefits from the same high-level privacy and security features as the paid version.

    The service operates under a private logging policy, and its Mac app uses AES-256 encryption, SHA256 data authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy via 3072 bit DH key exchange. In short, you can trust Atlas VPN with your most sensitive data.

    The only drawback is that Atlas VPN is based in the US, which is part of the Five Eyes alliance. This is a group of five countries that collect and share surveillance data. In theory, one nation could collect data from a VPN user and share it with another Five Eyes member.

    However, as Atlas VPN collects only anonymous server data it does not have any user data that could be handed over to a surveilling government.

    Works well for torrenting

    Unlike most other free Mac VPNs we tested, Atlas VPN allows torrenting on all of its servers. We were able to download a 1GB torrent file in under two minutes.

    With the VPN’s kill switch enabled, our P2P activity was hidden from our ISP and all other third parties.

    However, we did find the 2GB daily data cap to be a problem. Although this theoretically means you can use around 60GB a month, we’d rather have the data available at once. Sometimes, we had to wait until the following day until we could finish downloading a large torrent file.

    Only two server locations

    The biggest downside to using Atlas VPN Free is that it only has servers in two countries: the US and the Netherlands. Hotspot Shield is the only VPN in this list that offers fewer countries than Atlas VPN.

    Unless you’re close to one of these two countries, you’ll likely experience slower and less reliable connections. It also means you won’t be able to get an IP address from Asia, South America, Africa, or Oceania.

    How to use Atlas VPN for free on Mac:

    • Download the Atlas VPN app from the Mac App Store.
    • You can use the VPN right away without entering any details.
  5. 5. Hotspot Shield: 500MB Free Data Per Day

    Very fast and easy-to-use VPN with just one server location.

    Hotspot Shield mobile screenshots
     88% 
    (5 user reviews)
    Visit Hotspot Shield

    Pros

    • Easy-to-use macOS app
    • Download through the Mac App Store
    • Doesn’t require account details
    • Very fast download speeds
    • Works with torrenting

    Cons

    • Just one server location (US)
    • Logs some user data
    • 500MB daily data cap
    • Based in the privacy-hostile US

    VPN for Mac Rating: 6.8/10

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

    • 99.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 5.55.5/10

    Hotspot Shield is a very fast free VPN for Mac. You can download the client via the Mac App Store, it has a built-in malware blocker, and uses military-grade encryption.

    However, the VPN is based in a Five Eyes jurisdiction and collects some user data. Hotspot Shield is still a good choice if you prioritize speed, but we don’t recommend it for privacy.

    The free version of Hotspot Shield works with macOS Sierra 10.12 and more recent versions.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection44Mbps
    macOS CompatibilitySierra & Later
    Mac App StoreYes
    US NetflixNo
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    Superb speeds

    Thanks to its proprietary Catapult Hydra VPN protocol, Hotspot Shield Basic is a very fast free VPN. In our latest round of tests, we experienced a 0% speed loss when using Hotspot Shield, with the service keeping our speeds at 100Mbps.

    The VPN does claim that peak speed is capped on the free server to prioritize traffic for premium subscribers. However, we did not notice any difference in speed when connecting to both the paid and free US servers. In both cases, speeds remained fast and reliable.

    However, Hotspot Shield Basic does come with one major downside that prevents it from being the fastest free VPN: you can only connect to a US server.

    Although our speeds remained fast connecting from the UK, you’ll experience a more significant drop in speed if connecting from a further-away location, like Australia or India.

    Intuitive & attractive app for macOS

    Hotspot Shield’s macOS app is attractive, easy-to-use, and it features a useful dashboard that displays information about your current session. To connect to the VPN server, simply click the large ‘On’ button from the main screen.

    Once connected, you’ll be able to see your new IP address, server load, the amount of data transmitted, and a live gauge of speed performance.

    Hotspot Shield's app for Mac.

    Hotspot Shield’s app for macOS.

    Like Hide.me, Hotspot Shield’s app is also only available via the App Store. This means you benefit from automatic updates and also from the App Store’s security and privacy protections.

    Hotspot Shield Basic also doesn’t require an account, so you can use the VPN without entering any personal details, like your email address or payment details.

    It also comes with built-in malware protection. While this is certainly no replacement for a fully-featured digital security product, Hotspot Shield will notify and block you from accessing sites infected with malware.

    Not recommended for privacy

    Hotspot Shield is let down by its sub-par privacy policy. Although the VPN has recently improved its logging practices, it still collects too much personal information.

    Hotspot Shield Basic logs the following information:

    • Your IP address
    • The domains that you access
    • Your approximate geographical location

    After contacting it, a Hotspot Shield representative told us that in all cases, this information is aggregated, encrypted, and not tied to your account in any way.

    We were told that this is to prevent fraudulent activity and that your IP address will be deleted from the system at the end of your session.

    Although Hotspot Shield claims this logging could not be used to identify you from your online activity, it is clear that the VPN collects far more information about you than other VPN services.

    Although we trust the VPN to adequately protect this information, we recommend you don’t use this VPN if you prioritize privacy and anonymity.

    How to use Hotspot Shield for free on Mac:

    • Download Hotspot Shield via the App Store. You do not need to create an account.
    • No other setup is required. You can use the VPN without entering any personal details.

Best Premium VPNs for iMac & MacBook

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for Mac

    Very fast, secure and overall best VPN for Mac.

    Ranked #1 out of 70 VPNs for Mac
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,792 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    • Attractive & intuitive Mac app
    • Fastest VPN for long-distance connections
    • Compatible with all Apple devices
    • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu & BBC iPlayer
    • Best-in-class security & privacy protections
    • Allows torrenting on all servers

    Cons

    • More expensive than other VPNs

    VPN for Mac Rating: 9.6/10

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

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.59.5/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Mac because of its feature-packed and intuitive app for macOS.

    ExpressVPN’s native Mac app is very easy to use with its large connect button.

    Also, the VPN comes with plenty of advanced security and privacy features, for more experienced users.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection92Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Countries94
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    Best-in-class security protection

    By default, ExpressVPN encrypts internet traffic using AES 256-bit and a UDP OpenVPN connection. This gives you the best balance between performance and security.

    The VPN also comes with DNS and IP leak protection and a robust kill switch (called Network Lock).

    Network Lock ensures your true location is not revealed if your VPN connection disconnects for any reason.

    The ExpressVPN Mac application

    ExpressVPN’s Mac app is attractive and easy-to-use.

    Unblocks US Netflix with fast speeds

    ExpressVPN has consistently proven itself to be the fastest VPN on long-distance connections.

    Our speed test results recorded just a 20% speed loss when connecting to the US from the UK.

    Fast speeds are essential as ExpressVPN unblocked all major streaming services in our streaming tests, including US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

    ExpressVPN’s unmatched performance on international connections means that no matter where you are, you can always stream geo-restricted movies and TV shows in HD and 4K.

    Works with every Apple device

    ExpressVPN is also one of only two VPN services in our list that works across all Apple products, including Apple TV.

    The VPN’s MediaStreamer feature is the best Smart DNS tool we’ve tested. It reroutes your DNS requests and unblocks geo-restricted content directly on your Apple TV. This is ideal for streaming US Netflix and HBO Max on your TV screen.

    More expensive but worth the extra cost

    Although the VPN has an impressive amount of features, it is no secret that ExpressVPN’s prices are higher than other VPN providers.

    You can spend 50% less if you opt for Private Internet Access’ long-term plans over ExpressVPN’s.

    But, ExpressVPN does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can always get a refund if you decide the VPN is not worth the price.

    In short, ExpressVPN is the best VPN you can use on your Mac. It has the most user-friendly Mac app and the VPN integrates seamlessly with all other devices in the Apple ecosystem.

  2. 2. NordVPN: Best Value Mac VPN

    Fast and affordable VPN optimized for macOS.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     94% 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    Pros

    • Very fast download speeds
    • Convenient download through the Mac App Store
    • Unblocks US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
    • Double VPN feature for extra security
    • Cheap on long-term plans
    • Kill switch on iOS app

    Cons

    • Confusing differences between app versions
    • Doesn’t accept PayPal

    VPN for Mac Rating: 9.4/10

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

    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 8.18.1/10

    NordVPN is a great option for Mac users due to its easy-to-use macOS app, large server network, and low price.

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection98Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Countries59
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    Great for private torrenting and Netflix streaming

    The VPN service operates a verified no-logs privacy policy, and it allows torrenting on all its VPN servers.

    What’s more, NordVPN is also one of the best VPNs at unblocking streaming platforms like US Netflix from anywhere.

    The service also has some of the fastest long-distance streaming speeds we’ve tested. 

    NordVPN also comes with a Smart DNS feature, so you can watch Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer on your Apple TV, too.

    NordVPN's Mac app

    NordVPN’s app for macOS includes support for NordLynx and Double VPN.

    Two different Mac clients

    Frustratingly, NordVPN has two different versions of its Mac app: one app is available via the Mac App Store, and the other from NordVPN’s website.

    There are significant differences between the two NordVPN Mac clients, but it’s not clear which is better.

    The IKE NordVPN app, available through the App Store, gives you the most VPN protocol options. Also, the kill switch on this app works system-wide — an essential feature for privacy.

    The direct download client has no VPN protocol options and apps need to be manually configured to work with the kill switch.

    The IKE app misses out on some key features the direct download app includes. For example, the direct download app lets you connect to NordVPN’s specialty servers and to set custom DNS addresses.

    Despite this, the direct download app’s lack of a system-wide kill switch makes it less secure. We therefore recommend downloading NordVPN through the Mac App Store.

    Exceptional security since a 2018 server breach

    NordVPN’s Finland server was compromised in March 2018. Despite the initial poor reaction to the breach – which we cover in our NordVPN review – no user data or sensitive information was exposed.

    Since the incident, the company has rapidly improved its security with additional security audits and the introduction of disk-less servers.

    As always, both NordVPN Mac apps secure traffic with AES 256-bit encryption, prevent DNS and IP leaks, and include CyberSec — NordVPN’s ad and malware blocker.

    Helpful 24/7 customer support

    NordVPN’s apps are stable and easy to use, but if encounter any issues, the VPN is backed by a great 24/7 customer support team.

    When we had an issue with finding WireGuard in the NordVPN app, a customer service agent answered and resolved our query within two minutes.

  3. 3. Surfshark: Best VPN Free Trial for Mac

    Beginner-friendly VPN for Mac with a 7-day free trial.

    Surfshark app
     82% 
    (129 user reviews)
    Visit Surfshark

    Pros

    • Available through the Mac App Store
    • 7-day free trial available on Mac
    • Unblocks most streaming services
    • Works on Apple TV via Smart DNS
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections
    • iOS app includes kill switch

    Cons

    • No OpenVPN on non-App Store app
    • Slow long-distance speeds

    VPN for Mac Rating: 8.9/10

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

    • 7.87.8/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.68.6/10

    Surfshark provides enough bonus features for macOS to make it an ideal budget VPN for Mac.

    The VPN has a convenient App Store download, a 7-day free trial, and Smart DNS feature for Apple TV.

    Cheapest Price$2.49/mo over 24 months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection85Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Countries95
    Compatible with
    1. macosMac OS
    2. iosiOS

    Available through the Mac App Store

    Unlike NordVPN, the differences between Surfshark’s App Store app and its website-downloaded app are simpler.

    The only difference is the App Store client supports OpenVPN, whereas the website version doesn’t. For this reason, we strongly recommend downloading Surfshark through the Mac App Store.

    Surfshark’s macOS apps are very intuitive and easy to use for beginners. You also have access to 24/7 live support, in case you encounter difficulties.

    Surfshark's Mac app

    Surfshark’s Mac app is available on the App Store.

    Offers a free trial and cheap prices

    Unlike the other VPNs in this list, Surfshark offers a 7-day free-trial to Mac users, so you can try out the VPN before committing to a paid plan.

    When it does come to paying, Surfshark is still very affordable. On a three-year plan, Surfshark costs just $2.49 per month. This is one of the cheapest prices offered by a top-rated VPN service.

    Great for streaming on unlimited connections

    Surfshark is also a great VPN for streaming. The VPN works with most major streaming services, including US and UK Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.

    You can access geo-restricted TV shows and movies on your Apple TV, too. Surfshark is in fact one of few services to offer a Smart DNS feature.

    You may have trouble streaming in 4K, though, as the VPN’s long-distance speeds aren’t as good as ExpressVPN’s or NordVPN’s.

    Surfshark is unique in that it allows unlimited simultaneous connections. You can therefore protect all your devices, and even share your VPN account with friends and family.

    Three different VPN server types

    The Surfshark Mac app splits the VPN servers into three distinct categories. However, this isn’t explained in the app.

    These are the three different server categories:

    • Locations: The default tab with all 95 server countries.
    • Static: The IP address you connect to remains the same when using that server. This is not a dedicated IP address; although the server IP remains the same, multiple users can use the same static IP address. This feature is only available on Germany, Japan, Singapore, UK, and US servers.
    • MultiHop: Adds an extra layer of security by routing your traffic through an additional VPN server. It slows down your internet speed, but makes you harder to track.

Why You Need a VPN for Mac

Below are the three main reasons to use a secure VPN on your Mac:

  • Hide your internet history and file-sharing activity from your ISP. When you’re not connected to a VPN, your ISP can see all websites you visit and every file you download or share. This applies even when in a private web browsing session.
  • Encrypt and secure public WiFi networks. ‘Free’ WiFi hotspots in public spaces, like cafes and hotels, are often used by criminals to steal sensitive data from other people on the network. By rerouting all traffic through a secure VPN tunnel, VPN software makes it much harder for hackers from intercepting and stealing your data.
  • Unblock streaming services. To enforce copyright agreements, streaming platforms restrict the amount of content available by region. Premium Mac VPNs are far more reliable at accessing this content than free VPNs.
  • Bypass online censorship. Countries with strict government censorship often ban websites and apps that do not conform to the ideals of the government. The best Mac VPN clients use obfuscation tools to circumvent aggressive internet filters and access restricted websites and apps in countries like China and Turkey.

How to Set Up a VPN on Mac

Each of the top VPNs for Mac we recommend 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.

All you need to do is open the VPN app and connect to a server by pressing the ‘Connect’ button.

You can select different server locations from the app’s server list.

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.

Free Mac VPNs to Avoid

VPN services require constant investment from the VPN company to function properly.

This money goes towards server infrastructure, support staff, development costs, and a range of other essential components.

Without paying subscribers, many free VPN services make money in other, more unsafe ways.

These methods include collecting and selling user data to advertisers, refusing to pay the costs involved to implement safe security practices, and some are simply scams.

Here are some popular free Mac VPNs that are dangerous to use:

Hola

Despite its popularity, Hola is one of the very worst VPNs and does not attempt to protect its user’s privacy and security.

Our Hola VPN review found that it’s not a VPN at all, as it does not encrypt any of your internet traffic. Instead, it is a peer-to-peer network where the true IP address of each user is shared.

This means that while using Hola, you will give your IP address to another user and will be accountable for any activity they perform.

To function in this way, Hola logs the websites you visit, your IP address, and a whole range of personally identifiable information. You should avoid Hola at all costs.

Opera VPN

Opera VPN is a free service that’s built in to the popular Opera web browser. However, it’s actually a proxy service and doesn’t come with the level of protection or anonymity as a fully-featured VPN service.

Opera VPN only routes traffic from within the browser through the VPN tunnel. This means that any other activity, like torrenting or iCloud photo syncing, is left unencrypted and vulnerable.

Opera also admits in its privacy policy that it “makes money by selling your data onto third parties,” so even your traffic within the Opera browser won’t be kept private and anonymous. It’s worth using no VPN at all over Opera.

If you want to read more about its intrusive logging policy and security limitations, read our full guide to Opera VPN safety.

Betternet

Although Betternet is positively rated on the Mac App Store, it tracks its users and is not very transparent about its ownership structure. Betternet is owned by Aura, the same company that’s behind Hotspot Shield.

However, our most recent investigations into free VPN apps noted that this is not stated anywhere on Aura or Betternet’s site, with the only reference buried in the VPN’s shared privacy policy.

In addition to this, an academic report found that Betternet had the highest number of embedded tracking libraries of all the VPNs studied.

Our Betternet review also found that the VPN suffers from DNS leaks if it is not properly configured. In all, Betternet fails as a tool for privacy and you should avoid it.

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.

Here’s a more in-depth look at all the factors we test for 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 premium 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. 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 premium 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. Data Allowance: 20%

Minimum Requirement: 5GB each month for free VPNs, and unlimited for premium VPNs.
We Recommend: Unlimited data with no bandwidth restrictions.

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 will inhibit 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. For this reason, every free Mac VPN must allow you to use a relatively large amount of data each month.

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.

Overall, we tend to only recommend VPNs that offer at least 10GB of data each month. We strongly discourage using a VPN service below this amount.

4. Speed: 10%

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 12 monthly speed tests 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 premium 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.

5. Streaming: 10%

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.

6. 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 150Mbps 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.

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.

Additional research by Luke Williams

Mac VPN FAQ

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 will save you time, and will ensure that the necessary security features are properly configured.

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 that we recommend.

Once you’ve set up your VPN and enabled all the available security features, just select a VPN server location and click the connect button. Your true IP address will now be hidden and replaced by the new VPN IP address.

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

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano

    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. Read full bio