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Best VPN for Mac

By Simon Migliano | Updated January 17, 2020

Illustration of MacOS devices, an iMac and a MacBook

You may have heard that MacOS is more secure than Windows, but this layer of protection doesn’t necessarily apply when you’re online – you still need to know what’s the best VPN for Mac.

Therefore, unless you take preventative measures, your privacy and security remains vulnerable when web browsing on a Mac.

That’s why using a reliable VPN client on your MacBook or iMac is crucial. It will secure your internet connection, and keep your online activity private and confidential.

To keep you in the clear, we’ve tested over 70 VPN Mac clients on our own test devices and picked out our five favorites.

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.

The Best VPNs for Mac

1. ExpressVPN

Ranked #1 out of 74 VPNs for Mac

  1. User-friendly Mac app
  2. Works across entire suite of Apple products
  3. Compatible with MacOS versions as far back as 2009
  4. Works with Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  5. No torrenting restrictions
  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 even further ahead of the rest on MacOS.

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

ExpressVPN is the only provider in our list which works across all Apple products, including Apple TV. MediaStreamer allows you to reroute your DNS requests and unblock geo-restricted content directly on your Apple TV – great for Netflix watching.

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

As always, we saw fast speeds across ExpressVPN’s entire server network and successful unblocking of all major streaming services, including Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

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 reviewed, but it’s especially worth it on Mac.

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. Incompatible with older versions of MacOS
  2. 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, 5,300+ 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

    $4.12/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. Does not support older MacOS versions
  2. No torrenting in Australia
  3. Doesn't work in China
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    89 countries, 6,200+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost is a good VPN provider, made great by its custom-built Mac app and low price.

CyberGhost’s recent update to its MacOS app has rectified all the main issues of the previous version, making it sleek and easy to use.

CyberGhost is a fast VPN, too, made even better through its optimized streaming servers for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

On top of this, CyberGhost operates under a strict no-logs policy and the app benefits from a kill switch – ensuring your online activity is safe and secure at all times.

CyberGhost is also a good choice for torrenting, although P2P traffic is blocked on its Australian servers. CyberGhost also fails to circumvent Chinese censorship laws, so Australia-based torrenters and those in China should pick an alternative.

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

    $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 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

Why Do I Need a VPN on My Mac?

You absolutely need to be running a VPN on your Mac, otherwise, your online activity is left unsafe and exposed.

Still sceptical? These are the top benefits of connecting to a VPN on your Mac:

  1. Encrypt your web traffic

    A VPN encrypts all your internet traffic, making it impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing online.

    This allows you to access your online banking even when connected to an untrustworthy public WiFi network, for example.

    If you are unaware of the dangers of public WiFi networks, why not have a look at our guide to help you recognise the risks and know why connecting to a VPN keeps you protected.

  2. Hide your IP address

    Your IP address is your unique identifier on the web, allowing you to be tracked and targeted by advertisers and governments.

    Your IP address is masked when connected to a VPN, making your activity untraceable and granting you ultimate anonymity.

  3. Help you bypass geo-restrictions

    Don’t you hate it when you get the dreaded Netflix proxy error screen?

    Using a VPN will allow you to pass through location checks and stream content from anywhere in the world.

  4. Allow you to bypass online censorship

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

    For this, we recommend ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN – they proved the most reliable VPN providers for bypassing censorship in our testing.

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, like all five of our recommendations do.

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 just want more detail and extra tips, you can check out our ‘How to Install a VPN on Your Mac’ guide, which lays out the process more thoroughly.

What is the Best Free VPN for Mac?

The 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 own 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 adamant that you don’t want to pay for your VPN, you can check our full line-up of the best 100% free VPNs for Mac.

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.

Running 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 torrenting copyrighted material and online harassment.

However, 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

 

Take a look at our ‘Are VPNs Legal?’ guide for a more detailed break down of country-specific VPN restrictions.

What Is the Best VPN for Mac Torrenting?

The best VPNs for torrenting on 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.

What Is the Best VPN for Mac in China?

The best VPNs for Mac 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.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

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