How to Install a VPN on Chrome

Rebecca Duff
By Rebecca DuffUpdated

Using a Chrome extension for your VPN is simple and takes just a couple of minutes to set up. Once it’s installed, you’ll be able to control the VPN from your browser.

A laptop running Google Chrome and a VPN

A Chrome VPN extension is a great choice if you like to browse full-screen, or you want convenient access to your VPN while browsing. You can control the VPN, or change server location, without having to shrink your browser window.

Setting the VPN up takes just a few minutes with our helpful, user-friendly instructions to guide you through the process.

What You'll Need

Check that you’re running the latest version of the Chrome browser.

You’ll also need:

  • A subscription to a VPN service that offers a Chrome extension. Not all providers publish Chrome extensions, so it’s best to check before paying for a long-term plan. We’ve put together a roundup of our top VPN picks for Chrome to make deciding easier.
  • An account with a VPN provider. Make sure you’ve clicked on the email verification link to activate the account, or it may not work.
  • Possibly, the desktop application for your VPN. Many providers need you to run the desktop and Chrome applications alongside each other.

When you search the Chrome Web Store, you’ll find lots of different VPN extensions. Before picking one at random, check out some of our independent VPN reviews to make sure it offers the security you need.

How to Set Up Your VPN Extension in Chrome

Here’s how to install a VPN in Chrome, using ExpressVPN as an example:

  1. Head to the Chrome Web Store, and search for your VPN provider. Here’s what the listing for ExpressVPN looks like.ExpressVPN in the Google Chrome store
  2. Click the Add to Chrome button to install the VPN extension.
  3. You may see a drop-down alert that tells you the permissions the extension needs in order to run. Review these carefully before you click Add Extension.Adding the ExpressVPN extension to Google Chrome
  4. The button on the website turns green to show that your VPN extension is now installed.
  5. In your Chrome browser, at the top-right, you’ll see the icon for your extension. Click it once.ExpressVPN home screen
  6. Select a location, or stick with the Smart Location if you’re happy with it.
  7. Click the large round button to connect to the VPN.

Once you’ve installed the extension in one browser, it’ll be automatically installed on other desktop browsers you use if you’re signed in with Google.

You don’t need to add a username and password if you’re using the ExpressVPN Chrome extension. It picks up your security credentials from the desktop app, and funnels all of your internet traffic through the VPN — not just your browsing activity.

Getting Help With Your VPN

If something isn’t working as expected, your first port of call should be your provider.

You might also want to try setting up the VPN on another device, like your phone, to check that your account is working, and your credentials are correct.

If you see a grey X on an ExpressVPN Chrome extension icon ExpressVPN extension iconit’s a sign that the extension can’t find the desktop application. It needs this to be installed first in order to connect. If you’re sure you’ve installed it, you may not have set it up properly, or it could be installed in the wrong place on your computer. To fix this, click the icon in Chrome and re-install it.

If you need help setting up the desktop application for your VPN provider, you’ll find more VPN guides here.