What You’ll Need
To install the VPN, you’ll need:
- A working account with a VPN provider. Make sure you’ve confirmed the account; check your email and click the confirmation link before you proceed with the steps in this guide.
- A smart TV. If it supports VPNs — and most Android sets do — then you can skip to Method 1 below.
If your smart TV doesn’t natively support VPNs (and most don’t), you will also need:
- A PC with Wi-Fi or ethernet, or a or Mac ethernet (Method 2), or
- A router capable of creating a VPN connection (Method 3).
Remember: you may need to check the connectivity options on your TV and your devices. For example, some TVs can only be Wi-Fi-enabled with an adapter that’s purchased separately, and some Macs will need an adapter for ethernet.
Method 1: Install a VPN on Your TV
Installing a VPN on a TV is simple if it runs Android. Here’s how to get started, using ExpressVPN as an example:
- Open the Google Play Store on your TV
- Search for your VPN provider’s app and install it
- Accept the permissions that the app needs to run
- Select Sign in
- Enter the username and password that you use to sign in to the ExpressVPN website
- Select Sign in again
- Select OK to set up the app
- When the Connection Request dialog appears, select OK
- Choose whether you’d like to allow the ExpressVPN app to share technical information with its developers; this is optional.
Once the app’s installed, you’ll see the connection screen. If you use the ExpressVPN app on other devices, you’ll know what to do here. Select the large, circular button to connect, or select Choose Location to switch to a different server before connecting to the VPN.
Method 2: Connecting Through a PC
If your TV doesn’t support the installation of Android apps, you can route the connection via your PC. You can use a desktop or a laptop for this, and the computer doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same room as the TV providing the connection is solid.
Before you begin, there are two things you’ll need to do:
- Using an Administrator account, open up a Command Prompt window and type netsh wlan show drivers then hit Enter. This will check whether your computer can run a virtual router. Look for a line that says Hosted network supported: Yes. If you don’t see this, you’ll need to update your network hardware drivers before you start.
- Install the app for your VPN provider. We’ve got a guide installing a VPN on Windows if you need help.
Important: don’t connect to ExpressVPN yet.
Once you’ve connected to your VPN on the PC, and you’ve checked that it supports virtual router configurations, you’re all set to continue:
- Back at the command prompt, set up the username and password for your hosted router; type netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=MYNETWORK key=MYPASSWORD and hit enter, replacing MYNETWORK and MYPASSWORD with your own choices
- Start the virtual router by typing netsh wlan start hostednetwork and hit the Enter key
- You’ll see the message The hosted network started
- In Control Panel, open the Network Connections pane; you should see a connection labelled Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter with the SSID you chose in step 1; note its name
- In the same Network Connections pane, look for a TAP adapter; right-click on it, and then click Properties
- In the Sharing tab, check the box labelled Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection
- Underneath, in the Home networking connection dialog, select the name of the virtual adapter you noted in step 4.
You’re ready to share your connection. But first, you’ll need to connect to the VPN on your computer using the app. If you’re using ExpressVPN, click the large connection button, and wait until the VPN is ON message appears.
The final step is to connect your TV to your virtual router using a cable, or Wi-Fi if your TV supports it. Once you’ve done that, all of the internet traffic going to the TV will be protected by the VPN when it’s turned on.
To turn off your virtual router, type netsh wlan stop hostednetwork at the command prompt on your Windows computer.
Method 3: Connecting Through a Mac
These steps should work on most Macs with OS X. It’s always best to run the most up-to-date version so that you have the best security and features.
On a Mac, you will need to use an ethernet connection to connect to the internet, while sharing your connection via Wi-Fi to the TV. Some Macs don’t have ethernet built in, so you might need to buy an adapter.
To route your TV’s traffic through your Mac:
- Install the VPN on your Mac using a manual configuration. Specifically, you’ll need to use L2TP over IPSec. Don’t worry; we’ve already published a guide that shows you how to quickly set that up on your Mac.
- Connect to the VPN on your Mac once you’ve got the connection set up
- In System Preferences, click Sharing
- Select Internet Sharing on the left-hand side
- Check the Wi-Fi box on the right
- Click the Wi-Fi Options button
- Select WPA2 Personal from the Security drop-down
- Set up the network using the Network Name and Password you prefer
- Click OK
- Back in the Sharing pane, check the checkbox next to Internet Sharing to turn it on.
- Click Start to confirm.
And that’s it. You can now connect your TV to your Mac via WiFi. You’ve already turned on the VPN, so your internet traffic is protected.
To turn off sharing, just go back to the Sharing pane in System Preferences and untick Internet Sharing.
Method 4: Connecting Through a Router
Using a router for your VPN is a good way to protect all of the devices that connect to it. It looks daunting, but it’s actually surprisingly easy, and you only have to set the connection up once.
However, some routers don’t support VPN connections — particularly the basic routers supplied by ISPs.
If you want to buy a router to use a VPN on your TV, we recommend these options:
- Buy a pre-flashed router, or a DD-WRT/Tomato-based router, that supports your chosen VPN more or less ‘out of the box’; this is the easiest way to proceed
- If you already have a router, you may be able to download an update for it, install an app, or set up the connection manually.
We’ve written a VPN connection guide for a business router. If your router supports VPNs, this will show you the general process for creating a manual connection, and the settings that you’ll need to change. Once you get the connection working, you won’t need to tweak any of the settings on your TV, which is a big plus point.
Need More Help?
Although it’s impossible for us to provide a VPN connection guide for every smart TV, you should be able to use a connection through your computer without too much trouble.
You’ll probably find it easiest to get the VPN working first, and then connect the TV to the device running the VPN as a separate step.
If you’re still having problems, we recommend initially asking your provider for support. Open a ticket, and let them know the make and model of your TV, along with the router or computer you’re using.