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How to Add a VPN Extension in Chrome

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.

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Adding a VPN extension in your Google Chrome browser is very easy. Follow the simple installation steps in this guide to safely set up a VPN extension in Chrome.

VPN extensions installed on Chrome browser

Quick Guide: How to Add a VPN in Chrome

  1. Search for your chosen VPN in the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Select your VPN extension and click the ‘Add to Chrome’ button.
  3. Click on the VPN extension in your toolbar and connect to a VPN server.

The best Chrome VPN extensions change your IP address location to hide your browser traffic from snoopers, and to unblock geo-restricted web content.

Secure VPN extensions also shield you from insecure and malicious websites by using high encryption ciphers and secure protocols.

In this guide we’ll explain in detail how to add a VPN extension to your Chrome browser via the Chrome Web Store.

What You’ll Need to Set up a VPN in Chrome

  • The latest version of the Google Chrome web browser.
  • A free or paid-for subscription to a VPN service (not always necessary).
  • The VPN’s desktop application (not always necessary). Some VPN extensions require the desktop app to run alongside it.

Keep in mind that Chrome VPN extensions only protect your web browser traffic. As such, they don’t provide the same level of privacy and security as full VPN software.

How to Set Up a VPN Extension in Chrome

Here’s how to install a VPN plugin in Chrome using our preferred Chrome VPN, ExpressVPN, as an example. The process is very similar for all VPN extensions.

  1. Go to ExpressVPN’s Chrome Web Store listing. Then, click the Add to Chrome button to install the VPN extension.ExpressVPN's Chrome Web Store listing
  2. A browser notification will inform you of the permissions the extension needs in order to run. If you agree to the permissions, click Add extension.ExpressVPN's Chrome extension permissions notification
  3. The button on the Chrome Web Store will now say Remove from Chrome, indicating that your VPN extension is now installed (don’t click it).Chrome Web Store updates to indicate that the browser extension has been installed
  4. In the top-right corner of your toolbar, you’ll see ExpressVPN’s icon. Click the icon once to open the extension’s interface. The plugin will display information about what it is. Click Skip to move through the slides.The startup message on ExpressVPN's Chrome browser extension
  5. Click Ok or No Thanks to complete the setup.End of the setup process for ExpressVPN Chrome browser extension
  6. You’ll now see the extension’s main screen. The big connect button in the center lets you quickly connect to a server.ExpressVPN's Chrome extension home screen
  7. Before connecting to a server, check your security settings. You can access these by clicking on the burger menu (three horizontal lines). Make sure ‘Spoof your location,’ ‘Block WebRTC,’ and ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ are enabled.ExpressVPN's chrome extension privacy and security settings
  8. Click on the three dots next Selected Location to find and select your preferred server location. Alternatively, click on Smart Location to automatically connect to the closest server.ExpressVPN chrome extension server locations
  9. Click the connect button. ExpressVPN’s connect button turns green when it has successfully connected.ExpressVPN Chrome extension connected to a server

Note: Unlike other VPN extensions, ExpressVPN’s plugin requires the full software to run at the same time. As a result, you don’t need to log into the extension since it knows your login details from the desktop app.

Other VPN services may require you to enter your account credentials in order to use their VPN extension. For instance, here’s the login screen on NordVPN’s Chrome extension:

NordVPN Chrome browser extension log in screen

How to Uninstall a Chrome VPN Extension

If you don’t want to use your VPN browser extension anymore, it’s extremely easy to uninstall it on Google Chrome.

Just open a Chrome window, right click on the extension icon, and click Remove from Chrome.

Hpw to remove ExpressVPN's extension from Chrome

Chrome VPN Extension Troubleshooting

There could be a number of reasons why your VPN extension for Chrome may not be working as expected.

A common problem involves using incorrect login details, so make sure these are correct. If the extension still doesn’t work, try removing it and re-installing it.

For ExpressVPN specifically, the extension works in tandem with the desktop application. If the Chrome plugin isn’t working, check the desktop/laptop app is correctly installed.

If you see a grey X on the ExpressVPN Chrome extension icon it’s a sign the extension can’t find the desktop application.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN Chrome browser extension connection states

If problems persist, you should contact your VPN service provider to explain the issues you’re having. They can then advise you on how to remedy the problem.