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ExpressVPN may be the #1 VPN for Mac in 2019, but 7 other VPN providers might be a better fit for you. Below you will find the Top 8 VPNs that we recommend for Mac users. But first, let’s learn about the criteria we used to determine the best VPNs for Mac that will help explain why some services are not as high as one would expect or why some haven’t made the cut at all.
While these criteria can be debated, here’s what we chose to rate:
- Security. This includes military-grade encryption, best protocols (OpenVPN and IKEv2), kill switch, and no IPv6/DNS leaks.
- Privacy. The provider should have a strict no-logs policy, allow anonymous registration and payments.
- Performance. When connected to a VPN, your speeds should be good enough for downloading and streaming.
- Entertainment. Does your VPN allow torrenting? Is it effective against geo-blocking, allowing access to Netflix and other streaming platforms?
- Ease of use and customer support. Is the Mac app user-friendly? Does your provider offer 24/7 live support?
- Price. Last but not least, the VPN should offer enough bang-for-the-buck and a solid money-back guarantee. A free trial is a bonus have too.
Hopefully, this list will help you find the right Mac VPN.
- Pros: Impenetrable encryption, strong kill switch, no leaking issues, one of the cheapest VPNs, great choice of servers and locations, unblocks Netflix and other streaming platforms;
- Cons: not the fastest VPN on the list, no router app;
- Price: starts at $3.49 per month
- VPNpro rating: 9.5
NordVPN has a wealth of strong security features (AES-256 encryption, two types of kill switch, leak protection, Double VPN, Onion over VPN) and one of the largest networks in the world, consisting of 5,700+ servers in 60 countries. All this and more is available for a measly fee of $3.49 per month billed every 3 years, that you can also pay with cryptocurrencies.
NordVPN has proven to be a good choice to unblock Netflix with servers in many different countries – not only the US, as is often the case. Moreover, it is capable as a shield against government agencies looking for copyright infringements to punish, so you can torrent to your heart’s content, especially when NordVPN offers a free SOCKS5 proxy.
The Great Firewall of China is no match for the Obfuscated Servers feature of NordVPN, and neither are the censors of Russia, Iran, Turkey, or any other repressive country in the world. As a matter of fact, the brilliant security features of NordVPN make it a prime choice for people traveling to or living in these states.
Mac users will appreciate that NordVPN doesn’t suffer a downgrade from other versions of the VPN client. There’s an option to download the OpenVPN or the IKEv2 version from the App Store.
Those having trouble with any aspect of the service can contact support via 24/7 live. Alternatively, you’ll find lots of useful information in the FAQ and Tutorials sections.
Mac users tend to have more devices than Windows users. As such, NordVPN is also a good choice because one subscription gives 6 simultaneous connections.
The only real criticism of NordVPN for Mac is the lack of a router app.
- Pros: Strong encryption; Anonymous sign up and payments, Great performance, Unlimited simultaneous connections, Stunningly cheap;
- Cons: Weak self-help support section;
- Price: starts at $1.99/month;
- VPNpro rating: 9.0
Surfshark VPN is great, but it also offers some insane deals, starting from $1.99 per month for a two-year plan! And in this case, cheaper doesn’t mean worse – the gap separating Surfshark from the best VPN for Mac is as narrow as my chance of owning a Ferrari.
Started in 2018, Surfshark has climbed to the top quickly, pushing down quite a few old-timers. And no Masonic conspiracy had to do anything with that – Surfshark has simply built a great VPN.
It all starts with military-grade encryption, OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, a kill switch, and multi-hop. There’s also a Camouflage Mode that unblocks internet in China and other restrictive countries.
Furthermore, Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws. This and the unlimited number of simultaneous connections means that Surfshark doesn’t have to log almost anything, and they try to do their best not to do so. This VPN provides complete anonymous sign-up and accepts cryptocurrencies.
Even though Surfshark boasts only 1,000+ servers, they seem to be working efficiently, providing fast speeds over 50+ locations. Torrenting is allowed, and Netflix US is unblocked, so you can put that connectivity to good use.
Another argument for using Surfshark on Mac is that its app is as secure as the Windows version – something that’s rarely the case even among premium VPNs. And should you have any questions installing or configuring this user-friendly client, a friendly 24/7 live chat support is ready to help. There’s even a 7-day free trial available on App Store, so you can try out Surfshark right away, without providing payment details.
- Pros: Powerful encryption and kill switch, no DNS or IPv6 leaks, industry-leading speeds, proven no-logging practice;
- Cons: Expensive;
- Price: starts at $8.32 per month, better deals found through affiliates
- VPNpro rating: 9.6
ExpressVPN offers bulletproof security (military-grade AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN, kill switch, DNS/IPv6 leak protection), and its massive 3,000+ server list is spread out over 90+ countries to provide consistent performance and 99.9% uptime. Although it’s not cheap, the speeds with this stellar macOS app that can be used on 5 devices simultaneously are worth it.
ExpressVPN is a great VPN for Mac primarily because the features of its intuitive and user-friendly VPN client are virtually identical to those Windows and Android users enjoy. This means that Mac users can take advantage of one of the best feature suites in the entire market. What’s more, ExpressVPN iOS app and Safari extension are also top-notch.
The ExpressVPN website is full of guides on how to download or install the VPN client, and customer support is available via live chat 24/7. Not that you’re likely to need it with how easy to use this app is.
Furthermore, it’s one of the better VPN services for bypassing geo-restrictions, such as those of Netflix, and allows torrenting on all servers.
Save for the cost, the only drawback of ExpressVPN is the lack of free trial. But at least you get a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Pros: Great encryption and security features, versatile, not expensive, a wide fleet of speedy servers, slick apps;
- Cons: Not ideal for China, collects more logs than optimal;
- Price: starts at $2.75/month;
- VPNpro rating: 9.1
CyberGhost VPN is among the best for Mac and at the same time is pretty popular. That can mean only one thing – this VPN has great pricing. Starting at $2.75 per month and offering one of the industry’s longest 45-day money-back guarantee along with a free 24-hour trial, CyberGhost makes it really hard for one not to try it. And with 7 simultaneous connections allowed along with a router app, that’s a real bang-for-the-buck.
Those who decided to try CyberGhost for Mac will be pleased with bank-grade encryption, a kill switch, the OpenVPN protocol, and leak protection. As for the privacy, CyberGhost is located in privacy-friendly Romania but is actually owned by a British company Kape Technologies, and their logging is not exactly minimal. In any case, if you’re not a political activist or your location is not China, this VPN should do just fine.
While the CyberGhost Mac app looks really slick, it has fewer security features compared to the Windows version and doesn’t allow to choose the protocol. But other than that, the apps are pretty identical and to be fair, most VPN providers offer a toned-down Mac client. And if you find trouble with CyberGhost, its excellent 24/7 live support is ready to help.
CyberGhost VPN has 5,700+ servers in 90+ countries – that’s more servers than any other provider right now! Naturally, such a fleet provides great speeds, torrenting included, as it doesn’t throttle P2P traffic.
When it comes to streaming, CyberGhost is more than capable of unblocking Netflix and other streaming services. It has specialized “For streaming” servers that you can use to access country-specific media libraries.
If you’re not bothered by the aforementioned CyberGhost’s privacy concerns, your Mac deserves to be protected by this VPN.
- Pros: Military-grade encryption, kill switch, no leaks, huge network with servers in 80+ countries, amazing speeds, intuitive apps for all major platforms;
- Cons: Expensive, no router setup, US location;
- Price: starts at $2.99 per month
- VPNpro rating: 7.6
Hotspot Shield for Mac is all about performance and smoothness. This VPN has been around for a while, so they’ve been able to perfect their own technology, such as the Catapult Hydra tunneling protocol.
While most VPN apps for Mac are based on OpenVPN, Hotspot Shield opts to rely on Catapult Hydra, offering significant performance benefits in the process. This makes the VPN particularly good for frequent travelers and people who often deal with unstable or slow connections. Add that to a server list of 3,200 servers across 80+ countries, and you’re bound to enjoy top speeds wherever you go.
“What about security?”, you may ask. Hotspot Shield encrypts all data using top-of-the-line AES-256 encryption, which even the best hackers will find unbreakable. That, plus the kill switch, means that Hotspot Shield for macOS is a safe enough for torrenters, but cannot be recommended to political activists because of the US jurisdiction.
Users of Apple products will also enjoy the fact that Hotspot Shield has a great iOS app, as well as the ability to use the service on 5 devices at the same time. It’s also one of the few VPNs that still provide a free version, but it has a 500 MB daily bandwidth and blocks Netflix.
While all this sounds amazing, there’s got to be some reason why Hotspot Shield is only at the third place of this list. Well, there’s quite a few of them.
For starters, Hotspot Shield is not a cheap VPN service, with prices starting at $8.99 for a two-year plan – that’s more than ExpressVPN dares to charge! Also, it doesn’t support routers, and those 5 devices per account might run out soon. Finally, the US location, the lack of crypto payments, and some privacy concerns make Hotspot Shield unsuitable to those looking for maximum anonymity.
- Pros: Secure, great against censorship, good for Netflix, very slick;
- Cons: Not great for torrenting, average speeds, no anonymous payment methods;
- Price: Starts at $5.00 per month;
- VPNpro rating: 8.3
Launched in 2009, the Switzerland-based VyprVPN is a technological jewel and an awesome VPN app for macOS. VyprVPN has 700+ servers in 70+ global locations, and all these servers are their own, allowing them to achieve better performance than thousands of questionable third-party servers ever could.
The security level of this VPN rivals any other. This VPN has military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection, as well as the proprietary Chameleon protocol to bypass censorship. When it comes to privacy, an independently audited no-logs policy and a jurisdiction far away from the Fourteen Eyes should leave no unanswered questions.
The Chameleon protocol makes VyprVPN a prime choice for users in countries with no online freedom and ubiquitous surveillance; or those engaging in sensitive activities. This includes political activists, journalists, hackers, and other secretive types.
VyprVPN is available as a regular (from $5.00 a month, 3 simultaneous connections) or premium (from $6.67 a month, 5 simultaneous connections, Chameleon protocol, a dedicated cloud VPN server) subscription. If you’re serious about choosing VyprVPN for your Mac, we advise taking the premium plan as the regular one allows only three devices at the same time and doesn’t have the Chameleon protocol, thus losing most of its glamour.
Just as our other top choices, VyprVPN is as strong on Mac as it is elsewhere. If you’re anything like us, you’ll love this clean and straightforward VPN client, which feels just at home on macOS. It also has a great iOS app, which many Mac users will find relevant.
VyprVPN is good for Netflix – you’ll be able to unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and many other streaming platforms.
But where VyprVPN fails is P2P and torrenting. Simply put, they aren’t big fans of dealing with copyright infringement notices. Additionally, it’s not the cheapest nor the fastest VPN service for Mac, which doesn’t have anonymous payment methods – unfortunate indeed.
- Pros: Versatile and quick, minimal logs, lots of great features, cheap;
- Cons: Based in Canada, has engaged in some unsavory activities in the past, no live chat;
- Price: starts at $1.00 per month
- VPNpro rating: 8.4
Windscribe is Canada-based, which is not ideal for privacy, even though this VPN doesn’t log any identifying information. This is a top macOS VPN service with AES-256 encryption, a firewall that protects from leaks and also works as a kill switch, and even a “stealth” protocol to bypass censorship. Windscribe also has a bunch of unique features, such as R.O.B.E.R.T., a tool to reduce tracking, ads, and malware risk. It can also block social media trackers, beacons, and browser fingerprinting.
At 500+ servers in 60+ countries, this is not the largest network, but it still delivers good performance. It will allow you to torrent safely, stream Netflix content unhindered, and unlock some other geo-blocked streaming platforms. With that said, it’s not the most formidable unblocker on the market so those with subscriptions for lots of platforms may want to look elsewhere.
Windscribe has one of the most flexible pricing plans, including a limited free version (10 locations, 10 GB/month), and a “Build A Plan” option, which starts at $1.00 per server location per month. But more likely, you’ll end up somewhere near the yearly plan’s cost of $4.08/month. Windscribe accepts Bitcoin, among other payment options, and all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Windscribe for Mac is a minimal yet powerful VPN client that carries all the features you could possibly need. The Mac application rates highly for ease of use, so even new users shouldn’t have issues. Unfortunately, should you have any, a live chat is missing, offering to talk to the bot instead.
There’s another negative I find mandatory to point out. Windscribe’s reputation has suffered a few blows in the past. For example, the free version has been accused of working as a crypto miner. But if this doesn’t scare you, I suggest checking Windscribe out – chances are it will be the right choice for your Mac.
- Pros: Excellent security; Very fast; Awesome for P2P & streaming; Great for bypassing blocks;
- Cons: Expensive; No money-back guarantee;
- Price: starts at $8.33 per month
- VPNpro rating: 8.9
Astrill is as powerful a VPN for Macbook as any, particularly if you’re based in Asia. It’s got all the security features (AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, leak protection) and a wealth of tunneling protocols. Astrill VPN has only 320+ servers in 60+ countries, yet this Seychelles-based VPN service can compete with anyone in terms of speed and versatility.
The version of Astrill VPN for macOS has a rich list of features, which lends itself to streaming geo-blocked content (particularly Netflix), torrenting, and just general anonymity on the net. As a matter of fact, the incredible connection speeds with this service make it a top pick for any entertainment-related purpose.
Judging by the server locations, it’s obvious that Astrill places a lot more importance on Asia than its competitors. This is also apparent from the variety of “stealth” tunneling protocols, one of which is also available on the Astrill Macbook VPN client. Using it will allow you to use the service in countries such as China.
While downloading and installing the VPN client is not difficult, and while customer support is available 24/7, the macOS client itself is not very user-friendly. For instance, the kill switch is not on by default and is not that easy to find – users will have to switch to StealthVPN to activate it.
There are a few negatives, though. Starting at $8.33/month, it’s more expensive than even ExpressVPN. But unlike ExpressVPN, Astrill doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, not to mention a free trial.
On top of that, its client could certainly use a better interface. And, lastly, Astrill could log a little less.
VPN for Mac FAQ
But macOS is secure – why use a VPN?
In theory, Mac computers are less vulnerable to all kinds of cybersecurity threats. Unfortunately, as security expert Eric Johanson once told cnet.com, if you compare that number of users and published vulnerabilities for Windows and macOS, you’ll see that the latter is losing the security battle on a per user basis. Now having in mind that this quote is almost a decade-old, let’s see the total numbers of malware for macOS, courtesy of av-test.org:
Suddenly Mac no longer looks so secure, does it? And as for the hackers, more often than not they’re looking not for the user with a particular OS but the one with the largest footprint. And while VPN is not an antivirus, they can help minimize that footprint by increasing our privacy and security.
A large part of our privacy issues is caused by external forces, such as corporations that handle our data or government agencies that want to spy on us. The anonymization and encryption offered by VPN services is a great shield against these adversaries.
Furthermore, even if you don’t care about your privacy or security at all, VPN services will help you entertain yourself – whether by helping you bypass geo-restrictions, securing your torrent downloads, or helping you get a Pay Per View cheaper.
Are the best overall VPNs also the best ones for Mac?
Experts estimate that approximately 1 in every 5 desktop devices in the world runs on macOS. This level of prevalence means that software developers, including VPN services, normally don’t ignore Mac users. However, Windows and Android are generally still where most providers begin app development. As such, the quality of Mac VPN clients varies – a good service on Windows might prove to be terrible for Mac.
Should I use a free VPN for Mac?
It’s possible to get a secure free VPN for Mac, but only up to a point. Free VPN services are frequently not very secure or good for your privacy, and it makes sense! Nothing in this world is free, and neither are free VPN services, which usually fund themselves by spying on your activities and selling the information to advertisers or using some other shady method.
Then there are paid VPN services that have a free version. These can be just fine in terms of security but limited in terms of function. Most such tools will limit how much data you can transfer or how fast you can transfer it. Usually, people find these limitations a bit too much, so they end up buying the (no longer) free VPN client. And that’s exactly the reason they exist!
With that said, there are a few services that could work for you, depending on how needy you are. Probably the best safe free VPN for Mac is ProtonVPN. This tool doesn’t limit how much data you can transfer, so you could technically stretch its utility quite a long way.
You could also check our free VPN for Mac services list for more suggestions.
How to set up a VPN with Tunnelblick on a Mac
Mac has its own VPN client named Tunnelblick. It works with the OpenVPN protocol, so you’ll need a configuration file (.ovpn) for each server of your provider. Probably you’ll need your account logins as well.
You can download Tunnelblick for free. After the download, open the .dmg file and click on the Tunnelblick icon. After installation, you may need to enter your Mac login.
When you have the Tunnelblick ready, follow these six simple steps:
- Launch Tunnelblick and click “I have configuration files” button
- Double-click our downloaded .ovpn file.
- When prompted, install the configs for yourself or all users.
- After the installation, click the Tunnelblick icon at the top right corner and select “Connect”
- If required, enter your VPN username and password
- After the connection has been established, you should see a notification