In a world where every operating system and platform is susceptible to hackers, government surveillance, and cyber-attacks, VPNs are absolutely essential for Mac computers. Malware attacks and privacy breaches on Mac systems increased by 80% as per Symantec in 2017, which points towards an alarming trend in relation to security of Mac systems.
The importance of deploying a Mac VPN as a mainline defense against online threats is not up for debate anymore.
With so many VPNs to choose from, it can be confusing to decide which VPN you should get for the highest level of privacy and security on a Mac. In total, we’ve finalized 6 VPNs that are great for Mac users after painstakingly reviewing over 150 VPNs. At the bottom, you would also find instructions for setting up a VPN on your Mac system.
Best VPN for Mac: Top 6 Picks
Here are top 6 VPN picks for Mac including Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina.
Number of servers: 2,000+ | Server countries: 140+ | Simultaneous connections: 5
PureVPN is known primarily for the vast geographical diversity of server network having over 2,000+ servers in 140+ countries. It is the best cheap VPN for Mac due to its impressive pricing plan of $2.91/mo and superior features.
This VPN comes with security features like AES 256 bit encryption and OpenVPN tunneling (among other options). It consists of a very responsive kill switch for an added measure of privacy and security for your web traffic while surfing online on a Mac.
The zero-logging stance of the company makes it well-worth the attention of users seeking to enhance their privacy. The fact that it is located in the safe jurisdiction of Hong Kong allows PureVPN to protect privacy of users and refrain from any shady data logging practices.
Although the Windows app of the VPN supports split-tunneling, this feature is unfortunately unavailable for Mac yet.
PureVPN is one of the few VPNs that works well for the purpose of unblocking streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and others. In addition, it also works hosts many p2p-optimized servers that will enable to you unblock torrenting websites and download torrents safely, without worrying about any spies tracking you.
PureVPN has a very minimalistic app design and UI for Mac and offers a smooth user experience. It is dead simple to use and the option to simultaneously connect up to five devices such as your iPhone, iPad, and others with just one subscription makes it dirt cheap to afford.
If you don’t end up liking their service, then you can always get your money back with their 31-day money back guarantee.
Read complete PureVPN review for more details.
Number of servers: 1,040+ | Server countries: 60+ | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
Surfshark is the fastest VPN you can get for your Mac for just $1.99/mo. Despite its low cost, it doesn’t compromise on quality on any front. It offers 1,040+ servers in 60+ countries around the world.
These servers are pretty good for gaining access to US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other restricted streaming services in regions where availability is an issue. Furthermore, Surfshark allows users to safely download torrents and ensure their identity doesn’t leak through the VPN tunnel for all to see.
For added security, Surfshark offers a built-in kill switch for Mac. It serves as an insurance policy should your connection drop and reveal your real IP address. Other advanced features include MultiHop and CleanWeb, features that provide additional layers of security that keeps your identity tightly packed and protected from outside interference. The AES-256 encryption ensures all data packets of users remain cryptographically secured and immune to third-party intrusions.
Apart from this, Surfshark also supports split-tunneling through its WhiteLister feature – a handy tool to split your VPN and non-VPN web traffic.
Surfshark’s Mac VPN app has a very intuitive design to facilitate user accessibility. It is designed to deliver streamlined performance and high usability for all levels of Mac users, from beginners to experts.
On the privacy front, the provider has a policy of zero-logging so you can forget worrying about your sensitive information being monitored for any purpose. The British Virgin Islands jurisdiction ensures that you are free from any data logging from the provider.
Finally, there is no other highly-rated provider in the industry offering unlimited simultaneous VPN connections per subscription. This mean that you can use a single Surfshark account to use the VPN on you Mac Catalina or older versions of macOS in addition to other Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone.
Combined with a full 30-day money back guarantee, Surfshark is an extremely valuable VPN service to have for Mac.
Read complete Surfshark review for more details.
Number of servers: 1,000 | Server countries: 100+ | Simultaneous connections: 5
Ivacy is a another powerful VPN that works just about for any purpose for Mac users. It is fairly affordable, costing $2.25/mo. The provider operates a network of 1,000+ servers in 100+ countries, giving users a good amount of options for changing their server location to access restricted websites on your Mac.
It works with US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and many other popular as well as lesser known streaming channels in many parts of the world. Due to its amazing streaming capabilities, its also one of the best VPN for torrents as well!
The provider uses AES-256 encryption, which effectively protects you from interceptions from malicious third-parties. Unfortunately, it lacks a killswitch feature for Mac, although it is available for Windows devices.
The provider offers 5 simultaneous connections and a 30-day money-back guarantee and is compatible with most macOS versions still supported by Apple including Catalina, Mojave, and Sierra.
For more information, consult Ivacy VPN review.
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server countries: 94 | Simultaneous connections: 5
ExpressVPN is not the cheapest option out there since it costs $8.32/mo on the 15-month plan. However, its excellent speed and strong privacy policies make it an easy choice for Mac users that want premium quality privacy protection and unblocking capabilities despite the higher cost.
The VPN is powered by 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, having a strong capability to unblock any censored/restricted website. It works seamlessly with most popular streaming platforms such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. This is why it is frequently rated as one the best VPNs for streaming.
The app for MacOS uses Network Lock (the company’s proprietary kill switch) to interrupt your connection and prevent your IP from leaking to the wider internet in case the VPN service drops for any reason. This becomes critical when you’re performing sensitive tasks like downloading torrents and can’t afford your identity leaking through to your ISP or authorities.
The split-tunneling feature for Mac gives the user complete control over which apps should use the VPN and which shouldn’t. You can use up to 5 simultaneous connections on one subscription and avail a 30-day money back guarantee. ExpressVPN is compatible all the way from MacOs Snow Leopard (10.6) to the latest MacOS Catalina (10.15).
Read ExpressVPN review for more details.
Number of Servers: 5,600+ | Countries: 90| Simultaneous Connections: 7
CyberGhost covers a lot of key bases that are of interest for an average privacy-seeking Mac user. The service is available for $2.75/mo which makes it quite affordable.
It possesses a network of 5,600+ servers that use powerful encryption protocols (AES-256). For VPN tunneling, you can choose from PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols as your preference. There is a built-in kill switch in CyberGhost and IP leak protection for ironclad security and privacy.
Moreover, the service offers plenty of servers in a multitude of locations that support both P2P and streaming services without any data logging.
The fact that it is based in Romania shows that the provider is under a safe jurisdiction for user privacy, since the country repealed its data retention (demanded by EU), in 2014.
CyberGhost offers dedicated apps for MacOS Sierra (10.12), High Sierra (10.13), and Mojave (10.14). These MacOS clients are some ofthe most user-friendly applications we have ever used.
You can connect up to 7 devices simultaneously on one CyberGhost subscription plan. As always, it offers a full 45-day money back guarantee for ultimate peace of mind.
See CyberGhost review for more details.
Number of Servers: 5,000+ | Countries: 59 | Simultaneous Connections: 6
NordVPN keeps no user logs and grants users the ability to access any website on the web, all for a cost of $3.49/mo .
The provider offers excellent features like AES-256-CBC ciphers for encryption and OpenVPN, IKeV2 protocols. It also sports a huge arsenal of 5,000+ servers in 59 countries around the globe for ultimate coverage and fast speed. It is highly effective for accessing US Netflix and other geo-restricted streaming services abroad.
However, the kill switch that NordVPN uses for Mac terminates applications when your connection drops, rather than shutting down your entire Internet for maximum protection. This comes in quite handy for purposes such as torrenting.
Other than this, the service throws some amazing extra features into the mix such as DoubleVPN and Onion over VPN. The doubleVPN feature is basically the multi-hopping that routes your traffic through two separate VPN servers for even stronger-than-default security.
Onion over VPN servers combine the features of Tor and VPNs as another mechanism of bolstering your web security. So if you lie surfing the dark web on your Mac system, you can gain extra security with NordVPN running in the background.
The latest NordVPN MacOS app supports Sierra (10.12). The interface is smooth and responsive, so much so that there are literally no lags or crashes in the Mac application.
ord also offers the ability to connect 6 devices simultaneously. To top it off, this provider also offers 30-day full money back guarantee, so you can try out their service without any strings attached.
Read NordVPN review for further details.
Why do you need a VPN for Mac?
There are several reasons that make it important for users to install a VPN for their Mac systems. Chief among these are
1. Security Vulnerabilities
The idea that Macs are secure from malware and data breaches has existed as long as Mac itself and actually been repeatedly emphasized by Apple.
Just take a look at this advertisement from the early 2000s:
While it is true that Mac machines are more secure than their Windows counterparts, they are not immune to the exploits of cybercriminals.
In fact, experts now believe that Mac OS is just as vulnerable to data breaches and other vulnerabilities as Windows machines.
3ric Johanson, a security researcher, asserted:
“If you look at the number of published vulnerabilities in software and the number of users and compare Windows versus Mac OS you will discover that Mac OS has far more published vulnerabilities per user than Windows does so I think the data pretty much speaks for itself.” – [Source]
Statistics accurately support this assertion, as the chart compellingly illustrates below:
Source: AV-Test Security Report 2017/18
Another research by Cybersecurity ventures revealed that the world will receive a massive hit of approximately 6 trillion dollars by 2021 as a consequence of cybercriminal activities alone.
This calls for Mac users to take their web security seriously. For this, it is essential to ensure your anti-malware suites are updated. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to take additional preventive measures like using VPN services on your Mac system-wide to fill any digital cracks capable of compromising your privacy.
2. Geo-restrictions on websites and streaming channels
Many websites and streaming channels work only within certain regions and are unavailable elsewhere in the world. For instance, while Netflix has global availability, it offers different catalog of shows/movies depending on the country you’re accessing it from.
Similarly, many websites have implemented geo-blocks to enforce territorial licensing of shows and movies. Although it’s very easy to travel with sleek and lightweight devices like the MacBook Air, geo-blocks prevent users from accessing websites and services when away from a country even when they might have a paid subscription to it.
A VPN service running on your Mac can instantly grant you access to blocked websites anywhere in the world. Here’s how:
- Get a Mac VPN subscription
- Download and install that VPN on your system.
- Launch the VPN after successful installation and enter your login credentials.
- Choose a server location where the website you want to access is available.
- Now open the website you want to visit.
- You can now access it without any restrictions on your Mac
How to configure/setup VPN on Mac?
Mac OS natively supports L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2 protocols. Your options, therefore, are only confined to these tunneling protocols if you’ve decided to perform the manual setup.
The main steps for manual installation are as follows and will only take you 5 minutes:
Step 1: From your home screen go to the System Preferences and locate Network settings icon and select it, as shown below.
Step 2: Once you are inside the Network settings menu, click the “+” sign as shown below to enter the VPN connection wizard.
Step 3: This will open a dialog box as shown below.
Step 4: Choose “VPN” in the “Interface” field.
Step 5: Select a VPN type from PPTP, L2TP, or IKEv2 (preferably one of the latter two. Consult your specific VPN provider for more help).
Step 6: Give a suitable name in “Service Name” and press create.
Step 7: The newly created VPN connection will now appear on the left-hand menu with the name that you gave. Click on it.
Step 8: Now, choose Default in the “Configuration” field.
Step 9: For “Server Address”, visit your provider’s page or contact them. Every VPN server location has a unique address.
Step 10: The “Account Name” is your VPN username which you use to login to the service. Enter it in this field.
Step 11: Click on “Authentication Settings” and enter your VPN password which you were provided by your provider.
Step 12: Check “Show VPN status in menu bar” and click on “Advanced”.
Step 13: Now check “Send all traffic over VPN connection” and press OK.
Step 14: Click “Apply” and press “Connect” below “Authentication Settings”.
If you set everything up correctly, you should now be connected to your VPN manually.
Setting up VPN through Tunnelblick
Tunnelblick is a third-GUI designed especially for Mac to enable OpenVPN support. It is basically a counterpart to OpenVPN GUI, which is a Windows-based client, and is open source.
With Tunnelblick, you can run OpenVPN protocol on Mac. You just need to download .ovpn configuration files, which you should find on your OpenVPN provider’s official website. If not, just contact them and they’ll help you out with this.
Once the config files are downloaded, you can choose a server from the main Tunnelbick client and this will connect you to the web via an OpenVPN tunnel from your VPN provider.
You can download Tunnelblick here.
I would suggest using either OpenVPN or IKEv2 VPN protocols because these use strong encryption and are free from the vulnerabilities associated with PPTP and L2TP.
Security, after all, is among the primary reasons we look towards VPN services for.