Picking a free VPN is always a gamble. At best, you might stumble upon one that actually gets the job done for your macOS with certain limitations. At worst, you might get scammed and have your privacy compromised.
I’ve tested 23 VPNs that are free for use on my MacBook, but only ten of these are secure and legitimate enough to be trusted.
Note that there are always going to be limitations with free VPNs for Mac such as data and speed caps, lower number of servers, and lack of support for streaming services. So, a better option is to opt for a cheap but powerful service like Surfshark.
If you’re interested in the best totally free VPN options for Mac users, then I’ve prepared a list below consisting of free and secure macOS VPNs free of cost you can download and start using right now.
The Best Free VPNs for Mac OS
The VPN services mentioned below are all competent tools that you can use for free on Mac Mojave, Sierra, and Catalina. However, most of these have limitations that restrict their functionality in certain areas.
Here are the top free VPN for Mac in 2020:
1. Surfshark – Powerful Free (trial) Mac VPN
Surfshark is not completely free for Mac. However, it offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee which effectively works as a free trial for a whole month.
If you sign up for the subscription keeping in mind the 30-day refund period, you’ll still get all the Surfshark features that are primed for enhancing your web privacy including CleanWeb, MultiHop, and kill switch. Together, these mechanisms make sure you remain safe and protected online from all sorts of privacy-threatening issues on the web.
Surfshark is also highly effective for unblocking US Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming platforms with its very easy to use app.
The dedicated app for Mac allows you to choose a server from a list of 3200+ servers in 65 countries, and gain access to any Geo-restricted website of your choice. What’s more, this VPN is rated as the fastest in our paid VPN guide.
There are many servers within Surfshark’s network which support torrenting. So, if you frequently download torrents on you Mac, Surfshark has you covered. All you need to do is choose a VPN server with P2P support. It also offers the industry standard AES 256-bit Data Encryption.
In case you do decide to stick with Surfshark subscription beyond the initial 30-day refund window, it would only cost $2.21/mo of you go for the 2-year plan + 3 months totally free.
For more information, see this Surfshark review.
- Unblocks US Netflix
- 30-day refund period
- Fast speeds
- Not entirely free
2. Windscribe – Free VPN App for Mac
Windscribe is absolutely free for Mac and offers 10 VPN server locations with no hidden costs. Some of these servers support P2P activities and torrenting, but Windscribe is very unreliable for streaming. It also has a kill switch feature to protect you in case you internet dies while browsing.
Users can enjoy up to 10 GB of bandwidth for free every month with this VPN. The logging policy is highly oriented towards privacy, which makes this VPN quite a trustworthy one among free providers.
Windscribe works nicely with Mac 10.6.8, 10.9.5, all the way up to the latest 10.15. However, the 10 GB/month data might run out too soon, which is disappointing. But you can’t complain since it’s still a pretty good deal for free.
You can learn more about this service in our Windscribe VPN review.
- 10 free servers
- Supports p2p filesharing
- Good speeds
- 10GB/mo data limitation
3. ProtonVPN – Free VPN with Unlimited Data
ProtonVPN offers one of the best VPN available for free on Mac. This VPN has the rare distinction of being one of the few services to offers unlimited bandwidth that won’t run out of you no matter how much you utilize it.
The ProtonVPN Mac client uses the strong and fast IKEv2 protocol. The logging policy of the provider is pretty good which makes it a good option to consider for privacy-conscious Mac users.
The major limitation of this VPN is that it only offers 3 server locations: US, Netherlands, and Japan. Nonetheless, it delivers remarkably fast speeds for a free VPN, so you can comfortably browse websites with this VPN while keeping your privacy secure.
It supports almost all versions of Mac from 10.7.5 to 10.15.
You can learn more about this service in our ProtonVPN review.
- No data caps
- Military-grade encryption
- No logging
- Only 3 server locations
4. Hotspot Shield – Free VPN with 500MB/day data cap
Hotspot Shield is a popular name in the free VPN market. The provider has a beautiful app for Mac that features a modern design and is super-easy to use even for novice users. It comes with the company’s proprietary Hydra protocol that maintains good speeds on your Mac, something that is rare for free VPNs.
But, as is always the case, there is a catch here: Hotstspot Basic (the free plan) has a 500MB/day bandwidth limit. You can stream for about 30 minute with 500 MB of data, but that’s not the only problem.
The other problem is that Hotspot Shield does not work with popular streaming services like Netflix, HBO GO, Amazon Prime Video etc. So, you’re going to need to upgrade you plan and pay for subscription if you want access to these through Hotspot Shield.
You only get access to US servers of Hotspot Shield in the free plan, so that’s another major limitation. While browsing, I received decent speeds, but there are fluctuations during peak hours since the same few servers are shared by all free users.
The great thing is that Hotspot Shield version provides the same level of protection in the free app for MacOS as in the paid version. For instance, you get AES-256 encryption and kill switch in the free Mac app for added security and privacy.
You can learn more about this service in our Hotspot Shield review.
- 500MB/day data limit
- Military-grade encryption
- Proprietary Hydra protocol
- Only US servers available
5. Hide.Me – Simple but Powerful Free Mac VPN App
Hide.Me is a fairly decent VPN that you have for free on your Mac. The user-oriented logging policy and AES-256 encryption keep your Mac well-guarded from online threats. In addition, it has 5 server locations: Singapore, Canada, Netherlands, US East and US West.
What’s more, it offers 10 GB/month data allowance for Mac users. This is pretty generous. The Mac is neatly designed and contains some extra features for hidden costs, such as Auto-connect and a powerful kill switch.
The speeds are also fairly decent and it also supports P2P traffic on certain servers. You can get the Hide.Me app for Mac OS Sierra (10.12) and above.
You can learn more about this VPN software in our Hide.Me review.
- Good security features
- Easy to use
- No-logging policy
- 2GB/mo bandwidth limit
6. TunnelBear – Popular Free App for Mac Users
TunnelBear is considered one of the best apps to establish a VPN connection with on your Mac for free. It boosts excellent usability and an appealing GUI with an animated burrowing his way the map as you switch server location.
The provider offers over 20 servers without any additional cost which is pretty impressive. From the privacy standpoint, TunnelBear is a great VPN to have as it has no data retention policies. Furthermore, it uses AES-256 encryption to keep VPN sessions of users private, hide your IP address and protect from DNS leaks while using their Mac computers.
The most disappointing fact about this VPN service is that the free version only allows 500 MB per month data. Therefore, unless you have very small monthly VPN usage requirements, you will run out of available bandwidth with this VPN very quickly. Nonetheless, for users that only occasionally use VPNs to perform privacy-sensitive tasks, such as online transactions, TunnelBear is the best VPN service to have free of cost for Mac.
For more information, see this TunnelBear review.
- User-friendly app for Mac
- 20+ server locations
- Good logging policy
- 500 MB/month data limit
7. Opera VPN – Free Browser Built-in VPN for MacOS
Opera VPN is a browser-based VPN built into the Opera browser. To use it, you’ll need the Opera installed in your MacBook. Since it is a browser extension only, this VPN will only mask traffic that is originating from Opera. All activities outside the browser will use your regular unencrypted connection and real IP address over the web.
The VPN offers unlimited bandwidth so you can transfer as much data as you want while connected to Opera VPN. However, you have very limited control over the servers that you can choose. The provider offers servers in Europe, Asia, or the Americas, but you can only make the selection on a continent level rather than choosing the server of any specific country/city.
What’s more, Opera VPN even works with Netflix, but it randomly chooses any region, mostly in Switzerland during my testing. You can’t unblock other streaming services at all such as BBC iPlayer or Hulu, so it’s not really the ideal option for streaming.
Overall, Opera is a decent free VPN for Mac users that doesn’t enforce any data caps and even works with certain Netflix regions at times.
For more information, see our Opera VPN review.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Works with some Netflix regions
- Simple to use
- Can’t select specific server locations
8. Speedify – Decent Free Option
Speedify is a VPN that is available for free with 2GB of data limit per month. This VPN is for the most part, a basic VPN, but it does use an innovative technique for maximizing connection speeds.
Speedify implements channel bonding which essentially combines the frequency channels of WiFi and cellular data to transmit and receive data packets at a faster speed.
What’s more Speedify offers hundreds of server locations for free, but you sadly can’t bypass geo-blocks on services like BBC iPlayer, and Netflix with it.
One of the drawbacks is that it keeps some logs such as your VPN IP address, timestamps, and even your browsing activities. That’s a tad too much for privacy-sensitive MacOS users, but if you’re not too worried about your privacy, Speedify is a decent free VPN service.
Learn more about this VPN in our Speedify review.
- 2GB/month data limit
- Servers in hundreds of countries
- Fast speeds
- Keeps partial user logs
9. Betternet – Simple-to-use Free Mac VPN
Betternet is an ad-supported free VPN that will display ads during your browsing sessions and shares some of your information to third parties for personalized ads. As such, MacOS users that are unwilling to compromise on privacy might not want to opt for this VPN.
There are several redeeming qualities in Betternet, however. For instance, it offers 500MB data limit that is renewed every day, but you can only connect to US servers. This means your unblocking ability will only be limited to US websites.
Although it offers only one server, the speeds Betternet offers are quite reliable. Unfortunately, you can’t unblock any streaming services with as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Netflix US or Hulu. Though you can torrent with Betternet , the data transfer limit of 500MB/day won’t allow for any serious torrenting.
For encryption, Betternet uses AES-256 and keeps some logs for displaying ads including approximate location and device identifiers. Betternet is a good basic VPN to have for free, but the above-mentioned options are more well-rounded than Betternet.
You can learn more in this Betternet review.
- AES-256 encryption
- Keeps logs for ads
10. VPNBook – Good for Tackling Geo-blocks on Mac
VPNBook does not offer a proper VPN client or app. To use VPNBook, you will need OpenVPN client that you can get from the App Store for your MacBook.
The provider doesn’t place any data transfer limits and you can start using it without even needing to register with an account. That enables users to be completely anonymous while using VPNBook. You can connect to 5 distinct server locations with VPNBook including UK and US.
What really sets VPNBook apart from other providers is that it can actually unblock Hulu, Netflix, and HBO GO. Though you can’t torrent with VPNBook.
The speeds are reliable enough to support decent quality of streams with mild interruptions in the form of buffering. Although installing VPNBook is a lot of work, especially when setting it up for the first time, the official website of the provider offers easy-to-follow guides to help users install it on their Mac.
The logging policy induces some concern since it stores your real IP address, but these logs are deleted every week.
For more information on this VPN, see our VPNBook review.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 5 server locations for free
- Unblocks Netflix
- Hard to set up
How We Chose The best free VPNs for Mac
All the VPN apps that are added in this article were selected on the basis of a few important criteria as follows:
- No logging policy: A lot of free services neglect to ensure that no privacy-sensitive information relating to the user is stored and even blatantly sell the very information they are supposed to protect. All the VPN providers mentioned above are chosen in this list because of their trustworthy logging policies.
- Strong protocols: Free providers are not that particular, in general, about the strength of encryption and the robustness of tunneling protocols that they implement. Only those VPNs that implement modern encryption and tunneling protocols to establish VPN connection are mentioned in this list.
- Dedicated Mac apps: The availability of a dedicated, GUI-based apps for Mac makes it extremely convenient to form a VPN connection with a singe click and switch server at will. All the VPNs above offer well-designed VPN apps for various versions of MacOS.
Why you Need VPNs for Mac
- Privacy: Governments, companies, and inherent vulnerabilities in Mac can lead to breach of private information of users. VPNs can protect your from potential breaches by making you difficult to trace and launch a targeted cyber attack against on the web.
- Bypassing Geo-restrictions: Many streaming websites like US Netflix and BBC iPlayer are Geo-restricted. In order to gain access to these overseas, you will need to have the IP address of the country where these are accessible. This is very easy to do with a VPN.
- Staying safe over public Wi-Fi: If you like to connect your Mac to free Wi-Fi hotspots, you can be in danger of being a victim of hackers and cyber-criminals. Public wireless networks are very unsafe by default. Using a VPN on your Mac can add an extra layer of protection on networks where security is weak.
Why Free Mac VPNs Can Be Dangerous
Free VPNs can be dangerous. There are certain facts hidden from plain view when it comes to free VPN services and it is important to be aware of these before you get pick one.
1. Dangers to your Privacy
According to TheNextWeb’s article, a number of free VPN services have been involved in selling user data. The very tools that are supposed to be protectors of your privacy are actually involved in destroying it.
This is why it is generally a good idea to avoid free service providers if you value your individual privacy. Therefore, users that are looking for free VPN Mac may unknowingly put themselves in dangerous waters.
If you must use a free of cost VPN anyhow, then make sure you go for the one that at least has a good reputation, such as the VPNs mentioned in the list above.
2. Risk of malware infection
Malware can disguise themselves, which could be endanger your Mac and your data if you install it in your system. If your Mac is exposed to these malware in VPNs, you may have to bear the following consequences:
- Identity theft
- Password/login exposure
- Spam and phishing
- Ransomware infection
- Data harvesting/mining
It is imperative that you choose a reliable and trustworthy free VPN if you do want to take this route. But if you’re unsure, it would be wise to avoid risking your data if you mistakenly make the wrong choice.
3. Limited functionality
Even when the VPN is legitimate and is not a threat to your online privacy, you’ll still have to bear limitations in the form of data caps, speed caps, limited access to servers, and advertisements in some cases.
Since a VPN can’t realistically afford the costs of operatin and maintaining their of servers, staff, and other resources, they have no choice but to enforce data limitations or support their business through ads.
This is why most providers only offer free VPN as a trial version of the real deal, with limitations on the more valuable features that are only available on the paid versions.
How to setup Free VPN on Mac
1. Choose a subscription plan of a free VPN. My recommendation is Surfshark (try it for free for 30 days!).
2. Download and install the MacOS app on your computer.
3. Once installation is complete, launch the VPN.
4. Connect to any server of your choice and enjoy privacy and online freedom on your Mac.
Free VPN for Mac Reddit
Reddit is a great platform to learn what actual users think about VPN Mac apps. Here’s one Reddit user endorsing Proton VPN as the best free & paid VPN for Mac.
For more information, see this article on free reddit VPN services.
Are these VPNs compatible with all versions of MacOS?
Yes. The free VPNs I have listed above are compatible with almost all versions of MacOS. However, some VPNs stop supporting operating systems that are very old. You can use a free OpenVPN app to configure the VPN if you are using an older version that’s not supported.
Can free VPNs secure your MacOS?
Yes. The free VPNs listed above can secure your Mac OS easily. Most free VPN services do more harm than good. To find a reliable free VPN service is hard. But I have tested a lot of VPNs to find the best ones for you that are completely safe.
Will Free VPNs impact my speed on Mac?
Yes, VPNs do slow down speeds a little because they add encryption to packets transferring from your network and thus it adds overhead. But with a good VPN service, the difference between speeds after the VPN connection is on is barely noticeable.
Using a good free VPN for Mac is becoming increasingly important as a tool to shield your digital privacy from outside interference and unblock restricted websites. Surfshark’s 30-day free trial is one of the best option for seekers of free VPNs because it comes with a wide range of advanced features for superior website accessibility on your Mac device and keeping privacy-breaching threats at bay.
Just be careful when you’re picking one for yourself, as most free providers are shady fronts for data-harvesting companies who couldn’t care less about your privacy.
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