Looking for the best Mac VPN but not sure which is the right choice? This guide is for you. There are a lot of great VPN providers out there and, honestly, it seems like there is a new player in the space every month.
Because of this, figuring out exactly which is the absolute best VPN for Mac can be tricky. Most VPN providers offer a wide variety of support for devices, but not everything works everywhere in the same way. We've sorted through a bunch of the top providers and have brought the list down to a manageable level to make it easier for you to pick the right one.
For those who are unsure of what a VPN is, let's break it down real quick. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is something that you connect to, so you can add an extra layer of security and encryption to your internet connection. It takes your data and routes it through an extra set of tunnels before it reaches the destination, which helps keep it private and secure regardless of whether you are at home or using a public connection at Starbucks or the airport.
1. ExpressVPN - best VPN service in 2023 (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN is our top pick for good reason! Not only is it the best for Mac, but for all your other devices as well. With great speeds, superb security, and amazing customer support, it's a hard one to beat.
2. NordVPN - the biggest name in the business (opens in new tab)
If you know anything about VPNs, you've certainly heard of NordVPN. The name is well known, and the service is better than most. With clean apps, great unblocking, and extensive support options, your Mac will be in good hands.
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The best VPN service for Mac users (and everyone else)
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, YouTube | Servers: 3,000+ | Server Locations: 160 in 94 countries | Trial Period: 30 days
ExpressVPN tops the list of best Mac VPNs for a number of reasons, some of which include the company's excellent customer support, reliable connections, fast speeds, and that you can use it on a number of devices with ease. It may not be the most affordable pick on this list, but ExpressVPN is hands-down the best VPN for Mac that you can buy right now.
In addition to being able to use it on your Mac, you can also use ExpressVPN on your iPhone, iPad, web browsers, and so much more. Getting started takes only a few minutes, and you can use it on up to five devices at once. You can use ExpressVPN to add security to your browsing sessions, spoof your location to access geo-restricted media, and more.
As we said, it's a bit more expensive than some of the others, but right now, you can get 15 months for just $99.95, which is a 49% discount. It breaks down to just $6.67 a month, which is by no means an expensive cost for something that you'll find yourself using daily.
Be sure to sign up today and if you don't absolutely love the service, you can take advantage of ExpressVPN's 30-day money-back guarantee for a full refund.
Best server options of any popular VPN
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer, Amazon | Servers: 5,400+ | Server Locations: 80+ in 59 countries | Trial Period: 30 days
When it comes to VPN providers, NordVPN may be one of the most commonly known names in the space. Odds are you've seen the company as a sponsor on a YouTube video or an ad promoting it around the internet, and there's a good reason for that. NordVPN offers top-notch security, and tons of features, and brings everything together in a rather affordable package.
NordVPN has almost 5,500 servers available to use that are spread across close to 60 different countries. Unlike many others, NordVPN opts to use 2048-bit encryption to keep things as secure as possible, and that's on top of the standard features like DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and more.
It's worth noting that back in 2018 one of the company's servers was compromised. After investigating it, and the confirmation from Nord, it was understood that it was a single server with limited information being obtained. There's a lot at play here beyond just Nord's involvement, and our pals at TechRadar have a great breakdown, so be sure to check that out.
When signing up for NordVPN, you can opt to pay for just a single month of access, or go with a one-year or two-year plan. The cost per month drops significantly as you commit to a longer period of time, with the best pricing being on the three-year plan.
Best budget option for Mac
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Amazon | Servers: 1,700+ | Server Locations: 100+ in 63 countries | Trial Period: 30 days
Despite being one of the most affordable VPNs for Mac, Surfshark is absolutely still one of the best ones. The lowered cost of the service doesn't come with any big sacrifices or feature omissions. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find something that Surfshark doesn't do almost just as well as most of the competition.
There are fewer servers (still over 1,000), and they are spread across 60 different countries, but Surfshark allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices to it at the same time, which is a huge benefit since you won't need to disconnect one of your gadgets to connect another one.
It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you enough time to try it out and see if it's the VPN service for you or not. Be sure to check out our Surfshark review as well. The company recently changed its pricing structure, now giving you 24 months of access for just $59.76 total, which breaks down to about 8 cents per day. After the first two years, it renews annually at this price.
Best security-focued VPN provider
Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, YouTube | Servers: 1,200+ | Server Locations: 55+ in 55 countries | Trial Period: 30 days
While it may not offer the highest server count or the fastest speeds out there, ProtonVPN is a great VPN choice for every single Mac user. The company prides itself on having top-notch security, and you can see that across all the offerings from the group at Proton.
Unlike the others in this list, ProtonVPN can be used for free by everyone, and there is no restriction on how much data you can use while connected to the app. The company does say that it could throttle speeds for free users during peak times, but odds are you wouldn't notice too much difference.
The company is based in Switzerland, which means that it benefits from additional strong legal protection. Switzerland offers some of the world's strongest privacy laws, and remains outside the EU and U.S. jurisdiction, meaning that it can't be coerced into spying on any users.
There are strong no-logging policies, DNS leak protection, and a kill-switch, and it can be used as an always-on VPN that automatically reconnects to a server should the connection be interrupted at any point. All the servers have a minimum speed of 1 Gbps, and many of them actually use a 10 Gbps connection.
There is also a paid plan to go along with the free plan if you find that the free one doesn't meet all of your needs. Whether you end up wanting a free or paid plan, Proton is definitely a VPN provider worth considering.
5. IPVanish VPN
Cloud storage included
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu | Servers: 1,600+ | Server Locations: 75+ in 50 countries | Trial Period: 30 days
From its great customer support to its fast connection speeds, there is a whole lot to like about IPVanish as a VPN provider. The company has worked hard to make its apps super user-friendly and beyond working on Mac, it also works on Roku, Fire TV, Android, iOS, and Windows.
IPVanish has over 1,600 servers that are in 75 different locations, giving you plenty of options when looking to stream content. It also has an impressive 40,000 shared IP addresses, which is significantly more than many of the other players in the space are offering now.
Pricing is pretty reasonable with plans starting at just $3.33 per month, as well as options with 250GB of SugarSync cloud storage from just $4.16 per month, and IPVanish offers a 30-day money-back guarantee as well. Read our IPVanish review for more info on it.
Tons of server choice
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, YouTube | Servers: 24,000+ | Server Locations: 99 in 77 countries | Trial Period: 30 days
PIA, or Private Internet Access as it is known formally, has a ton of server options worldwide so you have plenty of choices when it comes to getting connected. Its Mac app is also really easy to use and offers a one-click connectivity option once you've got it set up which is perfect if you're happy to use the same server location all the time and want the convenience of hitting one button to connect your VPN. It also doesn't have any sort of data cap so you can run it all day, every day if you want.
If you want to run your VPN on more than just one Mac, PIA is perfect for that as it allows up to 10 simultaneous connections which is more than many other providers.
PIA is a United States-based VPN which is not preferable when it comes to picking a PVN provider. That being said, PIA uses AES 256-bit encryption and has a very clear no-traffic logging policy.
In terms of price, PIA is a good choice as you can get it for as little as $2.69 per month when you go for one of its longer-term plans. Don't be put off by the fact that you have to commit to a long-term deal, though, as there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you find it doesn't work right for you.
Best streaming VPN for Mac
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, YouTube | Servers: 6,700+ | Server Locations: 111 in 89 countries | Trial Period: 45 days
Despite its fun name and cutesy logo, CyberGhost is a great VPN service that offers some top-notch features to users. The company is based out of Romania and Germany and has over 6,700 servers spread across an impressive 110 different locations. CyberGhost is focused on user experience and security, and that shows in the app. You aren't overloaded with features and buttons when you try it for the first time. Instead, it's very straightforward and easy to use for everyone.
The service can block ads, trackers, and warn you of malicious sites. It automatically defaults to the HTTPS version of every available site, and on the mobile side, it compresses data to help you use less while on the go. More than 10 million people use CyberGhost already, which is quite impressive.
How do you pick the best VPN for Mac?
Since the majority of VPN services work across platforms, finding the best VPN for Mac essentially boils down to finding the best VPN for you. Though the task may seem daunting, it's actually not too bad once you know what you're dealing with.
While you'll obviously want it to have a functional and easy-to-use app, you don't really spend too much time in the app beyond the initial setup, with most offering the ability to turn on or off the VPN with one click, often from the menu bar alone. Most VPN services offer iOS apps too, so you can use the service across all of your Apple gear.
Cost is another key factor. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, but that doesn't mean VPNs are super expensive. Most cost just a few bucks a month if you're willing to subscribe for the long-term, and free trials/money-back offer means you don't have to spend any money to find out if the service is right for you.
Should I use a free VPN for Mac?
Free VPNs for Macs do exist, and some are even good, but they aren't always the best solution. Most have some limits or sacrifices when it comes to user experience, and some straight-up defeat the purpose of using one with the data they gather.
Like basically all free things in life, especially internet services, the company dishing it out needs to recoup its costs somehow to stay in business.
The most common practice for free VPN services is to offer a super stripped-back experience to tempt you into upgrading to one of its paid plans. This is probably the fairest way to do it since you get to try before you buy, but using a VPN with a data cap or limited server availability can make it really difficult for many of the most popular VPN use cases. A paid VPN is a better long-term solution for most people because of this.
Other ways free VPNs can try to claw back some profits include gathering user data and selling to third parties, or cramming their apps full of targeted ads. Since one of the main benefits of a VPN is added privacy, this is not ideal, and you probably want to avoid any service that doesn't unequivocally state that they keep no logs of the data flowing through their servers.
What about the others?
There are hundreds of VPN providers out there. We do our best to check out all the most popular options, and we will continue to update this list with more providers as they pass our testing. We've rounded up all the best VPN picks, along with the best free VPNs and best cheap VPNs, to help you decide. Not all of those picks have been vetted to work great on Mac, which is why you'll want to refer to the list above first before looking elsewhere.
You can also keep an eye out for VPN deals as a way to help save you some money on your next VPN purchase.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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Getting his start writing about BlackBerry in 2008, Adam is the Editorial Director of High-Yield content at Future. Leading an outstanding team, he oversees many of the articles the publisher produces about subscriptions and services – VPN, TV streaming, and antivirus software. From buying guides and how to watch content, to deal news and in-depth reviews. Adam's work can be seen on numerous Future brands including TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, TTR, Android Central, iMore, and Real Homes.
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