The best Mac VPN in 2024

best mac vpn
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If you're a Mac user, the best Mac VPN is an essential part of your online toolbox. From protecting your online privacy to getting round content blocks on Netflix and government censorship, the best VPNs of 2024 are remarkably versatile bits of software. With so many to choose from, though, it can be a tricky decision to make - especially when not every VPN has an equally compelling package for Mac devices. 

While many top providers have relatively weak macOS offerings, my team of experts and I at Tom's Guide have sorted the wheat from the chaff to give you the best possible options for Mac VPNs.

We have reviewed dozens of VPNs across multiple criteria, including speed, privacy, unblocking, coverage, and price, to bring you this list of the top 5 VPNs for Mac. 

My top three Mac VPN picks

On this page I've pulled together the 5 best Mac VPNs on the market. However, if you're short on time and just want the top three, simply look at my top choices below:

1.NordVPN – The very best Mac VPN

1. NordVPN – The very best Mac VPN
NordVPN is my top-rated Mac VPN thanks to its comprehensive security suite, including extras like a built-in antivirus, ad & malware blockers, and a password manager. All Nord apps are simple to use, and there’s no shortage of support, either.

With incredibly fast speeds and tons of servers that are perfect for unblocking global content, it's one of the best services when it comes to streaming. If you're not sure it's for you, prices start from less than $3.50 a month, and you can trial it out with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. ExpressVPN – The best Mac VPN for beginners

2. ExpressVPN – The best Mac VPN for beginners
ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for Mac and just about every other device as well. It offers class-leading privacy with useful features like a reliable kill switch, auto-connect, and an independently audited no-logs policy. 

It's great for streaming, and the simple interface makes it incredibly easy to get up and running. Tom's Guide readers can now claim three months free on the 12-month plan, as well as 1 years free use of backup software Backblaze. You can also try it out risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Surfshark – The best cheap Mac VPN

3. Surfshark – The best cheap Mac VPN
Surfshark offers an excellent mix of affordability and top-quality privacy protection. With super simple apps, unlimited connections and the option to add on antivirus as well, it offers unparalleled value for money. 

With servers in 100 countries, Surfshark establishes itself as a top choice for streaming global content, all for under $2.50 a month. Mac users can also claim a 7-day free trial in addition to the standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

Recent updates

The most recent significant update to this page saw NordVPN just edge past ExpressVPN as the best Mac VPN – although there are still a lot of reasons to choose ExpressVPN if it suits you better. I've also added more depth to my "how to choose" section, and gone over the facts and figures to ensure everything is correct.

The best Mac VPNs today

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

The best Mac VPN overall

NordVPN on a Macbook

(Image credit: NordVPN)

1. NordVPN

The very best Mac VPN

Also works on: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux | Unblocks: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, ITVX, All4, 9Now, 10Play | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 6,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 6

Some useful security extras
Loads of servers
Lots of extensions
Excellent speeds
Apps are little clunky
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want to stream Netflix on your Mac: NordVPN unblocked pretty much everything I threw at it in my testing, from popular locations like US and UK to even some hard-to-crack Netflix libraries like Japan. 

✔️ You want an all-in-one VPN: NordVPN goes above and beyond to provide you with a 360-degree security solution with great speeds, privacy, wide coverage, and 24/7 friendly support.

✔️ You want a VPN with built-in antivirus: Nord stamps its authority as a comprehensive security package thanks to a native antivirus solution.

Avoid if:

 You want to cover a lot of devices at the same time: with just 6 simultaneous connections, NordVPN doesn't match up to the likes of Surfshark that come with unlimited simultaneous connections.

❌ You want the best interface: The map-style interface isn't hugely intuitive. Those looking for simplicity will be better off with ExpressVPN or Surfshark.

❌ You want global access: although NordVPN has over 6,000 servers, it doesn't match the competition in terms of sheer range. Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark are present in a lot more countries than Nord. 

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NordVPN is the best Mac VPN because it does it all, and it does it well. It has excellent privacy features – including extras like Double VPN and Onion over VPN – is simple to use, and has an unblemished record when it comes to streaming overseas content and evading censorship. It's also very affordable – well worth considering.

As quite possibly the best-known VPN on the market, it's no surprise to see NordVPN crop up as the best Mac VPN. Alongside a full security suite, it comes with its own super-fast encryption protocol, that topped my speed tests at over 950 Mbps.

In my hands-on NordVPN review, I found that it offers all the basics, like powerful encryption and multiple protocols, but it also delivers a few features that aren't available with rivals ExpressVPN and Surfshark. The unique 'Onion over VPN' setting routes you through the Tor network, which sacrifices speed for unrivaled privacy. 

You'll also get two kill switches and a nifty Double VPN feature which encrypts your data twice by routing your Internet traffic through two VPN servers instead of one, as is the standard. 

> Sign up for my #1 VPN for Mac

The unique Meshnet feature works like a LAN network, allowing you to securely connect up to 60 devices directly. This eliminates the need to ever send files to the server cloud, making gaming or collaborating with your buddies and file sharing more secure. This, coupled with an independently audited no-logs policy and in-built antivirus, makes NordVPN a complete security suite adept on all counts.

On its Mac app, NordVPN has a Presets feature that allows you to combine a set of VPN settings and a server location to operate the VPN in the best possible manner as per your use case. 

For example, you can have a browsing preset that maximizes security while browsing, with ad and malware blocking. On other occasions, you can prioritize download speeds and then have a different preset to go along with those settings – lots to play around with and is much welcome.

As the best Netflix VPN, NordVPN gives you unrestricted access to every Netflix library in the world, including niche locations like Japan. Not just that, it runs smoothly with all other popular streaming sites as well, including Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer

NordVPN's 6 simultaneous connections and servers in 60 countries mean that it's off the mark compared to Surfshark and ExpressVPN – the former offers unlimited simultaneous connections and the latter has servers in as many as 105 countries. Overall though, NordVPN does offer more in terms of extra features. I think, for most users, it's the best choice on Mac.

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NordVPN test results
DesignA fun design but it could have been more clutter-free⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useEasy-to-use apps across the board but the map-like interface puts off the simplicity ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceVery rapid and consistent, and one of the fastest ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingBypasses geo-restrictions of every platform no matter where you are ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyA complete package with a verified no-logs policy, reliable encryption, and a built-in antivirus⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 expert assistance with no shortage of help resources ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceReasonably priced but cheaper options are available ⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN: The best Mac VPN for beginners

ExpressVPN best mac vpn

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

2. ExpressVPN

Super simple to use, with excellent privacy

Also works on: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 8

Works seamlessly on Mac
Crisp, clean apps on all devices
Class-leading support
Good connection speeds
Pretty expensive – but worth it
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want class-leading privacy and security: ExpressVPN provides comprehensive VPN protection, with an independently audited no-logs policy, ad and malware blockers

✔️ You want a VPN you can set and forget: Thanks to Express’s auto-connect feature, you have to connect to the VPN just once, and it’ll ensure that you’re always on a secure VPN server. 

✔️ You want a VPN for gaming on your Mac: ExpressVPN protects you from DDoS attacks, keeps your data private, and reduces ping time between gaming servers by connecting you to servers close to the network host.  

Avoid if:

You want a cheap VPN: ExpressVPN isn't exactly a bargain, and rivals like Surfshark are ideal for you if you’re on a budget. 

❌ You want built-in antivirus: ExpressVPN misses out on being an all-in-one security solution due to the lack of an antivirus, something which NordVPN has.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN is super simple to use, and takes all the effort out of staying protected online – and it delivers an absolutely seamless experience on Mac as well. With class-leading privacy, excellent unblocking capabilities, wide coverage, and beginner-friendly apps, ExpressVPN is well worth the slightly higher price.

In my hands-on ExpressVPN review, the British Virgin Islands-based provider came out as one of the very best services available, and on Mac the answer is no different. With powerful encryption, a rock-solid kill switch and an auto-connect feature, you can rest assured that your browsing history or real location will never be left vulnerable.

Both ExpressVPN’s Windows and Mac apps are very similar in how they look and function. However, the Mac version doesn’t have split tunneling. On the bright side, it provides the Threat Manager and the malware and tracking blocker, both of which are offerings omitted from its Windows app. It's also the best iPhone VPN on the market, so if you have multiple Apple devices, it's well worth considering.

The Threat Manager is a unique ExpressVPN feature that blocks apps and websites on your Mac from tracking your activity, let alone relaying it to third parties. A strict no-logs policy and class-leading encryption with secure DNS and P2P support on all servers make ExpressVPN one of the most secure VPNs on the market right now.

For even more protection, ExpressVPN employs TrustedServer technology that includes RAM-only servers and the entire software stack being reinstalled on every server at boot. ExpressVPN servers do not store any of your data, and once your session comes to an end, there’s virtually no record of it whatsoever.

ExpressVPN is also killer when it comes to streaming. It's able to unblock a wide range of global Netflix libraries, as well as BBC iPlayer outside the UK, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and tons more. In the past, NordVPN has been slightly more reliable, but Express is currently a great choice.

In my recent round of testing, ExpressVPN reached a maximum download speed of 750 Mbps. Now, you really only need a 25 Mbps connection to stream your favorite content in 4K Ultra HD, so Express does more than just a decent job here. That said, it can't quite match the likes of Surfshark and NordVPN when it comes to sheer speed.

You can now log in with the same ExpressVPN account on 8 devices simultaneously. This number was previously 5, so the jump is commendable, but rivals like Surfshark and PIA come with unlimited simultaneous connections, and at a lower price point. However, I'm glad to see ExpressVPN pushing to offer more value to customers.

The introduction of ExpressVPN Keys, however, is very welcome and shows that the premium provider is focused on improving its wider range of security and privacy products – one of its key weaknesses.

Overall, ExpressVPN is an ideal pick for those who want a very simple experience, and just want to stay safe online. In terms of privacy it's second to none, and while it's a little on the pricy side, for many it will be the best choice. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try it out and see how it works for you.

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ExpressVPN test results
DesignAn intuitive and beginner-friendly design that’s pleasing to the eye⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useOne of the most beginner-friendly VPNs⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceSpeeds are excellent, but there are faster VPNs out there⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingExcellent across the board, with only a couple of niche Netflix libraries unavailable⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyQuite frankly unbeatable when it comes to personal protection⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportFast and knowledgeable live chat agents, with tons of useful guides⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PricePretty expensive when compared to the competition⭐⭐⭐

The best budget Mac VPN

Surfshark VPN on a Macbook

(Image credit: Surfshark)

3. Surfshark

Excellent VPN for Mac at a bargain price

Also works on: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux (GUI) | Unblocks: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Incredibly cheap longer plans
Super straightforward to use
Good unblocking performance
Unlimited connections
Not as configurable as some
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want unlimited simultaneous connections: You can cover any number of devices with just one Surfshark subscription, including your family members and friends and then some.

✔️ You want no compromises on speed: Surfshark is as fast or faster than all its rivals, topping out at an outstanding 950 Mbps in my testing. 

✔️ You want to stream on your Mac: Surfshark comes with commendable unblocking capabilities, and with servers in over 100 countries, you’ll have access to more libraries than you'll ever need.   

Avoid if:

❌ You only want to torrent: Surfshark supports torrenting on its service, but if that’s your major use case, PIA or ExpressVPN is better suited for you. 

❌ You’re a Windows user: If you also happen to have a device running Windows, I found a minor issue with the kill switch. This doesn't affect Macs, however.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Surfshark provides exceptional value for money, with unlimited simultaneous connections, industry-leading speeds, and well-rounded security measures. It's very well suited for those who want to access global Netflix libraries and other streaming sites. For the price, you can't go wrong.

Surfshark is an excellent cheap VPN that stands tall as a capable Mac VPN thanks to its recent upgrades to be Apple silicon-compatible. Plus, like Nord, Surfshark proved itself to be one of the fastest VPNs I've tested, maxing out at an impressive 950 Mbps.

With full support for WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2, industry-standard AES-256 encryption, and a few extra features like split tunneling and Double Hop, along with Clean Web 2.0 ad and malware blocking, it's a complete package. The simple, friendly Mac interface also makes these features easy to use, and just like ExpressVPN, it's a great option for first-timers.

However, the app window isn’t resizable, nor is the kill switch status shown on the home screen, both of which are a little annoying, especially when you consider that it’s not the case on Surfshark’s Windows app. But the Mac app shines through with its auto-connect functionality – something the Windows app doesn’t have. You can rest assured that you’ll be connected to a secure Surfshark server at all times.

Surfshark also provides another layer on anonymity via its Incogni service. This sees the company request data brokers, such as those dealing in marketing data, recruitment data, people search sites, and more, to delete any data they have on you. All you have to do is fill out a form and give Incogni permission to reach out to data brokers on your behalf. This shows how dedicated Surfshark is to user privacy – although you will have to sign up separately.

Surfshark sets itself apart from its competition with its unlimited simultaneous connections, making it an ideal pick for those who want to cover all the devices in their family plus share the same VPN subscription with their friends and co-workers. 

On the streaming front, the service is at par with industry leaders like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, unblocking everything I threw at it, from UK US Netflix libraries and BBC iPlayer to the more obscure platforms like 10Play.

All in all, Surfshark offers excellent encryption with the fastest speeds and a smooth and uninterrupted streaming experience – and at less than $2.50 a month, it's an absolute bargain as well.

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Surfshark test results
DesignAn intuitive and beginner-friendly design that’s pleasing to the eye⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useOne of the most beginner-friendly VPNs, and even complete rookies can easily navigate their way around the apps⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest provider that I’ve tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingEffortless unblocking of just about every platform there is⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyExcellent basics, although the kill switch on Windows lets it down a little⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportA little difficult to navigate but the 24/7 professional support is pretty reliable⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceGreat value⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best of the rest

Proton VPN on a Macbook

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

4. Proton VPN

Seriously secure and great for streaming

Also works on: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux (GUI) | Unblocks: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Number of servers: 5,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 10

Excellent OpenVPN & WireGuard speeds
Top-tier privacy features
Apps are powerful
Great for streaming
Support isn't 24/7
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a free Mac VPN: Proton VPN has a very capable free plan for regular usage that comes with access to 100 servers in 3 countries, unlimited data, zero ads, and customer support. 

✔️  You want a decent number of simultaneous connections: Proton VPN allows 10 simultaneous connections, which should be enough for most users.

✔️ You want a VPN you can trust with your life: Proton VPN hides nothing, and you can verify and audit every claim of this Swiss provider thanks to the open-source platform.  

Avoid if:

❌ You're on a tight budget: even after its recent price cuts, Proton VPN isn’t as economical as PIA or Surfshark.

❌ You want access to Japanese Netflix: If your watchlist is majorly the Japanese Netflix library, you’re better off with NordVPN or ExpressVPN. 

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Proton VPN boasts excellent privacy features, and aims to offer a more security focused experience than other services. That doesn't mean it's all work and no play, though – it's great for streaming and torrenting too. However, its high price may put some users off.

Well known as a very private VPN, Proton VPN delivers excellent protection for its users across the board. Fully audited apps, an excellent no-logging policy and full AES-256 encryption alongside more unusual features like Tor over VPN and its rock-solid Secure Core servers make it a good choice for anyone looking for a properly secure Mac VPN.

It doesn't sacrifice any usability for that though, and it's also a very powerful streaming VPN. It unblocks all popular Netflix libraries, including some hard-to-crack countries like Japan, and tons of other streaming sites too.

Unlike its rivals, Proton VPN doesn't hold back on its Mac version and the only thing it misses out on here is split tunneling (available on the Windows app), but it makes up for that by providing support for an extra protocol – IKEv2, besides the usual WireGuard and OpenVPN.

In my ProtonVPN review, it impressed with its proprietary VPN accelerator technology that claims to amp up your speeds by up to 400%. This primarily affects OpenVPN speeds, cranking the old-school protocol up to 400 Mbps. That's very quick. With WireGuard it's even better news, with Proton matching NordVPN and Surfshark at a searing 950 Mbps. An excellent performance indeed.

A unique ad blocker that goes by the name of NetShield protects your Mac from malware found in images, scripts, and other resources on the world wide web. That said, this feature is only available to users of the paid plans. If you’re on the free plan, the standard no-ads policy of ProtonVPN will have to make do.

ProtonVPN is also a top choice for Mac users looking for a free VPN – you get 100+ server options in 3 countries with unlimited bandwidth and customer support. However, note that ProtonVPN’s free plan does not come with unblocking capabilities. 

Overall, a Swiss-based provider doesn't leave much scope for skepticism in terms of security, but Proton’s 10 simultaneous connections and moderately premium pricing make it slightly less appealing than some others – cheaper than ExpressVPN but certainly not as welcoming as Surfshark. 

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Proton VPN test results
DesignA dynamic design, and the dark mode takes the spotlight ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThe mobile interface is very user-friendly but the desktop version needs some getting used to ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceNot as fast as Surfshark or NordVPN but gets the job done⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingExcept for the free version, the unblocking capabilities are on par with some of the best⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyReliable security with Swiss privacy laws and an open-source platform ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportDecent article, but live chat is only 9-5, and the articles can be tricky to navigate⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceThe free plan is one of the most capable, but the paid plans are a touch expensive ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TorGuard on a range of devices

(Image credit: TorGuard)

5. TorGuard

A very powerful Mac VPN for the tech-savvy

Also works on: Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, Linux, routers and more | Unblocks: US Netflix, YouTube | Money-back guarantee: 7 days | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 12

Incredible functionality
Seriously fast
US Netflix unblocking
Short money-back guarantee
Apps are some of the most complex
Poor streaming support
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a fast provider: topping out at 950 Mbps, TorGuard is right up there with Surfshark as the fastest provider in my testing.

✔️ You want Asia-specific servers: TorGuard has “Asia-Optimized” servers dedicated to providing unrivaled protection and streaming support in countries like China.

✔️ You want a customizable VPN: You can set up and customize your TorGuard connection any way you want, right up to the last detail.   

Avoid if:

❌ You're looking for a bargain: TorGuard isn’t the best choice if you're on a budget, whereas services like Surfshark and PIA ask for very little and deliver loads.

❌ You want a longer money-back guarantee: while almost every other provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee at the very least, TorGuard offers an underwhelming 7 days to try the service risk-free. 

❌ You want a VPN for streaming: TorGuard's standard plan doesn’t hit the mark when it comes to unblocking, and you'll have to purchase an expensive add-on for adequate streaming support. 

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐½

TorGuard is a frontrunner in terms of speed and is neck-and-neck with Surfshark as our fastest provider. While a superb choice for anonymity and privacy in difficult countries like China, TorGuard falls short when it comes to streaming, reach, and affordability and provides only a 7-day money-back guarantee.

TorGuard isn't a regular on my lists, but its impressive performance for Mac puts it close to some of the bigger names in the industry. Unlike much of the competition, in my TorGuard review, I found that the German provider offers almost all of the functionality of its Windows VPN app on Mac as well.

The Mac app is a delight for technical experts as the configuration provided is better than most Mac apps. However, beginners may find it difficult to use since many options in the settings do not come with any explanation as to how and why would you want to turn it on or off. But as far as basic usage is concerned, it’s smooth sailing.

With speeds of up to 950 Mbps, it was the joint-fastest out of all the providers we tested, right beside Surfshark. Plus, while it's not the very best for streaming, it's able to unblock US Netflix and BBC iPlayer from around the world – not Disney+ or Prime Video, though. For a clean sweep of streaming providers, consider ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

It's not that TorGuard doesn't come with unblocking abilities, but if you want to access them, you will have to purchase a separate add-on dedicated to streaming. Now, given that TorGuard is already among the more expensive options on my list today, the added purchase is definitely a little galling. 

On the privacy front, I’ve had no complaints with TorGuard, as its Stealth VPN servers do a good job masking your real IP address and presenting your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic to safeguard you from trackers and ISPs. This comes in extremely handy in privacy-unfriendly countries like China, for which TorGuard has dedicated servers under the “Asia Optimized” heading on its app.

While the 3,000+ servers are decent enough, they are not as widespread (present in only 55 locations) as some of the top providers like ExpressVPN and Surfshark, both of which are present in over 140 locations. 

Concluding, TorGuard has specific use cases, such as China unblocking and a feature-loaded Mac app, so if that’s you, it’s a great pick. There are some definite downsides of the service, however, starting from its premium pricing to its underwhelming streaming performance on the standard pack. It’s worth a try, but note that you’ll only have a 7-day money-back guarantee if it's not for you.

Head over to the TorGuard website to sign up.

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TorGuard test results
DesignA bit chaotic and overwhelming but it's still very functional ⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useLots of customization options make it a delight for the tech-savvy but beginners may have a hard time navigating it ⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOn par with Surfshark as the fastest provider in my testing⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingAccess to Netflix and BBC iPlayer on the standard plan, but you'll have to purchase a separate add-on for more unblocking⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyQuite a solid security suite with Stealth VPN at its core⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportTons of helpful guides along with live chat and email support are available ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PricePretty pricey considering the competition⭐⭐⭐

How we test the best Mac VPN services

When it comes to recommending a product that users will entrust with quite possibly every byte of their online life, I have to be absolutely sure that my choices are correct, and thoroughly tested.

For a comprehensive rundown, check out out our full methodology of how we test VPNs. For the time-poor, though, here are the crib notes.

Unlike some sites, we don't simply reel off a spec sheet and declare the provider with most impressive claims the winner. Instead, we have a dedicated team in-house that gets hands-on with all the providers listed (and more). 

Every 6 months, after scouring the website for new claimed features or changes in policy, we sign up to a plan and install it on a range of devices. Lots of our testing takes place on Windows, but we also rigorously test the macOS applications as well. As you may well know, many apps on Mac have different features to their Windows counterparts, so a dedicated testing process here is essential.

Other platforms, including the iPhone and Android VPN apps, also see comprehensive testing, and we'll check every available setting in every app to make sure it's functioning as promised by the provider.

As we use the apps, if anything appears to be behaving strangely we'll investigate that. We might dig into the source code, or view the contents of its RAM. This general usage stage is also how we make decisions on aesthetics and ease of use – although these are admittedly more subjective.

Then comes the streaming testing. We'll test each VPN with all the big streaming sites from a number of locations to ensure it's working as claimed. As Netflix is still hugely popular and somewhat troublesome when it comes to VPNs, we test the biggest providers every month to make sure my recommendations are still relevant.

How to choose a Mac VPN

When making your choice, privacy should always come first – even if you're only planning on streaming overseas Netflix. There are many great services that have been audited and offer zero-logging policies, so there's no need to make sacrifices in this area.

Then, consider what you'll be using your Mac VPN for. Do you torrent a lot? Make sure your chosen provider allows P2P on a good range of servers. Love TV? Ensure that your VPN has a flawless unblocking record. Good speeds are also a priority, but recent advances in VPN protocol tech means almost all VPNs are capable of delivering speeds far faster than the average domestic internet line.

The app interface is a very important part of a VPN – if you hate the experience, you're unlikely to use a VPN as much as you might like to. This is very subjective, but if you go for a more complex VPN like Proton VPN or Private Internet Access, it's worth bearing in mind you'll have 30 days to claim a refund if you don't get on with the software.

Think about what servers you might be using. If you rarely go abroad and you're not that interested in unblocking streaming content, this might be a low priority, but for those who regularly travel the world or want to stream a lot of content, a wide range of servers will be essential. My top providers NordVPN, Surfshark and ExpressVPN all offer over 100 locations worldwide, with a good amount of servers in each.

Finally, and most importantly for many, is price. Most VPNs cost between $3-5 a month if you choose the longest plan possible, and my #1 Mac VPN NordVPN fits neatly into this category. 

Others, like ExpressVPN, are slightly more expensive – in this case it's worth it if you value a slick, simple interface that makes everything super easy. Others still drop near the $2-a-month mark – although the only providers at this price I'd truly recommend are Surfshark and Private Internet Access.


What is the best Mac VPN?

From my testing, I rate NordVPN the highest when it comes to VPNs for Mac. However, if you're looking to save some money, Surfshark offers a comparable service for a considerably cheaper price, and if you're a beginner looking for a super simple experience, ExpressVPN will be perfect.

All these providers offer 256-AES encryption, and are independently audited, meaning you can trust them to anonymise your connections effectively, whatever you're browsing. Plus, they're some of the best services for unblocking streaming sites, too.

Do Macs need VPNs?

Due to the fact that Macs are widely regarded as a safer option than Windows PCs, you might be asking yourself whether you need a VPN on your Mac. However, despite macOS's built in protections, there's absolutely nothing any PC can do, Windows or Mac, once your data has entered the ether of the internet on an unsecured connection. That's where a Mac VPN comes in.

A VPN provides you with a safe, secure network to access the internet on wherever you are – whether you want to torrent safely at home or work on public Wi-Fi when you're out and about. 

Macs are great at stopping malicious software getting into your computer, but they can't do anything once your data has left. A VPN is the only way to do that.

Can you get a free Mac VPN?

There are a number of free VPN services that can get you by in a pinch – and thankfully all of them work on Mac. However, there are some big sacrifices you'll need to make.

If you're not careful, you could risk having your data compromised – so make sure to make your choice from our recommendations. 

You'll also find restrictions like server locations, connection speed, and data caps on many providers. Our top pick is Proton VPN Free, but we'd still recommend making the most of a paid provider's 30-day money-back guarantee over using a free service.

Does my Mac have a VPN built in?

Short answer: no. 

All Macs have the functionality to support VPN usage, but Apple doesn't provide it's own VPN software. Therefore, if you want real privacy, you'll have to use a third-party service.

The good news is there's a huge amount to choose from, and we think the five on this page are the absolute cream of the crop.

How do I get a Mac VPN?

Getting a Mac VPN is as simple – if not simpler – than on a Windows device. Firstly it's a good idea to sign up to a VPN plan, and then you'll have two options.

On the one hand, you can download the VPN software directly from the VPN provider's website. You'll end up with a .DMG file, which you can then install. In the process you'll likely have to give the software permissions. 

On the other, many VPNs have apps available in the Apple App Store. Here, you can install the app, accept the same permissions and you're away. In either case, after that stage you'll need to input your login details and get covered. 

Is a Mac VPN legal?

Short answer: yes, it's legal to use a VPN on Mac.

However, using a VPN doesn't make illegal acts acceptable in the eyes of the law. Many people have associated VPN usage with criminal activity, but that stigma is fading due to the services becoming more mainstream and their legal uses becoming better known.

However, the anonymity a VPN provides is attractive to those breaking the law. All we can say is that we do not condone any unlawful usage of VPNs, and encourage our readers to make the most of what they can provide within the confines of the law.

Are Mac VPNs different to other VPNs?

In essence, not really. While macOS is different to Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android, for you, there's very little difference in how a VPN will behave – much like Microsoft Word or Photoshop.

However, there may be some differences under the surface. For example, many Mac VPNs still use IKEv2 in preference to WireGuard or OpenVPN. In some case, there are fewer features – split tunneling is often omitted, for example.

In practise, though, there's very little a quality Mac VPN can't do compared to a VPN on Windows, especially if you pick from my hand-tested selection here.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.

With contributions from