Macs hold over 16% of the desktop and laptop market share, meaning that there are tens of millions of Mac users looking to shore up their online privacy. The best place to start is to bag yourself a quality Mac VPN – and with some of the best VPNs starting at around $2 a month, you won't have to shell out Apple-like prices to stay anonymous.
Despite what you may have heard, Macs are just as susceptible to cyber-attacks as Windows PCs, especially when it comes to hacking, surveillance, and censorship. Using a VPN for Mac helps minimize these risks by encrypting your activity, making sure no one can see what you're doing online.
What's more, a number of Mac VPNs can also unblock streaming sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, so you can watch all your favorite shows wherever you are in the world, as well as live sporting events for less – or even for free. Here, we'll be rounding up the best Mac VPNs that can do just about everything.
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.
Ticking all those boxes, along with well-designed apps and a stellar support service is ExpressVPN, our top VPN for Mac. In our hands-on testing it covered all the bases, it's super simple to use, and works great on just about any device you own – especially Macs. However, there are a few rivals also worth considering, so read on to find to discover our top five Mac VPNs.
1. ExpressVPN – The very best Mac VPN
Perfect if you've got a Mac, ExpressVPN's clean interface, huge range of servers, one-touch functionality and unrivaled privacy credentials makes it our top pick as a Mac VPN. What's more, you can now bag 3 months FREE on the 12-month plan, and a 30-day guarantee means you can test it out risk-free.
2. Surfshark – Super Mac security for a bargain price
If you want maximum bang for your buck, Surfshark is a great option. It's not quite as powerful as Express, but at less than $2.50 a month you'll have plenty of change left over to go towards Apple's next ground-breaking gadget.
3. NordVPN – Mac VPN from the biggest name around
NordVPN is a name you'll have heard before, and it works great as a Mac VPN. You'll get incredible speeds and great security, and the apps tie in well with Apple's 'it just works' philosophy – all for a very reasonable monthly price.
The best five Mac VPNs you can get today
In our hands-on ExpressVPN review, it came out on top as our favorite VPN overall, and our decision is no different when it comes to awarding the top VPN for Mac. With excellent speeds thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol, you'll barely notice it's switched on, but there's more to the provider than just lightning-fast connections.
In terms of privacy, ExpressVPN owns all of its own 'TrustedServer' DNS servers, meaning at no point in the chain is your data ever handed over to a third party. Combine that with impenetrable encryption and a rock-solid, fully audited zero-logging policy, and you can feel safe in the fact that your personal info won't be compromised.
ExpressVPN is also the best-performing VPN 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. That's a great performance when compared to other leading VPNs like NordVPN and Surfshark.
This all means you'll have a ton more options when it comes to your weeknight binge watch, and with wide device compatibility (including Android, iOS, routers, and even devices like Amazon's Fire Stick) you'll be able to stream on any device you own. Plus, the MacOS app doesn't lose any functionality compared to the Windows client, unlike some rivals.
ExpressVPN does have a slight downside – a single subscription is only good for five devices. However, in our experience that's plenty, and if you've got more, you can log out of one device and use another.
That one small quibble aside, ExpressVPN is as close to perfect as any Mac VPN we've tested, and if you're after the best of the best, look no further.
Get 3 months FREE of the best Mac VPN
We keep our lives on our Macs, so it's worth getting the best to protect them – and from our testing, ExpressVPN is top of the table. What's more, Tom's Guide readers can get 3 months FREE on the 12-month plan, and you'll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out risk-free.
Surfshark has been making waves in the VPN industry for a couple of years now, and in our Surfshark review, we found that it offered a pleasing combination of low price and premium performance. Don't think that just because it's a cheap VPN Surfshark's a bargain-basement product.
With full support for WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2, industry-standard AES-256 encryption and a few extra features like split tunneling and Double Hop, it's a complete package. The simple, friendly interface also makes these features easy to either use or ignore, and just like ExpressVPN it's a great option for first-timers.
Surfshark is also very capable for unblocking streaming sites, and after a couple of months of unreliability with Netflix, it's back in the leading pack and can access libraries from the UK, US, and more. Combined with iPlayer, Disney+ and Amazon Prime support, it's a great choice for streaming fans.
Let's be honest, though, Surfshark's biggest draw is its price. Although it can't compete with ExpressVPN or NordVPN in terms of power and features, at less than $2.50 a month it's a great value Mac VPN – and you'll even be able to use one account on an unlimited number of devices. What's not to like?
Sign up now on the Surfshark website
As quite possibly the best-known VPN on the market, it's no surprise to see NordVPN crop up as one of the best Mac VPNs. With a reputation for great security and privacy – which fared it well in our full NordVPN review – it's a trusted name that millions rely on daily.
NordVPN 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 your through the Tor network, which sacrifices speed for unrivalled privacy. You'll also get two kill switches, and a nifty Double VPN feature.
In our last round of testing, NordVPN proved itself to be a very fast VPN, with its WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol soaring to around 820Mbps on our gigabit line. While you may not have access to such a strong connection, you can trust that Nord is unlikely to slow you down.
Unfortunately, NordVPN is somewhat let down by its clients, The map-based interface has been improved lately, but it's still not perfect, and on Mac and iOS, the apps aren't quite as deep as they are on Windows. As a streaming VPN or a casual day-to-day service, though, it's great – and with an industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee, you can even try before you commit.
Sign up now on the NordVPN website.
In our most recent Proton VPN review, we saw the Swiss provider continue to improve, and it's now a serious rival to the 'big three' listed above.
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 and Netflix VPN. Combine that with its great OpenVPN and WireGuard speeds, and it makes an excellent all-rounder.
While they're very powerful, Proton VPN's large, somewhat complex interface doesn't necessarily fit in perfectly with the clean MacOS aesthetic, but a recent rebrand has certainly tidied things up a little. And. when you consider the power they offer, it's easy to forgive any minor aesthetic issues.
One flaw is that although Proton has now introduced live chat, it's not available 24/7. The responses we got when available were very informed and helpful, but if you have an issue out of hours, you might be waiting around. Otherwise, though, it's an excellent VPN for Mac that's easy to recommend.
Sign up now on the Proton VPN website
Perhaps something of a wildcard here, we had to include TorGuard because, quite simply, it's the most powerful and configurable VPN for Mac that we've tested. Unlike much of the competition, in our TorGuard review we found that the German provider offers almost all of the functionality of its Windows VPN app on Mac as well.
It's unabashedly techy, and for those who really know what they're doing, it'll be a rewarding experience. However, if you're not seriously into this stuff, we'd recommend you choose another provider.
The client certainly isn't made for ease of use, and even our expert review team had a tough time figuring out some of the settings, what their function was, and what benefits they offered.
But, if that's for you, TorGuard performs very well. With speeds of up to 950Mbps, it was joint-fastest out of all the providers we tested. And, while it's not the very best, it's able to unblock US Netflix from around the world – not BBC iPlayer, Disney+, or Prime Video, though.
If you're considering TorGuard, make sure to do some testing straight away, as you'll only have a 7-day money-back guarantee if it's not for you. But if it is, you'll be pleased with how much power it offers.
Head over to the TorGuard website to sign up.
Mac VPN FAQs
What is the best Mac VPN?
From our testing, we rate ExpressVPN 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 NordVPN is a middle ground between the two.
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?
Widely regarded as a safer option than Windows PCs, it's true that Mac users can quite easily get away without antivirus software. However, a Mac VPN covers your data once it's left your computer – and 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.
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?
Having a Mac VPN is 100% legal – fact – but 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 the user there's very little difference in how a VPN will behave – much like Microsoft Word or Photoshop.
One thing to note, however, is that some VPNs may vary very slightly depending on where you download them from. For example, in our testing we discovered that NordVPN's kill switch is always on and not a user option in the version downloaded from the App Store, while the user has control over it in the .DMG version downloaded from the site.
This sort of thing is easily solved by using live chat, and further indicates how valuable a good support system like ExpressVPN's is.