If you're looking for a Mac VPN, it needs to meet the exacting standards of usability and power Apple customers are used to from pretty much everything else in the Cupertino giant's ecosystem. We want form and function – powerful apps that deliver the goods while looking great, and ideally as few hurdles as possible to jump in the process.
Some people might just want a Mac VPN to browse overseas Netflix content, and others might want to access torrents in safety, but many people just want the peace of mind a VPN can bring if you're connected to public Wi-Fi in your local coffee shop, getting on with work. Whatever it is you're looking for, the best Mac VPN should be able to do it all.
What makes the best Mac VPN?
First and foremost, your Mac VPN should have excellent security credentials – your device might be inherently safer from viruses, but you're just as susceptible to your data being compromised as any Windows user.
Then, it all depends on what you want to use your VPN for. If you want to stream, you'll need to make sure your VPN can access Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and the rest. Not every service can do that, so it's worth making sure.
Something that's high on most peoples' lists, though, is great connection speeds – who needs military-grade encryption if what you're after won't even load? So, you should make sure your choice has plenty of high-quality servers to deliver top speeds.
As you'll see below, we've named ExpressVPN as the best Mac VPN money can buy. That's because it ticks all the boxes and provides a near-flawless user experience. However, we've also suggested a few more to suit different tastes and needs, so read on to find out what we rate as the best Mac VPNs available today.
The best five Mac VPNs you can get today
ExpressVPN is the best Mac VPN because it checks all the boxes, and does it without breaking a sweat. It offers excellent speeds on pretty much all its servers around the globe, has an excellent dedicated Mac client, and offers 24/7 live chat support in the rare instance something doesn't work as it should.
However, under the surface ExpressVPN boasts serious privacy credentials, too – you'll have the choice of OpenVPN UDP and TCP, L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2 to tailor your experience, plus IPv6 leak protection. Express also owns all its DNS servers, meaning at no point is your data entrusted to a third party.
ExpressVPN is also an excellent VPN for streaming. In our tests it was able to unblock absolutely everything we threw at it, from Netflix and YouTube to the notoriously difficult BBC iPlayer. If you're a TV addict, Express has got you covered.
The only real downside to Express is the limit of five simultaneous connections on one subscription. While that's not as many as some competitors, you'll still be able to protect your iMac, MacBook, iPhone and smart TV, plus an extra connection left over for whatever you want.
If you're after the best Mac VPN money can buy, look no further than ExpressVPN.
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Surfshark is a slick, easy-to-use Mac VPN and – if you've just blown all your savings on a new Mac Pro – it's a serious bargain, too. However, just because it's the cheapest on this list doesn't mean it's underpowered, and it blows plenty of the more expensive competition out the water.
With a full complement of VPN protocols, excellent AES-256 encryption, double hop and split tunneling, Surfshark doesn't lack features that will please experienced users. However, the simple layout and cheerful branding make it very appealing to first-time VPN users.
Streaming fans will also be happy, as Surfshark is capable of unblocking Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and more – a much better performance than plenty of its more expensive competitors.
And that's beauty of Surfshark. While it can't compete with ExpressVPN in terms of out-and-out power and functionality, it offers a fully featured experience for less than $2 a month if you go for the longest plan – which we certainly advise.
So, if you're after a top-tier Mac VPN for a less-than-Apple price, Surfshark's your best bet.
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CyberGhost says it's created its software specifically for Mac, which in theory should give you the best VPN experience on your machine. Thanks to over 6,100 servers in 88 countries, the claim's not too far from the truth.
CyberGhost's huge server network isn't all it's got to brag about, though, because its clients have some really nifty features that should assist you in getting the most out of it with a minimum of effort. One of these – which we'd like to see in every VPN – is a filtering system, designed to display the best server for whatever purpose you want, be that streaming Netflix or sharing P2P.
All that's holding CyberGhost back are some minor glitches we experienced when using the apps. However, other than that there's not a lot we can find fault with, and if you're looking for a cheap Mac VPN that makes streaming and torrenting a joy, then CyberGhost is worth having on your list.
Head over to CyberGhost's website to sign up.
NordVPN is a hugely well-known VPN, and that's for good reason. The desktop apps go nicely with the clean Mac look, and you'll also have excellent security covering your back – double 2048-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, two kill switches and more.
You'll also have access to over 5,200 servers spread across 59 countries, with many of them delivering excellent speeds.
However, while VPN client looks great, on both Mac and iOS it lacks some depth. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as they both deliver plenty of features on the surface to satisfy the vast majority of users, especially if you're only after a Netflix VPN and perhaps want to check your emails securely.
Combine all that with zero logging and a 30-day money back guarantee, and Nord starts to look like an excellent choice for keeping your Mac private.
Head over to NordVPN's website to sign up.
IPVanish is a great Mac VPN for those who like to get under the hood and tinker with things – there's a real wealth of features, and if you know what you're after, you should be able to achieve it. You'll get a kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, the option to scramble OpenVPN traffic and tons more, all alongside good connection speeds.
If you like the plug-and-play functionality that's synonymous with Apple's products, though, IPVanish works excellently out the box, and if you're in the States, we rate IPVanish as one of the best US VPN services thanks to its excellent connections speeds.
The apps are full of information – data up and down, connection speed and time, IP address and more – so there can be a lot to take in. While they're not exactly cluttered, if you prefer the minimal look IPVanish probably won't be for you.
However, that's not to fault the VPN itself, and with unlimited simultaneous connections you'll be able to cover pretty much everything you own. Also, IPVanish is able to unblock Netflix and YouTube, but unfortunately it does struggle with BBC iPlayer.
If you're after an in-depth VPN that you can configure to your heart's content, IPVanish is a solid choice.
Head over to IPVanish's website to sign up.
Mac VPN FAQs
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 its 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.
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.
One thing to note 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 App Store version, while the user has control over it in the 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.
Is a Mac VPN illegal?
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.