Just about any Apple user will benefit from using a Mac VPN, and whether you're interested in protecting your privacy or accessing geo-blocked streaming content, the very best VPN services will have you covered.
While Macs are less susceptible to malware and viruses (thanks to the fact there are fewer MacOS devices compared to Windows, so they're not worth targeting), personal data sent out into the ether is just as at risk as any other user. Using a Mac VPN helps anonymize your traffic, keeping you safer and helping you avoid tracking.
The very best can also unblock streaming sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more, as well as access cheap or free sports streams either when you're abroad or from your sofa. Here, we'll be rounding up the best Mac VPNs that can do just about everything.
What makes the best Mac VPN?
First and foremost, your VPN for Mac should have strong privacy credentials. There are plenty of VPNs that offer solid zero-logging policies and reliable encryption, so any lacking in the department should be avoided at all costs.
You should also think about what you'll be using your Mac VPN for. If you love streaming and want access to everything on Netflix, make sure that your chosen provider has a good track record at unblocking streaming sites. If you're a big torrenter, make sure that it supports P2P on every server. Great connection speeds are also a priority for most users, so that's worth taking into consideration.
Ticking all those boxes, along with well-designed apps and a stellar support service, is our top Mac VPN choice, ExpressVPN. It covers all the bases and is super simple to use, and works great on just about any device you own – not least Macs. However, there are a few rivals also worth considering, so read on to find to discover our top 5 VPNs for Mac.
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 unrivalled privacy credentials makes it our top pick as a Mac VPN. What's more, you can now save your cash and claim three months absolutely free through Tom's Guide.
2. Surfshark – secure your Mac for as little as possible
If you want maximum bang for your buck, Surfshark is a great option. It's not quite as powerful as Express, but for just $2.49 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 of before, and it's 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
When we reviewed ExpressVPN, it came out on top as our favorite VPN overall, and it's no different when it comes to Mac VPNs. With class-leading 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 DNS servers, meaning at no point in the chain is your data ever handed over to a third party. Combine that with a rock-solid and fully audited zero-logging policy, and you can feel safe in the fact hat your personal info won't be compromised.
ExpressVPN 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.
Combined with those searing speeds, 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 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 49% off plus 3 free months of the best Mac VPN
We keep our lives on our Macs, so it's worth getting the best to protect them – and Tom's Guide readers can save by getting three free months of ExpressVPN. That's 15 months for the price of 12, alongside a saving of 49%. Not bad for the best service on the market.
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 cheap 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 it's a great option for first-timers.
Recent months have seen Netflix crackdown on VPNs, and Surfshark has been somewhat affected – it's currently only reliable for unblocking US content, but right now we're seeing results change by the day. For just about all other streaming sites, though, we're seeing Surfshark deliver great results.
Let's be honest, though, Surfshark's biggest draw is its price. Although it can't compete with ExpressVPN 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?
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 are a little harder to find elsewhere. 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 was also one of the fastest, with its WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol soaring to around 800Mbps 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.
Head over to NordVPN's website to sign up.
In our most recent ProtonVPN review, we saw the Swiss provider up its game and address just about every issue we outlined in our last round of testing.
Well known as a seriously private VPN, Proton 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 second only to list-topper ExpressVPN when it comes to streaming performance. Combine that with its class-leading OpenVPN speeds and excellent WireGuard connections, and it makes an excellent all rounder.
While they're very powerful, ProtonVPN's apps don't necessarily fit in perfectly with the clean MacOS aesthetic, but when you consider the power they offer, it's easy to forgive that.
One flaw is that although Proton has now introduced live chat, it's not available 24/7. The responses we got when available were great, but if you have an issue out of hours, you might be waiting around. Otherwise, though, it's an excellent VPN for Mac that you should definitely consider.
CyberGhost says it's created its software specifically for Mac, which in theory should give you the best Mac VPN experience on your machine. Thanks to almost 7,000 servers in 88 countries, the claim's not too far from the truth, and it impressed in our in-depth CyberGhost VPN review.
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.
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 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.
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.