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Five things to do with a Mac VPN

Shield bearing letters 'VPN' on rendering of circuit board.
(Image credit: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock)

VPNs are one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your online security, but they also have a wide range of other applications. Using the internet with a Mac VPN has several notable benefits compared to connecting directly.

In this article, we’ll cover five of the most popular ways to use VPNs on Mac computers in 2020. Make sure to check out our best VPN guide for more information about the top providers.

Watch Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more

Streaming services have started to take a more aggressive stance on VPNs in recent years, but some VPNs can still circumvent their regional controls. With that in mind, VPNs are often the easiest way to access content that isn’t available in your home country.

You’ll also be able to use a Netflix VPN to view content from your home country while traveling abroad. In other words, you won’t have to worry about region blocks if you have a reliable VPN that can access your favorite streaming platforms.

Access sites blocked on your network

If you’re accessing the internet through an organizational network, certain sites may be restricted or blocked by that network’s administrator. Schools, colleges, and workplaces are just a few of the organizations that typically block certain internet activity.

This could include social media sites, streaming site like mentioned above, online games or adult content. However, we believe that if it’s legal for you to visit the site in questions, it’s well within your rights to circumvent any blocks on your network.

You can do that with a VPN – you’ll be able to access blocked websites while hiding your activity from the rest of the network.

Popular VPN IPVanish running on two Mac computers

(Image credit: IPVanish)

Avoid hackers and trackers

The internet is a surprisingly dangerous place, and many people don’t realize that their online activity may be accessible by third-party hackers and trackers. This is a particularly pressing concern if you often use the internet through a publicly accessible connection.

As mentioned, a VPN can hide your traffic from anyone else on the network. It will also prevent sites from tracking your real location. Most VPN providers have servers in a variety of countries, giving you the option to select the location that you want to browse from.

However, most importantly, if the public Wi-Fi connection you’re connected has been compromised by a man-in-the-middle attack, your data will be entirely safe because your traffic will be encrypted.

Avoid network throttling

Internet service providers can artificially slow down network activity for a variety of reasons, and that authority grew substantially with the end of net neutrality. Your ISP now has the right to monitor your usage and throttle your connection if you engage in certain types of activity – streaming, gaming and torrenting to name just a few.

With a VPN, you can stop your ISP from gaining access to the data that it would need to selectively throttle your traffic. While it can’t stop blanket throttling (which may happen at absolute peak times), it does effectively halt any throttling done as a reaction to your activity.

Avoid government censorship

In the same way that a VPN will allow you to avoid having your activity tracked by your internet service provider, it will also help you get around similar blocks and restrictions put in place by your government.

China and the UAE are two of the most heavily populated and strictly censored countries worldwide, but internet users in a wide range of locations rely on VPNs to access blocked sites. China VPN and UAE VPN services are typically the most robust and private, so they’re also a great choice for anyone searching for the most private VPN.

Which VPN do we recommend for Mac users?

While different VPNs have unique pros and cons, ExpressVPN is currently our top-rated Mac VPN. It offers outstanding privacy and has strong connection speeds and support for some of the most popular streaming services.

Even though there are slightly cheaper options, ExpressVPN more than justifies its price tag with a strong set of features and servers located in more than 94 countries. You’ll also be able to stream content from tons of services all over the world, and what’s more, Tom’s Guide readers can now claim three months free on any annual plan.View Deal