Updated on: September 22, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best VPN for Mac in 2023:
Mac devices are secure, but they can’t 100% protect your data online. Cybercriminals can still spy on your traffic or location and use that data to target you with cyber attacks.
The best way to stay safe online is to use a VPN. It’s an online app that encrypts your traffic, making it impossible for anyone to spy on it. It also changes your IP address, hiding your location.
But not all VPNs work well on Mac — some don’t work with certain versions of macOS, a lot of them only have strong security for Windows, some come from cybersecurity companies with questionable ethics, and others are too slow, too challenging to use, or too expensive.
That said, there are a handful of really good VPNs for all Mac devices. The ones that made it to this list have easy-to-use macOS apps, excellent security features, and fast speeds. They also work with Netflix and other streaming services, and they’re very affordable.
Quick summary of the best VPNs for Mac in 2023:
ExpressVPN— Best VPN for Mac users in 2023.
Private Internet Access— Strong performance with fast speeds.
CyberGhost VPN— Intuitive and easy to use.
NordVPN— Great speeds with additional malware and web protections.
Surfshark— Very affordable with tons of servers & an optional antivirus.
- Plus 7 more!
- Comparison of the Best Mac VPNs.
ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac in 2023
ExpressVPN includes plenty of advanced security features like perfect forward secrecy (a high-security feature ensuring the strength of its encryption), RAM-only servers that ensure every server reboot wipes all data, and full protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. Also, its no-logs policy has passed several independent audits.
It’s also one of the few VPNs to provide split-tunneling for Macs. This feature lets you pick which apps use the VPN and which apps use your local network. However, it only works on macOS 10.15 and below. During my tests, I configured ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling settings to only allow uTorrent to use the VPN, allowing me to route my P2P traffic through the VPN while still browsing on my internet service provider’s network.
I also love how intuitive the provider’s Mac app is. The Mac app includes most of the same features as the Windows and mobile apps, and the interface is simple to navigate. There’s also a Shortcuts feature that lets you add 1-click shortcuts for apps and sites, which show up on your screen after you connect to a server.
ExpressVPN also offers:
- ExpressVPN Keys — A password manager that secures your logins and helps you generate secure passwords. It’s included for free with each ExpressVPN subscription.
- Threat Manager — Stops trackers from spying on your traffic and protects you from accessing malicious sites.
- Obfuscation — Makes your VPN traffic look like regular internet traffic.
ExpressVPN also has the fastest speeds of all VPNs I’ve tested. In my tests, all sites and HD and 4K videos loaded instantly, and I was also able to play online games with no lag.
It’s great for streaming, too, working with over 100 streaming sites, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu. Plus, it supports torrenting on all of its servers. Unfortunately, however, ExpressVPN’s browser extension for Safari no longer works. The company said it was working on an extension that would be supported on Safari 12, but the release date is still unknown.
ExpressVPN is by far the best Mac VPN I’ve tested — its macOS app is very easy to navigate and also comes with a helpful Shortcuts feature, as well as tons of advanced security features. It also has split-tunneling and very fast speeds, and each purchase is backed with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access — High-Security VPN (With Fast Speeds)
PIA provided me with fast speeds — all sites loaded instantly, HD videos loaded instantly, and 4K videos took just 2 seconds to load. That said, it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN.
The macOS app also comes with split-tunneling and PIA MACE, which blocks ads, trackers, and dangerous sites. And unlike ExpressVPN, the provider includes split-tunneling on macOS 11 (Big Sur). As for PIA MACE, I tested this feature by accessing several ad-heavy sites and known malicious pages, and I can confirm it’s very effective.
PIA is also really good for streaming — it works with 30+ popular sites, including top platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, as well as smaller sites like tv4play, Ruutu, and YLE.
PIA’s Mac app is fully open-source, so anyone can review its code and confirm that it’s 100% safe. Additionally, its no-logs policy has been proven true in court many times and has also been audited.
Private Internet Access (PIA) has a feature-rich macOS app that provides a lot of great security features, fast speeds, and split tunneling for all Mac computers (even Big Sur). PIA works with both popular and less popular streaming sites, is fully open-source, allows unlimited connections, and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost VPN — Best for Ease of Use
It’s also great that all settings come with helpful explanations, so you never feel lost using CyberGhost’s Mac app. And I like the Smart Rules feature, which lets you personalize VPN connection preferences — like setting up the VPN app to automatically connect to a desired server and open a specific app on launch, for example.
In my speed tests, the provider performed really well. All websites I browsed loaded instantly, HD videos loaded instantly and didn’t buffer, and 4K videos loaded in under 4 seconds. But CyberGhost still isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access.
The VPN also comes with strong security features, including RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and full leak protection. There’s also Content Blocker, which protects you from shady sites. However, I think it’s a shame that CyberGhost is missing split-tunneling on its macOS app (ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access both have it).
CyberGhost’s macOS app is also good for streaming. It has dedicated streaming servers that can access 50+ streaming platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. It also provides access to dedicated gaming servers that are optimized to provide you with smooth, stable gaming sessions.
CyberGhost VPN has a simple, well-designed macOS app. Its interface is one of the easiest to use, it provides really good internet speeds for fast file sharing and streaming, and it has top-notch security features. CyberGhost offers a lengthy 45-day money-back guarantee for its yearly plans.
NordVPN — Great Speeds & Extra Online Security Protections
NordVPN has fast speeds and reliable connections. I tested the app on both my MacBook and iMac and while browsing online using Safari — every page I accessed loaded almost instantly, and I didn’t experience lag or buffering while streaming shows and movies in HD. But 4K videos took up to 4–5 seconds to load, and I experienced minor buffering when they started.
The macOS app comes with Threat Protection, which protects against malware and malicious websites. It also blocks tracking cookies and “trims” URL tracking parameters so websites can’t track your movements online.
The VPN’s macOS app also has a dark web monitoring tool, which alerts you if the login credentials linked to your NordVPN account have been compromised. In addition, it has RAM-only servers, full leak protection, and perfect forward secrecy.
I don’t like that NordVPN offers 2 different Mac apps. Both apps have slightly different features, which makes picking the right one a bit tough. ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost VPN all have just one Mac app, so installing their apps is more straightforward.
NordVPN is reasonably priced, starting at $3.19 / month. It offers several tier-based subscriptions and backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN provides fast speeds and strong internet security protections, including a dark web monitor and malware protection. It’s also easy to use, but I don’t like that NordVPN has 2 versions of its Mac app that are slightly different, as this can be confusing. All of NordVPN’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark — Very Affordable, Huge Server Network + Optional Antivirus App
Surfshark has super affordable plans, so it’s a great pick if you’re on a tight budget. The VPN also allows unlimited connections, so it’s perfect for users whose families have many Mac devices.
It also has one of the largest server networks of any VPN, with over 3,200+ servers in 100+ countries — more countries than all other apps on this list. ExpressVPN has a similar number of servers in 90+ countries, while CyberGhost has 9,000+ servers in 90+ countries.
This VPN also comes with a range of advanced security features. These include RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy. It has a strict no-logs policy that has been independently audited, too.
Surfshark also offers an optional paid antivirus app, which protects your Mac from malware. I like the app as it’s easy to use and includes real-time malware protection, which means it quietly runs in the background and constantly searches for malware. However, while it may be a decent choice for some users, I don’t think Surfshark’s antivirus is as good as dedicated antivirus programs like Norton and Bitdefender, which offer advanced malware protections and several extra system security features.
Surfshark is super cheap, with plans starting as low as $2.30 / month. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark has some of the cheapest plans out there. It also comes with a large server network, allows unlimited connections, and provides access to strong security features, including an optional paid antivirus tool. Surfshark backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
PrivateVPN — Good VPN for Streaming
PrivateVPN has an easy-to-use macOS app and is one of my top choices for streaming. It took me just a few minutes to navigate all of the features and connect to a server. I also like how you can set up PrivateVPN to automatically connect to your favorite server when you open the app.
I never had an issue accessing any of the popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. PrivateVPN also works with less-popular streaming sites like Crunchyroll, Sling TV, and Paramount+.
In my speed tests, I could stream HD and 4K videos smoothly and only experienced very minor buffering when I skipped around in the videos. However, PrivateVPN is not quite as fast as ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost VPN.
PrivateVPN is also pretty good for torrenting — it supports torrenting on all servers, provides fast download speeds, works with all of the major torrenting clients, and has port forwarding, which lets you connect to more peers for even faster P2P downloads.
PrivateVPN has plans starting at $2.00 / month. All of PrivateVPN’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
PrivateVPN is simple to use, fast, and good for streaming and torrenting on Mac. It works with tons of streaming services, it supports torrenting on all servers, and it takes just a few moments to get used to its macOS app. PrivateVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.
Proton VPN — Good Free VPN for Mac
Proton VPN offers a good free plan for macOS users — it includes unlimited data, a strict no-logs policy, access to VPN servers in 3 countries, and 1 active connection. Proton VPN says that free users only get “medium” speeds, but when I tested my speed on its free servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands, I enjoyed pretty fast browsing.
Proton VPN provides strong privacy and security. For starters, it’s based in Switzerland, a country with strong data-privacy laws, it has an audited no-logs policy, and all of its apps are open-source and have passed independent security audits.
Proton VPN’s Mac app also comes with many high-security features. It has perfect forward secrecy and full-disk encryption, which ensures all data on the provider’s servers stays safe even if the server is compromised.
Upgrading to Proton VPN Plus gets you streaming and torrenting support for just $4.99 / month. The premium plan also adds access to servers in 60+ countries, 10 connections, the “highest” speed, NetShield (ad blocker), Secure Core servers, and Tor over VPN. All of Proton VPN’s paid plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN offers a good free plan with unlimited bandwidth and decent speeds. It’s highly secure and very private — however, it limits you to servers in 3 countries and 1 connection. The paid plans add streaming and P2P support, and extra security features (including an ad blocker). There’s a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans.
TunnelBear — Great VPN for Beginners on a Mac
TunnelBear has a sleek, fun, and easy-to-use interface for macOS devices — I really love that there are cute animated bears and silly bear puns all over the Mac app.
For example, if you want to split-tunnel websites, you head to SplitBear in the settings, and if you want to activate the kill switch, you can check the box for VigilantBear. While this could be confusing, the clear feature descriptions make everything pretty beginner-friendly.
The macOS app makes it really easy to choose which VPN server you want to connect to — there’s a one-click, quick-connect tool, or you can manually connect to a server using the drop-down server menu. TunnelBear’s settings menu also provides simple on/off toggles for nearly all settings.
TunnelBear has decent speeds — most sites loaded in 3 seconds, HD videos took only 2–3 seconds to load, and 4K videos loaded in around 5 seconds. But it’s still not as fast as ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access. It’s very secure though, with full leak protection and obfuscation and an annual security audit conducted by an independent firm.
It’s also very secure. TunnelBear includes full leak protection and obfuscation, and it conducts an annual security audit by an independent firm.
TunnelBear is pretty good for streaming (but it doesn’t work with Disney+ and ESPN+), allows P2P traffic on all servers, and supports unlimited connections.
TunnelBear offers plans starting at $3.33 / month. It also has a free plan, but it limits you to 2 GB of data per month, which is only good for a few hours of browsing. Unfortunately, there’s no money-back guarantee.
TunnelBear has an incredibly easy-to-use app filled with adorable bears. Its code, infrastructure, and apps are independently audited and confirmed every year, it can access most streaming services, and it works in restrictive countries. TunnelBear has a free plan, but it’s only really good for testing the product, and there’s no money-back guarantee.
VyprVPN — Best Selection of macOS Protocols
VyprVPN has really good security features and supports a wide range of protocols. You can choose between IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which helps you get around company/university firewalls as well as bypass internet restrictions in high-risk countries like China.
VyprVPN includes an advanced kill switch on its macOS app — you can set it up so you can’t access the internet without being connected to a VyprVPN server. The app also includes Public Wi-Fi Protection, which automatically connects you to VyprVPN if it detects an untrusted network.
It’s also pretty fast. When I tested VyprVPN on my MacBook, websites loaded instantly, and it generally took 2 seconds for HD videos to load, and only 3–4 seconds for 4K videos to load. That said, it still wasn’t as fast as ExpressVPN. VyprVPN has 700+ servers spread across 60+ countries around the world and allows 30 device connections.
VyprVPN’s cheapest plan costs $5.00 / month, and there are many other VPNs on this list that offer a better value. VyprVPN backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
VyprVPN supports a wide range of protocols on its macOS app. It also comes with an advanced kill switch, Wi-Fi protection, very fast speeds for all online activities, and it works in censor-heavy countries. VyprVPN’s plans are expensive, but it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
IPVanish — Good Mac VPN for Torrenting
IPVanish allows torrenting on all servers and works with top macOS P2P apps, like uTorrent, Flox, and Transmission. It also has SOCKS5 proxy servers, which change your IP address but don’t provide encryption — so you get very fast P2P downloads.
During my speed tests, IPVanish maintained decent speeds, but it was still not as fast as ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost VPN — sites took 3–4 seconds to load, HD videos loaded in 5 seconds, and 4K videos took up to 10 seconds to load and there was noticeable buffering at the start. That said, I like how IPVanish lets you filter by server latency to maximize your chances of finding a speedy connection.
IPVanish isn’t great for streaming. While I was able to watch Netflix and BBC iPlayer, other streaming services like Amazon Prime detected that I was using a VPN and wouldn’t let me access their libraries.
IPVanish’s plans start from $2.99 / month. The long-term plans include a free subscription to VIPRE antivirus (available for macOS). IPVanish has a 30-day money-back guarantee on its long-term plan.
IPVanish provides good torrenting on Mac. Its Mac app is also easy to use, it provides decent speeds and good security, and it allows unlimited connections. IPVanish’s long-term plans are bundled with a VIPRE subscription and have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Mullvad VPN — Great Security & Privacy for Mac Users
Mullvad VPN is an open-source VPN that doesn’t require an email or other personal information to sign up — it instead provides you with an account ID to log in with. This offers an incredible level of privacy for Mac users.
Mullvad VPN has great speeds, but it’s not nearly as fast as ExpressVPN. I was able to stream HD content with only minimal buffering, and I downloaded a 10 GB torrent file in about 18 minutes.
Mullvad VPN’s macOS app comes with a ton of features. It includes advanced security features like perfect forward secrecy and extra features like port forwarding, an ad blocker, and Bridge mode (Mullvad VPN’s obfuscation tool), but it doesn’t include split-tunneling.
One of its biggest drawbacks is that it isn’t great for streaming — it works with Netflix, but it doesn’t work with other popular streaming sites like Hulu, Amazon Prime, or BBC iPlayer.
Mullvad VPN offers plans with an affordable flat rate of $5.33 / month. All of its plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Mullvad VPN doesn’t require any personal information to sign up, so it provides great privacy. It has fast speeds and a feature-rich macOS app that includes an ad blocker, port forwarding, and obfuscation. However, it doesn’t work with most streaming apps. Mullvad VPN offers flat pricing and a 30-day money-back guarantee with all plans.
Hotspot Shield — Good VPN for Streaming & Torrenting
Hotspot Shield has good support for streaming and torrenting, and it comes with an intuitive macOS app — there’s a very clean interface, and it’s easy to navigate all of the settings and quickly connect to your desired server.
I’m a big fan of Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Hydra protocol, which comes close to matching the speeds of the fastest protocols out there — but it’s slightly slower than ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access. The fast speeds were great for streaming on all of the most popular sites and allowed me to quickly download large files.
Hotspot Shield offers a free plan with unlimited data, but it only lets you connect a single device and only allows you access to servers in the US, the UK, and Singapore. The paid plans start at $2.99 / month and come with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Hotspot Shield is a good Mac VPN with a cutting-edge proprietary protocol. It has an easy-to-use app for Mac devices, great streaming and P2P support, split-tunneling, and really good speeds. The free plan is decent, and the paid plans are affordable and come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
Comparison of the Best VPNs for Mac in 2023
|VPN||Starting price||Split-tunneling on macOS||Number of countries||Number of connections||Free plan||Money-back guarantee|
||$6.67 / month||✅(10.15 and below)||90+||5||❌||30 days|
||$2.19 / month||✅(all versions)||80+||Unlimited||❌||30 days|
||$2.19 / month||❌||90+||7||❌||45 days (long-term plans only)|
||$3.19 / month||❌||55+||6||❌||30 days|
||$2.30 / month||❌||100+||Unlimited||❌||30 days|
||$2.00 / month||❌||60+||10||❌||30 days|
||$4.99 / month||❌||60+||10||✅||30 days|
||$3.33 / month||❌||45+||Unlimited||✅||None|
||$5.00 / month||❌||60+||10||❌||30 days|
||$2.99 / month||❌||50+||Unlimited||❌||30 days|
||$5.33 / month||❌||40+||5||❌||30 days|
||$2.99 / month||(macOS 10.12 or later)||80+||10||✅||45 days|
How to Choose the Best VPN for Mac 2023
- Look for a VPN with strong security. A good VPN should offer industry-standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy, secure VPN protocols (like WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPSec), and a kill switch to prevent any internet data from leaking if the VPN gets disconnected.
- Opt for a VPN that’s easy to use. All of the brands on this list are well-designed and have intuitive interfaces, so you won’t have problems using them on a Mac. And they all allow you to connect to a remote server, enable/disable features, or perform almost any action with just a couple of clicks.
- Prioritize VPNs with fast speeds. Although all VPNs affect speed to some extent, a trustworthy VPN will ensure the slowdown is barely noticeable, allowing for smooth browsing, streaming, and downloads. Of all the VPNs on this list, ExpressVPN was the quickest during my tests.
- Choose a VPN that provides additional features. I recommend choosing VPNs that have extra features in their macOS apps, such as split-tunneling or an ad blocker.
- Pick a VPN that provides good value. Look for VPNs that provide at least 5 simultaneous connections, have reasonably-priced subscription plans, accept different payment options, and have a money-back guarantee or a free plan.
How to Install a VPN on Your Mac
Installing a VPN on your Mac is super simple. Just follow these easy steps:
- Step 1: Choose a Reliable VPN Service
First, decide which VPN service you want to use. My top recommendation is ExpressVPN, but there are heaps of other good options. Visit the website, select the plan that suits you, and sign up.
- Step 2: Download and Install the VPN Software
From the VPN website, download the Mac client. Alternatively, you can search for the VPN you want on the App Store and click ‘Get’ to download it. Once downloaded, open the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. The process is usually as simple as dragging the VPN app to your Applications folder.
- Step 3: Configure and Connect Your VPN
Launch the VPN app and log in using the account you created. You’ll typically see a dashboard with a large “Connect” button. Before hitting that, choose a server location if needed. Some services auto-select the best server for you. Now, click the “Connect” button. That’s it! Your browsing is now secure.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- HMA VPN. HMA VPN is secure, fast, and works with most streaming services. However, its awful customer service and comparatively high price cost it a place on my list.
- CactusVPN. CactusVPN has good security and allows unlimited simultaneous connections, but its Mac app isn’t as good as the Windows app. It’s also slower than the brands that made it to this list.
- Ivacy VPN. Ivacy VPN offers a good range of features and easy-to-use apps. However, it didn’t work with a few top streaming sites in my tests, it isn’t reliable in censorship-heavy countries, and it’s slower than the other VPNs on my list.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best VPN for Mac?
ExpressVPN is my favorite Mac VPN in 2023 — it’s one of the easiest VPNs to use, it’s full of excellent features, it scored as the fastest VPN in my tests, it’s reasonably priced, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
How does a VPN for Mac work?
The VPNs listed here all work by rerouting your data through encrypted tunnels. All of the browsing activity that you send from your Mac gets rerouted through a third-party provider (the VPN) and encrypted with military-grade encryption before it reaches your destination website. Then, whatever the website sends back to you will also be encrypted. This prevents anyone — including hackers — from surveilling your internet activity.
A VPN also replaces your IP address with a virtual IP address from another country, so you can browse the internet as if you were physically located in that country.
Doesn’t macOS have a built-in VPN client?
Yes, but it’s very different from a VPN service. The macOS VPN client connects users to a VPN at their workplace or school — so remote workers are able to access their company’s network and files, and students or faculty members can log into their campus’s network.
However, with a VPN service like ExpressVPN you connect to secure servers all over the world while masking your IP address and encrypting your data — this allows you to securely and privately browse the web, stream videos, and share P2P files.
Are there any free VPNs for Mac?
Yes, but most aren’t very good. While there are some decent free VPNs for Mac there, most free VPNs aren’t secure enough, have frustrating limitations, store user data, and/or slow down internet speeds.
So, I recommend getting an affordable premium Mac VPN instead — ExpressVPN is my favorite one because it has a very intuitive Mac app, provides high-end security features, and has the fastest speeds out there.