Short on time? Here’s the best free Mac VPN in 2023:
- 🥇 ExpressVPN. While it’s not 100% free, it’s hands-down my favorite Mac VPN in 2023, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out. It also has top-notch security, unbeatable speeds, and it consistently works with streaming sites like Netflix, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and many others.
I normally don’t recommend using a free VPN, as they generally lack essential security features and may log user data, which is terrible for your privacy. What’s more, many free VPNs have very slow speeds, limit how much data you can use, provide very buggy apps, only allow you to use their service on 1 device, or don’t provide streaming and torrenting support.
You get much better value by getting an affordable paid VPN like ExpressVPN, which is my top choice in 2023 — top paid VPNs come with strong security, fast speeds, easy-to-use apps that work well, and great streaming and P2P support.
That said, if you’re only interested in using a free VPN, there are some decent options out there — all the providers I mention in this article have free plans that are secure, come with user-friendly apps, and some even provide access to extra features.
Quick summary of the 5 best free VPNs for Mac in 2023:
- 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for Mac in 2023. It’s not 100% free, but it has a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. It also has high-end security, blazing-fast speeds, intuitive apps, and excellent streaming capabilities.
- 🥈2. Proton VPN — Free macOS VPN with unlimited data. Also includes excellent security features, provides access to 3 server locations, and maintains fast speeds. But you need to upgrade to one of its paid plans to get access to streaming & torrenting servers.
- 🥉3. Windscribe — Unlimited simultaneous devices (good for large households). Offers good security, works with Netflix, and has good speeds. However, it limits you to 10 GB data per month.
- 4. hide.me — Good VPN for torrenting. Has a data cap of 10 GB per month, provides decent speeds, and is simple to use. Unfortunately, its free plan doesn’t support streaming.
- 5. Hotspot Shield — Easy-to-use Mac VPN (good for new users). It maintains really good speeds too, but it also limits you to 500 MB per day, logs your IP address, and the macOS app also lacks a kill switch.
- Comparison of the Best Free Mac VPNs.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac in 2023
ExpressVPN is the best macOS VPN on the market, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee — so you can test it out risk-free and receive a refund if you’re not happy with it. I don’t think that’s likely to happen, though, as this is the best VPN for streaming (it works with 65+ streaming apps, including Netflix and Disney+), torrenting, and gaming, and it also provides the fastest speeds on the market.
I’m really impressed with ExpressVPN’s focus on security and privacy. In addition to standard VPN features (256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch), it uses TrustedServer technology, which means user data is deleted every time ExpressVPN’s servers are restarted, and it has perfect forward secrecy, which prevents anyone from compromising your VPN sessions. What’s more, its no-logs policy has been independently audited on several occasions, and it’s also been proven true in a server seizure.
This is also one of the only VPNs that comes with split-tunneling on macOS (available on macOS 10.15 and below) — the only other VPN on this list that has split-tunneling on macOS is hide.me.
ExpressVPN’s speeds are the fastest I’ve seen in a Mac VPN. In my speed tests, I had upload and download speeds very close to my non-VPN speeds, even when torrenting with uTorrent. I also didn’t notice any lag while gaming or streaming HD Netflix in Safari. Plus, the provider makes it easy to find servers with the fastest speeds, as its macOS app has a built-in speed test that shows how fast each server is — you can then choose the fastest server overall or the fastest server in a specific country.
In addition, I love how user-friendly the provider’s macOS app is. It has a quick-connect feature that automatically connects you to the fastest server, and its interface is very simple to navigate. Plus, there’s a Shortcuts feature, which lets you create 1-click shortcuts for specific apps and sites that show up on your screen after you connect to a server — this way, you can instantly access your favorite content immediately after securing your connection.
ExpressVPN has several plans to choose from, and with our special 49% discount, you can get it for only $6.67 / month, which is very affordable — plus, I’ve often seen ExpressVPN give away 3 months completely free of charge! All plans allow you to connect 5 simultaneous devices.
ExpressVPN is the best Mac VPN in 2023 — while not 100% free, it has affordable plans that come with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, which gives you tons of time to test all of its features. Plus, it has great security, the fastest speeds I’ve seen in a VPN for Mac, and excellent streaming, torrenting, and gaming capabilities.
🥈2. Proton VPN — Unlimited Data & Good Speeds on macOS
Proton VPN is one of the rare VPNs that doesn’t have data caps for free users — most competing brands offer a limited data allowance per month and cut you off when you reach the data limit, but you can use Proton VPN to surf the web as much as you want.
In my speed tests, I got fast speeds browsing in Safari. I didn’t experience any buffering while streaming HD content on YouTube, and all sites loaded instantly. That said, Proton VPN’s free plan only gives you access to 3 server locations, including the US, Japan, and the Netherlands, so not all users will be able to connect to a nearby server for fast speeds. On the plus side, you do get access to VPN Accelerator, which boosts speeds on distant servers — when I used the feature, it increased my speeds by a whopping 40%!
Proton VPN’s free plan provides excellent privacy, as its macOS app is open-source, meaning anyone can inspect its source code for any security holes — even better, the app has been audited and confirmed to be secure. Plus, the provider’s no-logs policy has also passed an independent security audit.
The free plan also comes with strong security features, including advanced features like full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and full-disk encryption, which ensures user data stay safe even if a server is compromised.
I also like how user-friendly the provider’s macOS app is — all settings and features come with helpful explanations, and there’s also a Profiles feature, which allows you to create your own connection preferences (like automatically connecting to a specific server location).
Unfortunately, the free plan doesn’t support streaming or torrenting — if you want to watch Netflix and other streaming shows and download P2P files, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Proton VPN’s paid plans. Also, you can use Proton VPN’s free VPN on 1 device only.
Proton VPN has monthly and yearly plans that start at $3.99 / month. They add P2P and streaming support, access to more servers, an ad blocker, Tor over VPN, and up to 10 connections. All Proton VPN premium plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN’s free plan provides unlimited data, good speeds for browsing and streaming, and a good range of security features for Macs. I really like that its macOS app is open-source, which makes it easy to trust this VPN provider. However, Proton VPN’s free plan doesn’t support streaming or torrenting. To get access to streaming and torrenting servers, a wide range of extra features, and up to 10 simultaneous connections, you need to upgrade to one of Proton VPN’s paid plans.
🥉3. Windscribe — Unlimited Simultaneous Devices
Windscribe is the only VPN on this list that allows unlimited simultaneous devices — so it’s a great option if you want to protect all of the devices in your household, including Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android devices.
However, unlike Proton VPN, Windscribe has a data cap of 10 GB/month, but you can get extra data if you tweet about Windscribe and/or refer friends. On the other hand, Windsribe’s free option offers servers in more locations than Proton VPN, and it works with Netflix and other popular streaming apps, including Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime.
During my speed tests, Windscribe maintained fast speeds, though not as fast as Proton VPN. All sites I accessed on Safari loaded instantly, and I didn’t have any buffering while streaming HD video on servers that were closer to me, but there was minor lag on distant servers.
The provider’s free plan also provides advanced security features like perfect forward secrecy, RAM-only servers, and full leak protection. In addition, it provides access to ad and malware blocking via Windscribe’s R.O.B.E.R.T. feature — I tested it by visiting 5 ad-heavy sites on Safari, and it got rid of most ads, which made the web pages load faster. My only complaint about R.O.B.E.R.T. is that you can’t change its settings inside the macOS app, as you need to do it from your account’s dashboard on Winscribe’s site.
You also get access to a user-friendly macOS app — it only took me 1–2 minutes to install it, and the design is really intuitive, so it only took me less than 5 seconds to find and connect to a VPN server.
Windscribe has monthly and yearly plans starting at $5.75 / month. It also has a unique ‘build-a-plan’ option — you can add individual server locations one at a time for a much lower monthly price. The provider backs its plans with only a 3-day money-back guarantee.
Windscribe’s free plan includes coverage for an unlimited number of devices — making it a particularly good option for families or large households. It provides decent speeds and can access Netflix and many other streaming services, but it only offers 10 GB data per month. Windscribe has several paid plans to choose from, and you can even build your own plan for a cheaper price than many competitors.
4. hide.me — Good for Torrenting
hide.me allows torrenting on its free plan, and it has a data cap of 10 GB per month, which is decent for downloading small torrents. You also get access to servers in 5+ countries, including the US, the UK, and the Netherlands, and split-tunneling. However, unlike Windscribe that offers unlimited connections, you can use hide.me on just 1 device.
In my speed tests, I was able to get good speeds when I downloaded torrents using uTorrent — I also enjoyed fast browsing, as sites loaded instantly and HD YouTube videos took only 2–3 seconds to load and didn’t buffer. That said, I had faster speeds with Proton VPN and Windscribe’s free plans.
The provider’s free plan also comes with great advanced security features, including full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy. And in addition to a standard kill switch, there’s also Stealth Guard, which lets you pick which apps (like torrent clients) are shut down if the VPN disconnects.
You also get access to a user-friendly macOS app that comes with an easy-to-navigate interface — that said, I don’t like how the app doesn’t work on macOS 11, so you need to perform a manual setup to use the VPN on that operating system version, which is inconvenient.
Unfortunately, hide.me’s free plan doesn’t support streaming — if that’s something you were interested in, I recommend trying out Windscribe’s free plan instead, as it works with top sites like Netflix.
hide.me has several premium plans that start at $3.84 / month. The paid plans include access to all servers and 10 simultaneous devices. All plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
hide.me provides good torrenting support. It has a 10 GB/month data cap, servers in 5+ countries, good speeds, and it comes with strong security features. However, it lacks streaming support and limits you to 1 device. Upgrading to one of hide.me’s premium plans gives you unlimited data, access to all of its servers and streaming services, and up to 10 connections.
5. Hotspot Shield — Intuitive Mac VPN With Fast Speeds
Hotspot Shield is very simple to use — the Mac app’s interface is clean and well-designed, so you won’t have problems even if you’ve never used a VPN before. This makes it a decent choice for new users.
Hotspot Shield provides pretty good speeds on its free plan — when I visited sites in Safari, they loaded instantly, and HD videos on YouTube took just 2 seconds to load and they didn’t buffer when I skipped through them.
Security-wise, the free plan comes with Hydra, the provider’s proprietary protocol that provides perfect forward secrecy. In addition, the free plan also includes DNS leak protection on the macOS app. Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield’s free macOS app isn’t as secure as Proton VPN, Windscribe, and hide.me — the app is missing a kill switch, and the free plan also logs your IP address to serve you ads.
Hotspot Shield offers monthly and yearly subscriptions starting at $2.99 / month. All premium plans remove data limits and IP logging, add access to all servers, allow streaming, provide 5 simultaneous devices, and are also backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Hotspot Shield is a good free choice for beginners. Apart from having an intuitive macOS interface, it also provides pretty good speeds — however, it limits access to 1 server location, lets you use only 500 MB of data per day, and it logs your IP address. To get access to unlimited data, better privacy, and more, you’ll need to upgrade to one of its premium plans.
Comparison of the Best Free VPNs for Mac in 2023
|Free VPN||Starting Price||Number of Countries||Data Limit||Speed Limit||Max. number of devices||Kill Switch||Works with Streaming Platforms|
|🥇1. ExpressVPN||$6.67 / month||90+||Unlimited||Unlimited||5||✅||✅|
|🥈2. Proton VPN||$3.99 / month||3||Unlimited||Unlimited||1||✅||❌|
|🥉3. Windscribe||$5.75 / month||10+||10 GB/mo||Unlimited||Unlimited||✅||✅|
|4. Hide.me||$3.84 / month||5+||10 GB/mo||Unlimited||1||✅||❌|
|5. Hotspot Shield||$2.99 / month||1||500 MB/day||Unlimited||1||❌||❌|
How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Mac
- Good free plans. VPN free plans are usually very limited. To avoid inconvenient experiences, look for free VPN plans that come with no ads, a decent selection of server locations, streaming or torrenting support, or decent data caps or unlimited data (Proton VPN’s free plan has unlimited data).
- macOS app. The provider should have a dedicated macOS app that is compatible with popular macOS versions — most of the free macOS VPNs on my list work on macOS 11.
- Good security. To make sure your data is protected at all times, you should only look for free VPN plans that have 256-bit AES encryption, a no-log policy to prevent the VPN from logging your data, a kill switch to prevent data leaks if the VPN disconnects, or protection against IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.
- Speed. The faster the better. A VPN will always slow down your internet connection because of the encryption process. Free VPNs are slower than premium VPNs because they provide access to a small number of servers, which causes overcrowding. However, all of the free Mac VPNs on this list maintain decent speeds for most online activities.
- Ease of use. The provider’s macOS app needs to be easy to download and install — the process should only take 1–2 minutes, and you shouldn’t have to perform inconvenient manual setups. What’s more, the macOS app needs to be intuitive and simple to navigate.
- Good pricing and value. The free VPN plan should be backed by affordable paid plans that come with money-back guarantees. The paid versions should also provide great value by giving you access to streaming and P2P support, additional security features (like an ad blocker), more server locations, unlimited data, and more.
Risks & Disadvantages of Using a Free VPN on Your Mac
- Poor security — MacOS has great built-in security, but you can still be at risk if you use a free VPN. Your data could be leaked and you can be worse off than not using a VPN at all. It’s impossible to be sure where your data is going unless you’re using a trusted VPN with good security protocols and privacy features.
- Selling your data — Some free VPNs will track your activity (like your shopping habits and the websites you visit) and sell it to third parties. Using premium VPNs with strict no-logs policies and clear privacy policies is the only way to be sure your activity isn’t being sold.
- Slow speeds — Many free VPNs have a small selection of servers, which means they get crowded and end up giving you slow speeds. Premium Mac VPNs have much larger networks of servers, which means fewer users connected to any server at once.
- Blacklisted servers — Free VPNs often use the same servers with recycled IP addresses, and many websites will block or blacklist these IP addresses. Using free VPNs can give you a bad experience while browsing, because you’ll be met with tons of security prompts and endless captchas.
- Can’t access streaming sites — Free VPNs often can’t access streaming websites like Netflix. Premium VPNs like ExpressVPN are specially developed to access streaming sites, so you can consistently stream your favorite shows and movies with good speeds and security.
Choosing a premium VPN for your Mac, like ExpressVPN, will always help you avoid these problems. You’ll rarely experience slow speeds while connected to its servers, and user data is never compromised because it follows strict no-logs policies and has the highest-level encryption.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Private Internet Access (PIA). It’s one of my favorite VPNs of 2023. It comes with advanced security features, good speeds, and an easy-to-use Mac app. But unfortunately, PIA doesn’t have a free plan. However, if you want a high-quality macOS VPN, PIA’s low-cost plans are some of the best around.
- CyberGhost VPN. It’s secure, fast, easy to use, and it’s able to access Netflix and other streaming apps. It’s also a good choice for torrenting and gaming. While it doesn’t have a free plan, its multi-year subscription is one of the best deals on the market.
- TunnelBear. It has industry-standard security features, a couple of cool extras, and the most adorable Mac app. It actually has a free plan, but it only includes 500 MB/month, which is only enough to test the service and see if it’s right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a 100% free VPN for Mac?
Yes. But all free VPNs come with some drawbacks, such as data caps, slower speeds, or limited number of devices. For example, Proton VPN gives you unlimited data, but only offers 3 server locations. Windscribe offers more server locations, but caps your data usage at 10 GB/month.
The only way to gain access to 100% of the best features a VPN can offer is to use a premium VPN like ExpressVPN. You get high-end security, unlimited data, the fastest speeds, and you can try it all risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.
How do I set up a free VPN on my Mac?
Installing and setting up a VPN on a Mac requires only 3 quick and simple steps:
- Download a VPN. I recommend Proton VPN because it has the best free plan for macOS — it has unlimited data, strong security, fast speeds, and a user-friendly macOS app.
- Connect to a server. For the fastest speeds, choose a server that’s closest to your location.
- Start browsing the web. That’s it. You can now safely browse the web, stream content, download files, and play games.
Is there any free VPN extension for Safari?
No, there aren’t any free VPNs with browser extensions for Safari. But, there are many good VPNs for Mac that can protect your data when browsing in Safari — Proton VPN is the best free VPN for macOS because it allows unlimited data, provides strong security and fast speeds, and has a very user-friendly macOS app.
Also, ExpressVPN is my favorite paid VPN for macOS and Safari. It’s very secure, has the fastest speeds out there, and is also very easy to use. It also works with 65+ streaming services (including top sites like Netflix and Disney+), allows torrenting on all servers, and is our #1 choice for gaming.
Can I use a free Mac VPN on all of my other devices?
In most cases, no. Free VPNs for Mac are usually limited to 1 connection at a time, whereas upgrading to their premium versions gives you multiple simultaneous connections.
However, there are some exceptions. For example, Windscribe provides unlimited simultaneous connections for free users. But it limits you to only 10 GB of data per month, which may not be enough for some users.
If you don’t want to deal with the limitations of free VPNs, I recommend that you get a low-cost premium VPN, such as ExpressVPN.