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5 Best REALLY FREE VPNs for Mac (Updated 2022)

Katarina Glamoslija Katarina Glamoslija 5 Best REALLY FREE VPNs for Mac (Updated 2022)

Short on time? Here’s the best free Mac VPN in 2022:

  • 🥇 ExpressVPN. While it’s not 100% free, it’s hands-down my favorite Mac VPN in 2022, 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.

Free VPNs are never as good as premium VPNs. In fact, most free VPNs can slow down your connection or put your Mac at risk. Premium Mac VPNs will always give you faster connection speeds, stronger security, and a better experience overall.

Still, there are some good free VPNs for macOS out there, but how do you know which one to choose in 2022? I tested dozens of them so you can quickly learn about the best 5 free VPNs for your Mac.

Quick summary of the 5 best free VPNs for Mac in 2022:

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac in 2022

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac in 2022
ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for Mac in 2022 — It has airtight security, the fastest speeds on this list, and it reliably works with streaming platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Apple TV. While it’s technically not 100% free, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which gives you more than enough time to test its macOS app and see if it’s right for you.

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 users data is deleted every time ExpressVPN’s servers are restarted, and it has perfect forward secrecy, which prevents anyone from compromising your VPN sessions. It’s also the only VPN on this list to offer split-tunneling for Macs (but only for macOS 10.15 or below) — the only other VPN that has split-tunneling for all macOS versions is Private Internet Access.

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 (ExpressVPN ranks as the best gaming VPN and best VPN for watching Netflix).

To help you find servers with the fastest speeds, you can use ExpressVPN’s 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.

ExpressVPN has several plans to choose from, and with our special 49% discount, you can get it for only $6.67 / month — plus, I’ve often seen ExpressVPN give away 3 months completely free of charge, and it backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee. All plans allow you to connect 5 simultaneous devices.

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Bottom line:

ExpressVPN is the best Mac VPN in 2022 — it has great security, the fastest speeds I’ve seen in a VPN for Mac, and excellent streaming, torrenting, and gaming capabilities. While it’s not entirely free, ExpressVPN has affordable plans that are all backed by a risk-free money-back guarantee for 30 days, which gives you plenty of time to test all of its features.

Download ExpressVPN for Mac

Read our full ExpressVPN review here 

🥈2. ProtonVPN — Unlimited Data & Good Speeds on macOS

🥈2. ProtonVPN — Unlimited Data & Good Speeds on macOS

ProtonVPN 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 ProtonVPN to surf the web as much as you want. You can use ProtonVPN’s free VPN on 1 device only.

In addition to 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy, ProtonVPN’s macOS app is open-source, meaning anyone can inspect its source code for any security holes. ProtonVPN is also based in Switzerland, which has strong privacy laws and isn’t a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances.

While connected to ProtonVPN’s macOS app, I got fast speeds browsing and downloading in Safari. I didn’t experience any buffering while streaming HD content on YouTube, but some videos took a bit longer to load compared to ExpressVPN. That said, ProtonVPN’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.

Unfortunately, the free macOS version 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 ProtonVPN’s paid plans.

ProtonVPN has a few premium upgrade options, and unlike most VPNs whose plans only differ in the length of the subscription, its plans also have different features — for example, ProtonVPN Basic ($4.00 / month) adds P2P support, access to more servers, an ad blocker, and 2 connections, whereas ProtonVPN Plus ($8.00 / month) also has streaming support, Tor over VPN, and up to 10 connections. All ProtonVPN premium plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

ProtonVPN’s free plan provides unlimited data, good speeds for browsing and downloading, 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, ProtonVPN’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 ProtonVPN’s 3 tier-based plans.

Download ProtonVPN for Mac

Read our full ProtonVPN review here

🥉3. Windscribe — Unlimited Simultaneous Devices

🥉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 ProtonVPN, 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 ProtonVPN, 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 ExpressVPN. 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. It’s clear Windscribe doesn’t throttle speeds for free users, but I wish I could test the servers’ speeds as quickly as with ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test.

I was surprised to see that Windscribe doesn’t have a kill switch, but it does have 256-bit AES encryption and a no-logs policy. It also has a built-in firewall, which prevents DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks (and there really weren’t any leaks in my tests).

Windscribe has monthly and yearly plans starting at $4.08 / 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. All premium plans are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Windscribe’s free plan includes coverage for an unlimited number of devices — making it a particularly good option for families or large households. It also comes with 10 GB of data per month, and provides decent speeds. The free version can also access Netflix and many other streaming services, but it doesn’t have a kill switch. Windscribe has several paid plans to choose from, and you can even build your own plan for a cheaper price than many competitors.

Download Windscribe for Mac

Read our full Windscribe review here

4. Hide.me — Good for Torrenting & P2P

4. Hide.me — Good for Torrenting & P2P

Hide.me allows torrenting and P2P on any of its 5 free server locations, and it has a data cap of 10 GB per month, which is enough to download several files. 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, though it took me less time to download the same file with ExpressVPN. I got close to my normal speeds when connected to Hide.me’s servers during off-peak times, and I had no issues downloading files or streaming YouTube content smoothly in Safari. However, during peak times, some files took longer to download and webpages and videos loaded noticeably slower.

Hide.me isn’t great for streaming. I could sometimes watch videos on Netflix, but Netflix also often detected that I was using a VPN. I suggest ExpressVPN if you want to reliably access streaming sites.

Hide.me offers industry-standard protocols and features, like 256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch. There’s also a feature called Stealth Guard that lets you choose which apps will stop working when the VPN is off.

Hide.me has several premium plans that start at $5.33 / month. The paid plans include access to all servers and 10 simultaneous devices.

Bottom line:

Hide.me provides good torrenting support. It has a 10 GB/month data cap, and it comes with all industry standard VPN features. However, it’s not consistently able to access Netflix. Upgrading to one of Hide.me’s premium plans gives you unlimited data, access to all of its servers, and up to 10 connections.

Download Hide.me for Mac

Read our full Hide.me review

5. Hotspot Shield — Intuitive Mac VPN with Fast Speeds

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 claims to limit speeds to 2 Mbps on its free plan, but I was able to stream HD content on YouTube smoothly while connected to the free US server. Another limit to Hotspot Shield is its 500 MB/day cap, which is more restrictive than Windscribe or Hide.me’s 10 GB/month limit.

Hotspot Shield’s security includes full 256-bit AES encryption and a unique security protocol called Hydra, which is a set of server rules to increase speed and security. Unlike most other free Mac VPNs on this list, Hotspot Shield’s kill switch doesn’t work on its macOS version.

Hotspot Shield offers monthly and yearly subscriptions starting at $2.99 / month. All premium plans remove data limits, add access to all servers, allow streaming, and provide 5 simultaneous devices. Paid plans also get a free account with Aura, Hotspot Shield’s partner, which gives you access to other privacy and security apps.

Bottom Line:

Hotspot Shield is a good free choice for new or beginner users. Apart from having an intuitive macOS interface, it provides access to 1 server location, lets you use 500 MB of data per day, and maintains fast speeds. To get access to streaming support, you’ll need to upgrade to one of its premium plans.

Download Hotspot Shield for Mac

Read the full Hotspot Shield review here

Comparison of the Best Free VPNs for Mac in 2022

Free VPN Number of Server Locations Data Limit Speed Limit Max. number of devices Kill Switch Works with Streaming Platforms Starting Price
🥇1. ExpressVPN 160 Unlimited Unlimited 5 $6.67 / month
🥈2. ProtonVPN 3 Unlimited Unlimited 1 $4.00 / month
🥉3. Windscribe 10+ 10 GB/mo Unlimited Unlimited $4.08 / month
4. Hide.me 5 10 GB/mo Unlimited 1 $5.33 / month
5. Hotspot Shield 1 500 MB/day 2Mbps 1 $2.99 / month

How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Mac

  • Security — To make sure your data is protected at all times, you should only look for VPNs that have 256-bit AES encryption, no-log policies, and kill switches.
  • 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 — One of the best things about macOS is that everything just works, and you want your VPN to be the same. Free VPNs can be a pain to get up and running, so look for VPNs you can download and install easily from their websites or from the App Store.
  • No ads — There are few things worse than having to watch ads to use an app. Look for VPNs that don’t make you watch ads to keep using. All the VPNs on this list are ad-free.
  • Mac compatibility — Considering macOS’ regular update schedule and Apple’s transition to Apple Silicon (M1) chips, you should make sure the VPN works with your Mac model and macOS version. All the VPNs on this list work with both Intel and M1 Macs, but macOS compatibility may vary.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

Download ExpressVPN for Mac

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Private Internet Access (PIA). It’s one of my favorite VPNs of 2022. 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. 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.

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, ProtonVPN 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:

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because it has high-end security features, very fast speeds, and an intuitive Mac app.
  2. Connect to a server. For the fastest speeds, choose a server that’s closest to your location.
  3. 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.

ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for macOS and Safari. It’s very secure, very fast, and very easy to use. It also works with top streaming services, allows torrenting on all servers, and is a good choice for gamers.

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.

About the Author

About the Author

Katarina is a tech enthusiast specializing in cybersecurity products, data protection, and maintaining strong practices for general online safety. When she's not a "Safety Detective", she likes to play with her two cats, binge watch crime dramas, sample fine wines, and read about the origins of the universe.