Best VPNs for Mac OS (Only These 5 Passed Our Tests)
With over 200 VPNs currently on the market, finding the best VPN for Mac OS can be rather challenging.
As a longtime Mac (and Linux) user, I’ve found that many VPNs for Mac simply do not work well. Whether it’s due to data leaks that reveal your identity or broken features, most Mac VPN apps simply don’t make the cut.
Because Mac OS users are a smaller percentage of the total user base, many VPN services do not invest as much into their Mac OS clients. For example, Windows and Android users will outnumber Mac OS users by a wide margin.
Fortunately, there are still a few VPNs that work very well on Mac OS, which we’ll reveal below.
Ranking criteria: The five best VPNs for Mac listed in this guide all meet these criteria:
- Offer custom Mac OS VPN apps using the OpenVPN protocol and strong encryption standards.
- Passed all tests with no leaks found whatsoever (no IP address leaks or DNS leaks).
- Located in a good privacy jurisdiction (outside of Five Eyes countries).
- Established company with a good track record and history.
- Offers a money-back guarantee (between 7 and 30 days).
Now let’s get into the test results.
Without further delay, here are the best VPNs for Mac OS in 2021:
1. ExpressVPN – Best VPN for Mac OS in 2021
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
While there are many providers claiming to be the best VPN for Mac, the latest test results show that ExpressVPN earns the title. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands and offers a high-performance network, superb applications for Mac users, and a large selection of servers around the world.
The ExpressVPN Mac OS client performed well in testing for the ExpressVPN review. There were no leaks, bugs, or connection issues identified in my tests. ExpressVPN is constantly among the fastest VPNs I’ve tested. Here is a speed test with a nearby ExpressVPN server, which nearly maxed out my baseline (non-VPN) internet speed:
In addition to fast speeds and reliability, ExpressVPN also comes out on top in terms of security:
- Strong encryption: ExpressVPN uses the strongest encryption standards with an AES 256-bit cipher, a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication. ExpressVPN apps also incorporate a “Network Lock” kill switch, which ensures your data never leaks outside the VPN tunnel.
- Secure servers: ExpressVPN runs all servers in RAM-disk mode, with no physical hard drives. This makes it impossible to store any logs or data on the servers and also improves security. (this is the TrustedServer feature).
- Audited: In 2019, ExpressVPN passed a third-party security audit performed by Cure53, a cybersecurity firm in Berlin.
- Verified no logs: ExpressVPN is one of the few verified no logs VPNs that has undergone a third-party audit to validate their no-logs policy and privacy protection measures.
Overall, ExpressVPN remains the best VPNs for Mac OS users. If you are in the Apple ecosystem, you will also be pleased with ExpressVPN’s iOS app, which will work great for your iPhone or iPad.
Lastly, if you need a good VPN for Netflix and other streaming services, ExpressVPN has you covered. It works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and many other platforms. It is also a great VPN for Kodi streaming as well.
- User-friendly and very secure apps
- Exceptional speeds throughout the server network
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Split tunneling feature (for Mac OS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and many other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Passed independent third-party audits for security and no-logs
- Slightly more expensive (but more affordable with the coupon below)
2. NordVPN – Budget VPN for Mac with great features and fast speeds
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN service that is fully-featured and also very affordable. In terms of security and privacy, NordVPN has made huge strides over the past year. Like ExpressVPN, it has undergone independent third-party audits to verify the no-logs policies. NordVPN is currently converting its network to run only in RAM-disk mode along with other server upgrades.
If you are a Mac OS user who wants a VPN with strong privacy features, NordVPN has a lot to offer:
- CyberSec: NordVPN’s CyberSec feature blocks tracking, malware, and advertising domains at the VPN server level.
- Double-VPN servers: The double-VPN servers encrypt traffic over two separate hops. These offer more encryption, a higher level of security, and distribute trust across two separate data centers.
- WireGuard support: NordVPN supports the WireGuard VPN protocol on Linux operating systems (the feature is called NordLynx). Additionally, WireGuard support is currently in beta for iOS and will be rolled out to other operating systems this year.
- Strong encryption: NordVPN uses an AES-256-GCM cipher with an HMAC SHA256 hash authentication, and a DHE-4096 key exchange for Perfect Forward Secrecy.
- Obfuscation: If you want to conceal (obfuscate) your VPN traffic or use a VPN where they may be blocked, then you’ll need obfuscation. NordVPN apps have built-in obfuscation features and a full lineup of obfuscated servers – a good VPN for China where blocks are a problem.
Like ExpressVPN above, NordVPN also has very fast speeds. It consistently comes out on top in comparison tests, such as with the NordVPN vs IPVanish comparison. Here I’m testing out the NordVPN Mac OS client with a server in Switzerland and getting about 150 Mbps (on a 160 Mbps connection).
The NordVPN Mac OS app is a bit larger than average, but this is because a global map is displayed for fast server selection. Within the Mac VPN client, you can select servers from the map, the country list (left) or from one of the specialty servers.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is also a great choice for watching Netflix and any other streaming service. It consistently works well and offers excellent speeds for HD streaming quality. Additionally, NordVPN is currently ranked as the best VPN for torrenting with dedicated P2P servers that are fast and secure.
Considering that you can get NordVPN for only $3.71 per month with the 68% discount coupon, I’d say it’s one of the best values for Mac OS users. It is currently in the #1 spot as the best cheap VPN with the current rates.
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Strong encryption with good leak protection (kill switch)
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Double-hop VPN servers; Tor-over-VPN servers
- 24/7 live chat support
- No logs (audited and verified)
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- CyberSec feature to block ads, tracking, and malware domains
- Large discounts only available on long-term plans
3. Surfshark VPN for Mac
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
Surfshark is a newer VPN service with a lot to offer, at a very reasonable price. The Surfshark Mac OS VPN client did well in my tests. It is simple, user-friendly, and still offers lots of great features. You can select from the OpenVPN or IKEv2 VPN protocols in the settings. While it does not currently support the WireGuard VPN protocol, Surfshark plans to add this later in the year.
Surfshark is also one of the best VPNs for streaming. It consistently works with numerous Netflix libraries, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more. Surfshark offers apps for all types of streaming devices, including Smart TVs. They even have an app in the Amazon store if you want to use a VPN with Firestick. While Surfshark offers more than enough speed for HD streaming, it is not quite as fast as NordVPN, as we found in our tests for the Surfshark vs NordVPN comparison.
In terms of privacy and security features, Surfshark also has a lot to offer:
- Double VPN servers to encrypt traffic twice over two locations
- A CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, and malware domains
- Obfuscation to hide your VPN traffic and get around blocks anywhere
- Built-in leak protection combined with strong AES-256 encryption
Surfshark is based in the privacy-friendly jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands. It is a no-logs VPN service that clearly takes customer privacy seriously and has also passed a security audit conducted by Cure53. Additionally, it is one of the few VPNs that offers you an unlimited number of connections. This is a big plus if you need a VPN for the entire family (and all their assorted devices).
While Surfshark has many features in common with NordVPN, there is one area that it differs. Surfshark does not offer static IPs, but see these other static IP VPN services if this is a feature you need.
Below is the Surfshark Mac OS VPN client that I tested for this guide. It performed well, without any bugs or crashes.
- Unlimited connections
- User-friendly apps for all devices and operating systems
- CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, and malware domains
- Works great with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Split tunneling feature
- Secure encryption and leak protection features
- Variable speeds with some servers
Our Surfshark review has more info and test results.
4. VPN.ac for Mac OS
VPN.ac is another great Mac VPN that performs well in all categories – from security to speed and reliability. VPN.ac is run by a small team of network security professionals (Netsec Interactive Solutions). I found the Mac OS client to perform well in testing for the VPN.ac review: no leaks, bugs, or problems to report. The network speeds and reliability were also good, although not nearly as fast as ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
VPN.ac is mainly a privacy and security-focused VPN service. They offer some interesting features such as double-hop VPN configurations, various VPN encryption protocols, and secure proxy browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
While these unique privacy features are great for some users, VPN.ac is not the best option for streaming and they do not offer live chat support. The main drawback with VPN.ac is that they keep basic connection logs for security purposes, but these are erased daily and never include browsing/activity logs.
Below is the VPN.ac Mac OS app I tested out on my MacBook.
- Dedicated bare-metal servers with self-hosted encrypted DNS
- Good speeds with plenty of available bandwidth
- Multi-hop (double VPN) server configurations (22)
- Great obfuscation features with many different encryption options
- Secure proxy browser extensions
- Affordable prices
- Minimal connection logs (no activity, erased daily)
- Not a good option for unblocking streaming services
5. Perfect Privacy for Mac OS
|Support||Email & forum|
Perfect Privacy is a no-logs, Switzerland-based VPN provider. It offers a secure VPN service with advanced privacy features. These include:
- Multi-hop VPN: Route your VPN traffic across multiple servers at the same time (up to four servers).
- TrackStop filter: This will block tracking, ads, and malware domains at the VPN server (similar to NordVPN’s CyberSec feature).
- Obfuscation: Perfect Privacy also offers the ability to obfuscate VPN traffic with different methods.
While Perfect Privacy does offer some great privacy and security features, it is also quite expensive, at about $8.95 per month with the two-year plan. Nonetheless, if you are looking for a secure, fully-featured, high-performance VPN, it is definitely worth considering. Another drawback is that it’s not a good VPN for streaming (it may get blocked by Netflix and other streaming services).
Below I’m using the Perfect Privacy Mac VPN client, cascading my VPN connection over three separate servers: Berlin > Amsterdam > Oslo (see the benefits of this in the multi-hop VPN guide).
- Multi-hop VPN chains, up to 4 servers (self-configurable)
- Zero logs with an unlimited number of connections
- Dedicated bare-metal servers with full IPv6 support
- Full obfuscation support (Stealth VPN)
- Customizable firewall and port-forwarding options
- TrackStop filter (advertisement, tracking, and malware blocker)
- Higher price
- Does not work with some streaming sites (such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer)
How to use a VPN on Mac OS
Using a VPN on Mac OS is very simple. For most people, the best option is to use a custom Mac OS VPN client (app) from one of the VPN services on this page. This will give you the full leak protection settings and all features. If you don’t want to use your VPN providers Mac OS client, there are also some other options that we’ll cover below.
Here’s how to use a VPN on your Mac device, whether it be a MacBook Pro, Air, or an iMac.
- Select a VPN service and purchase a subscription.
- Log in to your account from your VPN service and download the Mac OS app.
- Open the application and enter your credentials (with ExpressVPN, you only need to enter the activation code found in your account)
- Connect to a VPN server and enjoy using your VPN service.
Video: If you want to visually see the step-by-step process for installing and configuring ExpressVPN on your Mac, see this video from ExpressVPN.
Now let’s look at another option for using a VPN on a Mac device.
How to setup the native IKEv2 VPN on Mac OS
Another option available on Mac OS (El Capitan and later) is the built-in IPSec/IKEv2 VPN settings. This is an app-free solution that integrates directly with the Mac OS operating system and firewall. But to be clear, you still need a VPN subscription, since you’re going to configure your Mac to use the VPN’s servers.
The IKEv2 protocol is considered secure, reliable, and less CPU-intensive than OpenVPN. It can also run natively on your Mac OS operating system (without any applications). While it is not open source, like OpenVPN, it is still a great option because it is simple, reliable, and leak proof. (See the OpenVPN vs IPSec vs WireGuard comparison for more details.)
When you use this VPN setup on your Mac OS, it will essentially create an “always-on” VPN when you select “connect on demand” from your network settings area. This means that it will work perfectly with your Mac OS firewall, forcing all apps through the VPN connection. No VPN connection = no internet connection = traffic remains encrypted at all times (no leaks).
This makes for a 100% leak-proof VPN that does not crash or stall out like many OpenVPN apps on Mac OS.
To use this setup, you simply need to import the IPSec/IKEv2 configuration files from your VPN service into your network preferences area. Once you have imported the server configurations (locations) you want, simply connect directly from the Mac OS X menu bar – no apps required!
This shows you your real-time connection status, along with the server you’re connected to in the drop-down menu. In the screenshot above, I have imported the server configurations I want to use from Perfect Privacy, which fully supports the IKEv2 protocol throughout their server network.
See Mac OS IKEv2 setup instructions here.
VPNs that supports native IKEv2:
- Perfect Privacy – If you want to utilize the IPSec/IKEv2 setup, Perfect Privacy is a great option. You will also benefit from their server-side features, which will be active whenever you connect to the VPN. These features are TrackStop and NeuroRouting.
- VPN.ac – VPN.ac is another option that offers support for the built-in IKEv2 setup.
Tip for School or Work Computers: If you are on a school or work computer that will block third-party software (such as OpenVPN apps) from running on the operating system, then this IKEv2 setup is one of the best solutions. It will not show up as third-party software on your machine, while still giving you a simple, easy VPN connection whenever you need it through your Mac OS network settings.
OpenVPN clients for Mac (third party)
You can also utilize third-party OpenVPN clients for Mac OS X. Here are two options that support OpenVPN on Mac OS:
Tunnelblick – Tunnelblick is a good, basic Mac OS VPN client that is free and open source. The main drawback is that Tunnelblick is very limited on features – such as a kill switch or IP leak protection. Unless you create custom firewall rules, your regular internet traffic will leak out whenever the VPN connection is not active.
Viscosity – Viscosity is a great third-party OpenVPN client that’s offered for Mac OS and Windows. The Viscosity Mac OS client provides many features and customization options. Unfortunately, Viscosity also does not have a kill switch.
Tips for using a VPN on Mac OS
Here are some general tips for using a VPN on Mac OS:
Leaks – Be careful with leaks when using a VPN on Mac OS. While many Mac VPN clients have bugs and problems with data leaks, all of the VPNs recommended in this guide passed all tests and were found to be secure. They also incorporate a kill switch into the Mac OS VPN clients. You can run your own VPN tests to identify issues.
Firewall monitor – A firewall monitor is a privacy tool that allows you to see exactly which apps are using your internet connection. One great option is Little Snitch by Objective Development. Some people combine the free Tunnelblick OpenVPN client with Little Snitch for a firewall kill switch option.
Secure browser – When using a VPN on a Mac it’s good to remember that your internet browser can be a major vulnerability. As discussed with browser fingerprinting, there are many advanced methods to identify and track your activities, even if you’re behind a good VPN. One tip would be to stop using the Safari browser and instead of using Firefox with privacy modifications, such as disabling WebRTC. There are also other secure and private browsers to consider as well.
Mac OS VPN Conclusion
As you can see, there are many good Mac VPN options. If you want to get going right now with the best VPN for Mac OS, you can try out ExpressVPN with this coupon for three months free. It is currently the best VPN for 2021 that performs well in all categories.
While ExpressVPN earned the title of Best VPN for Mac, any of the recommended options may be the best fit for your needs. For those wanting to save money, NordVPN is arguably the best option with the 68% off coupon that drops prices down to only $3.71 per month.
If you have any questions about using a VPN with your Mac, just drop a comment below.
Comparison Table: Best VPNs for Mac in 2021
To wrap everything up, the table below highlights the best Mac OS VPN services based on the latest test results.
Final Disclaimer and Instructions from NetTodays
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A VPN is a service that both encrypts your data and hides your IP address by bouncing your network activity through a secure chain to another server miles away. This obscures your online identity, even on public Wi-Fi networks, so you can browse the internet safely, securely, and anonymously.
NetTodays gives you answers to all questions which are in your mind about VPN.
NetTodays also suggest continually utilizing Best VPN when you are using a newer Wi-Fi Network. Here is a decent dependable guideline: If you’re away from the workplace or home, and you’re utilizing another person’s Wi-Fi (even that of a relative or a companion, since you can’t be sure whether they’ve been compromised), utilize a VPN. It’s especially significant in case you’re getting to help that has specifically distinguishing data. Keep in mind, a great deal goes on in the background, and you never truly know whether at least one of your applications is verifying behind the scenes and putting your data in danger.
Updated on September 03, 2021