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10 BEST VPNS FOR MAC USERS: Up-to-date Rating of 5 Paid and 5 Free Services (2020)

Last updated: April 7 2020 By Dean Chester

Not all VPN services create actually modern and functional software for Mac. In the majority of cases, they make simplified apps without any expanded functionality. There are, however, VPNs that provide reliable protection even in non-standard situations and allow fine-tuning the connection.

Confidentiality and restrictions bypassing issue on Mac desktops and laptops can be resolved efficiently through Virtual Private Network (or VPN). This technology is available for all platforms but it has its peculiarities and benefits for macOS namely. At the same time, it’s not without some difficulties. 

In most cases, VPN providers that render this service don’t clarify if they are available on Mac when describing its advantages. The problem of choice lies in finding the most suitable service.

I know a lot of good providers that work perfectly on PC but have a limited functionality on Mac.

We haven't studied the promises but undertaken a study of more than 40 VPN apps for macOS.

Here’s the list of 10 winners.

I’ve divided the list into two groups: 5 best VPN services with paid subscriptions and 5 free VPNs with the lowest number of limits.

Five best VPNs for Mac
  1. ExpressVPN: A “premium” VPN. Allows choosing VPN locations in 94 countries but requires extra settings for 100% security.
  2. NordVPN: Unprecedented security and stability combined with the most modern functionality. The author’s choice for private use.
  3. Surfshark: A new and technically perfect VPN that has unique privacy protection features. Its monthly price is $1.99.
  4. CyberGhost VPN: The biggest VPN service that combines universality with proven security. A great fit for US, UK and DE Netflix.
  5. Private Internet Access: A small selection of countries but allows fine-tuning the VPN connection like no other provider does.
Five free VPNs for Mac
  1. ProtonVPN: Its free subscription is considered the best in the market. No limits for the first 7 days.
  2. Windscribe: Record 10 Gb per month on the free subscription, Stealth and Wstunnel protocols but low speeds.
  3. Hide.me: 2 Gb per month for free at god speeds. A convenient simple VPN.
  4. VPNGate: A fully free VPN run by a volunteer community. Asia-oriented; doesn’t have a proprietary app for Mac
  5. TunnelBear VPN: SThis VPN has arguably the most vibrant animated apps. Only 1 Gb of monthly traffic is available for free.
Free services have substantial limitations in terms of speed, location choice, and features. For example, they are almost always incapable of unblocking geo-restricted Netflix or Hulu content; ProtonVPN prohibits torrenting; Windscribe’s “invisible” protocols are so slow that they can’t really be used; VPN Gate doesn’t have VPN servers. All these facts confirm that free VPNs are suitable only for some very limited range of tasks and not for constant use on any platform including Mac.

What you should know about VPNs on macOS

VPNs for Mac can be divided into 3 groups:

  1. Software that uses the built-in features of the system. Generally, it’s the IKEv2 protocol.
  2. Software supporting protocols atypical for macOS including widespread ones such as OpenVPN, WireGuard, etc.
  3. Services that don’t make their own software but offer settings for third-party VPN clients.

Which one to choose?

Taking the peculiarities of using MacBook computers, the first two types of VPN software are more popular. And rightly so: services that don’t provide their own software are either low-quality or free ones (I’ll tell you about one of them in the section on free VPNs).

Choosing between the first two groups of providers, I would, as a professional, prefer the software that allows choosing protocols – just because I need it in my work. Apart from that, there’s not much difference. Only indirectly, a large number of VPN connection settings speaks of the developers’ professionalism.

In most cases, though, we deal with the IKEv2 protocol which is built into the system. Moreover, over the last year, more and more VPN apps for PC also started to transfer from OpenVPN to IKEv2 because of its lesser system load and faster performance.

VPN protocols available on MacBook
VPN protocols available on MacBook

So, VPN apps for Mac offer, most frequently, reliable, fast, and time-tested IKEv2 and that’s more than enough.

Moving right along.

What is the principal difference between the works of a VPN on Mac and on PC?

First and foremost, security-related issues are better addressed on Mac. For instance, the kill switch function that blocks the traffic when the connection with a VPN server fails is not required (when using IKEv2). The system itself manages to do just that quite effectively within reasonable limits.

So, the apps have a lesser responsibility to keep the connection secure.

Then what is the main peculiarity of using a VPN on Mac?

It’s mostly the presence of expanded functionality. These are features that increase the abilities of a regular VPN.

Some examples are the support of Netflix, TV platforms, and game consoles, obfuscation to bypass censorship, etc.

Here’s where we most often see a lot of third-rate apps that only allow you to pick a country and turn the VPN connection on and off. This is far from the full extent of what a good VPN should be capable of.

These 5 VPN services have the most current full-functional software for Mac in their inventory. At the same time, their technological infrastructure is quite branchy, allows good speeds, and satisfies high security standards.


The best VPN for Mac based on the 2020 test results

The VPN service that has collected the most points on macOS when tested according to the VPN spiral method is ExpressVPN. Additionally, it is my choice as well because I have been using it successfully for more than a year now for work and for personal purposes.

Surfshark and CyberGhost VPN follow NordVPN closely. They also have some outstanding characteristics I will tell you about later.


1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN for Mac

 

ExpressVPN is a top-tier VPN service that is a great fit for Mac. It offers all the most recent features that are needed to reliably protect the user with almost any purpose in mind.

ExpressVPN is only unable to bypass VPN protocols blocking. It also doesn’t have the Dedicated IP, Double VPN, and special server lists for streaming and torrenting.

Features:

  • hide IP addresses;
  • encrypt any requests to websites;
  • reliably protect data;
  • secure the user in public Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • unblock websites;
  • let you watch Netflix, Hulu, etc.;
  • do torrenting;
  • manage other cases where VPN technology is applicable.

ExpressVPN’s extra features available on Mac:

  • Setting the VPN up for certain apps only;
  • Kill Switch.

I’d like to mention that ExpressVPN also has browser extensions. They allow not only protecting the browser traffic but also controlling the ExpressVPN app which affects the entire macOS system.

Its confirmed no-logs policy is also very important. ExpressVPN is guaranteed not to log its users’ activity.

Prices of ExpressVPN:

  • $6.67 per month ($99.95 for 1 year)
  • $9.99 per month ($59.95 for 6 months)
  • $12.95 per month when subscribing for 1 month.

ExpressVPN has a 7-day free trial but only on Android. On all other platforms, there’s a 30-day refund.

ExpressVPN’s price compared to other services.

(compared to the same-length subscriptions of the VPNs from our top 5)

Provider 12-month plan (monthly) 6-month (monthly) 1 month
ExpressVPN $6.67 $9.99 $12.95
NordVPN $6.99 - $11.95
Surfshark $5.99 - $11.95
CyberGhost VPN $5.99 - $12.99
ZenMate $2.22 - $9.99

You may want to read the full review of ExpressVPN

Make use of beneficial features of this VPN for Mac: P2P servers, kill switch, etc.

Visit site and start using ExpressVPN


2. NordVPN

NordVPN for Mac

 

NordVPN is registered in Panama. Combined with the fact that it certainly doesn’t keep user activity logs, it makes the service a great choice for even for the most delicate tasks.

High speed, reliable personal data protection, ability to bypass blocks, streaming support—NordVPN checks every mark consistently and decently.

It is available on MacBook as an exe file and in the App Store. The setup doesn’t require any extra knowledge while the initial settings are chosen automatically for optimal privacy and speed.

It’s hard to find a more popular paid VPN service than NordVPN. And that isn’t just because of marketing. It is the result of consistent quality work.

The incredible 5600+ servers located in 59 countries make it the largest VPN in the world as well.

NordVPN is the only one among all VPNs that offers two apps for Mac.

One is called NordVPN IKE. It’s a simplified version that supports only the standard protocol for macOS. This app is convenient because it’s available on the Mac App Store.

The second app is available on the official website and is identical in its functionality to the PC app. It offers the choice of VPN protocols, obfuscation, and many other features.

No issues were found in either version while testing them. Everything works as intended and the connection is stable. The speed of NordVPN is among the best ones.

Features:

  • Hiding the IP-address;
  • Encrypting any requests to websites;
  • Reliable information protection;
  • Secure public WiFi use;
  • Website unblocking;
  • Watching Netflix, Hulu, etc.;
  • Safe torrenting;
  • KODI;
  • Roku;
  • Other cases where VPN technology is applicable.

I’d like to specifically mention the kill switch function that dependably protects your computer when a reconnection occurs (if a location changes or an emergency happens). This simple but often underrated feature prevents the user’s real IP-address from leaking.

Extra features of NordVPN available on Mac:

  • Dedicated servers for torrenting (almost 5000);
  • VPN obfuscation (helps to bypass VPN blocks);
  • Dedicated IP (allows Web-browsing with the same IP address constantly);
  • Double VPN (double protection);
  • Dedicated Onion Over VPN servers (3 in 2 countries);
  • You can use up to 6 devices simultaneously;
  • A 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN is also recommended by Redditors for almost any purpose including streaming and torrenting.

NordVPN is rated very highly on the App Store:

NordVPN app rating on the App Store

Peculiarities of using on Mac:

  • Super-quick connection;
  • Full functionality.

Tariffs of NordVPN:

  • $3.49 per month ($125.64 for 3 years)
  • $4.99 per month ($119.76 for 2 years)
  • $6.99 per month ($83.88 for 1 year)
  • $11.95 per month when subscribing for 1 month

The only way to use NordVPN on MacBook for free is to request a refund during the first 30 days. It can be done by contacting the 24/7 customer support.

You can read the full review of NordVPN.

Protect your macOS device with top VPN service.
Get a discount up to 70%.

Get access to 5600+ NordVPN servers rigt now!


3. Surfshark

Surfshark for Mac

During literally one year of its existence, Surfshark turned into one of the leading VPN providers. Its multifunctional nature and the levels of its service have become almost on par with the largest VPNs in history.

1000 servers in 60 states are just the right amount to be considered among the best. Moreover, P2P/torrenting is allowed on all those servers.

One of Surfshark’s main advantages is the fact that the DNS is set up on every server (the DNS server transforms the domain name into an IP-address). This allows for the guaranteed hiding of the addresses of the websites you visit. Many of Surfshark’s competitors use only a few DNS or even free public DNS (not 100% safe).

Surfshark is registered in the British Virgin Islands in the offshore jurisdiction. That allows it to be less vulnerable to political or other pressure. Concurrently, Surfshark doesn’t keep logs and protects its users’ traffic with “banking-grade” encryption technologies.

Another advantage of Surfshark is the presence of 15 double VPN variants. This technology doubles the already high degree of user privacy. So, if you’re feeling paranoid… :)

Isn’t Surfshark a perfect solution for the most delicate tasks?

Surfshark is available on MacBook not only as an executable file but also on the App Store so its installation doesn’t cause any problems.

The Mac app is nicely designed and very convenient to use with a mouse. On a touchpad, however, it’s hard to scroll the server list. This sad drawback may cause some inconvenience in public spots where very few people use a mouse.

Features:

  • Hiding the IP-address;
  • Great encryption of any requests to a website;
  • Reliable data protection;
  • Public Wi-Fi protection;
  • Website unblocking;
  • Streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc.;
  • Safe torrenting;
  • KODI;
  • Roku;
  • Other cases where VPN technology is applicable.

The kill switch is always on by default but can be turned off at any moment.

Surfshark’s extra features available on Mac:

  • MultiHop (double VPN);
  • CleanWeb. Blocks ads and cookie tracking;
  • You can connect up to 7 devices simultaneously;
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

Surfshark’s rating in the App Store is not yet calculated.

Peculiarities of using it on Mac:

  • Surfshark VPN app is available for download on the App Store and from the official website as a dmg installer;
  • No traffic obfuscation present by the PC version;
  • No protocol choice.

Surfshark’s tariffs:

  • $1.99 per month when subscribing for 2 years ($47.74)
  • $5.99 per month when subscribing for 1 year ($71.88)
  • $11.95 per month when subscribing for 1 month.

You can get a refund within 30 days by contacting the 24/7 support team.

I recommend Surfshark for its unparalleled quality-to-price ratio. I’m not aware of another provider of comparable power that would cost less than $2.

Alternatively, you can read the full review of Surfshark.

Switch between 1000+ fast VPN servers in 60 countries
to unblock restricted services.

Set up Surfshark on 7 devices simultaneously!


4. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost for Mac

CyberGhost VPN is one of the largest VPN services. Its history begins in 2011, and it has proved to be one of the best general-purpose VPNs as well as one of the best VPNs for Netflix.

It has more than 5900 servers in 90 countries and this number constantly grows.

It’s under the safe Romanian jurisdiction and has a strict no-logs policy. These facts make it an excellent choice for torrenting and other tasks that require extra privacy. Moreover, just like NordVPN, it has servers solely dedicated to torrenting (on Mac, they’re called “For downloading”).

Some of the great features of CyberGhost VPN include:

  • a free trial;
  • servers for streaming. Every server on the list actually has a tip telling which video service or TV channel it is optimized for:

Servers for streaming list in the Mac app

The installation of CyberGhost VPN is done with the help of a pkg installer file. The implementation of a trusted digital signature doesn’t force the customer into doing any extra work. The initial setup is done automatically so there’s no need to set up anything else for the first launch.

The interface of the app is intuitive as all the connection settings, as well as the server selection, are represented on the main screen.

CyberGhost VPN uses the IPsec tunneling protocol which is employed by most VPN apps for macOS.

Features:

  • Hiding the IP-address;
  • Encrypting any requests to a website;
  • Reliable data protection;
  • Public Wi-Fi protection;
  • Unblocking websites;
  • Streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc.;
  • Safe torrenting;
  • KODI;
  • Many other cases where VPN technology is applicable.

The kill switch function is integrated into the app but isn’t mentioned in the settings. It makes people think that CyberGhost VPN doesn’t have it, which isn’t true. It is there and always active.

Extra features of CyberGhost VPN that are available on Mac:

  • Dedicated servers for torrenting in 25 countries (no US servers on this list);
  • Dedicated servers for streaming (more than 40 in different countries);
  • Block Ads, Block Malicious Websites and Block Online Tracking (cookie);
  • You can use up to 7 devices simultaneously;
  • A 45-day money-back guarantee.

Server speeds are generally great but there are slow locations. It’s hardly a problem, though, as the app allows for a manual server selection inside a specific country.

CyberGhost VPN isn’t that popular on Reddit. There, it’s most often mentioned in discussions of free VPN services and as a perfect tool for watching Netflix.

Peculiarities of using it on Mac:

Functionality differences from the full PC version are caused by macOS’s peculiarities. One example of it is the “Smart rules” menu that doesn’t have an option to turn the VPN off for selected apps and URLs.

Here’s the list of the differences I’ve found during the tests:

  • In some cases, the kill switch can “freeze”. Even after you connect to a server, your traffic remains blocked for some reason. It’s best to contact the support team in this case.
  • No protocol choice.
  • No choice between TCP/UDP.

Tariffs of CyberGhost VPN:

  • $2,75 per month ($99 for 3 years) + 2 extra months for free
  • $3,69 per month ($88.56 for 2 years)
  • $5,99 per month ($71.88 for 1 year)
  • $12,99 per month with the subscription for 1 month

CyberGhost VPN also offers a 24-hour free trial or a 45-day refund that you can get by getting in touch with the 24/7 support team.

I recommend using CyberGhost VPN not only on Mac but on the devices running on other OS as well. It’s perfect for streaming, torrenting, sites unblocking and other things I’ve covered in this part.

Read the full review of CyberGhost VPN.


5. Private Internet Access

PIA for Mac

 

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most technically advanced VPN services. It provides not only the more popular extra features such as a kill switch and the UDP/TCP choice but also has settings of encryption (that allow even turning it off completely) and authentication, handshake, port forwarding, and some others.

Thanks to its unprecedented number of settings in apps for all platforms, high speed and a huge choice of locations (3300+ in 32 countries), PIA is considered to be a professional-grade VPN.

PIA settings for Mac

Drawbacks of PIA are:

  • under certain circumstances, its Android app works unstably. I have to mention it because PIA allows using up to 10 devices simultaneously. You can read more about it in our NordVPN and PIA comparison;
  • the US jurisdiction (the 5 Eyes alliance).

Features:

  • hides IP addresses;
  • encrypts any requests to websites;
  • reliably protects data;
  • secures the user in public Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • unblocks websites;
  • lets you watch Netflix, Hulu, etc. (PIA copes with it but you have to search for a working server);
  • allows torrenting;
  • manages other cases where VPN technology is applicable.

PIA’s extra functions available on Mac:

  • VPN tunnel precise settings;
  • Kill Switch;
  • Port forwarding.

I have noticed no discernible peculiarities of using PIA on MacBook. Its developers made the app just as functional as its PC version which is the fullest one for most VPNs.

Prices of PIA:

  • $3.33 per month ($39.95 for 1 year)
  • $5.99 per month ($35.95 for 6 months)
  • $6.95 per month when subscribing for 1 month

You can also make use of this link and get a 25% discount for any tariff plan.

PIA offers no free trial but guarantees a 7-day money-back period.

Or you may read the full review of PIA


Price comparison table

For your convenience, I put every tariff plan and lowest price into a single table:

Mac VPNs: Prices comparison

VPN service Lowest price
(per month)
1-year price
(1-year subscription)
1-month price
NordVPN $3.49 (€3.17)
(3-year plan)
$83.88
($6.99 per month)
$11.95 (€10.87)
Surfshark $1.99 (€1.79)
(2-year plan)
$71.88
($5.99 per month)
$11.95 (€9.89)
CyberGhost VPN $2.75 (€2.44)
(3-year plan)
$63.38
($5.29 per month)
$12.95 (€11.99)
PIA $3.33
(1-year plan)
$39.95
($3.33 per month)
$6.95
ExpressVPN $6.67
(1-year plan)
$99.95
($6.67 per month)
$12.95

Top 5 free VPNs for MAC

Before I start telling you about specific providers, I have to warn you: free VPNs that I know of all have substantial drawbacks.

Here’s the list of possible drawbacks of a free VPN:

  • Very slow speed
  • Traffic limit (to 1-10 Gb per month)
  • Number of locations is limited to as few as 1-3
  • No streaming support
  • Keeps logs
  • Huge amounts of ads
  • Giving personal data away to third parties
  • Various combinations of the above faults.

You have to choose either the high functionality of a VPN or a larger amount of traffic.

I’ll elaborate.

Free VPN services (which are more correctly called free plans of paid VPNs) restrict those parameters that may cause a maintenance cost increase.

For example, all VPNs that don’t limit traffic either limit speed to 20-80 Kbps (when the standard is 20-80 Mbps) or simply forbid torrenting and don’t support video streaming (Netflix, Hulu, etc.).

And vice versa, if all of the above is allowed, then traffic is going to be limited. It makes using a VPN for traffic-heavy purposes unviable.

It concerns every platform, including macOS.

I have tested dozens of such providers and chosen the least restricting ones in terms of both functionality and traffic.

Having tried dozens of such providers, I’ve selected the least limited of them.


1. Free ProtonVPN: Best free VPN for Mac

ProtonVPN for Mac

 

Are you familiar with Swiss quality? ProtonVPN is an example of it. This Swiss VPN was commercialized in 2017 and had good IT security groundwork with its ProtonMail service. As of this day, it is the most professional free VPN with the best attributes available.

The PC app provides the service of the highest quality but the Mac app outdoes other free VPNs as well.

A full-fledged free trial period of the best premium plan lasts for 7 days. It provides an opportunity to try out the power of VPN technology.

But that’s not it! After it runs out, you don’t have to buy a subscription. Instead, you can keep on using it for free but with a few restrictions:

  1. Only the slower free servers are available in 3 countries:
    United States (US)
    Netherlands (NL)
    Japan (JP)
  2. No torrenting allowed
  3. Doesn’t work with Netflix

Besides, there are several important points I’ll list as pros and cons.

ProtonVPN for Mac: Pros

+ no traffic limit

+ relatively good speed

+ interactive location selection map

+ server load is displayed

ProtonVPN for Mac: Cons

- unavailable on the App Store (can be installed with a .dmg file)

- only 3 countries available

- no VPN settings in the Mac app (paid version included)

- no kill switch (paid version included)

- no torrenting allowed

- doesn’t work with Netflix

- the country list is impossible to scroll without a mouse

Despite its significant drawbacks, I placed ProtonVPN first for its good combo of the unlimited bandwidth and acceptable speed.

Or you can read the full review of ProtonVPN.


2. Free Windscribe for Mac: 10 Gb/m, low speed

Windscribe for Mac

 

Windscribe is an attractive Canadian free VPN. The number of its features available on Mac exceeds even that of the best paid services. However…

Its abysmally slow speed (0.04-0.5 Mbps) outweighs all of its advantages. I will enumerate them nevertheless because perhaps you might need them.

Windscribe for Mac: Pros

+ 10 Gb of free traffic per month (the maximum volume I’ve encountered among VPNs with restricted bandwidth)

+ 11 countries available for free:

  • Romania (RO)
  • Netherlands (NL
  • Switzerland (CH)
  • Germany (DE)
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • France (FR)
  • Hong Kong (HK)
  • Canada (CA)
  • Norway (NO)
  • United States (US)

+ Wide choice of VPN protocols. It includes 2 protocols invisible to VPN blockers:

  • IPSec IKEv2
  • OpenVPN UDP
  • OpenVPN TCP
  • Stealth
  • WStunnel

+ Choice of the DNS service provider:

  • default ones,
  • OpenDNS,
  • Cloudflare,
  • Google

+ Kill Switch

Windscribe for Mac: Cons

- unavailable on the App Store (installed from a .dmg file)

- Low speed. Really low:

Really low speed of Windscribe

I put Windscribe at the second place exclusively because of its powerful features. It is quite difficult to use on a permanent basis. But as I’ve already said, everything depends on how frequently you’re going to need a VPN and for what purposes. Windscribe, for example, is a good fit for unblocking websites with mainly text content.

Alternatively, you may read the full review of Windscribe.


3. Free Hide.me for Mac: 2 Gb per month, good speed

hide.me for Mac

 

Hide.me is a Malaysian service best suited for one-off tasks. It’s server speeds are good enough for a free VPN but it has too little free traffic. This makes its permanent use impossible.

The only useful setting present on macOS is the kill switch.

Hide.me for Mac: Pros

+ Relatively fast servers (2-9 Mbps)

+ Kill Switch

Hide.me for Mac: Cons

- 2 Gb of traffic per month

- 4 available countries:

Canada (CA)

Netherlands (NL)

Singapore (SG)

USA (US)

Hide.me is a simple VPN with a small location choice but it fits well for the rare usage or one-off downloads of 1.5-2 Gb files.

You can also read our hide.me review.


4. VPN Gate for Mac: 100% free

VPN Gate for Mac

 

The only good 100% free VPN service suitable for Mac is VPN Gate.

Something that all fully free VPNs have in common is the absence of apps. To use them, you have to install third-party programs. VPN Gate also doesn’t have apps for Mac. But if you want to and have a bit of time, you can install Tunnelblick (a free OpenVPN client for Mac) and set it up to work with VPN Gate.

What are the good things about VPN Gate?

+ The SoftEther VPN protocol. This protocol is safe to use. It was developed at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.

+ A huge location choice. PCs of other VPN Gate users (volunteers) are used instead of servers. Don’t worry: it’s only the case if you install special software.

+ Pretty good speeds. Connection speeds can vary greatly: from single-digit Kbps to dozens of Mbps.

Drawbacks of VPN Gate for Mac:

- No apps. As I said, fully free VPNs don’t provide apps. VPN Gate doesn’t either. It offers a Windows client but no software for Mac.

- Hard to install. To make VPN Gate work on macOS, you have to install a VPN client and configure it. You can find a guide on how to do that on the VPN Gate website.

- Manual server searching. Sometimes, you have to go through 5 to 10 servers (by downloading and importing their settings into a VPN client) before you find one that works with a decent speed.

- Servers are mostly in Asia. It’s really difficult to find a working US or EU server. About 80% of the locations are servers in Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong.

- Can switch off at any time. As VPN servers belong to volunteers, they can be turned off or on at any moment.

- Torrenting isn’t allowed.

You can download the OpenVPN client for Mac that supports the VPN Gate configuration by following this link.

Detailed review of VPN Gate

Besides, you can read our VPN comparison with 10 really best providers of 2020.


5. Free TunnelBear: 0.5 Gb per month, good app

Free TunnelBear for Mac

 

TunnelBear’s traffic limit is even more severe: 500 Mb per month. It can be used only to solve some one-time small tasks because it’s too little for regular web-surfing.

TunnelBear has arguably the most well-designed app for Mac. Every action of the user is accompanied by an amazing animation. A cute bear digs tunnels and looks out of the spot of the virtual VPN connection on the map.

The free TunnelBear version offers locations in 22 countries, which is more than the same parameter of most other free VPNs.

It also has a kill switch and GhostBear (obfuscation to bypass state-imposed blocks). However, GhostBear doesn’t help to bypass censorship in China as TunnelBear’s servers are blocked there.

The provider offers the opportunity to increase the traffic limit up to 1 Gb. To do that, you need to twit about TunnelBear:

Increasing the traffic limit of TunnelBear

Pros of free TunnelBear:

+ Good speed (2-9 Mbps)

+ Has a kill switch

+ 22 countries

Cons of free TunnelBear:

- 0.5-1 GB of monthly traffic

To start using the free version of TunnelBear, you have to choose the Free plan on TunnelBear’s website, sign up by entering your email,  and download and install the app.

Or you may read the full review of TunnelBear.


FAQ

⚙ How do I create a VPN on Mac?

To create VPN on Mac, you need to use a VPN service that provides access to its servers through which a safe VPN connection is established.

To do that, you need to:

  1. Choose a VPN service based on your needs. The optimal variant is to use a multifunctional VPN like one of those mentioned in this article.
  2. Sign up and choose the subscription length you want. The longer it is, the lower is the cost of service per month. All the VPNs on the list are time-tested and have a good reputation finance-wise, including a problem-free money refund within 7-45 days.
  3. Download and install software for Mac. You can do that either with the installer provided by the service (we can confirm the safety of this method) or use a link to the Mac App Store if you choose NordVPN or Surfshark. Other VPNs are only available with an installer.
  4. Enter the login and password in the app, choose a country or use the suggested one, and turn the VPN on.

That’s all you need to do.

After you turn the VPN on, all the traffic of your computer, including the traffic of web browsers, system, and all the other apps, will be packed into a VPN channel established to the server. The traffic will then go to its destination only from that server and vice versa.

💬 Are there free trial VPNs for Mac?

There are! CyberGhost VPN has a 24-hour trial period and that’s not to mention services with longer trials. Usually, they provide 7 days’ worth of trial.

I’d like to emphasize that some free trials require credit card information when signing up while others don’t. You can read more about that in our article about free trial VPNs. In it, you’ll also find out what services provide a trial period on Mac.

🔗 What VPN works well both on Mac and PC?

All the providers in this article have almost the same functionality and safety parameters for macOS and Windows. I should also note that paid subscriptions allow using from 6 (NordVPN) to an unlimited number of devices (Surfshark) simultaneously.

More on the features of VPNs on all the platforms in our big review of the best VPN services.

📄 What versions of macOS do the VPNs in the article support?

Generally speaking, VPN services provide software for macOS versions 10.12 Sierra and higher. It means that most VPNs are compatible with macOS Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina.

ExpressVPN is an exception because it is also compatible with earlier versions of the system.

At the same time, it doesn’t matter if you are using a MacBook or an iMac: you can install a VPN on any device running on macOS.

👉 What third-party VPN client is good for Mac?

In case you don’t want or, for some reason, can’t use premade software offered by VPN services, you can install and configure a third-party VPN client. To do that, you need to make use of configuration files for manual settings provided by every service in this article.

The most popular and functional VPN client for Mac is Tunnelblick.

It is free open-source software that supports the OpenVPN protocol on macOS.

If we are to compare it to the regular OpenVPN client made for PC, Tunnelblick is significantly more powerful and convenient. Besides, it has a built-in kill switch to prevent data leaks when the VPN reconnects.

🔧 How do I set up PPTP and L2TP on Mac?

To use standard VPN protocols such as PPTP and L2TP, you can use the apps of VPN services, some of which support not only IKEv2 but also older protocols. Alternatively, you can set up the system preferences by using the config provided by the service.

It can be done in Apple menu > System Preferences > Network preferences.

Should only use PPTP and L2TP unless you have no other choice. They can be dangerous and vulnerable to attacks.

CoolTechZone - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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15 user reviews for 10 BEST VPNS FOR MAC USERS: Up-to-date Rating of 5 Paid and 5 Free Services (2020)

is tunnelblick any good?

Hi, I recently learned about this apparently free and Open-source client called Tunnelblick. I see that you mention it as well in your review but I’d like to learn more about it. As far as I understand it, it’s made for Mac specifically and I think that’s great cause it probably means there are a lot less compatibility problems. But I’d still like to hear more about it from somebody with a professional opinion. Is tunnelblick safe and secure? Since it’s open source, I guess it should be easy to check for somebody tech savvy. Also, what VPN is it best to use with this client? Are there some good Mac only ones?

Dean Chester's picture
I tested the performance of

I tested the performance of Tunnelblick personally using Wireshark and made sure that it’s completely safe. It protects the IP address, traffic, and addresses of the websites you visit. But you should remember that it doesn’t have a kill switch. If your connection becomes interrupted, no matter why, the protection is no more. That’s why you’re better off using apps of the VPN services that provide such protection. The first five providers listed in this review work great on Mac. Besides, they offer settings for Tunnelblick.

good review

Hi Sam. Nice review. Everybody is recommending Proton as a good and reliable vpn for macbook Pro but can anyone let me know if it could help me with the ping? I`m visiting the US from Norway and I do want to play the League of Legends but the only account I have is on EU. Now my ping is at about 150. But I heard that vpns can lower ping for online gaming. Is it true? Does Proton is good for that? I failed to find something about that issue on your site.

Dean Chester's picture
Iron Man, the ping depends

Iron Man, the ping depends mostly on the distance between you and the VPN server. How far removed the VPN server is from the site you go to is also very important. Unfortunately, you can’t get a ping of 50 if these distances are thousands of kilometers no matter how fast your service is.

No info on VPN for Apple TV

That’s quite odd you haven’t highlighted the best VPN for Apple TV in the separate part of your rating. Some users mistakenly think that VPN can be used through the TV like Netflix or other services, but that’s not true. I’ve put it to the test. Know what? It’s impossible! The only way to use a VPN on Apple TV is to set up it on a home router. In this case, all devices you use to surf the Internet through WiFi will have the same IP (not your actual one).

You do not need VPNs!!!

Come on, guys! MacOs is a safe OS itself! You do not need any VPNs to stay secure. It is just a scam of big corporations that push silly users to spend their money! Lol.

Honest review

Not bad, guy! Honest review!

2020 coming in

Hi Sam, just a quick question: in your opinion, does what you write in this article apply to the best VPNs for mac in 2020? Or will there be some major changes that we need to be aware of? Thanks!

Dean Chester's picture
nosureviverse, this article

nosureviverse, this article is relevant in 2020. I constantly monitor the state of affairs with Mac support and so far, there haven’t been any changes.

PIA - the best for Mac

As for me, Private Internet Access (PIA) has the best MacOS VPN client. It is easy to download this VPN for Mac. Besides, it doesn’t keep logs and has perfect customer support. The price is awesome. Just $2.91 if sign up for one year.

Hotspot Shield: good or not

What the title says: thinking about saving some $$$ so Hotspot shield came into my attention. I know it’s limited but I don’t need so much traffic anyway. Other than that though I have some reservations about it cause I heard both good and bad things about this service. So is using Hotspot Shield on Mac good or not really?

My experience

I used to use Betternet on Mac and while I can’t really say much bad about it overall, I just had to stop. I mean, its speed wasn’t terrible, it was free and largely did what I needed it to. But OTOH, I just couldn’t help noticing some creepy stuff going on with it like it pretty much admits it will sell your private data unless you opt out (only available if you’re from Cali BTW). So I figure I’ll be better off with one of the VPNs on this list xD

Best client?

Hi there and thank you for this article! I’d like to clarify something: am I going to be safe if I use the built-in Mac client or is it better to download one that VPN services provide?

wanna max out my security

Got any advice for using VPN + Tor on macOS?

Safari VPN

Any recommendations of a VPN extension for the Safari browser? Let’s say I don’t really need a VPN for anything else so if it’s possible to save just a little bit of money on that, I’d be down for it.