Best VPNs for Mac

September 7, 2018

4:55 am

Apple Mac owners have plenty of reasons to feel pretty confident about security – for one, the platform is far less vulnerable to viruses than Windows. But what about your privacy? The best VPNs for Mac can help keep your browsing and web activity anonymous and secure.

A VPN is an essential tool with several uses – protecting your Mac itself, protecting your own data privacy, and accessing areas of the internet that you’ve been blocked off from because of region-locking. Fancy seeing what Netflix offers in different countries? With a VPN, it’s easily possible.

For just a few bucks a month, a Mac VPN is incredible value. We round up the best out there for your Apple.

In this Guide

Best VPNs for Mac in 2018

If you’re running a Mac and want the added security of a VPN, these are the best VPNs for Mac we’ve tested:

  1. Pure VPN – Quite simply, the best VPN package we’ve tested. Offers great features and value
  2. IPVanish – A great choice for expert users, boasting rich options and depth
  3. TorGuard – Offers an excellent degree of performance, power and control
  4. Private Internet Access – A well-rounded service with great privacy and anonymity features
  5. Windscribe – Not for beginners, but affordable, fast and effective at protecting your identity
  6. Proton VPN – Expensive and aimed at experts, but gives the user lots of control
  7. NordVPN – A fast VPN that is crammed with features and safeguards your privacy
  8. HideMe VPN – Straightforward and stress-free, although a pricey option compared to others
  9. AirVPN – A powerful privacy tool for experts, but lacking the slick interface of other VPNs
  10. ExpressVPN – Easy to set up and use, but struggles to compete on speed and price

Just want to know about the very best VPNs to choose for an Apple MacBook or iMac? Below, we pick out our top three VPNs and explain why they came through our tests with flying colors.

PureVPN IPVanish VPN Express VPN NordVPN AirVPN ProtonVPN TorGuard Private Internet Access Windscribe Hide Me VPN
Free trial
Price per month $10.95 $10 $12.95 $11.95 $7.94 $4 $9.99 $6.95 $9 $9.95
No. of devices 5 5 3 5 5 5 5 5 10 5
No. of servers 750 1000 1500 3605 60 112 3000 3035 480 150
Data logging
Killswitch
Email Support
Live Chat

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  • Score
  • Review
  • Ease of use
  • Features
  • Privacy
  • Speed
  • Help & Support
  • Value for Money
  • Monthly price
  • Annual price
  • Get VPN

PureVPN logo - tech.co

IPVanish-VPN - tech.co

Torguard tech.co

PureVPN logo - tech.co
  • Score: 82%
  • Pure VPN review
  • Ease of Use: 5 stars
  • Features: 5 stars
  • Privacy: 5 stars
  • Speed: 3 stars
  • Help & Support: 4 stars
  • Value for Money: 5 stars
  • $10.95
  • $59
  • See Offers

IPVanish-VPN - tech.co
  • 80%
  • IPVanish Review
  • Ease of Use: 5 stars
  • Features: 5 stars
  • Privacy: 5 stars
  • Speed: 4 stars
  • Help and Support: 3 stars
  • Value for Money: 4 stars
  • $10
  • $77.99
  • See Offers

Torguard tech.co
  • Score: 76%
  • TorGuard review
  • Ease of Use: 4 stars
  • Features: 3 stars
  • Privacy: 5 stars
  • Speed: 3 stars
  • Help & Support: 5 stars
  • Value for Money: 5 stars
  • $9.99
  • $59.99
  • See Offers

PureVPN – 82%

A great combination of simplicity and value, PureVPN is inexpensive and easy to use. But don’t be fooled – this is still a serious VPN service. Subscribe to PureVPN and you’ll find yourself with a powerful VPN that will protect your privacy with excellent encryption.

It also has some nice additional features, such as being able to use your Mac as a VPN hotspot for other devices.

PureVPN also has a strong suite of security features, like Ozone and Gravity. Ozone is a built-in anti-virus that will protect your Mac from dodgy sites. Gravity is the built-in adblocker. Once enabled, both of these work away busily in the background, protecting you as you surf.

Read the full PureVPN review

Save money on a subscription to PureVPN with this special offer

Pros:

  • Effective privacy and security features
  • Clear notifications
  • Excellent value

Cons:

  • Not as fast as billed
  • Only unlocks Netflix via browser

IPVanish – 80%

IPVanish is a well polished VPN, with a welcoming interface that is well laid out. It’s more aimed at expert users, and if you’ve used a VPN before, you’re bound to enjoy the level of control that this VPN allows.

A map shows their servers available and those which you can connect to. IPVanish also features a killswitch, so that if your VPN connection fails, it won’t default to your ISP, which could expose details of your browsing.

Read the full IPVanish review

Take advantage of this offer to get IPVanish for a reduced rate

Pros:

  • Lots of control
  • Strong privacy options
  • Good speeds

Cons

  • Slightly intimidating
  • Pricier than some rivals


TorGuard – 76%

A robust VPN package that offers a high level of protection to its users. During our testing, we found that it didn’t leak any personal data, and that our details and activities were locked up tight.

If you’re interested in accessing Netflix, then rest assured that TorGuard can handle that for you, granting entry to Netflix libraries around the globe.

Read the full TorGuard review

Sign up for Torguard VPN today

Pros:

  • Strong global presence
  • Great features and control for expert users
  • Impressive VPN performance

Cons

  • Not great for less experienced users
  • Awkward sign-up process
  • Tiny text when you sign in

Private Internet Access – 75%

Private Internet Access is a great quality VPN that doesn’t cost the earth. As the name suggests, Private Internet Access is designed to give you a safe, private internet connection when you’re browsing the web or working online.

Though it’s not the fastest service we’ve tested, Private Internet Access is a smart choice. As well as low costs, it’s simple enough for even VPN novices to get up-and-running within no time at all.

Read our full Private Internet Access review

Windscribe VPN – 74%

Windscribe is a great value VPN service that also has an impressive free edition. It works effectively to mask your online identity, and while it’s a little technical to use at times, it’s still a smart choice for a VPN.

While you can use Windscribe as a normal VPN, it’s really designed to be used with a browser extension or add-on. This adds an extra layer of anonymity through an optional proxy server, while also blocking ads and protecting you from malware.

Read our full Windscribe review

Proton VPN – 74%

Proton VPN offers a robust VPN service, which does an excellent job of protecting your privacy.

However, it’s more aimed at advanced users, and while this means that it can grant you a high level of control, we wouldn’t recommend it for newcomers.

If you decide to subscribe to a tier beyond Basic, it gets a little pricey compared to some of its competitors. You get what you pay for, but some VPNs offer a very similar service for a lower price tag.

Read our full Proton VPN review

NordVPN – 81%

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs we’ve ever tested, thanks to its high level of security and advanced features. It’s also very well priced, especially if you commit to an annual subscription.

NordVPN ticks all the right boxes, offering plenty of choice when it comes to selecting the server location that you want to connect to. It also manages to maintain decent speeds.

Read our full NordVPN review

Get NordVPN for just $3.99 a month

Pros:

  • Fast and effective
  • Packed with features
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Not the most intuitive VPN
  • Can’t unblock some streaming services
  • Assumes some technical knowledge

Hide Me VPN – 72%

Hide Me VPN is an excellent VPN. It’s a great place for newcomers to start too,  thanks to its easy sign-up process and day to day operation. While some VPNs can be daunting, Hide Me VPN does a great job of explaining its features in plain English.

We also found during our testing that it was very secure, with no leaks that could give the game away during use.

Our main complaint is that it’s a little too pricey for what you get.

Read our full review of Hide Me VPN

AirVPN – 72%

AirVPN is aimed squarely at the experts – there’s no slick interface or handholding here, just a solid suite of in-depth options to play with.

If you know what you’re doing, then it’s a very powerful tool that will mask your online activities without issue, and those with experience will no doubt relish the opportunity to tinker under the hood.

Read our full Air VPN review

ExpressVPN – 72%

ExpressVPN is a solid and straightforward VPN that’s simple to use. It has a good mobile app and its server selection process is a breeze, whether you choose to have it pick one for you automatically or select one yourself.

ExpressVPN states that it can navigate Netflix’s geo-location blocks, but sadly in our testing we didn’t find this to be the case.

Read our full ExpressVPN review

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Pros:

  • Easy to use with great support
  • Extensive features
  • Smart location selection

Cons

  • Inconsistent speeds
  • Expensive

Best Free VPNs for Mac

A good VPN service isn’t expensive, with great options available for the price of a takeout coffee a month. Your privacy has to be worth that. However, if you’re not sold on the whole idea of a VPN, or just curious to see what they entail, you can check out one of the free offerings.

If you do want to dip your toe in the waters of free VPNs, do be sure to check the terms before you download. While you may not be handing over any cash, there could still be a price to pay, be it your personal data or even your bandwidth.

1) TunnelBear

It might seem like an oxymoron, but TunnelBear is a VPN with a sense of fun. No really. Its interface is populated with an animated bear who helps you through the VPN process, and pops through a yellow tunnel to signify when you’re using a different server. Behind this fun facade is a surprisingly competent VPN, with a dedicated Mac client, offering decent speeds. With a data allowance of just 500GB a month though, it’s more for light users.

2) Opera

This one requests that you ditch Safari, as it’s not so much a VPN as an entire web browser. However, you’ll struggle to find an easier VPN to use. If you’re happy to switch browsers, you’ll find a fully functional VPN that can handle your private browsing, to the same level of encryption used by some of the paid for services. One drawback is that it only protects data that comes through the browser – any activity carried out on another browser, or through another program, will not be disguised.

3) Hola – Avoid

Hola is one of the more prominent free VPNs out there, but we don’t recommend it. As a service its fine, and will get the job done, but scratch beneath the surface and there are issues. In our testing, we found that it revealed not only our ISP, but on one occasion our IP address, which means that users are vulnerable to being identified – literally the opposite of what you expect from a VPN. Not only that, but users of the free service are signing up to have their bandwidth used by other Hola customers. Not only could this slow down your connection, but this also means that people could be using your connection for illegal activity.

Hola is a reminder that when it comes to VPNs, the best things in life aren’t free, and that it’s well worth spending a few bucks a month for great service and peace of mind.

Safari VPN Extensions

When looking for a VPN for your Mac, check what form the software comes in.

There are two main ways that VPNs work. Some will install a client on your Mac. This is a small program that sits on your Mac itself. Running a client means that all online activity is disguised when you’re running the VPN, whether you’re browsing the web or downloading a torrent.

Then there’s the browser extension. This is a handy tool that sits on your browser as an extra option and can be toggled on/off and adjusted as needed while you surf. The best VPNs (including all those mentioned in our top 10 above) will offer both a client AND an extension.

However, watch out for those that only provide a web browser extension, as they will only protect your web browsing, and won’t channel your app connections through the VPN. Many free VPNs are browser extensions only.

You can find Safari extensions for most popular programs.

How to Set Up a VPN on Mac

Getting started with a VPN on Mac is a pleasingly stress-free experience, especially if you pick one of our recommended apps.

  1. Sign up for a subscription service on the VPN site. This will involve setting up an account, giving payment information and choosing your login details.
  2. Download the client. Make sure to choose the dedicated Mac program, and that you’re picking the latest version.
  3. Install and run the software. Here you will need to log in with your account details. You can also go through the options to set-up the VPN to best suit your needs, such as when to start it, and which programs you would like to associate it with.

Read our full guide to setting up a VPN

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Jack is a senior writer at Tech.co with over a decade's experience researching and writing about consumer technology, from security and privacy to product reviews and tech news.

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