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.
Based on our independent testing, the best VPN you can choose is PureVPN, which has a slick, simple Mac app for Apple users. It's closely in our rankings followed by NordVPN and IPVanish. All three VPNs are simple to use, secure and affordable. You can cut the price further thanks to regular deals and discounts – we've spotted big price cuts on PureVPN, for example.
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 offers incredible value. We round up the best out there for your Apple.
In this Guide
If you're running a Mac and want the added security of a VPN, these are the best VPNs for Mac we've tested:
- Pure VPN – Quite simply, the best VPN package we’ve tested. Offers great features and value
- NordVPN – A fast VPN that is crammed with features and safeguards your privacy
- IPVanish – A great choice for expert users, boasting rich options and depth
- TorGuard – Offers an excellent degree of performance, power and control
- Private Internet Access – A well-rounded service with great privacy and anonymity features
- Windscribe – Not for beginners, but affordable, fast and effective at protecting your identity
- Proton VPN – Expensive and aimed at experts, but gives the user lots of control
- HideMe VPN – Straightforward and stress-free, although a pricey option compared to others
- AirVPN – A powerful privacy tool for experts, but lacking the slick interface of other VPNs
- 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 VPNs and explain why they came through our tests with flying colors.
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|PureVPN||NordVPN||IPVanish VPN||TorGuard||Private Internet Access||Windscribe||Proton VPN||Hide Me VPN||AirVPN||Express VPN|
|No. of devices||5||6||5||5||5||10||10||5||5||3|
|No. of servers||2,000+||3605||1000||3000||3035||480||112||150||60||1500|
|Ease of use||★★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||★★★★★|
|Help & Support||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★☆☆||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||★★★☆☆||★★★★☆|
|Value for Money||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆|
|Price per month||$3.33 (2-year plan)||$2.99 (3-year plan)||$3.25 (1-year plan)||$4.99 (1-year plan)||$3.33 (1-year plan)||$4.08 (1-year plan)||$4 (1-year plan)||$5.41 (1-year plan)||$2.66 (2-year plan)||$8.32 (1-year plan)|
|Discounts||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers|
How we test and rate VPNs
Our VPN scores are based on expert, independent testing, so you can be sure that our recommendations will help you choose for the best VPN. For example, we put each VPN through multiple speed tests, using both long-distance and short-distance servers. We assess how easy each VPN is to set up and use, rewarding simple services and penalizing complex ones.
We also do all-important privacy and security tests, including a leak test, to ensure the VPN doesn't accidentally reveal your actual server location.
Let's take a look at our top-rated VPN services in more detail, below:
PureVPN is our highest rated VPN, and it's not hard to see why. Firstly, it works, with an unobtrusive interface that's easy to understand. You can also turn your PC into a VPN hotspot, and connect other devices. It's also possible to get into a granular level of detail about the apps that will use PureVPN, and those that you want to go through your regular VPN.
For the security consciousness, it offers Ozone and Gravity features. Ozone is effectively an antivirus setting that will automatically block any internet nasties from infecting your machine. Gravity adds another layer of protection with an adblocker. It all works seamlessly in the background while you go about your business
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs we’ve tested, and it has some fantastic value deals if you’re willing to commit to a year or more of service. NordVPN is a well-known VPN service, designed to give you better privacy and security while you’re online.
IPVanish is a top-tier VPN. It's focus on privacy and granular settings should be just what the average VPN user is looking for, and it still offers decent streaming speeds. A firm zero-logging policy ensures that your data stays safely encrypted. Granted, it's not the cheapest option available, but it remains a great choice for anyone in need of privacy online.
The free Psiphon VPN functions well and comes with plenty to offer, from speed of use to multiple protocol options. It's also easy to install and comes with clear terms and conditions. Among them: Some limited data collection, used to support Psiphon's ad-based revenue model and keep the experience free. Overall, Psiphon VPN represents a solid option, even if the paid alternatives tend to come with a wider raft of features.
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.
You can use Private Internet Access on Macs, PCs and both iOS and Android mobile devices and the company has a strict no logging policy, meaning that it doesn’t log what you do or where you go while connected. Everything about this VPN is designed around privacy, anonymity and stopping any online eavesdroppers in their tracks.
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 with in no time at all.
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.
ProtonVPN is a VPN focused on security and civil liberties. Like all VPNs, ProtonVPN sets up an encrypted private network link between your PC and a VPN server, which then connects to the wider Internet. This secures the data as it travels between your PC and the Internet, but also disguises your identity and your location.
Hide.Me aims to help you ‘take back your freedom’ with a combination of advanced security, absolute privacy and the liberty to enjoy the web without censorship or other limitations. Hide Me largely succeeds in these aspirations, and it has a great range of features. Granted, you'll see slow connection speeds and higher than average prices, so Hide Me isn't among the absolute best VPN services you could choose.
AirVPN developed from a free open-source VPN built by European hackers and activists to protect the internet from spies and censorship. It’s a great value service that lets you opt in for a few days at a time for a small fee. While it’s a little technical, this is a great VPN with plenty to recommend it: Safety and privacy policies are strong, while cost-effective plans offer some flexibility for those who just need a VPN for a few days or a few months.
ExpressVPN is one of the world’s most popular VPN services, enabling you to connect to the internet through a Virtual Private Network link. It's a good offering with an intuitive interface, though our main reservations are around its disappointing impact on your internet speeds and higher than average price point. Its VPN software runs on most devices and operating systems, though only three of your devices can be connected at any one time.
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, 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.
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 best for light users.
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.
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.
Getting started with a VPN on Mac is a pleasingly stress-free experience, especially if you pick one of our recommended apps.
- 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.
- Download the client. Make sure to choose the dedicated Mac program, and that you’re picking the latest version.
- 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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