The Mac OS operating system (also known as macOS) delivers better usability and more privacy than Windows. But if you want to secure traffic on your Mac, and have more digital privacy and security, you will need to be using a good VPN for Mac in 2023.
Unfortunately for mac users (like me), 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 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 the best VPNs for Mac OS
Ranking criteria: The best VPNs for Mac listed below in this guide all meet these criteria:
- Offer custom Mac OS VPN apps with secure VPN protocols 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 to give mac users the best options for a VPN.
Here are the best VPNs for Mac OS:
NordVPN – Best VPN for Mac in 2023
|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 NordVPN earns the title. It continues to perform better than other VPNs in nearly all categories, particularly with performance, features, and security. With a large global team, NordVPN is strategically based in Panama, which is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. The parent company, Nord Security, has also launched NordPass, a secure password manager, and NordLocker, a secure cloud storage and encryption tool.
NordVPN has a network of 5,400+ VPN server locations in 60 countries around the world. All NordVPN servers run in RAM-disk mode without hard drives, making it impossible for any server to store data that could be accessed by third parties. NordVPN is a true no-logs VPN service that has passed audits confirming both the no-logs policy as well as infrastructure and app security. Lastly, NordVPN is in the process of rolling out colocated (self-owned) servers in all locations with 10 Gbps bandwidth channels, which is extremely fast.
Testing NordVPN’s mac VPN app with WireGuard (fastest speeds)
Another performance benefit you get with NordVPN is the WireGuard VPN protocol. NordVPN’s implementation of the WireGuard protocol is called NordLynx. It delivers much faster speeds than legacy VPN protocols, more reliability, and upgraded security. Below are the speed tests we ran with the NordVPN Mac OS app, getting speeds of 445 Mbps with US servers. This makes NordVPN the fastest VPN we have tested to date.
Aside from excellent performance, NordVPN also stands out from the crowd with the privacy and security features it offers. Mac OS VPN users can take advantage of these features with NordVPN:
- CyberSec: NordVPN’s CyberSec feature blocks trackers, 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.
- Tor-over-VPN servers: These servers not only encrypt traffic with the VPN server, but they also add an extra layer of encryption with the Tor network.
- 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. This makes it a good VPN for China where blocks are a problem.
The NordVPN Mac OS app has a great layout and is very user-friendly. You can select server locations from a map and easily enable the different privacy and security features.
If you want to use a VPN for streaming, NordVPN is one of the best choices available. It supports 15+ Netflix regions and has great apps for all types of streaming devices, even including Smart TVs and gaming systems. 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 $3.30 per month with the coupon below, I’d say it’s one of the best values for Mac OS users. It holds the top spot as the best cheap VPN with the current rates.
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Double-VPN and Tor-over-VPN servers
- Passed numerous 3rd-party audits
- Strong encryption standards with full support for WireGuard
- Works with Netflix and many streaming sites
- Threat Protection feature to block ads, trackers, and malware
- Professional 24/7 live chat support
- Consistently fast speeds
- Dedicated RAM-servers with 10 Gbps bandwidth channels
- Big discounts only available with 2-year plans
See our NordVPN review for more analysis and test results.
Surfshark – Fast, secure, and user-friendly VPN for Mac
|Based in||The Netherlands|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
Surfshark is a newer VPN service with a lot to offer, at a very reasonable price. It is based in the British Virgin Islands and is a no-logs VPN provider, scoring great marks in the privacy category. One big way that Surfshark stands out from the crowd is that it offers unlimited connections with your subscription, while most VPNs give you five or six.
Like NordVPN, Surfshark also supports the WireGuard VPN protocol. Within the Surfshark Mac OS VPN client, you can select between OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. And while NordVPN was slightly faster in our NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison, we still could get 397 Mbps with Surfshark servers. With most VPNs averaging around 100 Mbps, Surfshark delivers excellent performance:
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 and gaming systems. They even have an app in the Amazon store if you want to use a VPN with Firestick.
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 that blocks 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 has a large network of 3,200 servers in 65 countries. And like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark runs all servers in RAM-disk mode for a higher level of data security. Torrenting is allowed on every server, making Surfshark a great VPN for torrenting.
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.
User-friendly Mac VPN apps
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
- Works great with Netflix and many other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Strong encryption and security features (audited)
- Limited support for VPN routers
- Above average monthly prices
Our Surfshark VPN review has more info and test results.
ExpressVPN – User-friendly and Secure Mac OS VPN
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
Rounding out our list of the best Mac VPNs is ExpressVPN. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands and offers secure and user-friendly VPN apps, excellent security, 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 a very reliable and user-friendly service. Below you can see the ExpressVPN app for Mac OS with its clean and minimal design.
In addition to fast speeds and reliability, ExpressVPN also does well with 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 incorporate a “Network Lock” VPN 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.
- Audited: ExpressVPN passed a third-party security audit performed by Cure53, a cybersecurity firm in Berlin.
- Verified no logs: Like NordVPN, 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 one of the best Mac VPN services on the market. 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. This is also featured in our guide on the best VPNs for iPhone.
Lastly, if you need a good VPN for Netflix and other streaming services, ExpressVPN will do the trick. It works with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and many other platforms. It is also a great VPN for Kodi streaming as well.
- User-friendly and secure apps
- Split tunneling feature (for macOS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and most streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Passed independent third-party audits for security and no-logs
- Very large server network
- Above-average prices
- Fewer features
- Average OpenVPN speeds (use Lightway)
Check out the ExpressVPN coupon below for the best savings.
Also, see our ExpressVPN review for more info and test results.
VyprVPN – Reliable and high-quality MacOS VPN (but expensive)
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
Coming in fourth in our list of the best Mac OS VPNs is VyprVPN. This VPN is based in Switzerland (a great privacy jurisdiction) and is an audited no-logs VPN provider. Like our other top recommendations, VyprVPN fully supports the WireGuard VPN protocol, which we found to work very well with the Mac OS VPN app in our tests.
VyprVPN has been around for many years and is a leading veteran in the industry. One factor that makes this VPN particularly unique is that it owns every VPN server in its network. This means all hardware is completely under VyprVPN’s control. NordVPN is also following suit with self-owned servers, as we discussed in the VyprVPN vs NordVPN comparison.
The VyprVPN Mac OS app is very easy to use and has a design that is similar to Surfshark, as you can see below. It incorporates a VPN kill switch that will block traffic if the VPN disconnects and was reliable in our tests.
Another great aspect of VyprVPN is that you get 30 simultaneous connections, which can really be useful if you have lots of devices in your household. And if you need to stream videos, VyprVPN has you covered. It is a great VPN for Amazon Prime and also works well for BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and numerous Netflix regions.
Lastly, VyprVPN is one of the cheapest VPNs you will find that still delivers a high-quality experience. You can pick up a subscription to VyprVPN with the coupon below for the best savings.
And check out our VyprVPN review for more details and test results.
How to use a VPN on Mac OS
Using a VPN on Mac OS is very simple. For most mac users, 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 provider’s 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.
Now let’s look at another option for using a VPN on a Mac device.
VPN clients for Mac
You can also utilize third-party VPN 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 in 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.
There is also the option to use the open source WireGuard client if your VPN supports WireGuard.
Note: I generally just recommend using your VPN provider’s client for Mac, rather than a third-party app. This will give you access to all of the VPN’s features and also include support from your VPN provider.
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.
Apple generally has a good reputation for privacy issues. It has also received some good press in recent years for its pro-privacy stance on many issues.
What is the best free VPN for Mac?
Many people want to save money. But when it comes to security and privacy tools, you will want to proceed with caution. For one, we have learned that many VPNs do not do a good job of securing your traffic. This problem is even worse with most free VPN services.
The risks of free VPNs for macOS
If you use a free VPN for Mac, you take some serious risks. Many free VPNs have been caught logging user data, as we pointed out in the Opera VPN review. Additionally, there have also been studies that have confirmed the degree to which free VPNs abuse the privacy of their users.
You also need to remember that if you use a free VPN for Mac, the VPN service itself could be collecting, recording, and selling your data when you use the free VPN. This is a real risk to consider, especially with VPNs like Hotspot Shield VPN being busted for embedding tracking libraries in their mobile apps.
Ultimately, we do not recommend using a free VPN for Mac OS. Even if you managed to find and use the best free VPN you could find, chances are, the risks would still not be worth it.
Do you need a VPN for Mac?
Throughout this guide, we have touched on many different reasons to use a VPN for Mac. In short, we here at RestorePrivacy absolutely feel you need a VPN for Mac. Here are a few reasons why.
Privacy – The internet today is not private by default. Internet service providers log the activity of their users, and this data (your browsing history) can be given to anyone. A VPN is also crucial to hide your identity online. This is because a VPN will hide your IP address and location from third parties.
Security – Most people already know that public WiFi hot spots can be risky. This is because hackers can easily spoof networks and collect data. Using a VPN on public WiFi adds an extra layer of security and encryption. And in a world of constant cybersecurity threats, peace of mind is worth every penny.
Digital freedom – Most mac users want to be able to access content online from anywhere. Unfortunately, most streaming websites today implement some form of geo-blocking to restrict access. Once again, a VPN is the ticket for success here and it will unblock websites to give you access when you want it.
Conclusion: Use the best VPN for Mac OS based on your needs
So what is the best mac VPN in 2023? Ultimately, the answer all boils down to your own needs and preferences. In this guide, we highlighted the best mac VPN services that passed all of our tests. Any of these options should work well for you, but the key is finding the best fit for your own needs.
As you can see, there are many good Mac VPN options. And with more people streaming content online at home, a VPN is a crucial tool for getting access to more content from anywhere in the world. Looking at the different options in this category, mac users have some good choices.
Of course, VPNs also remain a critical tool for privacy and security. This is increasingly true today where internet service providers record browsing activity (in many countries) and pass this data on to governments and other third parties. So the solution is to simply use a good VPN at all times.
Be sure to grab the best deal with the discount links below.
Mac VPN Comparison Table 2023
To wrap everything up, the table below highlights the best Mac OS VPN services based on the latest test results.
This Mac OS VPN guide was updated with new info on January 5, 2023.