Charlotte Davis

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Best VPN for Mac in 2023

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Macs have always been known for using comprehensive security features. But even they aren’t immune to all online threats, surveillance, and censorship. That is why a growing number of Mac users have decided to strengthen their online defenses with a virtual private network (VPN) service.

VPNs work like a cloaking device, hiding your Mac’s real IP address and rerouting your connection through different servers. Using a VPN connection, you will be able to hide your online activity from prying eyes, as well as boost your online security through VPN encryption. Some VPN services will also allow you to get past censorship, unblock streaming services, and access geo-blocked content.

Personally, I can’t imagine my life without a VPN. I use it on all my Apple devices, and yes, that includes my Mac computer. However, I also know how difficult it is to choose the right VPN service to suit your needs. There are tons of VPN providers out there, and not all of them are created equal. Therefore, to make your life a bit easier, I’ve decided to shortlist all my favorite Mac VPNs to use this year.

The Best Mac VPN: My Top Picks

# VPN Servers Free trial Money-back guarantee Website
1 Surfshark Logo

3,200+

Yes

30 days

2 expressvpn logo

3,000+

Yes

30 days

3

5,500+

Yes

30 days

4 Private Internet Access VPN Logo

30,000+

Yes

30 days

5 Proton VPN Logo

1,750+

Yes

30 days

Best 2023 VPNs for Mac: Full Customer Reviews

Surfshark

1

Surfshark Logo

Surfshark

 Expert Review

Very Good 10

I’ve used Surfshark as my Mac VPN for several months now, and it’s yet to disappoint. It boasts over 3,000 available servers, and its user experience is smooth and straightforward. Even better, Surfshark has no limit on available devices, which makes it the best option for users who want to use it across multiple platforms.

Best Overall

Why Surfshark VPN?

Surfshark offers everything a user might want from a VPN service. For starters, the Dutch VPN provider offers over 3,200 servers in over 160 locations across 100 countries. That’s a massive range, even when you compare it to its biggest competitors. Okay, it’s not the most comprehensive selection I’ve seen, but it’s more than enough for even the pickiest VPN user.

How does Surfshark hold up feature-wise? Not bad, either. The VPN software utilizes industry-standard AES-256 encryption and offers full support for OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2. Its users can also take advantage of some advanced features, including Double Hop or split tunneling, although, as I found, the latter isn’t available in the Mac app.

And while I’m at it, I have to say that the Surfshark Mac app is one of the most intuitive and user-friendly apps I’ve ever used. I was able to connect to the fastest VPN server in no time using the ‘quick connection’ feature, and there’s a reliable kill switch to ensure you don’t lose your protection. However, I have to admit that the Mac app is a bit cluttered, offering numerous sidebars, buttons, and tabs. Nothing that ruins the experience, though.

Where Surfshark excels is its unlimited connections feature. I use it on all my Apple devices, and I haven’t experienced any issues when running it on my Mac, iPhone, and Apple TV. I also have good news for Mac users willing to unblock streaming services. Surfshark supports every bigger streaming platform, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus. And since its connection speeds are very competitive, you shouldn’t experience any lags. I haven’t.

Key Features

  • Server network: 3,200+
  • Server locations: 160+ in 100 countries
  • Simultaneous connections available: Unlimited devices
  • Mac VPN features: AES-256 encryption, secure VPN protocols, P2P connections, kill switch, DBS leak protection, and more
  • Unblocked streaming services: Prime Video, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and more
  • Average speeds: 950 Mbps (WireGuard)/150 Mbps (OpenVPN)

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Over 3 200 available servers
  • Flexible and affordable subscription plans
  • Excellent for streaming and torrenting
  • User-friendly and well-optimized Mac VPN app
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Doesn’t support split tunneling for macOS app
  • Free version is relatively limited
Surfshark Logo

Surfshark

ExpressVPN

2

expressvpn logo

ExpressVPN

 Expert Review

Very Good 10

If you’re in the market for a VPN service to really boost your online security, ExpressVPN is probably the best choice. It comes with numerous advanced security features and a comprehensive selection of VPN servers. And while I’ve never used it for a longer period, I found it more than impressive when testing.

Best security and encryption

Why ExpressVPN?

Regarding security, you won’t find a better Mac VPN than ExpressVPN. It offers IP and DNS leak protection, AES-256 encryption, and an ultra-reliable kill switch called Network Lock, which ensures your real IP address isn’t exposed if your VPN connection drops. The company also has a strict no-logs policy, so you can rest assured your data stays private.

So yes, its strong security features make ExpressVPN a great choice. But what about its performance? Well, as I found during testing, you’re in for a treat if you choose this provider. ExpressVPN offers a comprehensive selection of over 3,000 available servers spread across 94 countries with unlimited bandwidth, so you should always be able to find fast and reliable VPN connections.

That selection works perfectly for unblocking streaming sites and other geo-blocked content. Using ExpressVPN, I was able to comfortably use Netflix, Apple TV, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video. The connections are fast and reliable due to ExpressVPN’s unique VPN protocol, Lightweight, which ensures excellent speeds and high security. This also makes ExpressVPN a good choice for torrenting, although I didn’t try it myself.

Now to the news that interests any Mac client reading this. Yes, ExpressVPN is supported by macOS devices. Moreover, it performs well on all Apple devices, coming with well-optimized VPN apps for Mac computers and iPhones. I found both apps very straightforward to use. All features worked smoothly, and I was able to connect to any server fast.

However, that performance and convenience come at a cost, which, in the case of ExpressVPN, is very high. If you don’t need such comprehensive protection on your Mac, maybe picking a cheaper service is a better option. If not, while expensive, ExpressVPN is worth its price. That I can vouch for.

Key Features

  • Available VPN servers: 3,000+
  • VPN server locations: 94 countries
  • Simultaneous connections available: 5
  • VPN features: secure DNS, AES-256 encryption, kill switch, split tunneling, leak protection, and more
  • Unblocked streaming sites: Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV, and more
  • Average speeds: 630 Mbps (WireGuard)/385 Mbps (OpenVPN)

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cutting-edge security features
  • One of the fastest VPN services
  • Extra reliable kill switch
  • Unlocks the most popular streaming platforms
  • Over 3
  • 000 available servers
  • User-friendly and Mac-optimized app
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • One of the most expensive VPN services
  • Offers only five simultaneous connections
expressvpn logo

ExpressVPN

NordVPN

3

NordVPN

 Expert Review

Very Good 10

NordVPN is likely the best-known VPN provider. And as you probably suspect, that reputation is well-founded. Indeed, having used NordVPN for several years before switching to Surfshark, I can only say good things about its services. Let’s see what it has to offer.

Best for UX and streaming

Why NordVPN?

If you want to use your VPN to access websites, streaming services, and other geo-blocked content, NordVPN is your provider. Its VPN server collection boasts over 5,500 servers spread across 59 countries, ensuring you can always find a fast and reliable VPN connection wherever you are.

Using NordVPN, I could comfortably access Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, and other streaming services without experiencing any connection issues. That’s because NordVPN offers excellent connection speeds, making it the perfect choice for users who want to stream content, play online games, or download files. And the good news is that it offers that without sacrificing security.

Indeed, while it’s not as fixated on its security features as ExpressVPN, NordVPN is one of the safest VPNs for Mac. It ensures privacy through features such as AES-256 encryption technology, DNS and IP leak protection, and the IKEv2/IPsec security protocol, which is the default for Mac and Apple devices. The company has a strict no-logs policy and comes with a reliable kill switch that shuts down your internet connection to protect your IP address.

Where I can pick on NordVPN is its mobile app. I mean, it works fine for Mac, but using it on my iPhone was a constant struggle. I found it too cluttered and unintuitive, although I have to admit I noticed some positive changes during my recent testing. I can also notice that its pricing has increased recently. It’s not the most expensive VPN around, but it’s not on the cheaper side, either.

Key Features

  • Number of servers: 5,500+
  • Server locations: 80+ in 59 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 6
  • VPN features: split-tunneling, kill switch, AES-256 encryption, file encryption, password manager, dedicated IP address, and more
  • Unblocked streaming platforms: Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Average speeds: 820 Mbps (WireGuard)/250 Mbps (OpenVPN)

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Perfect VPN service for streaming and online gaming
  • Over 5
  • 500 available VPN servers
  • Numerous security features
  • Excellent speeds
  • User-friendly Mac app
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Mobile app lacks the usability of a desktop app
  • Only six simultaneous connections available

Private Internet Access

4

Private Internet Access VPN Logo

Private Internet Access

 Expert Review

Very Good 10

If you think NordVPN offers an extensive VPN server network, wait until you see what Private Internet Access (PIA) has in store. With over 30,000 available servers, PIA is the most comprehensive VPN service available. But quantity doesn’t always go hand in hand with quality. Is that the case for PIA?

Best selection of available VPN servers

Why Private Internet Access?

Let’s start with the most significant and obvious advantage that PIA holds over its competitors – the server network. With over 30,000 servers in 84 countries, PIA offers the most extensive selection of servers in the entire VPN industry. And you want to know what the best bit is? It’s also one of the least expensive providers in the industry.

Does its low price mean it lacks the advanced features its more expensive competitors offer? Not at all. While its price might suggest otherwise, PIA is packed with VPN security features, including AES-256 encryption, split tunneling, a reliable kill switch, and multi-hop connections. It also features ad-block and port forwarding.

Where PIA falls a little behind is its overall performance. While it allowed me to unblock geo-blocked content at several streaming services (I tried it on Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV), the connection speeds weren’t the most impressive. The connection was a bit unstable at times, although I found it depends on the server you connect yourself to.

What about user experience? Well, it’s not the best Mac VPN app I’ve used in my life, but I didn’t experience any problems or lags when using it. I do think it’s a bit cluttered, which might make using it slightly challenging for new users. On the other hand, the app is very customizable, so you should be able to adjust it to your liking trouble-free.

Key Features

  • Number of VPN servers: 30,000+
  • Server locations: 84 countries
  • Simultaneous connections available: 10
  • VPN features: kill switch, port forwarding, AES-256 encryption, multi-hop connections, VPN browser extensions, and more
  • Unblocked streaming services: US Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, and more
  • Average speeds: 510 Mbps (WireGuard)/190 Mbps (OpenVPN)

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A ridiculous number of over 30 000 available servers
  • Very affordable
  • Offers several advanced security features
  • Highly customizable VPN Mac app
  • Works well for streaming content
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Mac app can be slightly difficult to use for beginners
  • Relatively slow and sometimes unstable VPN connections
Private Internet Access VPN Logo

Private Internet Access

Proton VPN

5

Proton VPN Logo

Proton VPN

 Expert Review

Very Good 10

Proton VPN is a perfect example of the renowned Swiss precision and attention to detail. It excels when it comes to securing its users’ privacy. Also, while relatively pricey, Proton VPN offers a free version that might just be the best free Mac VPN available. But let’s talk about the details, shall we?

Best free VPN for Mac

Why Private Internet Access?

Proton VPN’s selection of servers isn’t the most impressive I’ve seen. With a little over 1,700 available servers spread across 64 countries, Proton VPN falls behind most of its biggest rivals. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Such a number is more than enough to satisfy any VPN user. Also, I found the connection very stable when testing Proton VPN, so I’d say it’s a case of quality over quantity.

Proton VPN’s strongest suit is its approach to security and privacy. The provider uses state-of-the-art encryption and security technology to protect its users, taking advantage of AES-256 encryption and secure protocols. Proton also offers the Secret Core servers, which are located in physically secure locations across privacy-friendly countries. You can even pay anonymously with Bitcoin.

On the other hand, Proton isn’t the fastest VPN for Mac. While I didn’t experience any connection issues, the speeds aren’t that high compared to some other VPNs. Also, while I was able to unblock geo-blocked content on several streaming sites, I don’t think it’s the best VPN for streaming, mostly due to its lower speeds. The Mac app is brilliant, though. I could quickly find the fastest connection, and I have to say the kill switch works beautifully.

I also have good news for users looking for a free VPN for their Mac. In my experience, Proton VPN offers the best free VPN service for Mac, featuring unlimited data access and the most security features available for premium users. However, it doesn’t support streaming services and only allows one simultaneous connection, so I’d still suggest going for a paid version, although I understand that some might find it a bit overpriced.

Key Features

  • Number of available servers: 1750+
  • Server locations: 85 across 64 countries
  • Simultaneous connections: Maximum 10 devices
  • VPN features: Secure Core servers, P2P internet traffic (on select servers), secure protocols, kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and more
  • Unblocked streaming sites: Netflix, Apple TV, HBO Max, Disney+, and more
  • Average speeds: 510 Mbps (WireGuard)/210 Mbps (OpenVPN)

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • nhanced privacy and encryption features
  • Probably the best free VPN plan for Mac (and Windows)
  • User-friendly and intuitive app
  • Up to ten simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Accepts Bitcoin payments

Cons

  • A little limited selection of servers
  • Quite expensive
  • Not as fast as other Mac VPNs
Proton VPN Logo

Proton VPN

How I Picked the Best VPNs for Mac?

Considering the number of available Mac VPNs, choosing only a few best wasn’t the easiest task. You might wonder how I pulled that off. The secret is testing, testing, and, you guessed it, testing. And since most VPNs offer free trials or money-back guarantees, I was able to have some fun and perform pretty comprehensive tests.

What did I test? I mostly looked at the overall performance of each VPN service, such as connection speeds and user experience. I tested how different features, such as a kill switch or quick connection, work. I also tried using VPNs on various streaming services and websites, as unblocking geo-blocked content is one of the most significant reasons for using a VPN for Mac.

So yes, as you can suspect, the testing took some time. And once done with it, I could shortlist the best VPNs for Mac. That shortlist eventually became the list you see above. And if you don’t trust me, feel free to test these services yourself. Like any other reviewer, I’m not infallible, and I might’ve missed or failed to include something important to you. 

Mac VPN Buying Guide

Okay, I’ve done my part and provided you with this year’s best Mac VPNs. Now it’s your turn to do some heavy lifting and make your decision. To choose a VPN service that suits your needs best, use my reviews above as a reference and then consider the following factors:

  • Server Network:
    Typically, the more servers a VPN provider offers, the better. First, it gives you more flexibility, allowing you to freely choose which server you want to connect to. And secondly, it ensures you always find a fast and reliable connection. However, be sure to check that there are available servers near your current IP address and that the company has servers in countries and areas that interest you.
  • VPN and Security Tools:
    A VPN is only as good as its security and encryption features. Pick a VPN service that protects your privacy and provides you with the tools you need to stay secure and anonymous. The best VPNs use such features as AES-256 encryption or split tunneling. They should also offer a reliable kill switch, as well as use secure VPN protocols, such as WireGuard or OpenVPN. Any VPN provider should also have a strict no-logs policy and be audited by independent bodies. The VPNs on my list tick all these boxes.
  • Performance:
    Some claim you can’t avoid connection speed drops when using a VPN. And while in most instances that statement is true, that performance drop is almost unnoticeable when using a renowned VPN service. If you want to use your VPN for streaming, online gaming, or torrenting, be sure to pick a provider that uses reliable VPN protocols, such as WireGuard or OpenVPN, which typically offer high bandwidth.
  • Device Compatibility:
    If you intend to use a VPN on several devices, it’s not the worst idea to choose a provider that supports them. And since I’m discussing Mac VPNs in this guide, you can rest assured that all of the above providers support macOS computers. They also work well on other Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads. Just be sure your VPN provider supports as many simultaneous connections as you want to ensure all your devices are protected.
  • Price:
    While I firmly believe you shouldn’t look for savings when looking for a way to boost your online security and privacy, I understand that some VPN providers might look overpriced. That’s because some might offer features that some users don’t require. I’d suggest a mid-range VPN service if you don’t need excessive protection. Also, keep an eye out for potential promotions and discounts. VPN companies tend to offer lucrative deals throughout the year. Often, you might get a full premium subscription at 50% off. 

Premium vs. Free VPNs for Mac

You may be asking yourself – why should I shell out money for a VPN when I can get one for free? Yes, free VPNs are appealing; after all, they are free. However, as you may have noticed, all of the best VPNs require a subscription fee. Obviously, there is a good reason for that.

Though free service VPNs may seem desirable, they are the most detrimental services you can use. They are much less effective and don’t provide necessary security features, such as inadequate encryption or no IP/DNS protection. Likewise, connection speeds are typically very poor. And don’t expect to be able to access any geo-blocked content with a free VPN.

What’s even worse, many of the free VPN providers make money by utilizing intrusive ads. A lot of them even sell user info and data to third parties. Does this mean you are obliged to pay for a VPN subscription? Not necessarily. There are several premium Mac VPNs that offer free plans for those who don’t need advanced VPN protection. However, I’d still suggest a paid service if you’re after the best VPN.

Final Word

And that would be it. As you can see, Mac users have plenty of choices to boost their security and online privacy with a reliable VPN. Of course, my list is only a scrap of available VPNs for Mac. There are numerous other providers worth considering. However, if you’re looking for the best VPN for Mac, the providers above should be your top choices.

As for which one I believe is the best, my top choice for Apple devices, in general, is Surfshark. However, ExpressVPN and NordVPN don’t fall far behind. The reality is that choosing the best VPN for your Mac will be an entirely subjective decision. Compare your available options and do your research. I can only hope my list will help.

That said, until next time, and be sure to check more of our reviews!

FAQs

Find answers to the most common questions people ask.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network, better known as a VPN, is software that replaces the user’s actual IP address, hiding their online activity in an encrypted tunnel to ensure privacy and anonymity when online. VPN services also allow users to bypass internet geo-blocks through proxy servers, unblocking geo-blocked content on streaming platforms and foreign websites.

Should Mac users use VPNs?

While Macs are considered more secure than Windows devices, they aren’t immune to all cybersecurity threats. More importantly, even if your Mac is equipped with advanced antivirus software, it doesn’t hide your online activity. That can only be achieved by using a Mac-compatible VPN service.

Can I use free Mac VPNs?

While free VPNs look tempting, they usually are nowhere near premium VPNs when it comes to safety and reliability. Furthermore, many free VPN services sell user data to third parties. If you want to use a free Mac VPN, I’d suggest using a free plan offered by a premium provider. It won’t come with unbelievable speeds or more comprehensive features, but at least you’ll be using VPN software from a tried and trusted source.

Are VPNs legal?

Yes, of course; why wouldn’t they be? VPNs are 100% legal in most European countries, the UK, North America, and Australia. There are some exceptions in countries where VPN services aren’t legal or where VPNs are restricted, but in most cases, there’s nothing to worry about when using a VPN.

Do Macs have a built-in VPN?

In a way, they do. Macs come with built-in L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2 VPN protocols, which you can turn on at any time for extra protection. And while these tools can prove themselves useful, they won’t help you access geo-restricted content or take advantage of other, more advanced VPN features.

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