Best VPNs for Mac (2023)
- Always evades internet control in the PRC
- Keeps ahead of the Netflix VPN detection algorithm
- Benchmark tests show excellent speed
- More US city locations than its rivals
- Includes malware protection
- No-logs policy
- No limit on the number of devices you can connect at the same time
- SOCKS5 proxy, which its main rivals don’t have
- More VPN servers in more US cities to dodge blackouts
It’s no secret that using a Virtual Private Network will greatly enhance your online security, protect your privacy, and keep your Internet activity anonymous. And while it may initially sound like an overly technical process – tunneling your data through a remote server to hide your IP address – there are a ton of easy-to-use and affordable VPN products on the market that make the entire process seamless and straightforward, even if you aren’t a tech geek.
When getting started, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the VPN you are looking at is compatible with your devices. While most VPN services will work on a Mac, some have add-ons and a user interface that will work better than others on your Apple PC. In this post, I’ll share my 7 favorite VPNs that work with Mac operating systems.
How to evaluate a VPN
For the uninitiated, it helps to first understand what features differentiate one VPN from another. Differences lie in better security features, performance, and customer support.
For security, there are different encryption protocols, although most use AES-256, which is the highest level of encryption currently available. If a company deviates from this, I will be sure to point it out.
It is also important to note how a VPN will affect the performance of your online activity. Since your data is tunneled to a remote server, there will always be some loss of speed and possibly a drastic effect on latency. Each VPN will tackle this with its own technology, with the end result being sometimes dramatic differences in speed from one VPN to the next.
Finally, I always like to evaluate the more intangible aspects of a VPN service.
- How easy is it to set up?
- How intuitive is the interface?
- And finally, what is their customer support system like?
These things can be just as important as the performance aspects… after all, if your VPN is too hard to use, you may give up altogether.
Making the right choice
Shopping for a VPN for your Mac will come down to a few key points. Some of these VPNs have thousands of servers worldwide – is global access important, or do you mostly stick to your own home turf?
Additionally, would you rather have a lot of configuration options, or do you want something streamlined and optimized out of the box? How important is blazing-fast speed, and how important is the price?
This list gives you some great places to start – reputable, trustworthy VPNs that have a Mac-friendly interface. You can read some of our in-depth reviews on these products or dive right in with one of the many free trials that many have to offer. Improving your Internet security and keeping your online activity anonymous are just a few steps away.
ExpressVPN is one of the most well-known and reputable VPNs on the market. The Virgin Islands-based company has been around since 2009 and has built a reputation for honesty and reliability. It is a little more expensive than other VPNs, at $8.50/month when purchased annually, but delivers a total package of great security and high performance.
- Installs on routers
- Simultaneous connection allowance of five devices
- Split tunneling
- Large choice of server location
- Very strong connection encryption
- One of the most expensive VPN services
- China blocks its main website (but not functionality)
- Live chat support is not always responsive
Downloads will be fast, and connectivity to the service has 99.9% uptime. There are server locations in over 90 countries, which is perfect if you like to take your Mac on the road (and are a nomad, like me). While they do keep minimal user logs (connection times, choice of server location), ExpressVPN strikes a great balance between security, performance, and global connectivity.
NordVPN is a trustworthy company that comes in at a reasonable price point, which gets better the longer you sign up. It is widely regarded as the most secure VPN available. Not only do they have a no-log policy, but they also feature automatic double encryption.
- A large number of servers
- Threat protection with a proprietary security system called CyberSec
- Split tunneling
- Obfuscated servers for China and other locations where VPNs are discouraged
- No-logs policy
- Automatic wi-fi protection
- Parts of the server network have poor download speeds
- No servers in India
- Onion over VPN can be slow
As far as performance is concerned, NordVPN is not as fast as other VPNs but is very reliable. With ample international server locations, NordVPN provides consistent service for uninterrupted torrenting and/or streaming.
The product is well-rounded, with an attractive Mac client and a choice of security protocols for different devices. In fact, NordVPN allows up to 5 simultaneous connections with one license. If you want to take your Macbook, iPhone, and iPad around the world with you, Nord is an affordable and reputable choice of VPN.
IPVanish is another big VPN provider with a history of success. It’s on the more expensive side, with a price point of $6.50 to $10 per month, depending on the plan. But, the flip side is that it offers insanely good performance and hundreds of servers worldwide. Add in its zero-log policy, and this is a VPN that deserves a second look.
- Good at dodging blackouts on US sports streaming sites
- A large IP address pool
- Split tunneling available
- Strong IP leak protection
- IPVanish support is available around the clock via chat and email
- No app for Linux
- No browser extensions
- 30-day money-back guarantee only for the annual plan
- Prices increase after the first subscription period
- No malware or antivirus service
IPVanish differs in the types of users that will appreciate it the most. The service offers a lot of special features, like IP address cycling and a kill switch, but these come at the expense of a clunky and unattractive user interface. While it does have a custom interface for Mac users, it still isn’t as user-friendly as other options.
IPVanish also provides more options and configurations for the truly technical user, including connections from up to 5 devices simultaneously.
PureVPN has been a highly rated VPN for over a decade and offers a lot of features to help you get the most mileage out of your subscription. In addition, the company has 80,000 IP addresses in 141 countries, ensuring optimal global performance and options for bypassing geographic restrictions on content.
- Excellent client with pre-configured modes for streaming, P2P, privacy
- Kill switch
- Support for wide range of protocols, including OpenVPN
- Great for newbies and experienced users alike
- Wide server coverage
- Good speeds
- 24/7 support
- Accepts Bitcoin
- No free trial
- 7-day money-back guarantee comes with restrictions
- No Netflix
- No BBC iPlayer
- Client is not as “one-click” as advertised, and troubleshooting requires technical skills
PureVPN is a very flexible product, and the Mac version is easy to install and has a simple interface for hassle-free use. That being said, it also comes standard with a robust set of security configurations and features like DNS leak protection. It’s a great choice if you want something that has a checklist of every major VPN feature that’s still super easy to use.
PureVPN is expensive if purchased month-to-month ($10.95) and in 6-month plans ($8.95/month) but offers steep discounts for longer subscriptions. They do have a 7-day free trial as well, so if you’re looking for a Mac-friendly VPN, this is a good way to test the waters.
HideMyAss is a long-standing competitor in the VPN market with a unique set of pros and cons. The company’s primary target user is someone who is mostly concerned with a great interface, ease of use, and responsive customer support. If you want something that can be easily set up and isn’t cluttered with rarely-used options, then HideMyAss could be the VPN for you.
- The name! I love the name “Hide My Ass!” It makes me laugh every time.
- Very granular control over Location Mode in desktop version
- Amusing UI graphics
- Supports OpenVPN
- Speed: I experienced a 50% loss in download speed
- Located in a Five Eyes country
- They log your IP
- Failed with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
All of HideMyAss’s features are easily usable and readily accessible on their Mac client. What you will miss out on are specialty servers, connectivity for more than 2 devices, the ability to change VPN protocols, and ad blocking. If you don’t think you will use any of these features, then HideMyAss is a simple VPN solution with worldwide servers and above-average performance.
- The cool VPN app design
- A larger number of servers than most of its rivals
- Split tunneling options
- Proprietary nospy server technology that can avoid detection in places like China
- A strict no-logs policy
- A 45-day money-back guarantee
- Some server locations are spoofed – the CyberGhost servers aren’t really where they say they are
- The VPN has to be manually set up on routers
- Not as fast as advertised
CyberGhost’s pricing is pretty average, although they only offer subscriptions of one year or more. It is also costly to upgrade to their Premium Plus plan (taking the cost from $5.83/month to $9.16/month), with the only added benefit being support for 5 devices instead of 2.
You’ll also want to double-check their server locations to make sure you will be getting the best performance. As a newer company, they have a limited amount of servers, which are mostly in North America and Europe. Despite these minor drawbacks, CyberGhost is a high-performance VPN that I would recommend to any Mac user.