Best VPN For Mac

Contrary to popular belief, Macs aren’t impenetrable computers that can’t be compromised by hackers and malware. They’re actually just as prone as any other digital device. In fact, many attackers now specialize in targeting them. Hence, now is a more important time than ever to get a VPN for your Mac.

(If you're in a hurry, our top recommendation for macOS is ExpressVPN.)

What Is The Best VPN For Mac In 2021?

Every major VPN service has a native application for Mac. In addition, they each claim to be the best option for the platform. Because of that, it can be difficult to select the right service. 

Luckily, my team has got your back. We’ve tested out every single service we could get our hands on. Following that, all of them were ranked accordingly. As a result, I now have a definitive list of the five best VPNs for macOS.

1. ExpressVPN

logo expressvpn

Credit: ExpressVPN.com

No other VPN is better for Mac than ExpressVPN. It provides superb security and has a great application for the platform. The service is also extremely fast, only being matched by a few competitors. Lastly, it works in China, making it a wonderful tool to have in the country.

ExpressVPN maintains a 100% RAM-based server network, making it unable to store logs. The VPN also utilizes AES 256-bit encryption and has support for all mainstream protocols. It has even got its own called Lightway, which experts regard to be very secure.

The unblocking capabilities of ExpressVPN are second to none. With it, you’ll be able to access almost every foreign streaming service library without any problems. You shall also easily browse websites that aren’t available in your region and download exclusive content from them.

ExpressVPN’s developers have given it unlimited bandwidth. That means that it does not have a cap on how much data is trafficked through its servers. As a result, you’ll get to experience the best connection speeds available while using a VPN service.

Torrenting is another thing great to do with ExpressVPN. It boasts a fully enabled P2P network that makes picking out a server for the job a breeze. Furthermore, the service’s speed makes downloading really fast. Gone are the days when you’ll have to wait so long to get the content that you want.

All of ExpressVPN’s apps have a straightforward interface. In fact, at first glance, they might seem rather plain or even boring. However, I’m sure that you’ll love them once you get fully acquainted with the VPN. Nevertheless, if ever you have any regrets, you’ll be glad to know there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee policy in place.

The only downside of ExpressVPN is its prices. Each of the service’s plans is quite a bit more expensive than that of its competitors. For that reason, it’s not the best choice for thrifty people.

2. NordVPN

logo nordvpn

Credit: NordVPN.com

NordVPN is a major leader in the VPN industry for good reason. My tests have proven that it’s the fastest service that’s currently available. Additionally, it’s incredibly safe to use and can be depended on to maintain your privacy. On top of that, you can use it to unblock any streaming service and website.

Before going into detail about its specifications, you should know that NordVPN is no stranger to controversy. It was once hacked by a lone attacker. During the incident, a single rented server was compromised. Fortunately, no private user data got stolen. Still, the service’s reputation took a big hit. Due to that, it has been striving to regain the public’s trust.

Part of NordVPN’s strategy to restore its reputation is to enhance its security. The service has a bug bounty program in place. It also announced a transition to RAM-based servers and created its own protocol that’s based on WireGuard.

Like all high-ranking VPNs, NordVPN utilizes AES 256-bit encryption and supports every major protocol. It also has a kill switch along with a strict no-logging policy. Finally, it works in China and other countries where the internet is heavily restricted.

As expected, NordVPN doesn’t have a bandwidth limit. Because of that, it’s way faster than its competitors. With it, you can download anything quickly and stream videos without any issues with quality or buffering.

Speaking of streaming, it’s essential to know that NordVPN is one of the best services for the job. It can bypass almost any geoblock effortlessly. The VPN is perfect if you are fond of watching shows or movies and subscribe to many streaming services.

Apart from Mac, NordVPN is compatible with every major operating system. It also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Moreover, it allows for six simultaneous connections, giving it decent value. Still, you might end up shorthanded if you’ve got a big household where more people need online protection.

3. Surfshark

logo surfshark

Credit: Surfshark.com

Surfshark is a newer VPN that has come to dominate the industry. It has managed to acquire a huge market share in a short time because of the sheer level of quality and value it offers. With one subscription, you’ll get to connect an unlimited number of devices. Thus, having more than one account to stay fully protected online isn’t needed.

Surfshark’s developers prioritize security. The VPN uses military-grade encryption and supports all major protocols. It has even announced that it recently upgraded to a fully RAM-based network. As a result, the service is now unable to store any private user info.

Surfshark also has lots of features that are geared towards keeping you protected. Examples of which include a kill switch and malware blocker. You can also avail of an alert system called HackLock that informs you if your information has been involved in a data breach.

Our testing has proven that Surfshark works reliably in China. It’s also capable of unblocking all websites that aren’t available in your region. To add to that, the service can bypass the geoblocks of popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

The Surfshark app for Mac is excellent. With little exposure, even those who aren’t savvy with tech shall get to master it. Consequently, I can recommend it to all kinds of users.

Unfortunately, Surfshark’s server network isn’t 100% P2P enabled. Still, torrenting is easy with the service. The reason why is because there’s no need to select a specialized server for the job. Surfshark automatically detects your torrenting activity and connects you with the right P2P server based on your location.

Surfshark has recently raised its prices. As of now, a monthly subscription costs $12.95, making it as expensive as ExpressVPN. Hence, it’s not suitable for those with the tightest of budgets.

4. CyberGhost

logo cyberghost

Credit: CyberGhostVPN.com

CyberGhost is a VPN that’s long been regarded as one of the best. It gives you absolute digital protection and everything else that you’d want from a VPN service. The service also boasts an awesome Mac application. It lists down servers that are optimized for torrenting, streaming, and security. It’s very user-friendly and suitable for everyone.

Part of the reason why CyberGhost is secure is that it uses AES 256-bit encryption. Like most other top-tier services, it has a kill switch, ad & malware blocker, and a no-logs policy.

Sadly, all common protocols aren’t available on CyberGhost’s Mac app. On the platform, you can only use IPSec/IKEv2. At the moment, there’s no support for OpenVPN (UDP or TCP) or WireGuard. Thus, in this regard, you’ll be limited.

CyberGhost’s speed capabilities largely depend on the server you’re using. It can perform really well but may also be quite sluggish. As such, I highly recommend that you add every fast server you use to your favorites list. That way, you can quickly connect to them to have a seamless gaming or downloading experience.

Torrenting and streaming with CyberGhost aren’t hard. Although it doesn’t have a complete P2P network, it lets you pick through a list of special torrenting servers. The service also adopts the same strategy for streaming. Thus, there’ll be no more need to guess where to pair to watch your favorite shows and movies.

You may connect seven devices simultaneously with one CyberGhost account. Furthermore, the service has wide compatibility. It has native apps for all common operating systems and extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Besides that, you can also use it over the Tor Browser.

Sad to say, CyberGhost doesn’t work in China. Our testers in the country have tried out several times without success. It’s not the best VPN to get if you frequently travel to the country or anywhere else where the internet is highly censored.

5. Private Internet Access (PIA)

logo pia vpn

Credit: PrivateInternetAccess.com

Private Internet Access or PIA a US-based VPN that’s famed for its affordability. At just $9.95 a month, the service is one of the cheapest available. Due to that, it’s a top pick for lots of people who are on a budget. With it, you’ll most definitely be getting an excellent bargain.

Don’t think that PIA skimps on security. It actually offers some of the best digital protection that money can buy. Thanks to AES 256-bit encryption and support for all common protocols including WireGuard, you can rest assured you’ll be safe. It’s also a must to know that PIA also has a strict no-logs policy, kill switch, and malware blocker.

Sadly, the unblocking capabilities of PIA are subpar. You can’t use it in countries where internet censorship is rampant. Moreover, it can’t reliably access websites that are banned or blocked. I have also not had much success tapping into the foreign libraries of streaming sites.

On the bright side, all of PIA’s 3300+ servers are P2P enabled. As a result, it has been heralded as one of the best VPNs for torrenting. By choosing it, you’re sure to not have any problems when picking an optimized server.

Speed isn’t something that PIA can boast about. While it isn’t slow, you won’t have a blazingly fast connection when using it. Lots of other services outperform it. Nevertheless, you’ll still be more than able to download and play games using it.

PIA allows for ten simultaneous device pairings with one account. It also has great applications for every platform it's compatible with. Additionally, the service has browser extensions for every major web browser. You can even use PIA over Tor and with your gaming consoles.

One last thing to mention about PIA is that it has excellent customer service. All my experiences with the VPN’s chat and email support has been good. Each time I contacted them, I was given a detailed response in a very cordial manner.

Why Use A VPN On A Mac?

Why Use A VPN On A Mac

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You probably already know that a VPN is more than a security tool. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are many reasons to have one on your Mac. Let’s talk about each one so you’ll no longer be skeptical about getting the right service.

  • Maintain Your Security & Privacy

The main job of all VPNs is to uphold your online safety and privacy. With one, you’ll get to keep hackers at bay. It shall be impossible for them to track, collect, store, and use your online info. Consequently, there’ll be no need to worry about becoming a victim of a heinous cybercrime.

A VPN also prevents government monitors and ISPs from looking into your activities. This is a great thing as you’ll never know when your private data will be used against you.

  • Access Unavailable Websites

VPNs allow you to access websites that aren’t available in your region. You’ll have complete freedom to see everything on the internet. 

Where you’re based is no longer going to contribute to limiting what you’re able to see on the web. Additionally, activities like research and shopping will be so much easier.

  • Stream Foreign Libraries

Netflix and all other popular streaming platforms have different libraries in every country they operate in. All of these libraries contain exclusive shows and movies that you might want to watch. Sad to say, they’re always geo-restricted, meaning they’re only accessible in their respective regions.

With a capable VPN on your Mac, you’ll get to view content that you otherwise couldn’t in your location. A plethora of new movies and shows shall be available for your viewing pleasure.

  • Torrent Without Hassles

Downloading anything copyrighted via torrent is strictly prohibited in most jurisdictions. If you’re caught, you may face severe consequences. Fortunately, this can be avoided by connecting to a VPN before downloading a torrent.

Why? Because a VPN hides your IP address and, therefore, your location. As a result, it’ll be hard for the authorities to determine where you are and what you’re doing.

What Does A Mac VPN Do?

What Does A Mac VPN Do

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A VPN on your Mac does many things. But, it’s most important function is to ensure that you’re protected online. It does this by encrypting web traffic and masking your IP address so others won’t get to track you.

Some services improve your base connection speeds. They achieve this by getting you off the bandwidth throttling imposed by your ISP. With that said, it’s essential to know that VPNs most often have an adverse effect on your internet speed. Due to that, you shouldn’t fully depend on them to make your connection better.

VPNs on your Mac also help with bypassing censorship. Using a competent service, you shall get to leap across the Great Wall of China. Thus, it’ll be possible for you to browse websites such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube, all banned in China.

As mentioned earlier, a Mac VPN provides you with access to foreign streaming libraries. It may also enable you to browse region-locked websites and services. Moreover, a decent service will maintain your anonymity, and therefore, keep you safeguarded when torrenting.

Finally, a VPN installed on your Mac computer can let you watch live sporting events. With one, missing one of your favorite team’s games will be a thing of the past. You’ll always remain up to date and ahead of friends that’ll only get to watch after the sporting event is over.

Does Mac Have A Built-In VPN?

Does Mac Have A Built-In VPN

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macOS doesn’t have a built-in VPN service in the traditional sense. However, it has a feature that lets you create a private network for your business or organization. Using it, you shall be able to remotely access files.

To put it simply, the VPN feature of macOS is geared towards business or educational use. It’s not something you can use to protect yourself online. Besides that, you also can’t utilize it to circumvent online censorship and browse restricted websites. Lastly, it won’t get you off bandwidth throttling or provide access to foreign streaming service libraries.

You need a dedicated third-party service to do everything stated above. For more information about the matter, I suggest that you read our VPN guide for beginners. That article contains everything you need to know about what a VPN service can and cannot do.

How To Choose The Best VPN For A Mac

How To Choose The Best VPN For A Mac

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By going with the five services listed above, I guarantee that you’ll have no problems. With that said, there’s no problem in choosing a different service for your Mac. You should only put these factors into consideration during your selection process:

  • Security

A VPN service on any platform must provide the utmost levels of security. It should also keep your identity hidden whenever you browse the web. Furthermore, the VPN you pick mustn't have any record of disclosing user information to the authorities.

  • Speed

Not all VPNs are created equally as some are way slower than others. Due to that, you must make sure the service you get has decent speed capabilities. Remember that getting a slow VPN will definitely provide an unremarkable browsing experience.

  • Bypasses Geoblocks

It’s vital to have a service that’s able to bypass geoblocks. Without one, you won’t get to access the foreign libraries of streaming services. It’ll also not be possible to access restricted websites and services in your region. If anything, you’ll not have complete internet freedom.

  • Network Size

The size of VPN networks greatly varies from service to service. You should choose one that’s got many servers across the globe. Why? Because it’s more capable of maintaining the anonymity of its users.

  • Works In China

You’ll never know when you will need to bypass internet censorship. As such, it’s to be equipped with the right tool for the job. Always go for the service that works in China as it’ll be a great thing to have there and many other places.

  • Interface & Compatibility

Your VPN should have a Mac application that boasts a user-friendly and visually appealing user interface. It must also have all-encompassing compatibility so that you’ll be able to utilize it on all your devices. Last but not least, your service has to allow for as many simultaneous connections as possible.

  • Customer Service

I guarantee that you’ll require assistance with your VPN at some point. Therefore, it is advisable to choose a service that has excellent customer service. It’s chat and email support team must be knowledgeable and quick. There should also be a large online knowledge base available for you to tap into.

  • Price

Never settle for the cheapest VPN. Instead, choose the one that provides you with the best value for your money. Apart from that, make sure that your service of choice has a decent refund policy. Why? You never know if you’ll be unsatisfied and want your money back.

How To Use A VPN On A Mac

How To Use A VPN On A Mac

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Using a VPN on a Mac isn’t difficult at all. Simply open your service’s app, choose a server, then connect to it. Following that, you should be all set. To determine if your VPN is working properly, check your IP address using IPLeak.net. You should see results showing you’re connected to the location of your selected server.

Summary

I’d like to wrap things up with a summary of the five VPN services we at VPN Thrive believe are the best for Mac. Even if they’re all wonderful services, you can only select one. As such, it’s nice to have a recap of each of their main selling points and downsides.

  1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has a great native app for Mac that’s very user-friendly. It’s extremely secure and more than capable of keeping you fully anonymous. 

On top of that, the service is very fast in comparison to its competitors. Lastly, it works in China and can unblock any website or streaming service without difficulty.

  1. NordVPN

NordVPN is an excellent choice for Mac because it’s the fastest VPN currently available. The service also has a wonderful app on the platform and can keep you 100% secure. Aside from that, it’s capable of bypassing most geoblocks.

  1. Surfshark

The value that Surfshark offers can’t be matched by any other service in the VPN industry. With it, you can do everything one would expect from a VPN. It’s fast, safe, and able to work around censorship systems as well as streaming site restrictions. 

Furthermore, the service allows you to pair an unlimited number of devices simultaneously with one account.

  1. CyberGhost

No other VPN on Mac has a better application than CyberGhost. Although the service isn’t the best performer, it won’t fail at maintaining your safety and privacy. 

You’ll also get to utilize it for all your torrenting needs. The same can also be said when it comes to streaming. Just pick the right server for the job, and you’ll be all set.

  1. Private Internet Access (PIA)

PIA is the king of budget-friendly VPNs. Despite its low prices, you’ll be getting top-notch security and privacy. Torrenting won’t be a problem thanks to the service’s fully enabled P2P network. 

If anything, PIA’s only downsides are that it can’t access all streaming service libraries and work in China. However, these are the trade-offs for its low price.

VPNWhy Is It Good for Mac?PricesLink
logo expressvpnTopnotch security,
Fast speeds,
Great unblocking capabilities,
Easy-to-use app for Mac,
Works in China
$12.95/Month
$9.99/Month (6-Month)
$6.67/Month (15-Months)

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee For All Subscriptions
Click for BEST Price
logo nordvpnGreat unlocking capabilities,
Decent Mac app,
Blazingly fast speeds,
Works in China
$11.99/Month
$6.99/month (1-Year)
$4.99/Month (2-Years)
$3.49/Month (3-Years)

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee For All Subscriptions
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logo surfsharkEasy-to-use Mac app,
Fast speeds, excellent security,
Unlimited simultaneous connections,
Great unblocking capabilities,
Works in China
$12.95/Month
$6.49/Month (6-Month)
$2.49/Month (2-Years)

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee For All Subscriptions
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logo cyberghostUser-friendly Mac app,
Reasonable prices,
Decent security,
Massive server network
$12.99/Month

14-Day Money-Back Guarantee

$7.99/month (6-Months)
$2.76/Month (18-Months)

45-Day Money-Back Guarantee
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logo pia vpnGreat security,
Awesome prices,
Simple Mac app,
Fully enabled P2P network
$9.95/Month
$3.33/Month (1-Year)
$2.69/Month (2-Years)

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee For All Subscriptions
Click for BEST Price

About the author 

Erwin Caniba

Erwin, our Chief Editor, has an established career in digital marketing. Since 2012, he’s always used a VPN. As such, it came to his mind to share his experience with every VPN that he’s used. And so, VPN Thrive was born.

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