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5 Best VPNs for Mac: Secure & Tested

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I use my Macbook Air M1 to stream geo-restricted movies and TV shows. ExpressVPN is my top choice for accessing that content and is the best VPN for Mac overall.

You get robust encryption and IP leak protection when you use your Mac device to open risky platforms like torrent sites. It’s also the fastest VPN, perfect for streaming 4K content on Mac XDR screens.

Finally, it’s also easy to use and has native apps for many macOS versions, including the new Apple silicon M1 and M2 chips.

I tested other VPNs in case ExpressVPN doesn’t meet your needs. You can use NordVPN for extra privacy, PureVPN if you’re on a budget, Surfshark if you want to secure multiple devices, or CyberGhost for its extensive server network.

Keep reading to learn how to use these VPNs for Mac.

The 3 Top VPNs for Mac

MOST AFFORDABLE
PureVPN
PureVPN Top 2 Best VPNs

This VPN offers 6500+ servers to bypass geo-restricted content on Mac devices, secure Wifi, encryption, a kill switch, and obfuscation. It’s best suited for live streaming, affordable, and works with macOS 10.12.0 and later

4.6/5
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BEST OVERALL
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN different devices

This VPN offers the fastest speeds for macOS, IP leak protection, encryption, automatic obfuscation, and 3000+ servers to unblock geo-locked content. ExpressVPN is compatible with macOS X El Capitan (10.11) and later

4.8/5
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BEST PRIVACY
NordVPN
NordVPN devices

NordVPN offers the best privacy and security for macOS, 5400+ servers, AES 256-bit encryption, IP leak protection, obfuscated and double VPN servers, and fast speeds. It works on macOS 10.15 Catalina and later

4.6/5
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macOS is known for its tight security, but it’s not foolproof. This is where a Virtual Private Network comes in. They work alongside basic firewalls to give you that extra layer of security and anonymity on your Mac.

Secure Your Mac and Stream Without Buffering Using These 5 VPNs

Before you dive into your favorite shows on your Mac, here’s a quick overview of the best VPNs you can use.

  • ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN for macOS With Automatic Obfuscation
  • NordVPN – Best Privacy VPN for macOS
  • PureVPN – Best for Live Streaming With Affordable Prices
  • Surfshark – Unlimited Simultaneous Connections for Multiple macOS Devices
  • CyberGhost – Largest Server Network to Bypass Restricted Content

I have internet speeds of 30 Mbps, which I used for all the speed tests.

See the results below.

Top 5 Fast and Reliable VPNs for Mac

In this review, I’ll look at the features of each VPN concerning the macOS platform and how they unblock restricted content. I’ll also explore their connection speeds, user privacy, security, and the exact macOS versions each VPN is compatible with.

BEST OVERALL

ExpressVPN - Fastest VPN for macOS With Automatic Obfuscation

expressvpn version 11.12.0 us
Location Servers macOS Compatibility Average Test Speeds Best Deal
BVI 3000+ macOS X El Capitan (10.11) and later 29 Mbps Show Offer

Despite the costly price tag, ExpressVPN provides robust security when I use my Mac to visit risky sites like Pirate Bay or join public networks. 

First, there’s the standard 256-bit encryption that I tested on Wireshark. 

All I got were symbols and text, which is what your ISP and hackers see when they try to intercept your traffic.

ExpressVPN for macOS also offers a Threat Manager option for dealing with ads, tracking, and malware. The only other platforms that provide this are iOS and Linux. However, the macOS version doesn’t have a split tunneling option like Android or Windows.

Moving on to connection speeds and stability, ExpressVPN was the fastest VPN in my tests, averaging 29 Mbps. This is perfect for gaming on macOS.

ExpressVPN’s fastest protocol on Mac is Lightway UDP. Other protocols include Lightway TCP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN (TCP & UDP).

That said, ExpressVPN has the smallest server network. Luckily, it’s still adept at bypassing restrictions. I successfully unblocked HBO Max, Hulu, Qobuz, and BBC iPlayer.

Furthermore, the convenient automatic obfuscation runs across all servers and protocols without affecting speeds. This is unique to ExpressVPN only.

ExpressVPN is compatible with the following macOS versions:

  • macOS Ventura (13)
  • macOS Monterey (12)
  • macOS Big Sur (11)
  • macOS Catalina (10.15)
  • macOS Mojave (10.14)
  • macOS High Sierra (10.13)
  • macOS Sierra (10.12)
  • OS X El Capitán (10.11)

You can grab your ExpressVPN subscription with these fantastic discounts.

Pros

Cons

BEST PRIVACY

NordVPN - Best Privacy VPN for macOS

nordvpn version 7.13.0 us
Location Servers macOS Compatibility Average Speeds Best Deal
Panama 5400+ macOS 10.15 Catalina and later 27 Mbps Show Offer

NordVPN has a bigger server network than ExpressVPN, with over 5400 servers for accessing geo-blocked content on your Mac.

As for user privacy, NordVPN offers AES 256-bit encryption and a kill switch. However, while the Windows app has two kill switches, Mac only has one.

NordVPN also offers obfuscated servers and double VPN servers that encrypt your internet traffic twice for double the security.

The only drawback with these two server types is that your speeds can decrease significantly. I got 7 Mbps with a US obfuscated server.

As for protocols, NordVPN for macOS offers NordLynx (the fastest) and OpenVPN (TCP & UDP). But like the macOS version of ExpressVPN, NordVPN doesn’t have a split tunneling button like Windows and Android.

As for ad blockers and malware, you can choose between Threat Protection and Threat Protection Lite. The Lite version only works with the VPN active, while the former doesn’t need to be connected to the VPN.

NordVPN was third with PureVPN on the speed tests with 27 Mbps, largely down to the NordLynx protocol. This VPN app is also the only one across all platforms offering a Presets option for quick access to apps and websites you normally use with a VPN connection.

Additionally, NordVPN has two macOS versions. The first can be downloaded from the official website and comes with extra preferences like DNS configuration, a kill switch that only terminates designated app connections instead of the entire internet, and Threat Protection Lite. It works on macOS 10.15 and later.

The second version can be downloaded from the App Store and is compatible with macOS versions older than 10.15.

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Pros

Cons

MOST AFFORDABLE

PureVPN - Best for Live Streaming With Affordable Prices

purevpn version 9.2.0 connected to us server
Location Servers macOS Compatibility Average Test Speeds Best Deal
BVI 6500+ macOS 10.12.0 and later 27 Mbps Show Offer

PureVPN registered average speeds of 27 Mbps, enough for uninterrupted and buffer-free streaming of live premier league games on my MacBook Air. Like NordVPN and CyberGhost, PureVPN has streaming dedicated servers optimized for speeds.

Furthermore, PureVPN offers military-grade encryptionA quick test on Wireshark returned a series of gibberish texts which proves the encryption works.

Mac users also get full IP and DNS leak protection through a reliable kill switch that disconnects your internet when your VPN connection drops.

I tested the kill switch by forcibly dropping the VPN connection.

I couldn’t access the internet afterward.

PureVPN doesn’t offer an ad blocker on macOS, but you get four protocols: IPSec, UDP, WireGuard, and IKEv2. PureVPN for macOS is the only one that offers the IPSec protocol. However, there isn’t a split tunneling option on this app like on Windows and Android.

And on unblocking capabilities, PureVPN has the second largest server network after CyberGhost, with 6500+. There’s nothing I couldn’t access on my MacBook. For example, I used a US server to catch NBA highlights on DirecTV.

Furthermore, the VPN offers faster obfuscation than NordVPN, meaning you can safely navigate VPN censorship even in the strictest regions like China or Russia. It’s still a little slow, though.

PureVPN works on macOS 10.12.0 and up. It’s also the cheapest VPN on this list, alongside Surfshark. Check our fantastic discounts and enjoy secured connections on up to 10 Mac devices simultaneously.

Pros

Cons

Surfshark - Unlimited Simultaneous Connections for Multiple macOS Devices

surfshark version 4.6.0 connected to south africa server
Location Servers macOS Compatibility Average Speeds Best Deal
The Netherlands 3200+ macOS 10.15 Catalina and later 28 Mbps Show Offer

Surfshark is the best budget VPN for the macOS platform, and not just for its affordable price plans. It’s the only VPN on this list that allows unlimited simultaneous connections.

With just 3200+ servers, I didn’t experience a drop in performance when bypassing geo-blocks on platforms like Pandora Radio or Peacock.

In addition, Surfshark offers an obfuscation feature called Camouflage Mode on macOS. It slows speeds, though – I got 15 Mbps with Camouflage Mode activated

Furthermore, Surfshark has AES 256-bit encryption that I tested on Wireshark and got the usual unreadable text, proving it works.

In addition, you also get a kill switch to keep your real IP address from leaking. To test it, I disconnected from the VPN. My internet cut off immediately. 

Like NordVPN, Surfshark VPN also offers double protection through its MultiHop servers but with better speeds (depending on the server combination you get).

There’s also an ad and tracker blocker feature called CleanWeb.

It scored higher than Threat Protection Lite.

Moreover, Surfshark is a speedy VPN, coming only second to ExpressvPN with an average speed of 28 Mbps when I tested it with the WireGuard protocol. You only get two protocols on macOS, with IKEv2 being the other option. 

But there’s no inbuilt speed test feature like the one found in Windows.

PureVPN has app support for the following macOS versions.

  • macOS Catalina
  • macOS Big Sur
  • macOS Monterey
  • macOS Ventura

Additionally, the price plans are among the lowest you’ll come across.

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Pros

Cons

CyberGhost - Largest Server Network to Bypass Restricted Content

cyberghost version 8.3.9
Location Servers macOS Compatibility Average Speeds Best Deal
Romania 8800+ macOS X 10.12 Sierra and later  26 Mbps Show Offer

Wrapping up our mini reviews is CyberGhost, with the largest server network of 9000+. However, CyberGhost is the only option on this list without obfuscation, which can be a significant handicap if you’re trying to beat heavy censorship.

Outside of that, CyberGhost is a fast VPN with an average speed of 26 Mbps. This was possible through its streaming and torrenting servers geared towards fast speeds. On top of this, CyberGhost for macOS offers two protocols: IKEv2 and WireGuard.

As for user privacy, CyberGhost passed the encryption test on Wireshark, hiding all the important traffic information.

The automatic kill switch was also active, blocking my internet connection when I forcefully interfered with the VPN connection to test it.

However, CyberGhost for Mac doesn’t have a kill switch button that you can toggle on and off.

Finally, CyberGhost’s Block Content feature was the best ad blocker on this list.

You can also run CyberGhost on the following macOS apps versions:

  • Ventura (13)
  • Monterey (12)
  • Big Sur (11)
  • Catalina (10.15)
  • Mojave (10.14)
  • High Sierra (10.13)
  • Sierra (10.12)

CyberGhost is affordable, though not nearly as affordable as PureVPN and Surfshark. Check these sweet deals to save more.

Pros

Cons

How to Set up a VPN for macOS?

Setting up a VPN on your Mac is easy. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Download and install ExpressVPN on a Mac device running macOS X El Capitan (10.11) or above. You can also get it from the Apple App Store.
get expressvpn for mac
  1. Launch ExpressVPN and connect to a VPN server of your choice.
expressvpn us
  1. Start browsing the internet on your Mac device.
Interesting Reads:

FAQ

The best free Mac VPN is AtlasVPN. It offers three VPN locations you can use to bypass restrictions. It also provides a kill switch and encryption to keep you safe online. The secure VPN is also compatible with all the latest macOS versions and is fast enough to handle bandwidth-heavy activities like streaming.

However, Atlas VPN lacks many necessary features like obfuscation, and the speeds may be vulnerable to throttling. Thus, I recommend an affordable premium VPN like PureVPN or Surfshark.

Mac computers don’t have built-in VPNs. And while they have options for Mac users to configure VPNs, users report that manually configured Mac VPNs stop working when you switch off the machine. Premium VPN services are the better choice, as they’re reliable and offer user-friendly GUI interfaces for many macOS versions.

Wrapping Up

Securing your Mac device is essential; using the right VPN will help you achieve that. ExpressVPN is still the best Mac VPN, as it has the servers, speeds, and privacy features you need to secure your connections.

Remember to grab your ExpressVPN subscription using our exclusive discount deals before they run out.

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