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How to Get & Set up a VPN on Mac?

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The best way to get and set up a VPN on your Mac device is by downloading the VPN’s app from your App Store or getting an installable file from the VPN provider’s website.

While that’s the easiest and fastest way to get a VPN for your Mac, you can also install one via the Tunnelblick client or configure a VPN server directly in your Mac’s settings.

No matter which method you prefer, I’ll walk you through straightforward setup methods below.

But if you want to grab one of the easiest-to-setup and best VPNs for Mac right now:

3 Ways to Set up a VPN on Mac Devices?

There are three recommended options for setting up a VPN on a Mac device. 

I’ll discuss these options below.

Option 1: Set up a VPN on Mac Using a Third-Party VPN App - Fastest & Easiest

I’ll use Surfshark, my top recommended VPN for Mac units, to demonstrate this setup method:

  1. Buy a Surfshark plan. You can grab our exclusive discounts!
  1. Log in to your Surfshark dashboard using the details you provided when buying your VPN plan.
surfshark user dashboard
  1. Click on “Apps and extensions” at the top left-hand corner of your screen.
surfshark apps and extensions tab
  1. You’ll see all the platforms and devices compatible with Surfshark. We want to install it on a Mac device, so download the “macOS” option.
surfshark macos app
  1. Select “Direct Download.” The file will download and be stored as a .dmg file in your specified downloads folder.
direct download surfshark macos app
  1. Open your Mac device’s download folder and double-click the file to run it. It may ask for your permission or Mac/Surfshark logins to function. Grant the permission.
  2. Open the Surfshark app and log in with your account credentials.
  3. Choose the correct VPN connection protocol. In this case, I recommend WireGuard because it’s the fastest and most secure. To do this on Surfshark, click Settings > VPN settings > Protocol and select “WireGuard.”
surfshark wiregaurd protocol
  1. Enable the kill switch on the same window.
surfshark kill switch
  1. Choose your preferred server connection. To do this, click “VPN” at the top left-hand corner and select the location. I’ll use Singapore in this example.
surfshark vpn tab
  1. Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed the VPN on your Mac device.
surfshark connected to singapore server location

Option 2: Set up a VPN on Mac Using VPN Settings

If your VPN doesn’t have a dedicated VPN app, don’t sweat. Follow the steps below:

  1. Head to the upper left corner of the Mac device’s screen and click “System preferences.”
macos system preferences
  1. Click “Network.”
  2. Select the “+ sign in the bottom left corner of your screen.
macos network settings
  1. Select “VPN” from the dropdown menu on your screen’s left side.
vpn in macos network options
  1. Choose the VPN protocol you prefer or one your VPN offers. I recommend OpenVPN because it is the most secure VPN protocol and can circumvent most geo-blocks and firewalls.
  2. Choose any name for the VPN and hit “Create.”
create vpn network on macos
  1. Fill in the server details provided by your VPN provider, including the account name and server address.
configuring vpn service on macos
  1. Check “Show VPN status in menu bar.” It’ll allow you to connect or disconnect directly from the desktop.
  2. Click “Authentication Settings” and enter the password or any other authentication information your VPN provides.
vpn authentication settings on macos
  1. Click the “Advanced” button and check the “Send all traffic over VPN connection” option. Click “OK” and “Apply” to save these changes.
send traffic over vpn macos vpn setting
  1.  Click “Connect,” and you’ve manually set up a VPN on your Mac device!

Option 3: Set up a VPN on Mac With Tunnelblick

Tunnelblick is a free and open-source GUI for macOS, offering more customization for those who are more security conscious.

Follow the steps below to set it up in no time:

  1. Head to the Tunnelblick site.
tunnelblick website home
  1. Click the green arrow pointing down to download the latest software release.
  2. Open and run the .dmg file downloaded into the downloads folder of your Mac device.
  3. Double-click the “Tunnelblick icon” to install and open it.
tunnelblick icon
  1. Click “Continue.”
continue tunnelblick installation
  1. On the welcome window, click “I have configuration files.” Click OK on the notice that pops up.
select vpn configuration files
  1. Head to your VPN provider’s site and log in to the client area. Again, this will only work if you have an active subscription plan. If you don’t have one yet, you can grab one of our ExpressVPN deals and enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Once you log in, you’ll see available setup options for different applications. Under Mac, Select “Manual configuration.”
expressvpn manual configuration file for mac
  1. You’ll get OpenVPN connection details. Scroll down to see all the locations you can connect manually to.
select configuration device
  1. Select your preferred server location and download the respective .ovpn file. Save it somewhere you can find it easily.
  2. Note down the username and password of the downloaded OpenVPN connect client configuration. You’ll see them above the selected servers.
expressvpn unique username and password for manual configuration
  1. Return to the Tunnelblick window in step 6 above. Under the Configurations window, select VPN Details.”
  2. Locate the .ovpn file you downloaded in step 10 above. Drag and drop it into the left-side menu pane on Tunnelblick.
  3. Select ”Only Me” if you’ll be the only VPN user or ”All Users” if you’ll use it on another account on your device.
install configuration for all users
  1. Choose the VPN configuration you added from the following popup and click “Connect.”
  2. You’ll be asked for a username and password. Enter the details from step 11.
tunnelblick login required
  1. Click OK to connect.
  2. The Tunnelblick app will become active and connect to the server. The menu bar will change to black, indicating that you have successfully set up the VPN on your Mac with Tunnelblick!

What to Look for When Choosing a VPN for Your Mac?

The number of options available in the macOS VPN market makes choosing one an overwhelming task.

However, you can distill your choices by concentrating on these crucial factors:

  • Multiple and Diverse Servers: A VPN with more servers can accommodate more users and unblock content in more regions than one with fewer servers. So, go for a VPN with thousands of servers in various countries.
  • Anonymity & Online Privacy: Choose a VPN service outside the 14 Eyes Alliance and with zero logging policies, especially if there’s an audit behind this policy. Thus, you can be sure that your VPN provider won’t store or track any data you send over its servers.
  • Multi-Device Protection: Get better value for your money with a VPN service that supports five or more simultaneous connections. So, you can protect your iPad, extra Mac units, iPhone, or other devices with a single subscription.
  • Money-Back Guarantee: A reliable VPN service provider should have a full warranty for at least 30 days. This way, you can give the VPN a test drive and determine if it’s the right one for your Mac.
  • AES-256 Encryption: This robust encryption will protect your data and keep your online activities hidden from cyber criminals, advertisers, ISPs, and governments.
  • Kill Switch: A reliable kill switch cuts off your internet connection whenever the VPN disconnects unexpectedly, ensuring your Mac traffic doesn’t leak.
  • Speed: Speed is vital if you’re using your Mac for streaming, torrenting, P2P file-sharing, or gaming. While VPNs cause speed drops, never choose a VPN that leads to more than 40% speed drops on its fastest protocol.
  • Content Unblocking: Ensure your chosen VPN has servers in regions where you can unblock and watch Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, or Disney+ using your Mac device. Remember that not all VPNs support streaming platforms even though they have servers in the relevant region.
  • Dedicated App: Look for a VPN with an app compatible with your Mac device. As you’ve already seen, that’s the best way to connect your VPN and enjoy all its features easily.

Surfshark is a reliable provider with these features, offering reliable third-party apps for fast setup with your Mac. Grab these Surfshark discounts to get started.

What Are the Top VPNs for Your Mac?

Although many VPN services nowadays have a macOS app, only a handful cut it when it comes to offering robust protection. So, I tested 15+ VPNs on my Mac device, and the following stood out:

1. Surfshark

surfshark server locations

Surfshark is one of the cheapest all-rounder premium VPN services with a native macOS app. It ticks all the boxes on credibility, security, unblocking capabilities, and anonymity, supporting macOS 10.12 or later.

Here’s what it says for itself:

  • Vast Server Library: Connect your Mac to 3200+ servers in 100 locations globally to unblock content and get local IPs almost anywhere.
  • Unlimited Simultaneous Connections: Connect all your Mac devices using the same account with unlimited bandwidth. You don’t have to pay for another account to get this massive coverage.
  • Dedicated P2P Servers: Surfshark features reliable P2P servers for fast torrenting without copyright trolls noticing.
  • Unblocking Potential: It can unblock a wide range of content streaming services abroad, such as Hulu, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer. It even offers a NoBorders Mode that automatically detects geo-blocking and suggests servers to bypass it.
  • Security: Features robust and uncrackable 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, ad/malware blocking (via CleanWeb), and IP/DNS/WebRTC protection.
  • Anonymity: Surfshark doesn’t log or store your online data with an audited no-logs policy to prove this.

Ready to test all these unique features? Grab our Surfshark discounts and see for yourself.

2. NordVPN

nordvpn connected to australia server location

NordVPN has a crisp and easy-to-use interface on macOS, offers extraordinary security and privacy features, and it’s pretty straightforward to install NordVPN on a Mac device.

Here’s what you get when you set it up on your Mac device:

  • Huge Server Network: It has 5400+ servers in 60 locations to prevent server overcrowding and get local IPs in many regions. Luckily, it unlocks all the popular streaming platforms, including Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix.
  • Specialty Servers: You can enjoy NordVPN’s Double VPN servers for extra security, P2P servers for fast file-sharing, Obfuscated servers to hide VPN traffic, and Tor Over VPN servers for dark web security.

Get our exclusive NordVPN deal and save big on your subscription.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN also has a dedicated macOS app, hitting all the right spots for security, connection speeds, and unblocking geo-locked content.

Compatible with macOS 10.11 or later, here are some notable features that make it ideal for your Mac device:

  • Vast Server Network: It has 3000+ servers in 94 locations. So, you won’t have a problem getting choice servers, obtaining IP addresses, or streaming content in any location.
  • Security and Anonymity: It features 256-bit AES encryption and doesn’t keep any logs of your online activities for enhanced security.
  • Unblocking Potential: ExpressVPN unblocks popular streaming platforms, including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix. You can contact its support team to ask which server best unblocks your favorite streaming platform.
  • Speed: ExpressVPN offers fast speeds with its Lightway protocol. Plus, it has unlimited bandwidth, allowing you to download large files quickly or stream in HD without buffering.
  • Kill Switch: The kill switch, also known as Network Lock, will keep your connection safe even if ExpressVPN gets disconnected unexpectedly.
  • Money Back Guarantee: The VPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to test its features and get a refund if you don’t like what you get.

Grab our exclusive ExpressVPN deals today and enjoy a 30-day risk-free guarantee to test the VPN or get a no-questions-asked refund.

Interesting Reads:

FAQs

Apple’s iCloud+ Private Relay isn’t a VPN. While it can encrypt your data and hide your IP address online, you can’t use it to access geo-blocked content.

Likewise, it only supports Safari, leaving you unprotected on Firefox or Chrome browsers. However, a reliable VPN like Surfshark offers more flexibility, covers all browsers, accesses geo-blocked content, and offers enhanced security on a vast server network.

Yes, a VPN may slow down your internet speeds, although you won’t notice the difference on a properly-engineered MacOS VPN like Surfshark.

Yes, always leaving your Mac VPN ON is a good idea. It will keep your information private, protect you from hackers and help you bypass artificial restrictions.

However, if you’re only using your macOS VPN for streaming or occasional privacy needs, you can turn it off when it’s not required.

You shouldn’t use free VPNs on your Mac units. Free VPNs for Mac units usually log/sell user data to third parties, enforce data bandwidth caps and offer unreliable content unblocking across various streaming platforms.

Wrapping It Up

Installing a reputable VPN like Surfshark or NordVPN on your Mac device can help hide your browsing activities from ISPs, hackers, snoopers, hackers, and other prying eyes.

Also, you’ll get fast connection speeds and unlimited access to your favorite online content, regardless of where you’re located.

If you want to enjoy all these features on your Mac, grab our NordVPN, Surfshark, or ExpressVPN deals before they run out.

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