How to Set-Up a VPN on Mac?

Easy, step-by-step instructions how to set up a VPN on your Mac computer

Are you trying to access a website or use streaming services blocked by your internet service provider?

Are you planning to surf the web but want to keep your identity a secret? 

Do you need extra security for your internet connection?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably already know that you need a Virtual Private Network.

Considering you’ve landed on this page, you’ve probably already taken the right steps toward educating yourself about Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, to take charge of your internet security and privacy.

You might be wondering how exactly to set up a VPN on a Mac.

This tutorial will walk you through installing a VPN on the latest Mac operating systems: Mac OS X High Sierra (10.13), Sierra (10.12), El Capitan (10.11), and Yosemite (10.10).

Fortunately, most VPN service providers today are designed for various platforms so installation on your Mac should be simple and easy. Just in case, we have created this tutorial to help answer any questions you may have about using a VPN on a Mac or how to set up a VPN on Mac OS X, Mac Sierra, or just a Mac in general.

This guide should help answer any questions you have about the installation process.

What you will need to follow this tutorial

To follow this tutorial, you only need to do a few things:

  • check
    Identify whether you will use a paid or free VPN
  • check
    Choose your VPN service provider for macOS
  • check
    Verify that your VPN works on Mac
  • check
    Prepare your device(s) for installation

1. Choose a free or paid VPN

Choose a plan

When selecting a VPN service provider, one of your biggest decisions involves choosing between a free or paid service.

Free VPN service providers are never truly free. Many of the providers that state they have free services will log your activity or connections and sell your data to third parties. 

There are some services that promise never to log your activity, such as TunnelBear and ProtonVPN, but your service speeds or data are generally severely reduced with these free options.

If you plan to use your VPN for streaming or accessing certain blocked services, you will almost certainly need
a paid VPN. There are many to choose from, and each provider offers different solutions.

2. Choose your VPN service provider

ExpressVPN logo
IPVanish logo
CyberGhost VPN logo
PrivateVPN logo

To get started, you will need to select your preferred VPN service provider based on your needs.

Some VPN service providers are free, though most require a paid monthly subscription. VPN service providers vary in features and the types of platforms they accommodate.

The most popular paid VPNs for circumventing web blocks to enable torrenting, gaming, and watching streaming services such as Hulu include CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, IPVanish VPN, and PureVPN.

In today’s tutorial, we will use ExpressVPN as the selected VPN because of its consistent high ratings.

3. Verify your VPN works on Mac

ExpressVPN offer for MacBook users

This step should involve a quick check of your chosen VPN service provider’s website.

Most VPN service providers are now available to run on Mac, but there are still a few that haven’t yet made this option available. Once you have chosen the VPN service provider you prefer, make sure you verify that it is available for your software.

Fortunately, and perhaps predictably, all four of the top four VPN service providers offer their services for Mac users.

4. Prepare your device for installation

If you have ever installed something, you know that it generally takes a little time and space.

Make sure your Mac has enough room for your installation and set aside some time for the download process.

Most VPNs download fairly quickly, but the time will vary based on your connection speed.

You should also take a little extra time to prepare your workstation so the installation process goes smoothly. Close any other running applications and windows so that the process can go as smoothly as possible.

Like other downloads, you may be required to restart your computer prior to using the software.

Quitting excess windows and applications prior to your download can speed up the restart process.

Step by Step Instructions To Set Up a VPN on a Mac

The following steps should be followed in order to properly set up the VPN on your Mac computer.

This guide assumes you have spent time researching the right VPN; we will guide you through the process using ExpressVPN, one of the most highly-rated VPN service providers.

1. Download the VPN application

ExpressVPN will send you a download link for installation. Click the link provided in the email to download the VPN. You can also sign-in directly to the website. Once you have clicked the link or logged in, click the button that says “Download for Mac.” 

This button will start the download process. You will need to leave the download window open to complete the installation process.

This process should be similar for other VPNs; you will need to agree with the service provider’s terms of service and provide payment information if necessary.

This should unlock access to the download area. Make sure you download the version that corresponds to your Mac operating system.

2. Install the application

Install ExpressVPN package

Once you have downloaded the installation package, you will need to run it in order to install your VPN on your mac. Locate the file you downloaded and double-click it to begin the installation process.

Opening the installation package leads to a setup wizard to guide you through the installation of the VPN on your mac. Most VPN service providers will provide some sort of wizard to simplify the VPN setup on your Mac.

With ExpressVPN, the wizard will test and optimize settings to prepare your computer for the installation. 

You will need to select the location for the download and choose whether you are reinstalling or installing for the first time. Click through the wizard and follow the on-screen prompts.

3. Launch the application

The VPN application should automatically launch itself upon completion. If it does not, you should locate the VPN and double-click to launch it in order to finalize setting up the VPN on your Mac.

You should be able to use Finder or Launchpad to find the installed application.

4. Set up your VPN

Once you launch the application, sign in and activate the VPN.

For ExpressVPN, input an activation code provided to you through email for this step. 

Paste an activation code provided to your email

Your steps may differ depending on the VPN you select, but the process should be clearly prompted when you first log in.

5. Customize your preferences

At this point, you should probably customize your VPN based on your preferences. This process might be slightly different depending on the VPN service provider you choose. You might be asked if you want the application to automatically launch when you log in.

You should also be able to connect to your preferred server location and determine whether you want to share diagnostic reports.

Each VPN service provider has unique features. ExpressVPN allows you to run a speed test, select your server location, switch protocols, enable the kill switch, enable split tunneling, and more.

You should take your time exploring the application to familiarize yourself with the offered features of your VPN.

6. Connect and surf

Finally, connect your VPN to begin surfing anonymously! For ExpressVPN, all you need to do is click “Connect.”

You will know if you are connected because the primary screen will make it pretty obvious: it will say either “Connected” or “Not Connected.” You are surfing safely when your VPN is connected and masking your IP address. 

Your VPN should make your connection status clear. You may need to be connected to fully optimize and customize your VPN.

Conclusion

Congratulations! 

You have successfully installed, completed setup, connected, and begun customizing a VPN on your Mac. Hopefully, the process was quick and easy.

Each VPN service provider might be slightly different, but these steps should provide you with the basic process for successfully setting up a VPN on a Mac.

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If you run into trouble specific to your device, you should be able to contact your VPN service provider directly. Most providers offer 24/7 support and a substantive knowledge base for their individual applications.

We hope this tutorial was simple and easy to follow!

Please comment and let us know if you liked this tutorial or need specific help with any step.

In the meantime, enjoy customizing your VPN to make it work best for you and your needs!

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