Best VPN for Mac
If you own a Mac, then you know how software can sometimes perform much differently than Windows-based systems. Usually, this isn’t a bad thing, but there are instances where applications may leave you annoyed with the way that they operate. Case in point: VPNs. There are many built for multiple platforms, but the majority of the best companies in the category have a very large focus on Apple operating systems. Below are ten of the best VPN services for Macs, both Macbooks and iMacs. See what you think is better for your privacy needs, then head over to the FAQ for even more in-depth information.
Are Mac VPN applications unique?
They can be, but since VPNs typically don’t require a lot of space or controls to run, you won’t notice any major differences between it and the Windows/Linux versions of the software. OS-X has built a reputation for having streamlined the downloading and installation process, so the chances of apps crashing or taking too long to place on your computer are low. Downloads will go fast as well, but there are some technical aspects that you may want to check with the company for before purchasing anything. For example, there are many network settings for OS-X, and getting your VPN to run smoothly may require you to look at instructions from the VPN company’s website.
And there’s also the controls. Mac trackpads can be either very easy to use with VPNs or feel extremely incompatible. This is more of a problem with VPNs that may have just built applications for Macs. Of course, you probably won’t have this problem, but it’s still a possibility. And lastly, check with your network provider and make sure that you have decent speed. VPNs tend to perform much better and faster than what they would on slow connections. You won’t be able to do some of the things you might have planned with gusto, particularly if you want to stream movies or download from torrent applications. The average speed that a VPN can run on Mac could be between 30 and 60 megabytes per second (Mbps), so if your connection is above that, then you’re good to go.
How to Determine the Best Features and Services
Just remember that finding a good VPN doesn’t have any exclusive nature that’s different from doing the same exact thing on another operating system. What this means is that you will have to look at the features and quality of the product itself, because VPNs servers do not discriminate by OS. So focus on the company first, their product, and the location of their servers. After that, check to see how well it run on the Mac and if there are any disadvantages to the program.
Speed privatization is what makes good VPNs. If a product has a least these two attributes, then it will usually be recommended. However, most of them are going to be paid, not free. Free VPN services aren’t always reliable. There are applications out there that are free and run well, but few and far between, for the most part. It’s suggested that you stick to the paid services to avoid any possible logging attempts to sell off your personal information, which is what a lot of VPN freeware has taken part in. Sometimes that could be indirectly done with no ill will, but in some cases, malicious activity might be the driving force. On a good note, the paid services do have decent trial lengths and may go for thirty days or longer if you contact them once the first trial is finished.
See How They Compare
This is a listing of every VPN service featured. There are other statistics not shown, so if you want more information, a visit to their web address should help.
- VyprVPN: Servers by Country: 73; Located In: Switzerland; Server Count: 700; Available in App Store: Yes
- ExpressVPN: Servers by Country: 94; Located In: British Virgin Islands; Server Count: 160; Available in App Store: Yes
- Private VPN: Servers by Country: 32; Located In: USA; Server Count: 3300; Available in App Store: Yes
- PureVPN: Servers by Country: 140; Located In: Hong Kong; Server Count: 750; Available in App Store: No
- Hotspot Shield: Servers by Country: 25; Located In: California (USA); Server Count: 200; Available in App Store: Yes
- IPVanish: Servers by Country: 75; Located In: USA; Server Count: 1300; Available in App Store: Yes
- CyberGhost: Servers by Country: 59; Located In: Romania; Server Count: 3488; Available in App Store: Yes
- Private Internet Access: Servers by Country: 43; Located In: Sweden; Server Count: 60; Available in App Store: Yes
- ZenMate: Servers by Country: 30; Located In: Berlin, Germany; Server Count: 3000; Available in App Store: No
- Buffered VPN: Servers by Country: 37; Located In: Gibraltar (BOT); Server Count: 45; Available in App Store: No
10 of the Best Mac VPN Apps Reviewed
VyprVPN has become one of the most trusted brands of VPNs in recent years. The company has built a good reputation for itself, and nowhere does that shown better than on the Mac. The servers are fast and will get you quickly into your favorite streaming and torrent sites without any blacklisting. There are no leaks, and a kill switch is shown in the settings, to which the application will shut down your entire connection if the server did go down. Try out their service if you want dependable servers and don’t mind the lack of anonymous payment options.
- Most servers have a decent speed, even those that have a low signal indicated
- DNA leaks are nonexistent
- Signs on quickly and rarely ever drops the connection
- There’s no way to make anonymous payments during purchase; no cryptocurrency options
ExpressVPN is another popular VPN with tons of neat apps embedding into the larger application. There are more than you can download once it’s installed, and they range from malware detection to changing the protocols of your program, such as PPTP. The Location Swap is also a great plus, having controls that will help you change out servers within seconds. If you want a VPN that’s cheap, you would be better off looking at some of the other products that are featured in the reviews. ExpressVPN has one plan that’s inexpensive, but most of the others are quite pricey. Still, the app is suggested for people that want a VPN that will always run as expected, with few lags in between.
- Lots of apps can be downloaded from their content page
- Includes Location Swap, which allows users to quickly navigate to different IPs at a rapid pace
- Controls work well with all Apple trackpads
- Their service is quite pricey, one of the most expensive in the world of VPNs
3. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is a VPN company that’s based in the United States. Yes, that means it’s a part of the “fourteen eyes” list of countries that have been known for their government’s penchant for spying, but there’s little room to worry here. The brand will never log any of your data, and even if they did, servers are encrypted so that your identity cannot be known by them. The installation time is fast of Mac computers, especially with Macbooks. Just drag and drop the icon to your applications folder, and that’s it. Trial periods for the Mac is the same as all others, a set standard of only seven days. That’s not much time when compared to those offering longer periods, but could be enough for you to figure out if you’re sold on the VPN or not. Recommended for anyone that likes simplicity but has enough features to keep you engaged with the VPN.
- Connects at least five individual users on just one account
- There is no generic or temporary logging done by the company
- Fast installation time on Mac software
- AES-256 encryption throughout the network
- The trial period is only for 7 days (but could last longer by contacting the company at the end of it)
PureVPN is great for torrent lovers. Everything runs smoothly here, and you can access all the torrent clients that you know of, without becoming annoyed with adware in the process. Files sharing works like a charm, so you won’t need to wait hours at a time to get your favorite video file finished. And the brand never attempts to control the speed of your connection to their servers, no matter how much bandwidth you’ve used up. Yet the app itself may take some time to finish downloading, their download server appear to move slow. But other than this small hiccup, there’s not much else to complain about PureVPN. Try them out for a trial period if you’re interested.
- Peer-to-peer file sharing applications and websites are free to explore
- No speed throttling for all users
- Shields against adversaries (hackers) that may attempt to spy on outgoing connections
- Numerous protocol options such as L2TP and OpenVPN (open-source)
- Downloading applications is a tedious process; takes too long
5. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield has been available on the Mac and Mac App Store for quite some time. They already have a large following on iOS, but their OS-X based application is just as stellar. You can download the dmg file quickly and have it set up in seconds under a decent internet speed. Their customer support is also quick with responses, so contact them if there’s any trouble and they will probably get back at you on the same day.
- Download is fast, and connection reaches their servers almost immediately
- No torrent clients and programs are blocked; no bandwidth cap
- Support can quickly be reached without a long wait period
- Built-in antivirus detection
- Runs pretty slow on Macbooks (iMacs are okay)
IPVanish is also a well-known VPN that has great customer support, good connectivity, and loads of servers from many server nations. The speeds on their primary servers can get up to 40 Mbps but may linger around 35 when there are lots of people on the network. But the best part is that you can connect up to ten of your devices on a single account. There is a small chance that you the app could crash, more so if you have lots of other applications open at the same time that you’re using the VPN.
Try not to run your Mac’s memory up too high when you’re on a server, and nothing should shut down. It that does happen, you’ll still be protected by the kill switch and none of your other apps will leak your real IP to any incoming servers. So if you own several Mac products, download the application on them all, and let IPVanish anonymize your online experience.
- Tech support can be contacted on a 24 hour basis
- Averages about 35 megabytes per second when tested for speed
- Simple interface that looks well on OS-X software
- Users have the freedom to use ten devices with one account
- May log users out of the server when memory is high
CyberGhost is often touted as a secondary choice to more expensive VPN brands. That’s because they have great prices but offer services that can be compared with any other paid VPN. The key is in the sever locations. They are spread out through most of the globe, so you’ll have access to opening streaming and any other account that’s far from your present location. As for third parties, the app does contain some in-app features that are built by third-party organizations, so you might want to be careful what you place on the program if you’re a number one issue is privacy.
- Slightly higher than average down speed (40 Mbps)
- Servers can be found on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica
- Good plans that have varied prices that cater to the savers
- Some of their applications are not controlled by their organization
- No option to force HTTPS over extensions
8. Private VPN
Private VPN is a good choice for people that need servers that won’t log you, even for more general things that wouldn’t give out your information. No matter if you’re on a trial or have a paid service, there’s a handy little indicator on the window of the app that will let you know when you need to make a payment. The servers perform great, and it doesn’t stall or lower in speed when you’re trying to watch high definition videos. That doesn’t apply to 2K or 4K though, so there could be a bit of buffering if your ISP connection isn’t that fast.
- Doesn’t signify any “hidden” logging activities in the fine print
- Servers speeds are stellar, and connections get through in about a minute
- Indicated in the upper right hand corner of the application window when monthly payment is close
- Streaming sites may see buffering when attempting to play videos 2K and higher
- Although torrenting is allowed, connection speed may slow down by a few notches
ZenMate has done a good job a simplifying the controls, to which they work well with Mac trackpads. And it doesn’t matter if your using the trackpad included on the MacBook or have one separate from the computer. You only have to press one button to connect to a server as well, so there’s no hassle when you’re in a hurry to get online quickly. There’s not a large listing of countries provided by the servers, so take note and check what’s given if you need a server that specifically based in a not-so-popular location.
- The one-touch button to connect makes sign in very simple
- The most important application settings are easy to find, clicking multiple options to find features isn’t necessary
- Doesn’t slow down OS-X devices, even when memory is high
- Lacking in the number of countries that are accessible
10. Buffered VPN
Buffered is the last VPN product featured, but certainly not the least. One neat aspect to the application is how you can get accurate of detailed analysis of your browsing speeds, length of time online, and other statistics. This information is never logged by Buffered either, so use it if you want to monitor how much activity you’re doing with the VPN. However, they do in fact log generic data, but not enough to determine who you are. The service is recommended for Mac users that like to know how their VPN performs when they’re online.
- Users can access to very detailed statistics about their use and speed
- Netflix works smoothly on most screen resolutions
- Easy to use over the Tor network
- Logs some user data (but not enough to give away the identity of an individual)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are VPNs completely private?
Privacy is something that applications can help you achieve, but entirely dependent on how someone uses the internet. If you want to keep yourself anonymous, you should be careful about what information you put online. However, this isn’t really a concern for VPN because of the nature of sharing the service with other users. Because IPs aren’t dedicated, it’s difficult to tell where the location is of someone that’s on said server. You’re accessing a private server to travel to public servers, and there could be hundreds or thousands doing the same thing simultaneously. Try to make strong passwords for the accounts you do use on a VPN, but leave your really sensitive things for either your real IP or a dedicated server.
Is there any way to control other applications on my Mac through the VPN I choose?
Some VPN brands do allow you to control other applications in some way. This is needed for the kill switch (discussed in detail later) or if there’s a firewall present. With a firewall app, you can control how other applications connect to the server, or whether you want them to at all. These are usually advanced settings though, so try not to bother with anything if you’re not familiar with the way VPNs work. Everything should be in a default setting when you install.
Is setup easy to do for beginners?
It’s pretty simple to download VPNs from a Mac. If you getting one from the App Store, then you won’t even have to drag any files into the applications folder. If there are more advanced features that you need to set up in your Network Settings, be sure to check with the VPN itself to see if they have tips on what to do. Some VPNs might need to be set up different initially, but much of this is dependent on your connection and how you intend to use it.
Should I use a VPN for all of my online needs?
You can, but very private info would be best done with a dedicated VPN or your ordinary IP address. This is due to web server becoming confused as to who you are, and your location. For example, if you tried to log into a payment account online, you would risk getting locked out it if you tried to do it with a different IP address than what you normally use. VPNs are mostly needed for privacy with file sharing and streaming movies, but some can use for work-related problems that need to be private. Whatever you do, divide your accounts from the ones you want on the VPN server, and those that should remain public.
What is a Kill Switch?
The kill switch is the last resort for hiding your IP address from websites. If you lost your connection to the VPN server, the app would automatically shut down all other applications that are connected, including what’s outside of the VPN itself. It almost performs like a giant firewall, but will not leak any of your DNS settings are other data. Until you gain access to the internet again, the Kill Switch will remain on and deactivate once server access is gained again.
What about compatibility with the Trackpad?
Mac trackpads are noted for their ease of use and quick response to the commands you swipe on it. Since the majority of VPN apps have Mac versions featured for download, you shouldn’t have too many issues with using it for the VPN itself. If you don’t like the way it’s controlled from the trackpad, simply change your settings until you find one that feels natural for you to turn and scroll through the VPNs servers.
Now that you’ve read through all the great products that have been featured, try to see if there was any that you skipped. That could be the dealbreaker that you’re looking for. Mac VPN apps are outstanding, and there’s not a bad one that was revived here. The best was shown at the very top though, but you should be satisfied with speeds and controls for them all. Choose based on speed, price, and reliability. You will finally be able to control how private you want your public internet activity to be.