Short on time? Here’s the best VPN for Mac in 2021:
I tested many top virtual private networks (VPNs) to find the best VPNs for Mac in 2021.
A lot of VPNs only have strong security for Windows, some don’t work with certain versions of macOS, some come from cybersecurity companies with questionable ethics, and others are too slow, too challenging, or too expensive.
But there are a handful of really good VPNs for all Mac desktops and MacBooks. The ones that made it to this list include easy-to-use apps, offer excellent security features, provide fast speeds, unblock Netflix and other streaming services, and are very affordable.
Quick summary list of the best VPNs for Mac (2021):
- 1.🥇 ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac users in 2021.
- 2.🥈 CyberGhost VPN — Intuitive macOS app with plenty of features.
- 3.🥉 ProtonVPN — Decent free plan for 1 Mac device.
- 4. VyprVPN — Secure with fast speeds and a wide range of protocols.
- 5. Private Internet Access — Strong performance with the largest server network.
- Bonus. IPVanish — Unlimited simultaneous connections.
- Frequently Asked Questions about VPNs for Mac.
How I Rated the Best VPNs for Mac in 2021:
- Strong security. I only recommend VPNs that offer industry-standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption, secure VPN protocols (like WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2), and a kill switch (to prevent any internet data from leaking if the VPN gets disconnected). Also, the VPNs listed here all have a strict no-logs policy, meaning they won’t store any of your browsing history or data.
- Ease of use. All of the VPNs that made it to this list have well-designed and intuitive interfaces, making them easy to use on all Mac computers. And they all allow you to connect to a remote server, enable/disable features, or perform almost any function with just a couple of clicks.
- Fast speeds. Every VPN will slow down your internet connection at least a little bit. But a good VPN will barely slow down your connection at all, even when you connect to distant servers. The VPNs on this list decreased my connection speeds by an average of only 20-30%, so I was always able to browse the internet, stream videos, and download files with a fast and stable internet connection.
- Additional features. Most of the VPNs here include “extra” features like obfuscated servers (bypasses firewalls in countries like China and Iran that restrict access to the internet), and dedicated P2P servers (for optimized file-sharing and torrenting).
- Good value. All of my top VPNs provide at least 5 simultaneous connections, have reasonably-priced subscription plans, offer different payment options, and have a money-back guarantee.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- HolaVPN. HolaVPN is fast and can unblock most streaming services, but it’s not as secure as the other brands on this list. HolaVPN doesn’t have 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and it routes traffic through other HolaVPN users instead of through secure servers.
- TunnelBear. TunnelBear has a free plan and is very easy to use (it also has a really cute interface with bears). But TunnelBear is unable to access most of the major streaming services, and there’s no money-back guarantee on its paid subscriptions.
- HMA (formerly HideMyAss!). The Mac version of HMA’s proxy app once contained several serious exploits, allowing third parties to disable a Mac’s firewall and take control over user accounts. All of the vulnerabilities were fixed, but I still can’t recommend HMA to Mac users when the company has so recently had such major security flaws.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Mac in 2021
ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for Mac users in 2021. It’s very secure, maintains extremely fast connection speeds, has tons of great features, and is really easy to use.
ExpressVPN includes plenty of standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch, but ExpressVPN also provides extra like split-tunneling (lets you choose which traffic you want to route through the VPN) and perfect-forward secrecy (a high-security feature ensuring the strength of its encryption).
ExpressVPN is the only VPN on this list to provide split-tunneling for Macs (macOS 10.15 and under) — during my tests, I configured ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling settings to only allow uTorrent to use the VPN, allowing me to download torrents away from the oversight of my internet service provider (ISP) while still browsing on my ISP’s network.
ExpressVPN also has:
- Strict no-logs policy (independently verified in 2019).
- Good VPN location (it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, which has strong data-privacy laws).
- Fastest speeds on this list (during my tests, my average connection speed drop was only 25%).
- Lightway protocol (this protocol is faster and more reliable than OpenVPN and IKEv2).
- Obfuscated servers that are able to overcome government internet firewalls in censor-heavy countries like China and Iran.
One of the things I love the most about ExpressVPN is how well-designed and intuitive it is. The Mac app includes most of the same features as the Windows and mobile apps, and the Mac’s interface is simple to navigate.
ExpressVPN supports torrenting on all of its servers — and it unblocks all popular streaming sites, including Netflix and Hulu. But unfortunately, ExpressVPN’s browser extension for Safari no longer works. The company said it was working on an extension that would be supported on Safari 12, but the release date is still unknown.
ExpressVPN has 3 payment plans (all of the plans cover up to 5 simultaneous connections), and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can pay with a credit card, PayPal, UnionPay, AliPay, or cryptocurrency.
ExpressVPN is by far the best Mac VPN I’ve tested — it’s highly secure and is the fastest VPN on this list. It has standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy, as well as extras like split-tunneling, perfect forward secrecy, and its own extra-fast and extra-secure protocol (Lightway). Because of its excellent speeds, ExpressVPN is great for streaming high-quality video without buffering, and it supports torrenting on all of its 3,000+ servers. ExpressVPN allows you to connect 5 devices, and all of its payment plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Best for Ease of Use
CyberGhost VPN has one of the most intuitive Mac apps on the market. It’s a great application for new users or users that are looking for a simple, easy-to-use Mac VPN service — installing and setting up CyberGhost takes only a couple of minutes, and all of the security features are already enabled.
I really like that CyberGhost VPN displays the load percentage (how many active users are on each server) and the ping (how long it takes for data to travel to the VPN server) for each server, so you can easily know which servers you should connect to for the getting best speeds.
CyberGhost has all of the standard VPN security features:
- 256-bit AES encryption.
- Internet kill switch.
- No-logs policy.
- Good VPN location (Romania).
In my testing, CyberGhost reduced my download speeds by roughly 34% — that’s more than ExpressVPN, but I could still stream content and surf the internet without any major bugs or lags.
CyberGhost’s macOS app comes with specialized servers for streaming and torrenting, but it’s unable to overcome government firewalls in China or other restrictive countries, so it’s not good if you live in a country that restricts internet access (for that, I’d recommend ExpressVPN).
CyberGhost VPN has several plans, including a 1-month, 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year plan (which gives you an additional 3 months free). The monthly plan has a 14-day money-back guarantee, but all of the yearly plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost VPN has a simple, well-designed macOS app, along with great security features. Its interface is one of the easiest to use, it provides really good internet speeds for fast file sharing and streaming, and it has top-notch security features. CyberGhost can’t currently overcome government firewalls, so if you need a VPN for somewhere like China, you’ll need something else. CyberGhost offers a lengthy 45-day money-back guarantee for its yearly plans.
🥉3. ProtonVPN — Best Free VPN for Mac
ProtonVPN offers a good free plan for macOS users — it includes unlimited data, a strict no-logs policy, access to 3 VPN servers, and 1 active connection. ProtonVPN says that free users only get “medium” speeds, and when I tested my speed on its free servers (US, Japan, and the Netherlands), I saw an average drop of 44% in internet speed, which is still very good (especially for a free VPN).
ProtonVPN is often considered to be one of the most private and most secure. For starters, ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, a country with strong data-privacy laws, and all of its apps are open-source, which means that the source code is freely available for public inspection.
ProtonVPN comes with many additional high-security features. Things like perfect forward secrecy, split-tunneling, Secure Core servers (which send your traffic through multiple servers), NetShield (which is an ad and malware blocker), and Tor over VPN (which allows you to connect to dedicated servers to use the Tor network inside your own browser).
While ProtonVPN Free is pretty good for a free VPN, it’s biggest downside is that it doesn’t support streaming or torrenting. ProtonVPN Basic adds torrenting, 2 connections, access to 50+ servers, “high” speed, and NetShield (ad blocker). ProtonVPN Plus adds streaming support, 5 connections, the “highest” speed (my speeds only dropped by 35%), Secure Core servers, and Tor over VPN. ProtonVPN Visionary includes up to 10 connections and also a ProtonMail account. All of ProtonVPN’s paid plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
ProtonVPN offers a good free plan (for 1 device) with unlimited bandwidth and decent speeds. ProtonvPN is highly secure and very private — it has a strict no-logs policy that’s been independently audited, all of its apps are open-source, and it’s one of the only VPN apps that are fully open-source. If the free plan isn’t strong enough, ProtonVPN has 3 paid plans that add torrenting support, access to streaming services, and up to 10 simultaneous connections.
4. VyprVPN — Best Selection of macOS Protocols
VyprVPN is highly secure, has fast speeds, unblocks geo-restricted content, and supports a wide range of connection protocols — including IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and its proprietary Chameleon protocol.
I really like that VyprVPN provides built-in support for OpenVPN and WireGuard, but my favorite VyprVPN protocol is Chameleon because it’s highly secure, has faster speeds than the othes, and is able to bypass restrictive company/university firewalls as well as government restrictions in high-risk countries like China (tested & confirmed).
VyprVPN has all of the standard VPN security features. You get 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy (independently audited and verified). And VyprVPN is based in Switzerland, which is known for its strong data privacy laws.
It’s also pretty fast. When I tested VyprVPN on my MacBook, my overall connection speeds only slowed by an average of 35% (on par with CyberGhost and ProtonVPN). VyprVPN has 700 servers spread out all around the world.
VyprVPN supports 5 simultaneous connections, offers several payment plans, and backs all plans with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
VyprVPN is secure, fast, unblocks most geo-blocks, and supports a wide range of protocols — including its proprietary Chameleon protocol that is able to bypass restrictions in countries with heavy internet censorship. VyprVPN lets you connect 5 devices simultaneously, and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. Private Internet Access — High-Security VPN (with the Largest Server Network)
Private Internet Access (PIA) has 35,000+ servers (the most on this list), really good speeds, excellent security features, and a feature-rich macOS app. With such a large server network spanning 77 countries, PIA’s servers are never overcrowded and you can always maintain fast connection speeds.
PIA gave me some of the top speeds in my tests when I chose servers close to my location. I also got decent speeds on distant servers (with an average drop of 45%). And with all servers, I was able to stream and torrent with fast, reliable connections. While PIA unblocked Netflix and Amazon Prime in my tests, it was unable to access BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and some other streaming services. So it may not be the best VPN if you’re looking for something to access all of the top streaming services (for that I’d recommend ExpressVPN).
In addition to the standard security features (256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy), PIA’s Mac app is fully open-source, and it comes with split-tunneling and an ad blocker — and unlike ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access includes split-tunneling on macOS 11 (Big Sur)! And unlike all the other VPNs that advertise a “no-logs policy”, PIA’s is one of the only VPNs to have its no-logs policy tested and verified in a US court (multiple times).
PIA allows 10 simultaneous connections, offers 3 reasonably-priced plans, and accepts credit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, and 5 different cryptocurrencies. PIA covers each plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access (PIA) provides the largest network of servers, fast speeds, a lot of great security features, and split tunneling for all Mac computers (even Big Sur). PIA is good for accessing Netflix and Amazon Prime, but it’s not good for accessing BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and a few others. PIA is fully open-source, P2P friendly, allows 10 connections, and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bonus. IPVanish — Use on Unlimited Devices (Mac + All Other Devices)
IPVanish is easy to use, has all of the essential privacy features, supports torrenting, and allows unlimited simultaneous connections. The other VPNs on this list limit the number of devices you can connect through on one account, but IPVanish lets you connect through as many devices as you want.
IPVanish also has 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy, but it’s based in the US, which is a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. There was a minor incident several years ago where IPVanish told authorities a suspect’s name and IP address that then led to an arrest, but this was several years ago and under a previous owner.
IPVanish is pretty fast. During my speed tests, IPVanish maintained really good connection speeds, with an average speed drop of around 30% (comparable with other top competitors like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN). However, IPVanish isn’t great at unblocking streaming services. While I was able to access Netflix in several locations (US, UK, Germany) as well as Hulu and Disney+, other streaming services like Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer detected that I was using a VPN and wouldn’t let me access their libraries.
IPVanish offers 4 payment plans, accepts credit cards and Paypal (but not cryptocurrencies), and has a 30-day money-back guarantee on both annual plans.
IPVanish provides good speeds, unlimited simultaneous connections, and an easy-to-use Mac app. IPVanish is a good choice for torrenting, but it can’t unblock all streaming services — I was able to access Netflix and Hulu, but not Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer. IPVanish’s annual plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best VPNs for Mac (2021) — Final Score:
Frequently Asked Questions — VPNs for Mac
What’s the best VPN for Mac?
ExpressVPN is my favorite Mac VPN in 2021 — it’s one of the easiest VPNs to use, it’s full of excellent features, it scored as the fastest VPN in my tests, it’s reasonably priced, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee (so you can try it out for 30 days and see if you like it).
But there are many other excellent Mac VPNs out there. CyberGhost is one of the easiest-to-use VPNs on the market, and ProtonVPN has a good free plan. VyprVPN has the best set of VPN protocols for macOS, Private Internet Access provides the largest server network on this list (35,000+), and IPVanish lets you connect an unlimited number of devices.
How does a VPN for Mac work?
The VPNs listed here all work by rerouting your data through private, encrypted tunnels. All of the browsing activity that you send from your Mac gets rerouted through a third-party provider (the VPN) and encrypted with military-grade encryption before it reaches your destination website. Then, whatever the website sends back to you will also be encrypted.
This prevents hackers, governments, and internet service providers (ISPs) from surveilling your internet activity. It also allows you to pretend to be in another country, so you can stop ISP throttling and bypass geo-restrictions. The best Mac VPNs (like ExpressVPN) can do all of these things and more.
Doesn’t macOS have a built-in VPN client?
Yes, macOS has a built-in VPN client, but it’s very different than a VPN service. The macOS VPN client connects users to a VPN at their workplace or school — so remote workers are able to access their company’s network and files, and students or faculty members can log into their campus’s network.
On the other hand, a VPN service provider like ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN will let you connect to secure servers located all over the world while masking your IP address and encrypting your data — this allows you to securely and privately browse the web, bypass geo-blocked websites, and safely share P2P files.
Are there any free VPNs for Mac?
Yes, but most aren’t very good. While there are a couple of decent free VPNs for Mac users, most free VPNs aren’t secure enough, have frustrating limitations, store user data, and/or slow down internet speed. If you’re looking for a safe and secure free VPN for your Mac, I recommend ProtonVPN — its free plan works on macOS, provides unlimited bandwidth on 1 device, has good speeds, and is very easy to use.
But if you’re looking for a VPN that provides multiple simultaneous connections, comes with advanced security features, unblocks streaming services, and allows torrenting, you should get a premium VPN. My top 3 choices — ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and ProtonVPN — all offer money-back guarantees, so you have plenty of time to try them out risk-free.