Best VPN for Mac

By Luka Arežina July 10, 2020

Conventional wisdom has it that Macs are impenetrable and immune to viruses and intrusions. Built-in malware detection and a unique OS architecture kept Apple users safe from bad actors. But as Mac products grew in popularity, so too did the appetite of cybercriminals to breach these devices.

Mac users are increasingly starting to realize that they too need antiviruses and VPNs. Besides protecting you from malicious parties by concealing your identity online, VPNs are crucial for hiding your browsing habits, bypassing censorship, and accessing geo-blocked content. So check out our best VPN for Mac buyer’s guide to help you make the right purchasing decision.

Best VPN for Mac in 2020

  • No logs
  • Works with Netflix and torrents
  • Specifically built for Mac
  • Price
Price $2.75/mo
Learn More
  • Proven security track record
  • Speed
  • HD streaming and torrenting
  • Pricy
  • Only up to 5 devices on one plan
Price $8.39/mo
Learn More
  • Safe
  • Great reputation
  • Basic and advanced features covered
  • Expensive
Price $3.49/mo
Learn More
  • Cheap
  • Ultra-secure
  • P2P and WireGuard compatible
  • Small server network
  • Does not work with Netflix
Price $5/mo
Learn More
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Multiple protocols to choose from
  • Good for gaming
  • Limited number of servers
  • Only a few P2P servers
Price $2.5/mo
Learn More
  • Cheap
  • P2P and Netflix friendly
  • Bypasses country-specific VPN bans
  • Small server base
  • Slow
Price $1.99/mo
Learn More
  • Fast
  • P2P/Streaming
  • Free plan
  • Expensive
Price $7.99/mo
Learn More

What are VPNs and who needs them?

Even if you haven’t used a VPN before, you’ve probably noticed VPN ads that pop up on almost every site imaginable. These ads are an indication of the software’s growing popularity. But before you decide to buy the best VPN for a Mac, you should know what the software actually does.

VPN stands for virtual private network and helps protect your online privacy by hiding your IP address, location, and browsing history. It places your own private network over a public network – tunneling your connection to a remote VPN server. This hides your IP address and location while tricking both your device and the website you accessed into thinking you connected from another country. The country being displayed depends on the server you connected to.

You might think that only people who have something to hide need the best secure VPN for Mac. But VPNs aren’t just used for unblocking content. The software guards your private information that is in constant risk of being stored or sold even if you have completely legit browsing habits.

Methodology

Privacy: Today, the best VPN service for Mac has a multitude of functions. But its primary purpose is to preserve your privacy online. That’s why we focused extensively on privacy features in our reviews.

The first thing to look at is the provider’s logging policy which determines the amount of user data being stored. Any provider considered to be the best VPN client for Mac keeps no identifying logs. That includes any information about the user, his location, and browsing history. Keep in mind that almost all providers store non-identifying logs, which are generally used for metrics and network improvements. 

However, our advice is to avoid providers that keep any user logs. Logged data is at risk of being obtained by government agencies, sold to third parties, or stolen by hackers.

Besides logging, we looked at a number of other safety features that providers on our best VPN for Mac 2020 list have in place. These include the level of encryption, the number of shared IPs, public Wi-Fi protection, and the kill-switch option.

Torrenting: VPNs are also used for entertainment and file-sharing purposes. Torrenting is one type of P2P file-sharing technology that generally falls into a legal gray area. While the P2P sharing method is not illegal per se, the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material is. In countries like the US, the use of torrents is prohibited and can result in legal action against the user. This is why many of the best VPN software for Mac providers used to prohibit P2P sharing. But the market has changed, and the majority of VPNs now allow torrenting, either on all or on specialized servers.

The no-logs policy plays an important role in facilitating P2P sharing. Since VPN providers don’t store any data they are not in a position to inform ISPs or government agencies about which country a user is operating from. 

In our reviews, we examined whether the provider allows P2P sharing and the quality of the connection – a crucial aspect for torrenting.

Unblocking Netflix and other streaming services: Netflix is the most popular streaming platform in the world, and the best VPN app for Mac should be able to provide access to geo-blocked Netflix content.

Netflix is not available in a number of countries that have a challenging regulatory environment, including China and North Korea. However, the service can be accessed by VPN users. Therefore, in our best VPN for macOS reviews, we tested whether providers can unblock Netflix and other services such as Hulu and BBC iPlayer. We also tested the quality of the stream and whether it’s stable.

Servers and connection speed: Another important feature to consider when looking at VPNs is the number of available servers around the globe. A large server base allows you to choose the one nearest to you and provides greater connection speeds. In our search for the best paid VPN for Mac, we also looked at the number of countries where the servers are located as well as the number of specialized P2P servers.

Connection speeds are often directly linked to the provider’s server count. VPNs work by tunneling your connection to one of their servers, effectively spoofing your location, and hiding your activity from the ISP. During this process, you often lose a portion of your original download/upload speed. The extent of the decrease in speed depends on the provider’s network infrastructure and server base.

Therefore, the server count and connection quality were an important part of our search for the best VPN for Mac and iOS.

Price: So, how much cash will you have to dish out in exchange for safe browsing and anonymity? Well, prices vary depending on the provider. The average monthly subscription fee ranges between $9 and $12 with discounts if you subscribe for an annual plan.

Although you’ve probably heard a lot about the best free VPN for Mac, we recommend sticking to the best paid VPN instead.

Free VPNs can jeopardize your anonymity and tend to sell user information to advertisers or other third parties. Some of the top-rated providers might have a free plan, but they often come with limited bandwidth, and users can only access a small number of their servers. Free plans that are offered by some of the best VPN services for Mac are useful as a free trial before you decide which paid option suits you best.

1. CyberGhost

" Best VPN all-round "

  • Protocol
    OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    5,900+
  • Countries
    90
  • Max number of connected devices
    7

Things we liked / disliked:

  • No logs
  • Works with Netflix and torrents
  • Specifically built for Mac
  • Price

Things we liked / disliked:

  • No logs
  • Works with Netflix and torrents
  • Specifically built for Mac
  • Price
  • Protocol
    OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    5,900+
  • Countries
    90
  • Max number of connected devices
    7

CyberGhost VPN is one of the top VPN services. The Bucharest-based provider designed the software specifically for Mac. One of its most important features is the strict no-logs policy, which means that no data is stored, including your bandwidth usage. Meanwhile, your privacy is further guaranteed with a 256-bit encryption.

It’s widely regarded as the best personal VPN for Mac because of its reliance on OpenVPN protocol – considered to be an optimal option in the industry. CyberGhost VPN has one of the biggest server bases on the market with over 5,900 servers in 90 countries. These include specialized servers for torrents and streaming with excellent connection quality. 

The software unblocks Netflix and other streaming services such as Hulu, HBO GO, and BBC iPlayer. Torrenting also works well and has stable speeds. In other words, speed loss is minimal, making this the best VPN for Mac torrenting.

However, this doesn’t come cheap. The monthly subscription fee is $12.99. If you sign up for the annual plan, the price goes down to $5.99/month, while the two-year package costs $3.69/month. The most affordable option is the three-year plan, which costs just $2.75/month and includes two free months. 

The monthly subscription comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee, while the other options give you up to 45 days to ask for a refund. A single paid plan can be used for up to 7 devices, which is slightly more than what other providers offer.

And although it’s costly, most users still acknowledge the software’s many impressive features and regard it as the best VPN for Mac and iPhone.

Show more
Show less

2. ExpressVPN

" Fastest VPN "

  • Protocol
    OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    3,000
  • Countries
    95
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Proven security track record
  • Speed
  • HD streaming and torrenting
  • Pricy
  • Only up to 5 devices on one plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Proven security track record
  • Speed
  • HD streaming and torrenting
  • Pricy
  • Only up to 5 devices on one plan
  • Protocol
    OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    3,000
  • Countries
    95
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Much like a James Bond villain that sets up a secret lair on a remote island, ExpressVPN is safely nestled in the British Virgin Islands. But to those looking for the best VPN for Mac and Android, ExpressVPN is a hero and not a villain.

The software has a network of 3,000 servers across 95 countries. Although other providers, including CyberGhost, have more servers, ExpressVPN’s number is perfectly adequate. The software is fast with speed losses of no more than 5%.

ExpressVPN is perfect if you are searching for the best VPN for Mac and Netflix. It unblocks Netflix content restricted to certain parts of the world, giving you access to regional libraries and videos streamed in HD. The VPN is also ideal for torrenting and is compatible with Tor. It even has its own Tor Onion website – a rare feature for a VPN.

ExpressVPN features prominently on all best VPN for PC and Mac lists partly due to its impeccable track record on privacy. The provider operates outside the scope of Western intelligence-sharing agreements that tend to have implications for internet privacy. This allows it to adhere to a strict no-logs policy. The software also relies on the OpenVPN protocol and employs 256-bit encryption.

An obvious downside is that you can connect to only five devices with one paid plan, which might be limiting for some users. ExpressVPN also ranks as one of the priciest options. While the software is widely regarded as the best VPN for Apple Mac, a monthly subscription will cost you $12.95. However, if you choose the annual plan, the price drops to $8.99/month.

Show more
Show less

3. NordVPN

" Second best pick "

  • Protocol
    TLS V1.2, IKEv2/IPSe, and OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    5,470+
  • Countries
    62
  • Max number of connected devices
    6

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Safe
  • Great reputation
  • Basic and advanced features covered
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Safe
  • Great reputation
  • Basic and advanced features covered
  • Expensive
  • Protocol
    TLS V1.2, IKEv2/IPSe, and OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    5,470+
  • Countries
    62
  • Max number of connected devices
    6

NordVPN is one of the best-known VPN providers, and for many Apple users, it’s the best VPN for Mac

It has one of the biggest server networks with 5,500 servers in 62 countries. The software comes with malware protection, making it a perfect choice for those that are looking for the best antivirus and VPN for Mac. Aside from having a strict no-logs policy, NordVPN has undergone several independent security audits that underscore its commitment to user privacy.

NordVPN has exceptional unlocking abilities and allows you to access geo-blocked content on popular streaming services, including Netflix, BBC iPlay, and Hulu. This is also the best VPN for Mac in the USA because it’s based in Panama and doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of American and other Western data collection agencies. Meanwhile, its download and upload speeds are consistent and usable. 

However, NordVPN is more expensive than most of the other products on our list. A monthly subscription fee is $11.95, but a three-year plan costs only $3.49/month. One paid plan allows you to connect up to 6 devices, which is slightly higher than the average among the competition.  The longer subscription plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to switch to other top VPN for Mac options if you’re not satisfied.

Show more
Show less

4. Mullvad

" Best for privacy "

  • Protocol
    OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    No
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    350
  • Countries
    36
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Cheap
  • Ultra-secure
  • P2P and WireGuard compatible
  • Small server network
  • Does not work with Netflix

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Cheap
  • Ultra-secure
  • P2P and WireGuard compatible
  • Small server network
  • Does not work with Netflix
  • Protocol
    OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    No
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    350
  • Countries
    36
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Mullvad is a lesser-known VPN provider with fewer servers than other products on our list. It has only 350 servers in 36 countries – most of them located in developed countries. But it can still be characterized as the best OpenVPN client for Mac because of the level of privacy that it offers its users.

You don’t need an email or password to access Mullvad. Instead, the software generates a 16-digit code that serves as your credentials for using the service. This is great news for users who are wary about leaving any kind of personal information online. 

In addition, Mullvad doesn’t collect or store any information about its users apart from the amount of time you have left on your subscription and the number of devices that you are connected to. A number of other features support Mullvad’s claim to being the best VPN for Macs including its use of the OpenVPN protocol and a 256-bit encryption.

The main downside is its inability to unblock Netflix. However, Mullvad works with HBO GO. As far as torrenting goes, all of Mullvad’s servers allow P2P traffic, and just like other best VPN providers, the software performs well on speed tests.

 Mullvad has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It grants you the option to install the Wireguard protocol, an advanced VPN protocol with improved cryptography. The software is also very affordable. The monthly subscription comes in at only $5, which is considerably less than many other VPN providers. Those who are in the market for the best VPN client for macOS and are especially concerned about maintaining their anonymity should definitely consider Mullvad.

Show more
Show less

5. SaferVPN

" Best for unblocking streaming "

  • Protocol
    IKEv, PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    700
  • Countries
    34
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Multiple protocols to choose from
  • Good for gaming
  • Limited number of servers
  • Only a few P2P servers

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Multiple protocols to choose from
  • Good for gaming
  • Limited number of servers
  • Only a few P2P servers
  • Protocol
    IKEv, PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    700
  • Countries
    34
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

SaferVPN is another smaller provider on our list that has a reputation for being easy to use and fast. We put it to the test to see if it belongs on the best VPN for Mac speed leaderboards.

SaferVPN gained popularity between 2014 and 2016. During that time, it provided free accounts to dissidents in Turkey, Iran, and Bangladesh as they grappled with government censorship online. This proved that SaferVPN’s software is effective and gave the company a PR boost.

One of the software’s main features is that it gives users the option to choose different VPN protocols. The protocols include IKEv, PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. We suggest OpenVPN, which is widely regarded as the most secure. But you can also try others like PPTP for streaming or torrenting

SaferVPN might not be the best VPN for torrenting on Mac because only several of its servers are P2P compatible. However, the connection was stable and fast during speed tests on both P2P and regular servers, which is great news for any user planning to torrent.

SaferVPN unblocks Netflix, granting users access to HD streaming content. Many avid gamers consider this product to be the best VPN for Android and Mac and best suited for gaming due to its fast and stable connection quality.

Unfortunately SaferVPN does not have a vast server network, which means you might have to connect to far-away servers that could result in higher latency.

On the privacy side, it adheres to a strict no-logging policy, includes the kill switch feature, public Wi-Fi protection, and a 256-bit encryption. If you wish to add to your anonymity, you can pay for the service using Bitcoin. But SaferVPN is on the expensive side. A one-month subscription fee is $12.95. The monthly rate goes down to $3.29 if you sign up for the two-year plan. And while SaferVPN might not be the  best VPN for Mac users, it certainly has a lot to offer.

Show more
Show less

6. SurfShark

" Best budget VPN "

  • Protocol
    IKE v2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    1,040+
  • Countries
    61+
  • Max number of connected devices
    Unlimited

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Cheap
  • P2P and Netflix friendly
  • Bypasses country-specific VPN bans
  • Small server base
  • Slow

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Cheap
  • P2P and Netflix friendly
  • Bypasses country-specific VPN bans
  • Small server base
  • Slow
  • Protocol
    IKE v2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    1,040+
  • Countries
    61+
  • Max number of connected devices
    Unlimited

SurfShark is another provider based in the British Virgin Islands vying for the title of the best VPN for Mac.

The software has some of the most affordable plans on the market. The monthly subscription fee is the same as that of NordVPN – $11.95. But the truly economical option is the two-year plan, which costs only $1.99/month. If two years is too long for you, there are other offers with various discounts. So what is the best VPN for Mac? Well, affordability is a key aspect to consider when trying to answer that question.

But if you thought that affordability equals lackluster features, you thought wrong. SurfShark successfully unblocks Netflix US, UK, France, India, Japan, and Netherlands. This gives you access to almost all of the content that Netflix regional libraries have to offer. In addition, SurfShark’s servers are P2P-compatible, meaning you won’t have to switch servers every time you want to torrent. 

Any provider hoping to be the best iOS VPN has to perform well on MacOS, and SurfShark does exactly that. Meanwhile, its app runs smoothly and is easy to use. When it comes to the server network, SurfShark’s 1,040+ servers in more than 61 countries are pretty admirable for a smaller-scale VPN in this price range.

SurfShark also has multiple protocols available, including OpenVPN and Shadowsocks, which are based on SOCKS5. Besides the kill-switch option, which shuts down your internet when you lose the connection to your VPN, SurfShark also has the NoBorders mode. NoBorders allows you to connect to the VPN in countries where the technology might be restricted or prohibited and where other top-rated VPN  providers might not be able to help you. 

SurfShark might not be the fastest VPN around, but the speed test results show a reliable and stable connection. If you are on a tight budget, SurfShark is one of the best VPNs for Mac you can find.

Show more
Show less

7. HotSpot Shield

" Best VPN with a free plan "

  • Protocol
    Hydra
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    3,200+
  • Countries
    85+
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Fast
  • P2P/Streaming
  • Free plan
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Fast
  • P2P/Streaming
  • Free plan
  • Expensive
  • Protocol
    Hydra
  • Unblocks Netflix
    Yes
  • Logs
    No
  • Number of servers
    3,200+
  • Countries
    85+
  • Max number of connected devices
    5

Like some of the other entries on our list, HotSpot Shield initially gained global recognition thanks to political activists. During the Arab Spring protests, the VPN was used to circumvent online censorship. 

Today, the US-based provider is especially popular among those looking for the best free VPN software for Mac. But it’s not just its free option. HotSpot Shield is considered one of the best Mac VPNs in general.

The provider prides itself on its speed and for good reason. During speed tests, HotSpot Shield performed admirably without any noticeable loss in connection speeds. Of course, we can’t designate it as the fastest VPN around because some of its reviewed counterparts had similar results. But there’s no doubt that HotSpot Shield surpasses expectations.

Just like any other good VPN for Mac, HotSpot Shield unblocks Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. The high speeds guarantee quality streaming.

HotSpot Shield also has 3,200 servers across 85+ countries. It is powered by Catapult Hydra, a  proprietary protocol that is said to be 2.4 times faster than OpenVPN. 

This safe VPN for Mac comes with a password manager, malware protection, protection against identity theft, and robocalling. The software runs smoothly on Mac, and the company offers customer support via email and live-chat. It also adheres to a no-logs policy and allows P2P sharing.

Although the free plan comes with all the safety features, it limits you to 2mbps in speed and 500mb bandwidth, and you only have access to a single server, which is located in the US. Using the free version also means you will receive targeted ads.

A one-month subscription with this software comes in at $12.99, dropping to $7.99/month if you sign up for the annual plan. Those looking for the best VPN for Macbook will find HotSpot Shield an attractive option.

Show more
Show less

FAQ

Which VPN is best for Mac?

Our VPN for Mac reviews include a number of products with very impressive features. But deciding which one is best depends on your needs. ExpressVPN or NordVPN are generally the safest bet. However, if your main concern is privacy, Mullvad might be a better option.

What is the best free VPN for Mac?

While we don’t recommend using a free VPN due to the limited number of features, HotSpot Shield has a decent free option if you are short on cash or don’t want to invest in a paid plan.

Does Mac have a built-in VPN?

No, it does not. But Macs are perfectly capable of connecting to most VPNs.

Why do I need a VPN?

There are several reasons to use a VPN. They keep your information, including your IP and browsing history, safe from third parties. The software also allows you to bypass online censorship and access geo-blocked content. VPN users can also torrent freely in countries where the practice is prohibited.

Do Macs need a VPN?

Many people still believe Macs are somehow immune to the sort of dangers that Windows users face. But this simply isn’t true. Mac users are as vulnerable as anyone else. Therefore, we recommend one of the software reviewed on our best VPN for Mac list.