Apple’s macOS (formerly known as OS X) is one of the most popular operating systems out there at the moment, sitting below Windows and above Linux in terms of market share. The difference, however, is that macOS is designed to run on proprietary Apple computers, while Windows and Linux can be installed on pretty much any system, at least as long as the hardware is supported.
This allows Apple engineers to get the most out of the hardware and perform many component-specific optimizations that are not possible on Windows or Linux. On the other hand, this also means that they quickly drop support for older versions of the operating system and the associated hardware, thus forcing their customers to upgrade in order to be able to use the latest features and apps.
Protecting your online identity is not Apple’s responsibility however, which means that it is up to you to find the necessary tools that allow you to browse the Internet without being tracked by anyone. Naturally, a good VPN is one of the most vital tools you can use, especially nowadays when everyone wants to peak at your personal data in order to bombard you with ads, or sell your information for profit.
Thankfully, the palette of choices is vast when it comes to picking a VPN, given the fact that almost every service on the market comes with a macOS app as well. As such, the only thing you have to do is choose the one that provides you with the features you are most interested in, while also being in your price range.
What makes a Mac VPN good
Since there are usually no major differences between the Windows and the Mac versions of most VPNs, that means you get the same features and options in both versions. As a small caveat however, it’s worth noting that macOS has some special UI integration options, and not all VPN apps take advantage of them.
With that being said, the first and foremost thing a good Mac VPN should have is the ability to protect you from leaks of any kind and avoid exposing your real online identity while browsing the Internet. Thus, whatever VPN you choose to go with, it’s important to test its capabilities in order to make sure you are not wasting your money. You can find out more about how to properly put a VPN to the test by reading our article on the subject.
If everything is in order, you should also look for certain special features that add some extra layers of protection on top of your anonymity. A kill switch is a must-have, for example, because there’s always the chance of a VPN server going down and leaving you exposed while streaming or downloading something. With a kill switch in place, your Internet connection will be immediately disabled to avoid these situations.
Some kind of split-tunneling is also highly recommended, especially if you have certain apps that do not usually leak any information about you and you don’t want them slowed down by the VPN. White-listing these apps in the VPN means that they will use your regular connection and not suffer any additional lag.
How to choose a Mac VPN
When it comes to making the best choice in terms of a Mac VPN, the things you have to take into consideration depend on a variety of personal preferences. Naturally, it’s wise to first go through the previous section of this article in order to understand what a good VPN should offer you, but remember that you have the final say.
As such, it’s important to take a look at the list of features for every VPN by visiting their official websites, because you can find out a lot about the services through that. Not all VPNs provide you with the same options, and you might not need any fancy features anyway. Hence, it may not be worth spending a lot of money if many of those extra features will go unused.
The next thing you should consider is what you will be using the VPN for in your day-to-day life. If you plan on downloading a lot of data, then it’s important to pick a VPN with good servers that don’t affect your download speed too much, while also avoiding services that put a cap on the amount of data you can transfer every month.
Lastly, it’s worth remembering that Apple can change macOS at any point, which can sometimes affect the apps you want to use as well. In addition, certain versions of macOS can have their support dropped, so you have to make sure that the VPN you choose is constantly being updated to keep up with the latest modifications and changes.
The best VPNs for Mac in 2020
In order to make it easier for you to make a choice, we have compiled a list of 5 best VPNs for Mac, and we are going to go into detail about each one of them, along with their features, pros, and cons. However, if you are only interested in a specific entry and you do not want to scroll through the whole article in order to get to it, you can use the links below and instantly jump to the desired item.
Below you can also find a feature comparison table that includes all the VPNs on our list. This way, you can quickly see which one has the features you are most interested in, as well as other useful information.
|Company part of the 14 Eyes alliance||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|macOS minimum version requirement||10.10 Yosemite||10.12 Sierra||10.10 Yosemite||10.12 Sierra||10.10 Yosemite|
|Live chat support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
If you are looking for a VPN full of features and advanced settings, that also provides you with one of the widest selections of servers and locations all over the globe, then ExpressVPN is definitely the way to go. Not only that, but the service did not have any major security problems throughout the years, which is also why it gained such a large following and a sizable user base.
To begin with, ExpressVPN is available for every Mac device out there, including MacBooks, iMacs, and Mac minis. Not only that, but you can also get the app on a variety of macOS versions, regardless of whether you are using the newest version named Catalina, or something a bit older like El Capitan or Yosemite. Naturally, this is great news if you happen to be running a slightly outdated Mac machine.
In terms of features, ExpressVPN is a market leader, which means that it comes fully-packed with a variety of useful bits and bobs. Hence, you get a very capable kill switch option that allows your Mac to be disconnected from the Internet whenever the VPN server you are connected to experiences issues, which is a great way to avoid IP leaks.
Not only that, but there’s also a split-tunneling feature that enables you to allow certain apps to pass around the VPN, which is a great way to avoid latency for video games and similar activities that do not necessarily require you to stay hidden. Obviously, you should make sure that you do not misuse this feature, otherwise, it defeats the point of running a VPN in the first place.
As one might expect from a VPN of this caliber, your data is not being logged or tracked by the service, so you do not have to worry about leaving any tracks while browsing the web. To top things off, your VPN traffic is also encrypted at all times, thus making it impossible for any attacker to sniff your data packets along the way.
ExpressVPN is also one of the best services when it comes to unlocking content on popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, not to mention the fact that the high-quality servers allow you to reach very high download and upload speeds. Thanks to this, there are no buffering issues whenever you are trying to watch something in 4K, and you also don’t lose too much of your available bandwidth when you download torrents.
+ Great selection of servers all over the world
+ Many useful features, including a kill switch and split-tunneling capabilities
+ Compatible with many different macOS versions
+ High download speeds
+ Region unlocking for various streaming services
– Not the most affordable pricing model
As you might expect, no list is complete without NordVPN, since it is perhaps the most notorious VPN on the market, thanks to the incredibly aggressive marketing campaign behind the service. However, that’s not to say you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck by choosing to go with NordVPN, because the list of features is very impressive to say the least.
In terms of compatibility, NordVPN does not support quite as many macOS versions as ExpressVPN does, so you need at least the Sierra version in order to be able to install the app. As far as the supported devices, however, there are no restrictions in this regard, at least as long as your device is able to run macOS Sierra.
One of the most distinguishing features that’s part of NordVPN is the CyberSec package, which can be enabled from inside the app. This adds an extra layer of security when you are browsing the Internet, and it also protects you from malware, as well as various other threats that you may stumble upon. It’s worth remembering that this is an optional feature, however, so you can easily disable it if you find it annoying, or if you believe you do not need it.
Another great thing you get by choosing NordVPN is the “Double VPN” option. This allows you to use two VPN servers at the same time, one of which is designed to encrypt your data before sending it to the second one for rerouting. Obviously, this takes a significant toll on your connection, but you also get much more privacy in return. This feature is also optional, as you might expect.
In addition, a kill switch option is available in the settings menu as well. Unlike the previous features mentioned above, we recommend that you never disable this one, because it doesn’t affect your browsing experience at all. In fact, you don’t even know it’s there unless something goes wrong, which is exactly what a good kill switch should do.
Unfortunately, NordVPN does not provide any split-tunneling capabilities as of right now, which means that there is no way to allow specific apps to ignore the VPN. This is not a huge problem for most users, but it can be a bit annoying if you need low latency for an online game or something similar. Your only option, in that case, is to disable the VPN entirely, which is not desirable.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning the fact that NordVPN does not forbid torrents and P2P traffic. In fact, it actually encourages it by including special P2P servers for you to use. These are also designed to have as little impact as possible on your bandwidth, which translates into great download and upload speeds.
+ A “Double VPN” option for extra security
+ Dedicated P2P servers for torrents
+ Huge list of servers and locations spread all over the globe
+ Easy-to-use even for inexperienced Mac users
– No split-tunneling capabilities
– Doesn’t support as many macOS versions as ExpressVPN does
– The monthly subscription is a bit on the expensive side
IVPN is a sleek and modern VPN service that strives to provide as many customization options as possible, while also making sure that whatever you choose to do does not affect your privacy in any way. In fact, the company itself is formed out of a handful of people spread all over the world, which means that they know how to handle different jurisdictions and help you do the same.
As far as the macOS version of IVPN is concerned, the oldest supported version is 10.10 Yosemite, which is great news if your device happens to be a bit older. On the other hand, the development team is working hard to keep up with the latest version as well, which means that you won’t run into trouble if you have the latest macOS either.
Perhaps one of the most useful features that’s part of IVPN is the “AntiTracker”. This is a service that prevents websites from tracking your browsing habits, and it even comes with a “Hardcore Mode”, which enables you to completely stop Google and Facebook from keeping tabs on you. Not only that, but this feature also acts as an ad-blocker for your browser, thus eliminating the need for an additional browser extension.
You also get a handy kill switch, as well as port forwarding and a multihop option. The latter is designed to bounce your traffic between multiple VPN servers, which enables you to completely obfuscate your online activity at all times. Keep in mind the fact that your connection is going to be significantly slower if you use the multihop, however.
In terms of disadvantages, IVPN has a few quirks you have to get used to as well. Hence, there is no split-tunneling option, which might be a deal-breaker for some people. In addition, while torrent traffic is not forbidden by the service, the company advises you to use a non-US server if you want to download files through P2P. Naturally, this is a bit of a problem for US users, mainly because by choosing a server located on a different continent you are usually settling for much slower download speeds.
+ Comes with a built-in ad-blocker
+ Prevents corporations like Google and Facebook from tracking your activity
+ The multihop servers increase your anonymity
+ Great pricing model
+ Supports older macOS versions
– You must use a non-US server for torrenting
– No split-tunneling available
– Not that many servers and locations to choose from
CyberGhost is a VPN service that provides one of the largest selection of servers and locations on the market, making it a great choice if you want to access content all over the world. Thus, the almost 6,000 servers should be more than enough for anyone, not to mention the fact that you also have almost 90 countries to choose from, spanning over every continent.
In terms of macOS support, CyberGhost requires you to have 10.12 Sierra or higher installed, which is pretty nice. Granted, other VPNs on our list work on older versions as well, so remember to check your device before making a choice. However, CyberGhost works with any kind of Mac device, including MacBooks, iMacs and Mac Pros.
Feature-wise, the app does not disappoint when it comes to variety and customization options. Thus, besides a kill switch, you also get access to a long list of dedicated P2P servers. These are great when it comes to downloading torrents, especially since there are no bandwidth limits imposed on your account.
Not only that, but the list of specialized servers also includes a “Streaming” section, which is designed to help you unlock content on websites like Youtube Red, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Thus, all you need to do in order to get access to your favorite shows is to select the desired server and let the app do everything else.
As far as privacy is concerned, CyberGhost provides you with 256-bit AES encryption, which makes sure that your traffic cannot be intercepted by anyone. In addition, the service allows you to use up to 7 devices at the same time, which is more than most VPNs are willing to allow. To make things even better, the company is also based in Romania, a country that is not part of the 14 Eyes alliance.
Lastly, the VPN also allows you to use a dedicated IP, which is something many people need in order to avoid certain headaches. As such, a dedicated IP allows you to avoid unnecessary CAPTCHAs on various websites, and you also get around location-based security issues that come along when using a VPN with websites like Paypal.
+ Huge selection of servers and locations
+ Dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming
+ The possibility to use a dedicated IP
+ Unblocks all major services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Youtube Red
– Split-tunneling is not part of the deal
– Certain servers do not offer great download speeds
Mullvad may not be a very popular name in the world of VPNs, but it does bring a few very interesting features to the table. As such, unlike all the other apps on our list, Mullvad is the only company that makes the source code for its VPN available to the public. This means that you can browse through the code and see exactly how secure it is, at least if you have a background in software engineering.
Not only that, but Mullvad is also very transparent in terms of logging and online security, which is why it was publicly audited by two different teams. Thus, you can rest assured that their claims regarding privacy are backed up by professionals, which is not something you can expect from other VPNs.
If you are worried about macOS compatibility, the good news is that Mullvad is compatible with versions as old as 10.10 Yosemite. On the other hand, the constant updates and bug fixes take into account the Catalina version as well, which means that you can safely update your macOS without worrying about messing with the app’s functionality.
To make things even better, you don’t even have to use the official app, because your Mullvad account can be configured to work with specialized software like WireGuard, or macOS-specific packages for OpenVPN, such as Tunnelblick and Viscosity. This is a great solution if you are planning on using multiple VPNs on your machine because the software mentioned above allows you to switch between them with ease.
In terms of features, Mullvad does not shine as brightly as its competition, especially since there is no split-tunneling available, and no special servers for streaming or P2P. However, you are not forbidden from using the app for torrenting, and there are also no bandwidth limitations either. On top of this, the download speeds are very high, which makes Mullvad a great choice for a variety of high-bandwidth purposes.
Lastly, there is also a kill switch feature included in the app, as well as Shadowsocks proxy support. These features can save you from being exposed whenever something goes wrong with the server you are connected to, and the best part is that after you enable them from the settings menu you do not have to mess with them again.
+ Very high download and upload speeds
+ Low monthly price with flexible subscription tiers
+ Works with OpenVPN and WireGuard
+ Audited by two different teams
+ Great backward compatibility with older macOS versions
– No split-tunneling
– You might have trouble unlocking streaming websites
– Relatively few servers and locations when compared to the competition
All in all, securing your Mac with a VPN is not a difficult task at all, especially since the number of available options is pretty much on par with what you get on a Windows machine as well.
However, you should remember to check macOS version compatibility before buying a subscription for your chosen VPN service, because not all of them have apps that work on older versions. Our research on the matter tells us that most VPNs should work on versions as old as 10.12 Sierra, but it’s still wise to check for yourself, especially if the VPN you choose is not on this list for some reason.