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Apple machines come with a good level of security, but they are not immune to cybersecurity attacks. Installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best ways to bolster the protection and safety of a Mac and can help reduce security breaches.

Some of the best VPNs for Mac can help obscure your online activity from third parties and disguise your IP address, ensuring your private information is kept away from prying eyes. A VPN service can also allow you to watch streaming content while abroad, opening the doors for users to access content on various streaming platforms without restrictions. 

VPNs can come with a wide array of security features, such as split tunnelling, kill switches and military-grade encryption. However, not all VPN services are created equal; many VPN providers do not provide the same advanced protection features for Mac users in the same way as VPNs for Android or Windows.

We have spent hundreds of hours testing over 70 VPN services for performance, security and privacy to determine which VPN provides the best overall experience for Mac users. 

Our top three VPNs for Mac

There are three great VPN options for Mac, depending on what your priority is. If speed is your main concern, then you should go for NordVPN. If you’re new to VPNs and just want something that’s plug and play, then Surfshark is the VPN for you. If you want the best all-round option, albeit at a slightly higher price than the other two, then ExpressVPN will suit you perfectly. Whichever VPN you choose from these three you’ll get a fantastic product.

How we research and rate VPNs

100+
Hour performance testing
500+
Customer reviews read
200+
Hours comparing products
25
Providers compared
3
VPN experts consulted

The Independent Advisor’s reviewers are dedicated to assisting you in making an informed decision when buying a VPN for a Mac through recommendations based on the most accurate and up-to-date information.  Every VPN undergoes hours of testing and head-to-head feature comparisons, and we take into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30 per cent)
  • Features and functionality (30 per cent)
  • Reputation and credibility (25 per cent)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10 per cent)
  • Customer experience (5 per cent)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

The best VPNs for Mac compared

There were several factors that we considered to find the best VPN for Mac. 

Security is one of the most important elements of any VPN, and most top providers use AES-256 encryption, which is considered to be the highest level of security and has been proven to be unhackable. VPNs with a no-log policy will ensure users’ data and IP addresses are never stored, and the top providers will usually have these policies independently audited. 

Additional security features such as split tunnelling, kill switch and a choice of VPN protocols have also been considered and more specifically if they’re available for Mac apps – we’ve found that privacy features can be lacking for Mac apps amongst VPN providers.  

Internet speed is also high on the priority list, which is why we’ve tested all of the VPNs’ download and upload speeds. 

VPN’s subscription price is also an important factor and, of course, having access to a plethora of security features is ideal – but only if it’s good value for money.

Price From £2.49/m From £6.77/m From £1.79/m From £1.78/m From £4.27/m
Free version No No No No Yes
Max number of connected devices 6 5 Unlimited 7 10
Number of servers 5500+ 3000+ 3200+ 9000+ 2700+
AES-256 encryption Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audited no-log policy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Where to buy

Express VPN: Best overall

express-vpn-logo
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices:
  • Five (monthly plans), eight (six month), ten (one year)
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: Lightway, IKEv2
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Headquarters: British Virgin Islands
  • Pricing:
  • ExpressVPN 12 month
    £6.77
    /month
    ExpressVPN 6 month
    £8.12
    /month
    ExpressVPN 1 month
    £10.53
    /month
ProsCons
Kill switch for Mac appSplit tunnelling only available for MacOS11 or above
Lots of protocols to choose from
Smart location
Trackers and malicious sites blocker

ExpressVPN is MacOS-friendly and it offers an easy-to-navigate Mac app packed with privacy and security features. 

ExpressVPN has fast download and upload speeds, and the MacOS app allows users to customise their VPN experience by switching protocols. This also includes ExpressVPN’s custom-built Lightway protocol, which is designed to run faster, use less battery and is well suited to all online activities. 

With ExpressVPN for MacOS, you’ll have access to its kill switch, which disconnects all internet activity should the VPN connection drop, keeping the user’s IP address and data safe at all times.

Cost 

ExpressVPN offers a 30-day, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. The provider’s subscription payments are taken in US dollars.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.53 ($13.36) / month
6 months £8.12 ($10.30) / month (£48.75/$61.84 up front)
12 months £6.77 ($8.59) / month (£81.29/$103.11 up front)

Security 

ExpressVPN uses AES-256, which is the highest level of encryption and is often used by governments and militaries. As well as this, the provider has a kill switch that keeps the user’s IP address and data safe at all times. 

ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy, which the accounting firm PwC has independently audited.

User experience 

The MacOS app is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Its clear and clean interface displays a recommended server location and connect button. Its privacy features are easy to locate within the settings, where you’ll find options to choose a protocol, kill switch and the threat manager, which blocks trackers and malicious sites. 

Performance 

In our tests, ExpressVPN demonstrated strong performance for Mac users, particularly within the UK, where it offered robust speed retention in addition to ensuring online privacy and security. Retaining 65 and 73 per cent of the download and upload reference speeds, respectively, the service is a reliable choice for data-intensive tasks like video conferencing and streaming. 

Transatlantic connections showed satisfactory download speeds, retaining 56 per cent of the baseline, although the upload speed dropped dramatically to 6 per cent, possibly affecting streaming, gaming, and remote work requirements. The long-distance connection to Australia delivered an acceptable download speed at 40 per cent of the no-VPN level. The upload speed sees a minor uplift to 14 per cent of the reference figures, but the high latency suggests a compromised experience for interactive applications. Overall, ExpressVPN offers a decent balance for Mac users, favouring closer server connections.

Speed test results

Speed test result without activating ExpressVPN. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes).
Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN330.16195.095
UK to UK213.28141.921265%73%
UK to US186.1811.4813556%6%
UK to Aus132.4127.629340%14%

Date tested: 29/10/23

Customer service

On the Apple App Store, ExpressVPN receives 4.5 out of five stars with over 47,000 reviews. However, there were quite a few negative reviews that cited connection problems and geo-blocking issues.

“I’ve been living in China for two years and, unfortunately, ExpressVPN becomes less and less reliable as the weeks go on. Initially, it was great. However, over the last 12 months the servers available in China have been reduced to less than five and at least once a month it goes down and states that new blocks have been put in place. It seems funny that some free VPNs which require no sign-up can consistently beat the firewall but the expensive service of ExpressVPN cannot. Also, being from the UK, it would be handy to have a UK server which worked, but this has been unavailable for around six months and does not seem to be coming online anytime soon. Unfortunately, this app is no longer the No.1 VPN in China and you’ll have better luck with ones which do not require you to pay USD$80 per year.”

  • A5473¥ 8A5T0W, via Apple App Store

Verdict 

ExpressVPN has a wide range of security features available on its MacOS app and more than most of its competitors. Its VPN servers also only affected our internet speeds minimally and its app was aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. 

★★★★½

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Today’s best ExpressVPN deals
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
ExpressVPN 6 month £8.12 /Month
£8.12 /Month
ExpressVPN 1 month £10.53 /Month
£10.53 /Month

NordVPN: Best for speed

nord vpn logo
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Six
  • Number of servers: 5,500+ in 60 countries
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and NordLynx (WireGuard protocol)
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by PricewaterhouseCoopers, AG Switzerland and Deloitte
  • Headquarters: Panama
  • Pricing:
  • NordVPN 2 year
    £2.49
    /month
    NordVPN 1 year
    £3.59
    /month
    NordVPN 1 month
    £10.39
    /month
ProsCons
ThreatNo split tunnelling available
No-logs policy
Fast internet speed

NordVPN supports all versions of MacOS and is available on all Mac devices including Mac mini, Mac Pro, iMac, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro. 

More often than not, VPNs don’t always have every feature available for every type of device. This is the case with NordVPN’s split tunnelling feature, which, unfortunately, is not available for Mac users. However, Meshnet – a feature that allows users to create secure VPN tunnels and route all of their traffic through another device – is available and it’s really useful. 

For avid gamers and beginners alike, Meshnet gives you the option to play multiplayer games regardless of geo-location.

NordVPN’s kill switch can be customised, with users being given the choice to toggle the feature on for only certain applications. 

Cost 

NordVPN offers three payment tiers; standard, plus and complete with each offering monthly, 12-month and 24-month plans, with the latter two including a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

The longer deals offer significant savings, lowering the asking price for two-year plans to just £2.49 per month, with both plans including three extra months free for a limited time.

Subscription Term Standard plan Plus plan Complete plan
Monthly £10.39 ($13.26) / month £11.19 ($14.28) / month £13.09 ($16.71) / month
12 months (+3 months free) £3.59 ($4.58) / month (£53.85/$68.74 up front for 15 months) £4.39 ($5.60) / month (£65.85/$84.06 up front for 15 months) £6.39 ($8.16) / month (£95.85/$122.36 up front for 15 months)
24 months (+3 months free) £2.49 ($3.18) / month (£67.23/$85.82 up front for 27 months) £3.19 ($4.07) / month (£86.13/$109.95 up front for 27 months) £5.19 ($6.63) / month (£140.13/$178.89 up front for 27 months)

Security 

NordVPN has a variety of security and privacy features available for MacOS users. Like most other providers, it uses the latest AES-256 encryption standard, which has been proven to be unhackable. 

Its no-logs policy states that none of its user’s data or web sessions is stored, and this has been independently verified by Deloitte, PwC and AG Switzerland. 

NordVPN’s threat protection is available only on MacOS and Windows apps and it blocks ads, trackers and malicious websites. These bonus features are in addition to the basic VPN functionality and also work when you’re not connected to a VPN server.

User experience 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with NordVPN’s MacOS app, it was not our researcher’s favourite. The app’s interface takes almost the entire screen of a standard 13-inch Macbook, but it’s user-friendly, with all of the server locations listed on the left-hand side in alphabetical order with an option to quickly connect.

There is also an option to connect to the fastest server for downloads, browsing or speed – this was a welcome addition. 

Privacy features like NordVPN’s threat protection, Meshnet and Dark Web Monitor are all easily accessible within Nord’s settings and allow you to customise the service however you wish to. 

Performance 

In our tests, NordVPN exhibited an impressive performance, which makes it a reliable option for many Mac users looking to combine online privacy with fast performance. The connections to a UK VPN server delivered robust download speed, slightly exceeding the base speed. However, it’s worth noting that local connections saw a significant drop in upload speed, which maintained half of the baseline. 

Cross-Atlantic connections to a US server retained a robust 89 per cent of the base download speed, but uploads were dramatically slowed down, potentially raising concerns for some users prioritising data sharing. With a 72 per cent retention in the download speed, connections to Australia were impressive, considering the average VPN performance. The upload speeds mirrored the US figures, and the ping marked an expected increase, suggesting some limitations for real-time communications. Overall, despite the common distance-related challenges, NordVPN offers exceptional performance for Mac users.

Speed test results

Speed test result without activating NordVPN. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes).
Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN453.38355.436
UK to UK455.72127.8833101%50%
UK to US403.2637.0411989%15%
UK to Aus32434.7123572%14%

Date tested: 29/10/23

Customer service 

NordVPN receives 4.7 out of five stars on the Apple App Store with 5,800 reviews. Many customers have mentioned that NordVPN’s customer support is excellent and its app is easy to use. 

“I love having the extra security as I have a lot of sensitive material on my desktop, iPads and phones. My son (who is a technology whiz-kid) has been trying to get me to purchase a VPN service for a long time but I wanted to make sure I got the right one. The only issue I do have with the app is that in order to access some accounts or other apps, I have to pause the VPN service. So, I have opened my material and other accounts up to have it hacked while accessing other important and needed programs and information. I do work quickly so I can resume my security but the thought of having around-the-clock security was great and having to pause, even for five minutes, kind of worries me. Besides that hiccup, I am satisfied with the app and I am happy I got the two-year subscription.”

  • JHurd61, via Apple App Store

Verdict 

NordVPN for MacOS was the fastest VPN that we tested and, for that reason, if that’s your main priority this could be the VPN for you. It also has a no-logs policy which has been independently 

audited and uses the highest level of encryption. 

 ★★★★½

Read our full NordVPN review.

Today’s best NordVPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
NordVPN 1 year £3.59 /Month
£3.59 /Month
NordVPN 1 month £10.39 /Month
£10.39 /Month

Surfshark: Best for beginners

surfshark vpn logo
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited
  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by Cure53
  • Headquarters: The Netherlands
  • Pricing:
  • Surfshark 24 month
    £1.79
    /month
    Surfshark 12 month
    £2.29
    /month
    Surfshark 12 month
    £10.29
    /month
ProsCons
Unlimited simultaneous connectionsNo split tunnelling feature for the MacOS app
Kill switch included

Surfshark is compatible with Big Sur, Catalina, Monterey and Ventura and can be installed and used on an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. Its dedicated MacOS app is quick and easy to install, and comes with a good number of privacy and security features, including a kill switch and MultipHop servers. 

Although Surfshark’s MacOS app includes lots of features, there is, unfortunately, no split tunnelling feature, as with ExpressVPN.   

Cost 

Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and monthly, 12-month and 24-month subscriptions. It’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, offering excellent value for money. 

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £12.23 ($15.45) / month
12 months £2.29 ($2.90) / month (£32.06/$40.66 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.79 ($2.27) / month (£46.54/$59.03 up front for 26 months)

Security 

Surfshark’s MacOS app comes with a variety of privacy and security features and its VPN is encrypted with AES-256. There is a choice of two protocols – WireGuard and IKEv2 – as well as options to enable a kill switch that protects users even when your VPN connection drops.

With Surfshark, users benefit from the Rotating IP feature that can automatically rotate their IP address while their location remains the same. This prevents your connection from using the same IP all the time – making it harder for third parties to track your activity. Another feature found in Surfshark’s MacOS app is CleanWeb, which blocks ads and trackers when connected to the VPN.

User experience 

The Surfshark app is easy to use and comes with a dark and light mode feature – although not a necessity, our researchers were pleased with the choice. 

The app’s interface has options to connect to the fastest server and nearest country as well as clearly displaying a list of Surfshark’s server locations. 

Performance 

Our speed test demonstrated the strong performance of Surfshark, although we encountered the expected challenges as the distance to the VPN server increased. When connecting to a server within the UK, both download and upload speeds retained substantial percentages of the baseline levels, suggesting a negligible loss that should go unnoticed for downstream and upstream tasks. 

Connections to the US maintained strong download speeds, retaining 84 per cent of the reference figure. However, the upload speed dropped significantly to 11 per cent of the no-VPN benchmark, posing a limitation for massive content-sharing applications. The most considerable performance degradation and latency increase were observed when switching to an Australian VPN server. In this scenario, only a quarter of the download baseline and 7 per cent of the upload base speeds were maintained. While excellent for browsing, streaming, and gaming using UK VPN servers, Surfshark might face challenges with long-distance, data-intensive activities.

Speed test results

Speed test result without activating Surfshark. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes).
Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN501.36378.94
UK to UK453.63311.241190%82%
UK to US420.640.8513184%11%
UK to Aus123.0625.1423625%7%

Date tested: 29/10/23

Customer service 

Surfshark receives 4.8 out of five stars on the Apple App Store with 13,000 reviews, many of which praised the provider for its large selection of servers, customer service and security features. 

“After using Surfshark VPN for a while, I am quite pleased with its performance. The user interface is simple and straightforward to use, and the set-up process is also quick and simple. I can access stuff from all over the world because the VPN offers a large selection of servers to pick from. Streaming and downloading are made possible by the quick and reliable connection speed. However, the robust security features of Surfshark set it apart from competing VPNs. My online activities are shielded from hackers and other bad actors thanks to the usage of AES-256-GCM encryption. My online identity is further protected by the VPN’s kill switch and stringent no-logs policy, which are additional features. All things considered, Surfshark VPN is a great option for anyone seeking a dependable and secure VPN service.”

  • Beacloud via Apple App Store

Verdict 

Surfshark VPN’s Mac app was easy to use and came with a dark and light feature. Although Surfshark didn’t have the fastest internet speed, we found that its app was user-friendly and gave us options to connect to the fastest available server. There is no split tunnelling feature available for Mac users, which means that Surfshark may be better suited for beginners. 

★★★★

Read our full Surfshark VPN review.

Today’s best Surfshark deals
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
Surfshark 12 month £2.29 /Month
£2.29 /Month
Surfshark 1 month £10.29 /Month
£10.29 /Month

CyberGhost Best for security features

cyberghost logo
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Seven
  • Number of servers: 9,000+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by Deloitte
  • Headquarters: Bucharest, Romania
  • Pricing:
  • CyberGhost 2 year
    £1.78
    /month
    CyberGhost 6 month
    £6.19
    /month
    CyberGhost 1 month
    £10.89
    /month
ProsCons
No-logs policySlow internet speeds
Split tunnelling
Kill switch

CyberGhost VPN is compatible with MacBooks, iMac and Mac models and comes with must-have security features such as a kill switch and unhackable AES-256 encryption.  

More often than not, VPNs for Macs will come with fewer features than their Windows and Android app counterparts. CyberGhost has recognised this and has built a fully customisable Mac VPN app. 

Cost 

CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is more than most other providers.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.89 ($13.81) / month
6 months £6.19 ($7.85) / month (£37.14/$47.11 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.78 ($2.26) / month (£49.92/$63.32 up front for 28 months)

Security 

CyberGhost uses AES-256 encryption and it has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited by Deloitte. Its Mac app also has a kill switch and split tunnelling features, which are not always available for Mac users. 

User experience 

CyberGhost’s Mac app is relatively straightforward to use and would be ideal for beginners. The app is easy to navigate and, within the settings, there are options to customise your VPN. Smart Rule is a feature that allows you to choose when the CyberGhost app opens, as well as other settings. We also found that the internet connection was stable while connected and there is also an option to choose a favourite server.  

Performance 

CyberGhost’s test results indicated a moderate performance for local UK connections, maintaining 61 per cent of the download speed, which might impact streaming or other tasks requiring fast connections. The upload speed saw a more significant reduction to a third of the upload baseline, potentially affecting online activities requiring higher speeds. 

With the increase in the distance, the performance degradation also increased. The US connection exhibited more pronounced slowdowns. The download and upload speeds retained 56 and 7 per cent of the baseline, respectively, which would be challenging for demanding online activities. When connecting to VPN servers in Australia, the performance declined further, which was particularly pronounced in the upload speed dropping to 4 per cent of the baseline. So, while CyberGhost can cater to user demands nationwide, gamers and streamers may find it challenging to use the service over long distances.

Speed test results

Speed test result without activating CyberGhost. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes).
Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN400.99187.297
UK to UK242.6365.611261%35%
UK to US224.2113.2312856%7%
UK to Aus189.057.6630847%4%

Date tested: 29/10/23

Customer service 

On the Apple App Store, CyberGhost receives 4.3 out of five stars from more than 8,300 reviews. Many of those reviews commend CyberGhost for its easy-to-use app and security features. However, some reviews have cited slow internet speeds and connection issues. 

“[I’ve] been a NordVPN user for a few years and switched to CyberGhost. CyberGhost’s processes are a lot easier to manage and deal with. Nord’s process to get a dedicated IP assigned is convoluted, it involves creating multiple accounts and waiting almost a week for their support team to enable it for you. CyberGhost’s dedicated IP process on the other hand takes less than a minute to enable. On ease of use alone, CyberGhost beats Nord hands down. Don’t think I’ll be switching back if the price remains where it is.”

  • nmesis7, via Apple App Store

Verdict 

CyberGhost has some of the best security and privacy features available for Mac devices and, after reviewing other providers, it’s fair to say it has the most. Its VPN is ideal for the privacy-conscious who would use features such as the kill switch and split tunnelling. 

★★★★

Read the full CyberGhost VPN review.

Today’s best CyberGhost deals
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
CyberGhost 1 year £6.19 /Month
£6.19 /Month
CyberGhost 1 month £10.89 /Month
£10.89 /Month

Proton VPN: Best for file sharing

proton vpn logo
  • Free version: Yes
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 10
  • Number of servers: 2,700+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: IKEv2
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes, by Securitum
  • Headquarters: Switzerland
  • Pricing:
  • Proton VPN 2 years
    £4.27
    /month
    Proton VPN 12 months
    £5.13
    /month
    Proton VPN 1 month
    £8.55
    /month
ProsCons
Can create user profilesNo split tunnelling
Malware ads and tracker blockerNot many protocols
Good for file sharing

Proton VPN offers both a free and paid subscription – the latter gives you access to all of its privacy and security features and you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. The provider’s Mac app is sleek in design and offers a good level of privacy even though there is no split tunnelling feature for Mac users, which is not uncommon amongst the top VPN providers.   

Cost 

Proton VPN offers subscription terms of monthly, 12 months, and 24 months. It also provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly €9.99 (£8.55) / month
12 months €5.99 (£5.13) / month (€71.88/£61.51 up front)
24 months €4.99 (£4.27) / month (€119.76/£102.48 up front)

Security 

Proton VPN has a no-logs policy which has been independently audited by Securitum, an IT security firm. The provider uses AES-256 encryption and has a kill switch which automatically disconnects users from the internet if their VPN connection drops. 

Proton VPN’s Netshield feature (only available for paid subscribers) blocks ads, malware and trackers. 

User experience 

Proton VPN’s Mac app is black and purple, which we found aesthetically pleasing. With the Mac app, it will show in the top toolbar for users to quickly connect, but if you’d like to change settings then a larger window will open. 

Navigating Proton VPN’s app was quick and easy and we were able to find all of its privacy and security features within seconds. 

Performance 

ProtonVPN delivered an impressive performance in local UK tests, preserving an exceptional 99 per cent of the base download speed and 93 per cent of the upload baseline speed. These results suggested seamless browsing and streaming experiences for all users connecting to VPN servers nationwide. However, the performance degraded with longer-distance connections.

When switching to the US, download speeds remained robust at 90 per cent of the no-VPN benchmark, though upload speeds plummeted sharply, which could hinder high-bandwidth uploading activities. Data transmission experienced a further dramatic deterioration in the UK-to-Australia connection, with speed retention of 4 and 10 per cent of the download and upload baseline speeds, respectively. This slowdown could significantly affect high-demand online activities. High latency could also contribute to noticeable delays during real-time communications, making this VPN a less optimal choice for users frequently connecting to distant servers.

Speed test results

Speed test result without activating Proton VPN. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes).
Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN366.21205.694
UK to UK362.25190.91599%93%
UK to US330.6137.2212990%18%
UK to Aus15.5220.492394%10%

Date tested: 29/10/23

Customer service 

On the Apple App Store, Proton VPN receives 4.6 out of five stars from more than 18,400 reviews. Customers especially like Proton VPN’s profiles and their selection of privacy and security features. 

“I have had Proton Mail and Proton VPN for years. I read several reviews that were bad. Almost all were because the person just did not know where to look to change a preference or just did not know anything about how a VPN works. I have set up several profiles as to where I want to connect. Always use Secure Core. I like that I can change to any location, just by clicking on a profile I created. If one profile server speed is slow, I click on another. Guys, read the instructions and learn how a VPN works, its capabilities and how to customise it like you want it.”

  • LexP305, via Apple app Store

Verdict 

Proton VPN has great security and privacy features for its MacOS app and there are options to create user profiles for a personalised VPN experience. Its app is also easy to use and we found that the connection speed to its servers was stable and didn’t affect browsing and file sharing a great deal. 

★★★★

Read our full Proton VPN review.

Today’s best Proton VPN deals
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
Proton 1 year £5.13 /Month
£5.13 /Month
Proton 1 month £8.55 /Month
£8.55 /Month

Which VPN is the fastest for Macs?

Here, we’ve displayed the download and upload speeds we achieved with each VPN on various servers on a Mac.

No VPN Download speed (Mbps)No VPN Upload speed (Mbps)UK to UK Download speed (Mbps)UK to UK Upload speed (Mbps)UK to US Download speed (Mbps)UK to US Upload speed (Mbps)UK to Aus Download speed (Mbps)UK to Aus Upload speed (Mbps)
ExpressVPN330.16195.09213.28141.92186.1811.48132.4127.6
NordVPN453.38355.43455.72127.88403.2637.0432434.71
Surfshark501.36378.9453.63311.24420.640.85123.0625.14
CyberGhost400.99187.29242.6365.61224.2113.23189.057.66
ProtonVPN366.21205.69362.25190.9330.6137.2215.5220.49

Download and upload speed degradation per cent compared

No VPN Download speed (Mbps)No VPN Upload speed (Mbps)Retained UK to UK Download speedRetained UK to UK Upload speedRetained UK to US Download speedRetained UK to US Upload speedRetained UK to Aus Download speedRetained UK to Aus Upload speed
ExpressVPN330.16195.0965%73%56%6%40%14%
NordVPN453.38355.43101%50%89%15%72%14%
Surfshark501.36378.990%82%84%11%25%7%
CyberGhost400.99187.2961%35%56%7%47%4%
ProtonVPN366.21205.6999%93%90%18%4%10%

How do VPNs work for Macs work?

A VPN works by routing your device’s internet connection through a remote server, which hides your IP address and your geo-location. This secure and encrypted connection makes it difficult for third parties to track your online activity.

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One premium feature of most VPN services is split tunnelling. Split tunnelling allows users to direct certain device traffic through the encrypted VPN while giving other applications direct access to the internet. 

 

Having two connections running at the same time means that users can still protect sensitive or private data via the VPN connection while avoiding bottleneck issues and conserving bandwidth since the internet traffic is able to pass through more than one server. 

 

Certain VPNs, such as ExpressVPN, are compatible with split tunnelling on Mac, but only for MacOS 11 or above. Other services, like NordVPN and Surfshark, do not offer split tunnelling for Mac users at all, which may make them better suited for users who are just starting out with the software.

Why do you need a VPN for your Mac?

Although Macs come with a high level of security and privacy, installing a VPN increases the protection of your online security. Using a VPN on your Mac encrypts your internet traffic, masks your IP address and allows you to bypass geo-restrictions. A VPN also protects you when you’re connected to a public wifi network, where you may fall victim to cybercrime threats.

How to set up a VPN on your Mac

To set up a VPN on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a VPN provider: Thoroughly research and choose a trustworthy VPN provider. Check that it has the features you need
  2. Download the VPN from the Apple App Store: Go to the App Store and search for the VPN provider and click download
  3. Install and launch the app: Open the VPN app and complete the installation process. Sign up for a VPN account or log in if you already have one
  4. Configure VPN settings: Follow the instructions for configuring your Mac for your VPN
  5. Connect to the VPN: Once the app is set up, connect to a VPN server. The app will display which server you’re connected to and you can change this to suit your preferred location

What to look for when buying a VPN for a Mac

Consider the following when purchasing a VPN for a Mac: 

  • Compatibility: Make sure the provider has a MacOS app and is compatible with your Mac operating system
  • Security: Check that your chosen VPN service has a good level of encryption – ideally AEs-256 – and a variety of protocols such as WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2
  • Privacy: Make sure the service follows a no-logs policy and that this policy has been independently verified
  • Speed: Choose a VPN with fast servers. Also, it’s best if the provider has a large number of servers that are located worldwide with numerous servers in each country
  • Reputation and review: Research customer reviews for the provider to see what customers like and dislike about the service
  • Price and subscription plans: Compare price plans and consider features offered. Choose a service with a money-back guarantee, this way you can try the VPN risk-free

What’s the best free VPN for Mac?

While there are plenty of free VPNs for Mac available on the App Store, you should consider how secure they are. Most free VPNs have limited security and privacy features as well as offering limited monthly data allowance and few simultaneous device connections. Free VPNs may also collect and sell user data to third parties to make money.

The best VPN for Mac Q&A

A VPN works on a Mac by creating a secure encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN server. Using a VPN routes all of your internet traffic through a server which masks your IP address and location, making it difficult for third parties to track your online activity. Most VPN providers generally offer fewer features for their Mac apps than their Android and Windows devices, and more often than not split tunnelling features are not available. 

Although Macs come with a good level of security, using a VPN adds another layer of privacy. It will mask your IP address and keep you safe and secure when using both a home or private wifi network. A VPN can also block ads, malware and trackers.

There are lots of good VPNs with dedicated MacOS apps, but it’s best to choose one which has the features that suit your privacy needs. Some VPNs won’t have all of their privacy features available for Mac devices, so you’ll need to compare them. Some of the best VPNs for Mac include ExpressVPN, Surfshark and NordVPN.

While Apple Macs come with a decent level of security, Mac users can benefit greatly from the high level of security that a VPN service provides. A VPN will protect Mac user’s online identity, and conceal their real IP address. The best VPNs for Macs will come with advanced security features like a kill switch that automatically disconnects your internet connection if your VPN connection fails. A good VPN can also allow Mac users to bypass geo-restrictions to access content on streaming platforms.

No, Apple Mac devices do not come with a built-in VPN. However, all Macs support automatic and manual configuration of a VPN. Mac users can download their chosen VPN service from the Apple App Store.

Free VPNs can provide a minimal level of security, which is fine if that’s all you require. There are plenty of free VPNs available for Mac users from the Apple App Store. Most free VPNs come with a long list of limitations compared to paid VPNs. Typically, a free VPN will have a small data allowance, very few security features and most likely will not have an independently audited no-logs policy. If you’re looking for a VPN with robust security features, it’s best to choose a paid VPN.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

NordVPN: Best for speed
Overall Score: 4.5/5
NordVPN: Best for speed
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Our award for the best Mac VPN for speed goes to NordVPN. It’s one of the longest-running VPN providers around and has great experience in the market. Its double VPN encryption adds more privacy to your browsing, while private DNS protection means no threat of hijacking and no logging of your online activities. Performance is top-notch too, and it boasts a huge number of servers located in pretty much any country you’d need.

Surfshark: Best for beginners
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Surfshark: Best for beginners
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Our choice of the best Mac VPN for beginners has a slight but notable advantage over the competition in terms of performance – in our tests it demonstrated the lowest level of degradation for download and upload speeds when locating your IP abroad. Surfshark’s security is also top-notch with AES 256-bit encryption, an audited no-log policy, and automatic kill switch. The price is hard to beat too.

ExpressVPN: Best overall
Overall Score: 4.5/5
ExpressVPN: Best overall
Overall Score: 4.5/5

If you’re looking for a great all-round option, which is very easy to use, then this is the VPN for you. ExpressVPN has all the market-leading features you could want: top security, a fast, stable connection, and it’s a great option for streaming from the internet. It also has some great, user-friendly apps, for every platform you could wish for. The only real downside is that ExpressVPN is more expensive than its rivals, so better value can be found elsewhere.

rachel

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.