Mac OS VPN Setup Guide(2023 Oct)

Mac OS VPN Setup may sound complex (and indeed, it can be), but configuring and using a Mac VPN is straightforward. Here, we will walk you through the entire process, from registering for the service to installing the software and connecting to servers. If you’re wondering, “What is VPN?” – VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.

It encrypts the connection between your Mac and the internet, making you appear as if you’re located where the server is. For example, if you connect to a server in New York, websites and streaming services behave as if you were in that region, not your actual location (which could be anywhere in the world).

If you want to access content that’s typically unavailable in your country or region (like BBC iPlayer from the USA or US Netflix from the UK), having this tool installed on your Mac (and iPhone and iPad) can be convenient. And if you’re concerned about privacy, a VPN will encrypt your data and hide your IP address.

If you’re looking for a VPN to safeguard your online privacy and security while granting you access to content as if you were in other countries or regions, we’re here to help. With many VPN providers vying for your business, finding the one that suits your needs can be challenging.

To assist you in finding the right provider, we’ve extensively researched and tested VPN services for Mac users in our Top Mac VPN Service Guide. We recommend NordVPN, the best Mac VPN choice known for its emphasis on privacy, security, and anonymity.

In addition to impressive security features, NordVPN offers a modern, user-friendly interface, making it ideal for first-time users. It has servers in 60 countries/regions, allowing you to encrypt internet traffic from anywhere in the world. With NordVPN‘s 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try it without financial risk.

If you’re looking to save money, we recommend Surfshark. for less than $2.50 per month, you’ll have unlimited data and simultaneous connections, rock-solid security, and in-depth features that free VPNs don’t have. Access is fast and all major streaming sites are unlocked. Surfshark is the best value for money.

How to get a free VPN for 30 days:
If you need a VPN for a short period of time while traveling abroad, get our top-ranked VPN for free. NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which is real. You’ll need to pay upfront to use the subscription, but the subscription allows full access for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can cancel at any time and get a full refund, so you can try it with confidence.


Does Mac Need a VPN?

While Apple has implemented various security measures in its operating system, it doesn’t mean your Mac is entirely safe. There are different types of threats when you’re connected to the internet, so don’t assume you’re secure just because you’re using a Mac. For instance, if you connect to public Wi-Fi, you automatically put yourself at risk.

Many people use hotspots without being aware of their security level. By connecting to one without any protection, you’re essentially opening the door for hackers. Moreover, even though macOS’s Gatekeeper software helps block untrusted applications by issuing warnings, you can still technically install them.

Third-party apps can bring unwelcome guests to the party, and both security risks can leave you vulnerable to viruses or malware attacks, theft of sensitive data (such as credit card information), and the possibility of surveillance. To achieve comprehensive protection, consider installing one of our top Mac antivirus software choices, along with one of our best Mac VPN selections.

VPN: Bypassing Censorship, Streaming, and Geo-blocking

Apart from security, VPN can be helpful in many other ways. If you’re trying to access certain content and find yourself blocked, it’s likely due to censorship or geo-blocking. Many countries/regions control what we can see online – you can read more in our Internet Censorship Guide.

Additionally, many online services are only available in specific regions, or at least their content may vary. For example, Netflix is accessible in many countries/regions, but each has a different library. If you’re traveling, you may find that your favorite shows are unavailable.

Other services, like HBO and Hulu, are also restricted to US audiences. Fortunately, VPN can help you bypass any such obstacles by changing your IP address and making you appear as if you’re in a specific country or region.

Further reading:
➤ How to iOS VPN Settings on your iPhone
➤ Top 3 VPN iOS Best for iPhone(iOS 16 & Older)
➤ The Best VPN Korea server
➤ Best Japan VPN for Watching Japanese Netflix
➤ Top 3 Best VPN in Hong Kong|fast and secure

Mac OS VPN Setup Connection – Visual Tutorial

Now that you have all the information about the best Mac VPN software and have chosen your provider, it’s time to set up the application and reap its benefits. In this example, we’ll show you how to install NordVPN on Mac, but the process should be similar for other providers.

Create a VPN Account:

  1. Visit NordVPN‘s official website, where you’ll find a menu on the right side of the screen.
  2. Click it and select “Pricing.” This will redirect you to NordVPN’s subscription plans page.
  3. Choose a subscription plan that suits your needs.
  4. Register your details on the popup portal website, including your email address and password.
  5. Select your preferred payment method.
  6. NordVPN will send a confirmation email to your email address. Confirm it and enjoy your NordVPN subscription.

Setting Up the Application and Logging In:

  1. Launch the NordVPN application.
  2. Log in with your credentials.
  3. Connect to a server, preferably one nearby, for better connectivity.
  4. You are now secure, private, and able to bypass geo-blocking!

How to Install a Mac VPN Through the Apple App Store:

Another way to get Mac VPN software is by downloading it from a trusted source like the Apple App Store. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Apple App Store on your computer.
  2. Search for the appropriate VPN app from the service you’ve chosen. We highly recommend NordVPN.
  3. Click the “Download” button, then click “Open.”
  4. Fill in your login credentials.
  5. Now, select a server and enjoy secure browsing!

How to Install a Mac VPN from the Provider’s Website:

  1. Subscribe to a premium VPN service. NordVPN offers robust security features and industry-leading speeds.
  2. Visit the provider’s official website and navigate to the “Downloads” section.
  3. Choose your operating system version and download the appropriate file.
  4. After the download is complete, follow the on-screen instructions to install the application on your Mac.
  5. Once installed, open the app and log in to your account.
  6. Connect to any server you like – you’re done!

Manually Configuring VPN on Mac (iMac and MacBook):

  1. Click on the Apple symbol in the top left corner, then select “System Preferences.”
  2. Choose “Network” under “Internet & Network.”
  3. Click the “+” button.
  4. Choose the interface and select “VPN” from the drop-down menu.
  5. If you’re running the latest version of macOS, you’ll only be able to set up an L2TP connection. Change the VPN type to “L2TP over IPSec” and enter the Service Name (any name you like).
  6. Enter the Server Address as “” (note that it’s “L” in the server address, not “1”). Then, enter your account username and check the “Show VPN status in the menu bar” option.
  7. Click “Authentication Settings.”
  8. Enter your account password and the shared secret “953783903.” Click “OK.”
  9. This will take you back to the main configuration screen. Choose “Advanced.”
  10. Make sure the box for “Send all traffic over VPN connection” is checked. Click “OK.”
  11. Select “Apply,” then click “Connect,” and you’re now connected!

This guide should help you navigate the setup process for a Mac VPN and get you connected to the internet securely and privately.

How to Set Up VPN on macOS 13 Ventura

If you are using macOS 13 (Ventura), the process for manually setting up a VPN is slightly different. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Apple menu in the upper-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select “System Preferences.”
  3. From the sidebar, choose “VPN.”
  4. Select “Add VPN Configuration” and choose the desired connection type.
  5. In the “Display Name” field, enter the name for your VPN service that you are setting up. If you are not using multiple configurations, stick with the default configuration options.
  6. Choose your new VPN configuration; the information may vary depending on the service but could include account name and password.
  7. Select “Create” to complete the setup of the new VPN.

How to Sync VPN Settings Across Macs

If you’ve manually configured a VPN, you can sync it across all your Macs using the following steps:

  1. Return to your System Preferences.
  2. Click on “Network.”
  3. Click on the three dots (to access a pop-up menu).
  4. Choose “Import Configurations.”
  5. Select your file.
  6. Click “Import.”

Note: You will need to manually import VPN settings on each Mac; simultaneous synchronization across multiple computers is not supported.

How to Share a Mac VPN via Wi-Fi

Sharing is caring, whether it’s about VPN or friendship. Here are the steps to share a VPN connection via Wi-Fi:

  1. Connect your MacBook to the internet using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi.
  2. On your Mac, go to System Preferences.
  3. Click on “Sharing.”
  4. Click on “Internet Sharing.”
  5. Under “Share your connection from,” choose your VPN.
  6. Check the Wi-Fi checkbox.
  7. Under Wi-Fi Options, create a password and network name.
  8. Leave the channel as the default value.
  9. Change the security to WPA2 Personal.
  10. Click “OK” to enable Internet sharing.
  11. Turn on your Wi-Fi network, and you’re done.

How to Change VPN Region on Mac

To change your VPN region on Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Open the VPN application and connect to a server in another country/region.
  2. Now, your internet service provider will think you’re located in the country/region you’ve switched to based on the IP address change.

How to Uninstall a Mac VPN

To uninstall a Mac VPN, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the application in Finder.
  2. Drag it to the Trash, which may require your administrator credentials.
  3. Completely delete the application and empty the Trash.

2023 Oct Top VPNs for Mac

NordVPN Coupon
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1. NordVPN – The most secure VPN available

For: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Simultaneous Connections: 6 | Streaming Sites: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Number of Servers: 5,600 | Server Locations: 60+ | >>Go to the NordVPN website.

NordVPN’s default features are currently available only on macOS applications (as one of their representatives told me, they are developing for other operating systems). This allows you to configure rules for certain activities and is very easy to use. For example, I created a default for accessing U.S. Netflix with just a single click, and NordVPN instantly connects me to the fastest U.S. server and protocol to stream the content.

You can also utilize a range of dedicated servers, all of which seamlessly function on Apple devices. Onion Over VPN servers route your data through the Tor network for added security, while double VPN servers route your connection through two separate servers, doubling the encryption.

P2P servers are optimized for file sharing and offer consistent speeds. The useful feature, CyberSec, creates an encrypted network to link your Apple devices. This is especially handy if you leave important documents on your MacBook Air and need to access them from your iPhone.

NordVPN also offers the proprietary NordLynx protocol, which is based on the industry-leading speed protocol, WireGuard. However, when using WireGuard, you share an IP address with other users connected to the server. NordLynx mitigates this vulnerability with double LAN technology, providing each user with a unique IP.

The Dark Web Monitor alerts you if someone posts your email address on the dark web, helping you protect your accounts. NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

I tested this to ensure you can indeed get your money back. Initially, the support team tried to offer me an extension, but after I expressed no interest in an extension, they promptly initiated the refund, and I got my money back within 4 business days. Make sure you buy NordVPN and get another 3 months free >>

How to use NordVPN VPN

To use NordVPN, perform the following simple steps:

  1. Go to the NordVPN website and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Download the NordVPN app for the device you want to use.
  3. Enter your login password in the app.
  4. Enable the Obfuscation Server by going to: Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Obfuscation Server (toggle it on).
  5. Now, connect to one of the obfuscation servers by clicking on the “Servers” tab, and then click to automatically connect to the fastest VPN server, or manually select the server location.
  6. Use NordVPN and unlock all online content.

Surfshark Coupons
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2. Surfshark – Recommend the cheapest VPN

For: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Simultaneous Connections: Unlimited | Streaming Sites: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Number of Servers: 1,700+ | Server Locations: 100+ | >>Go to the official Surfshark website.

Surfshark boasts a vast server network covering 100+ countries/regions, allowing you to access your favorite streaming platforms on your Mac from anywhere. I was able to watch Netflix US, Disney+, and DAZN with no lag or buffering. However, I did find it challenging to locate a server compatible with Amazon Prime and some regional Netflix libraries.

Surfshark‘s macOS app further enhances these streaming capabilities by providing rotating IP addresses. While your geographical location remains the same, this feature regularly changes your IP. Many streaming platforms use IP address tracking to detect and block VPN usage, so this feature can help you access content more directly while traveling.

Rotating IP addresses also enhance your security, and you can further bolster this with Surfshark’s MultiHop servers. These multi-hop servers route your traffic, making it harder for anyone to trace your data or identify you. I conducted multiple IP/DNS leak tests on US servers, and the results indicated my data was completely secure.

The handy feature of a dedicated IP address helps solve the never-ending CAPTCHA tests, as you’ll get a consistent IP for your Mac browsing. Unlimited device connections – during my testing of Surfshark, I never had to log out of my (many!) Apple devices.

CleanWeb blocks ads and prevents trackers from monitoring your browsing on your Mac. You can also test Surfshark on your Apple products with no financial risk, as it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it, getting your money back is straightforward.

You can try Surfshark risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and their plans start as low as $2.30. Requesting a refund is easy with Surfshark’s live chat feature. Although the support team asked me why I wanted to cancel, I had no issues getting my money back (and it took only 4 days!). Make sure you buy Surfshark and get 3 months of service for free>>

How to Download and Install Surfshark

To use Surfshark VPN, perform the following simple steps:

  1. Go to the Surfshark website and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Download the Surfshark app for the device you want to use.
  3. Enter your login credentials in the VPN app.
  4. Enable the NoBorders feature by going to: Settings > Advanced > NoBorders (toggle on).
  5. After activating the NoBorders feature, you can use the VPN as normal.
  6. Enjoy using Surfshark VPN now.

ExpressVPN Latest Offers
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3. ExpressVPN – The fastest VPN in the world.

For: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Simultaneous Connections: 5 | Streaming Sites: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Number of Servers: 3,000+ | Server Locations: 160 | >>Go to the official ExpressVPN website.

Our testing found that ExpressVPN is the fastest and most secure VPN for Mac. Using its proprietary Lightway protocol, I experienced speed losses of only 4% when connecting from Frankfurt, Germany (800 kilometers away), and 9% when connecting from California to Toronto (5,500 kilometers away).

Many VPNs “struggle” with M1 and M2 processors in processing data, which is why they tend to be much slower on Mac compared to other systems. What impressed me is that this VPN is not only compatible with Mac but also optimized specifically for Apple hardware.

I also appreciate the extensive network of 3,000+ servers, which can handle all your needs. I could play Fortnite on my iPhone, watch The Mandalorian on Apple TV, and download a 3.4GB torrent file on my iMac without switching servers or configurations.

ExpressVPN‘s useful MediaStreamer feature allows you to watch Apple TV, US Netflix, HBO Max (formerly known as HBO Max), Hulu, and BBC iPlayer on devices that don’t support full VPN applications. It’s also straightforward to set up.

Exclusive Lightway protocol. ExpressVPN eliminates all unnecessary data lines not needed by commercial VPNs with its proprietary Lightway protocol, providing lightweight, fast, and secure connections on iPhone, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro.

Shortcuts offer one-click access to your favorite apps and websites, making it easy to access them on all your Apple devices. Threat Manager – the claim that Macs are immune to network attacks puzzled me. Any device can be targeted by cybercriminals. ExpressVPN‘s Threat Manager prevents you from accessing malicious domains, helping ensure the security of your Apple devices (and data).

ExpressVPN’s automatic obfuscation feature allows you to accomplish all of these tasks even on restrictive university Wi-Fi networks. While it’s not the cheapest VPN, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free on all your Apple devices, and if it’s not suitable for you, you can get a refund within 30 days.

When I tested the ExpressVPN refund process myself, a support representative responded to my request via 24/7 live chat in less than a minute, and I wasn’t even asked to reconsider or troubleshoot. In fact, my request was processed immediately. Most importantly, I had my money back in my account in less than 5 days! Make sure you get another 3 months free with your ExpressVPN purchase>>

How to set up ExpressVPN VPN

To use ExpressVPN, simply perform the following steps:

  1. Go to the ExpressVPN website and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Log in to your account and download the software for the device you want to use the VPN for.
  3. Open the ExpressVPN app and enter the activation code (from your account page).
  4. Now, connect to one of the nearest servers and use the internet normally.
  5. Instantly use ExpressVPN and unlock all your online content.

Does Mac Have Built-in VPN?

While Mac allows us to connect to dedicated networks without VPN applications, these networks are not VPNs in the traditional sense. Although they differ from direct Wi-Fi connections, these dedicated networks do not encrypt your network activity or device IP addresses. If this is what you’re looking for, you’ll need a third-party VPN application for your Mac.

What to Do If Your Mac VPN Connection Drops?

If your VPN connection drops, the kill switch will close all network applications and browsers to prevent your internet service provider from seeing any of your online activities. In such cases, we recommend:

  1. Turn Wi-Fi off and then back on.
  2. Alternatively, unplug and reinsert the Ethernet cable to ensure a stable Wi-Fi connection.

What VPNs Can’t Do

VPN cannot protect you from viruses, malware, or ransomware attacks if you choose to download infected files or visit websites designed to inject malicious code into your computer. It won’t prevent a deceptive website from stealing your personal information either. Therefore, you need to enhance your online security through best practices.

You should be aware that while using a VPN allows you to anonymously participate in peer-to-peer file sharing/torrenting, if certain service providers find that you’re trading copyrighted material, they may cancel your VPN subscription or hand your information over to authorities.

What to Look for in a VPN

Clear Privacy Policy: A good VPN should provide an easily understandable privacy policy outlining what information they collect from users (if any), and more importantly, how they handle this information. Some VPN providers, especially free ones, sell user information to advertisers and other interested parties, just like ISPs do. Choose a provider that offers the privacy level that suits you.

Provider’s Location: Many countries/regions do not legally require VPN providers to retain logs of their users’ activities. Compared to VPNs based in countries/regions that require maintaining user activity logs, this makes maintaining your privacy more secure. Some companies deceive the location of their servers to make their server network appear larger or more diverse than it actually is.

Number of Servers: It’s crucial to choose a VPN provider with a large number of servers worldwide. This is important for several reasons. First, having a wealth of servers to choose from means you won’t be forced to connect to overcrowded servers with sluggish data flows. Second, having a diverse network of domestic and international servers gives more opportunities to spoof your location, either to hide your actual whereabouts or to easily access region-locked content.

Multiple Payment Methods: It’s a vicious cycle—paying for a VPN subscription online with a credit card before accessing the VPN can potentially expose your financial information to the wrong hands. Look for providers that offer alternative payment options like PayPal, Bitcoin, Alipay, or payment through the Mac App Store.

User-Friendly Interface: Connecting to a VPN involves a lot of digital wizardry. While some people want to understand how their VPN works behind the scenes, most just want their VPN to work smoothly. Look for a VPN service that provides a Mac client with an easy-to-use interface.

Protection for All Your Devices: A good VPN service will offer licenses for multiple devices to protect not only your computer but also your family’s personal smartphones and tablets. Before investing in a VPN subscription, make sure it offers software clients for all the devices you own.

What Can I Do with a Mac VPN?

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your Mac is a great way to protect your data and maintain confidentiality while surfing the internet. Additionally, a VPN is responsible for redirecting your internet connection through remote servers in different locations, enabling you to engage in other interesting online activities.

How to get a free VPN for 30 days:
If you need a VPN for a short period of time while traveling abroad, get our top-ranked VPN for free. NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which is real. You’ll need to pay upfront to use the subscription, but the subscription allows full access for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can cancel at any time and get a full refund, so you can try it with confidence.

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