5 Best VPNs for Mac (And 2 to Avoid) – Tested February 2021

Sam Smith Last Updated by Sam Smith on February 12, 2021

With hundreds of top-rated VPNs available on the App Store, it’s not easy to find the best service for your Mac. I tested 37 VPNs on my MacBook Pro (running Catalina 10.15) and I learned the hard way that you can’t rely on app ratings. While there are some excellent Mac VPN apps, I found many fake reviews promoting shady VPNs that secretly sell your private data.

So you don’t have to risk your own safety (or waste your time and money), I shortlisted the 5 best VPNs for Mac in 2021. Every provider on this list is trustworthy and works with all macOS versions, although ExpressVPN stands out as the #1 Mac VPN with its blazing-fast speeds, strong privacy features, and user-friendly app. It even has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out every feature on your own Mac with zero risk.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days!

Quick Guide: Best Mac VPNs for 2021

  1. ExpressVPN – #1 Mac VPN with excellent speeds, security, and 30-day money-back guarantee. Easily unblocks Netflix, Disney+, and more.
  2. NordVPN – Secure VPN for Mac with advanced privacy measures, but OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols are only available on separate macOS apps.
  3. Surfshark – Budget VPN with unlimited device connections allowed, but speeds are slightly slower than ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
  4. CyberGhost – Optimized servers ensure smooth streaming and torrenting on Mac, but ad blocker doesn’t reliably work.
  5. IPVanish – Basic VPN for Mac and suitable for beginners looking for standard protection.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days!

5 Best VPNs for Mac (Reviewed & Tested in February 2021)

1. ExpressVPN – #1 All-Round VPN for Security, Speed, and Streaming on Mac

Key Features:

  • Easy-to-use apps available for macOS and iOS
  • No bandwidth limits for fast streaming and speedy torrenting on Mac
  • Access 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
  • Protect your Mac with 256-bit encryption and zero-logs policy
  • Supports 5 devices on a single subscription

ExpressVPN is the best choice for Mac users in 2021. It has fast speeds for streaming Netflix, advanced security measures, and an excellent dedicated app that works on all versions of macOS. Better still, you can try it out risk-free for 30 days with the money-back guarantee.

It only takes a single click to connect to a server on the Mac app, and your internet will be instantly secured with military-grade encryption and a strict no-logs policy. The Network Lock kill switch even prevents data from leaking if there’s an unsteady connection by blocking all traffic. ExpressVPN also employs a unique technology called TrustedServer, which wipes all data from its servers with every reboot. These safeguards make it impossible for third parties to spy on your Mac, including your Internet Service Provider (ISP), hackers, or the government agencies.

ExpressVPN’s strong security standards means that it can also circumvent firewalls and online restrictions with ease. Not only is it one of the only VPNs that works in China, but ExpressVPN is a top choice for unblocking streaming platforms. During my tests, I easily unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max on multiple US servers (I recommend the Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC servers).

I didn’t have any problem accessing streaming sites like Netflix US from Turkey

I easily streamed shows and movies in HD with zero lag or buffering, with average speeds of 20Mbps on US and UK servers. Even when I connected to a server that was 17,000km away in New Zealand, I still got fast speeds of 15Mbps. With more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries, you can always find a fast server available. Every server also supports peer-to-peer (P2P) activities like torrenting – unlike the other VPNs on this list, you don’t need to connect to a specialty P2P server to torrent on Mac.

The Mac app is incredibly user-friendly with a similar interface on iOS, making it easy to switch between both devices. You can connect to the fastest server nearby by clicking on the large power button. If you click on the “Recommended” tab, you’ll get a list of the fastest servers in nearby countries.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN app showing recommended servers
ExpressVPN recommends servers close to you with the fastest speeds

You can use ExpressVPN on your Mac and 4 other devices at the same time. You can even install it on devices like Apple TV, which don’t come with native VPN support. You’ll need to manually set up the MediaStreamer feature to do this, but it only takes a few minutes. If you have any questions or need technical support, customer service is available 24/7 via the live chat option on the website.

The 30-day money-back guarantee is available for all plans, and the best part is that it’s a “no questions asked” refund policy. I confirmed this when I tested it for myself. The customer support team immediately approved my refund via 24/7 live chat (I didn’t even need to provide a reason for leaving), and the money returned to my bank account in 4 days.

Compatible with macOS: 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

ExpressVPN also works on: iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chromebook, Blackberry, Raspberry PI, Windows Phone, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast, routers, and smart TVs.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days!

February 2021 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

2. NordVPN – Highly-Secure VPN for Mac With Powerful Privacy Features

Key Features:

  • User-friendly macOS and iOS native apps
  • Fast speeds for HD streaming and quick torrenting
  • 5,300+ servers in 59 countries to easily access global content
  • Military-grade encryption and ad blocker protects your Apple devices
  • Connect up to 6 devices at the same time

NordVPN is a top choice for keeping your Mac private. You’ll have access to a wide range of premium security features, including military-grade encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, and an ad and malware blocker. Plus there’s a strict no-logs policy, which ensures your Mac activity remains anonymous and none of your browsing history is never logged, tracked, or shared with anyone.

One of my favorite features is the wide range of specialty servers. On the Mac app, you can connect to optimized servers for torrenting (“P2P”) and Tor (“Onion Over VPN”), as well as servers offering obfuscation (“Obfuscated”), extra encryption (“Double VPN”), and fixed IP addresses (“Dedicated IP”).

Screenshot of the NordVPN app for Mac highlighting the specialty servers for Dedicated IP, Double VPN, Obfuscated, Onion Over VPN, and P2P

NordVPN has 5,300+ servers but the specialty servers make it easy to select the best one for your needs

I tested each server and I was impressed by the results, especially for the P2P and Onion Over VPN servers. The P2P servers are fast and I downloaded a 5GB file in 20 minutes on qBittorrent. I checked my Mac for any leaks and I found none – my real IP address was safely hidden while torrenting. I also liked the Onion Over VPN servers, which lets you access Tor directly from your regular browser (no need to launch the Tor app).

If you just want to connect to a regular server, you can choose from 5,300+ servers in 59 countries. NordVPN has one of the largest VPN networks on the market and it means you’re always guaranteed a fast connection on your Mac. I confirmed this during my tests – I enjoyed speeds between 18Mbps to 20 MBps when I connected to multiple servers in the US and UK. Even better, I easily unblocked Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and HBO Max and watched entire episodes in HD quality.

Screenshot of NordVPN streaming Stranger Things on Netflix
I connected to a US server and watched the show Stranger Things on Netflix in HD

You can use NordVPN on up to 6 devices at the same time, so you can download the app onto your Mac, iPhone, or other device. When you download the macOS app, you’ll need to choose between either the “NordVPN IKE” app (IKEv2 protocol) or “NordVPN” app (OpenVPN protocol). I recommend the OpenVPN version as this is the most secure protocol in the industry. However, if you like to switch between protocols, then ExpressVPN is a better choice as it offers OpenVPN, IKEv2, and LT2P on a single app.

No matter which version you want to download, it’s completely risk-free to test out NordVPN on your own Mac. You can try every NordVPN feature with the 30-day money-back guarantee – I tested this myself and it was easy to get a full refund over 24/7 live chat. Within 4 days, I got my money back in my bank account.

Compatible with macOS: 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

NordVPN also works on: iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chromebook, Blackberry, Raspberry PI, Windows Phone, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, routers, and smart TVs.

Try NordVPN risk-free for 30 days!

February 2021 Update! For a limited time only, save 68% with the 2-year plan + get an additional 3 months free! Hurry and check out the deal here!

3. Surfshark – Budget VPN for Mac With Unlimited Device Connections

Key Features:

  • Dedicated apps for macOS and iOS devices
  • Unlimited bandwidth for lag-free streaming and torrenting on Mac
  • 1,700+ servers in 63 countries for accessing global content
  • Secure your Mac with military-grade encryption and strict no-logs policy
  • Connects unlimited devices at the same time

Surfshark supports an unlimited number of devices at once, so you can protect every Mac, iOS, and Apple device with a single subscription. It’s also the cheapest VPN on this list, which makes it great value if you have a large household. Surfshark works with Windows, Android, Linux, and Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick, so you can even share your account with family and friends.

Some VPNs will slow down when you connect more than a couple of devices at the same time. However, I was impressed by Surfshark’s consistently fast speeds when I simultaneously used my MacBook, iPhone 6S, and iPad. My speed was between 15Mbps to 18Mbps with a single device connected, and it only dropped by 20% when I connected 3 devices at once. This is a negligible slowdown – I could still stream in HD quality when I tested multiple US and UK servers with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

Screenshot of Surfshark streaming Stranger Things on Netflix
I streamed Netflix US with only a few seconds of buffering at the start and no lag

Your Mac is protected at all times by AES 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest encryption available for securing sensitive data. Even if the server connection unexpectedly drops, Surfshark has an automatic kill switch that cuts all internet access to your Mac. This ensures that no unencrypted traffic gets accidentally leaked. As an extra privacy measure, I strongly recommend turning on the CleanWeb feature. This blocks pop-up ads so you won’t experience any interruptions while browsing or streaming, and it flags any hidden malware inside files or websites.

You can test Surfshark on your Mac without risk by using the 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s the best way to know whether Surfshark is the right VPN for you. If you’re not satisfied, you can easily get a full refund by contacting customer support over email or live chat.

Compatible with macOS: 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

Surfshark also works on: iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick.

Try Surfshark risk-free for 30 days!

4. CyberGhost – Optimized Servers for Smooth Streaming and Torrenting on Mac

Key Features:

  • Native apps available for Mac, iPhone, and iPads
  • Fast speeds with no bandwidth restrictions for streaming and torrenting
  • Connect to 6,400+ servers in over 90 countries
  • Zero-logs policy with military-grade encryption keeps Apple devices safe
  • Connect up to 7 devices at once

CyberGhost makes it easy to stream and download files on your Mac with its well-designed app. The app splits its servers into “For downloading” and “For streaming”, so you don’t have to manually find and connect to the best available server for either of these activities.

In the “For streaming” tab, I found a list of servers specifically optimized for popular streaming services, including Netflix and Disney+. When I connected to a US server optimized for Netflix, I only waited for 3 seconds of buffering before streaming an entire episode of the show Stranger Things in HD.

Screenshot of the CyberGhost app for Mac showing the optimized servers for streaming
It only took a single click to instantly connect to a fast and working server for Netflix US, YouTube TV, and more

To download torrent files, simply click on the “For downloading” tab on the app. You’ll be presented with a list of 70+ countries with the number of users, server load percentage, and geographical distance from your location. In my tests, I connected to a server in Greece for the fastest speeds as it had the fewest users, lowest load percentage, and closest physical distance.

Regardless of which server you choose, your Mac is always protected by 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch. The zero-logs policy ensures all your torrenting, streaming, and browsing activity remains anonymous while you’re connected. There is an ad blocker available in the “Connection features” tab, but I was disappointed to find that it only removes ads with malware. This means you’ll still see ads while streaming and browsing online.

You can try CyberGhost at no risk with its 45-day money-back guarantee, which is the longest money-back period available on the market. You can connect a total of 7 devices at once, so it’s completely risk-free for your family and friends to test CyberGhost with you too.

Compatible with macOS: 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

CyberGhost also works on: iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick.

Try CyberGhost risk-free for 45 days!

Holiday Sale! CyberGhost has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.25 per month + get an extra 3 months free with the 3-year plan (you can save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it’s gone. See more information on this offer here.

5. IPVanish – Basic VPN With Easy-to-Use App for Mac

Key Features:

  • User-friendly app for macOS and iOS
  • Stream and torrent without any bandwidth restrictions
  • 1,500+ servers in 75+ countries
  • No-logs policy with 256-bit encryption
  • Connect an unlimited number of devices at once

IPVanish offers a clean and simple app for Mac, which is perfect if you’re a beginner and new to VPNs. There’s a large green “Connect” button on the app homepage – all you have to do is click once and you’ll be automatically connected to the fastest available server. There are pull-down menu options that let you select specific countries, cities, or servers, but it’s set to “Best Available” by default.

Screenshot of IPVanish app interface and "Quick Connect" section
The simplicity of IPVanish’s app for Mac makes it an ideal option for beginners

While the app is easy to use on Mac and even iOS, IPVanish doesn’t offer as many specialty features as the other VPNs on this list. You’ll enjoy basic VPN protection, such as 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch. However, there are no dedicated servers for torrenting and Tor (like NordVPN) or streaming (like CyberGhost).

From a privacy standpoint, I was also initially concerned that IPVanish is headquartered in the US. The US is known for conducting mass surveillance and it’s part of the 5 Eyes intelligence network with Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. However, IPVanish employs a strict zero-logs policy to counterbalance this. This means even if the government asks for information, there’s no user activity to provide to the authorities.

If you like simplicity and you just want an extra layer of safety online, then I highly recommend you try IPVanish with its 30-day money-back guarantee on your Mac. It’s extremely easy to get your money back if you don’t like it – you don’t even need to speak to anyone! Just cancel on the website and your refund will automatically be processed with no questions asked.

Compatible with macOS: 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

IPVanish also works on: iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick.

Try IPVanish risk-free for 30 days!

How to Choose the Best VPN for Mac

If you’ve never used a VPN before, it can be tricky to know how to choose the best VPN. I’ve used VPNs on my Mac for years and here’s my criteria:

  • Fast speeds – Look for a VPN with unlimited bandwidth for bufferless streaming, fast torrenting, and zero lags.
  • Global server network – Servers in different countries helps you access online sites and streaming services normally unavailable in your region, such as Netflix.
  • Military-grade encryption – Protect your internet traffic from being intercepted by advertisers, hackers, internet service providers, and the government.
  • Strict no-logs policy – This ensures zero records can be found of your online activity while connected to the VPN.
  • Dedicated Mac app – Find an app compatible with macOS Catalina, Mojave, Sierra, High Sierra, Maverick, and El Capitan.

While all the top 5 VPNs meet the above criteria, the overall winner for February 2021 is ExpressVPN. This provider offers the best combination of speed and security for Mac users – and it’s risk-free if you want to test it out first. ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can try every feature on your own Mac before you commit to a plan.

Try ExpressVPN on Mac risk-free!

Warning! Avoid Downloading These VPNs on Your Mac

1. Opera Free VPN

Opera offers a free web-browser with a built-in VPN – but I wouldn’t trust it on my Mac. This provider keeps logs of your activities while you’re using it and then sells your data to third parties.

According to the privacy policy, Opera does “not log any information related to your browsing activity and originating network address”. Yet Opera tracks the articles you read in its news feed and your general location for advertising purposes and to target you with relevant news content.

Screenshot of Opera Free VPN's privacy policy confirming user activity is tracked and logged
You never know who Opera Free VPN is selling your personal data to

Plus Opera’s VPN only works on a browser, so your other online activities aren’t secured. For example, you won’t be able to torrent anonymously when using P2P clients like BitTorrent.

2. Betternet VPN

Betternet VPN offers a free and paid version, but I don’t recommend using either one if you value your privacy. Even though the provider claims not to ever “collect, log, store, or share any data log belonging to users”, Betternet does collect user data according to its privacy policy.

Screenshot of Betternet VPN's privacy policy
Read every VPN’s privacy policy thoroughly before you install it on your Mac

This data includes your IP address, device details, the websites you visit, and more. Even though your browsing history can’t be traced back to you specifically, it’s still concerning that such private information is being tracked and stored.

If you’re looking for a VPN offering complete anonymity and privacy, then I suggest you consider ExpressVPN for your Mac.

Quick Setup Guide: 3 Easy Steps to Install a VPN on Mac

The easiest way to install a VPN on your Mac is to download the native app for macOS. Every provider on my list works on Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air.

  1. Download and install a VPN for Mac. ExpressVPN is the best all-round for Mac with fast speeds and advanced security (try it without risk for 30 days!)
  2. Log in and connect to a server. You can choose from over 3,000 servers in 94 countries.
  3. Enjoy online privacy and freedom on your Mac! Now you can stream Netflix, torrent anonymously, and safely browse the internet from anywhere in the world.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days!

FAQs: Using a VPN on Mac

🤑 Can I get a free Mac VPN?

There are free VPNs that will keep your Mac safe, but you need to be careful. Most free VPNs include in-app purchases, so you can’t use the premium features unless you pay. If you don’t, you’ll suffer through slow speeds, endless pop-up ads, limited server locations, and no access to streaming services.

This is the best case scenario. Unfortunately, some free VPNs resort to selling your browsing history and personal data to advertisers in order to make money. Even worse, others are downright dangerous and will infect your Mac with malware as soon as you download the app.

Personally, I believe it’s much safer to invest in a quality VPN for your Mac. You might not even need to spend any money. For instance, you can sign up for ExpressVPN and use its 30-day money-back guarantee. This lets you use the service for free for 30 days – I even tested it myself and I easily got a full refund.

Screenshot of a user successfully requesting a refund from ExpressVPN over live chat with the 30-day money-back guarantee
You don’t have to pay any money if you only use ExpressVPN for 30 days on your Mac

Try ExpressVPN for free for 30 days!

🤩 What’s the best Mac VPN for Netflix?

I recommend either ExpressVPN or NordVPN for Netflix, since both will help you avoid the proxy error message while streaming. This is the message that appears when Netflix detects that you’re using a VPN and it’ll block you from streaming any content.

Fortunately, I rarely experience any issues when streaming Netflix on my Mac with ExpressVPN or NordVPN. I’ve found that both VPNs are extremely fast to replace their servers whenever Netflix has blocked it. On the odd occasion that a server can’t connect to Netflix, I simply switch servers or clear my browser’s cache.

Watch Netflix with ExpressVPN!

🤓 Which Mac VPN works in China?

ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that work reliably in China. My colleagues in China run daily tests on Mac and iPhone in China, and it easily unblocks Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, and more. Just make sure to download ExpressVPN before you arrive in China – the provider’s website is censored inside the country, so you can’t access it once you’re there.

Get ExpressVPN in China for free for 30 days!

Will a VPN slow down my Mac?

You can expect a small drop in speed but there shouldn’t be a huge slowdown – especially if you try some of these quick fixes on your Mac. The best way to get the fastest speeds is to connect to a nearby server with a low number of users.

As a general rule, slightly slower speeds are normal as the VPN needs extra time to mask your Mac and encrypt your internet traffic. Other contributing factors are your usual connection speed, your distance from the VPN server, and the number of users connected to the same server.

Can I use a Mac VPN on my iPhone?

Yes! You can use any of the recommended VPNs for Mac on your iPhone and iPad. In fact, the top VPN services will often have excellent apps for non-Apple devices too. For example, NordVPN is one of the best providers for Windows and Mac.

Do I really need a VPN for my Mac?

You might believe that you’re safe because Macs can’t be hacked, but unfortunately, this is a myth. As the proud owner of a MacBook Pro, I strongly recommend you find a quality VPN to protect your Mac and your personal data.

In the early days, Macs weren’t targeted by hackers because the majority of the population used Windows. As Macs gained popularity, hackers started focusing on macOS and iOS devices. As a result, it’s become equally as important to use a VPN on both Mac and Windows.

When you switch on a VPN, it creates an encrypted connection between your Mac and a server controlled by the VPN provider. You can safeguard your internet traffic and identity, access websites only available abroad, and get around firewalls, censorship, and other online restrictions.

Try the best VPN for Mac now!

Don’t Risk Your Mac! Get a VPN to Protect Yourself Online

It’s simply not true that your Mac is immune to online spying and attacks. Even though Apple frequently releases security updates, your Mac is still vulnerable to identity theft, surveillance, and hacking.

You can reduce these risks by protecting your Mac with a quality VPN. Personally, I use ExpressVPN on my MacBook Pro and I highly recommend it. ExpressVPN offers the fastest and most secure app for Mac in 2021 – and it even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means it’s completely risk-free to test it out on your own Mac before you make a final decision.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days!

Summary: These Are the Best VPNs for Mac in 2021

Provider name
Our score
Top Choice
Top Choice
$6.60 / month
Save 49%
Top Choice
Top Choice
$3.71 / month
Save 69%
Top Choice
Top Choice
$2.49 / month
Save 81%
Top Choice
Top Choice
CyberGhost VPN
$2.25 / month
Save 83%
Top Choice
Top Choice
IPVanish VPN
$2.33 / month
Save 39%
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Sam Smith
Written By Sam Smith
Sam is a web security expert from the UK specializing in Cybersecurity and Computer Science.