Best VPN for Mac With Real User Reviews And Mac OS X VPN Setup
The number of VPN providers has gone the past the 200 marks recently and its growing. But how do you know which one of them is best for your Mac?
Choosing a VPN is not a difficult task if you know what your priorities actually are. Some aspects of VPNs cannot be compromised upon for e.g. how well they secure your connection and how easy their app is to use, but that’s not what VPNs are only useful for.
VPNs have started to become a crucial pillar in the fast-growing world of streaming. From unblocking Netflix US to BBC iPlayer, a good enough VPN can open up a world of opportunities for you.
And speaking of opening up, VPNs can also keep you connected to the free internet by acting as your secure bridge in restrictive countries like China.
However, despite promoting all such features on their sites, not all VPNs are up to the mark when it comes to matching user expectations.
Many of them don’t even have dedicated client apps for Macs, an absolute essential if you are thinking of getting a VPN for your device right now.
So how can one opt for the right provider given so much confusion and the frenzy of options available?
To make the right choice here, you just need a little bit of assistance in knowing what the factors are on which you should base your choice on and are there any providers currently which offer the right features and functionality for Mac users at the right price.
To know more about how this can be done best, continue reading this guide on the Best VPN for Mac in 2019:
How to Pick the Best VPN for Mac 2019?
While the primary function of a VPN is to provide you with a secure, encrypted connection to the internet, while hiding your original IP, there are some other metrics you definitely need to look at and take into consideration before choosing the one best VPN on Mac.
We have listed down exactly these factors here to make it easier for you choose a VPN that’s best suited for your Mac device:
Security Features to Look for in a Best Mac VPN
The most basic requirement that anyone should look for in a VPN is for it to be absolutely safe. No leaks or security flaws are acceptable. If you want a VPN that doesn’t give away your anonymity, you need to look for the following factors in service before considering it:
In VPN lingo, a Protocol is a secure tunnel through which your encrypted data passes through. This is your first line of defence whenever someone tries to hack in to your internet connection.
Currently, OpenVPN is the most secure among the lot and its enabled as the default protocols in many different top notch providers out there.
Other protocols usually offered by VPNs include PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, SSTP, each with its own pros and cons.
While we don’t personally endorse protocols apart from OpenVPN due to safety concerns, you can opt for IKEv2 if you want a bit faster connection than an OpenVPN based one, but only by comprising a notch on your security.
If a provider doesn’t offer OpenVPN as a protocol then its best to look in to the other ones available.
Your data is sensitive and private and a provider needs to respect it. You can check this by looking at a provider’s logging policy.
Some VPNs, however, do keep some negligible logs like those of your connection timestamps and bandwidth usage, but they are harmless as they cant be used to identify you by any means whatsoever.
However, logs concerning personally identifiable data like IP addresses, website visited etc. are a big No and you should never opt for providers that do that.
While VPNs offer safe protocols for user connection data to travel through, you need to make sure that even if someone gets through the tunnel, the data still remains safe.
This can happen only by encrypting the data itself. Currently, the safest form of encryption is the AES-256 military grade level encryption, which cant be deciphered even by brute force computing or even by hundreds of supercomputers working at once.
Anything below that and we need to give that VPN a pass.
This is the amount of government gag orders, data extradition requests etc. that a provider has got up till now and how many of them a provider has acted over.
Even if that has happened once, this implies that the provider is not safe and is to be ignored.
Data retention laws of the country where the VPN is based are crucial to how secure a user’s data is with the provider. For e.g. a provider based in a country that is a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance shouldn’t be opted for.
VPNs based in safer locations/data friendly countries like the British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong etc. are much more preferable.
No DNS or WebRTC leaks
All the encryption and protocols mean nothing if your VPN leaks your IP through a DNS or a WebRTC leak.
We ensure that our selected VPNs don’t do so by making them pass through strict, independent tests through these online tools:
Safe Client Apps
Even after checking through all those security measures, a VPN can still harm you by carrying malware and viruses in its client apps unsuspectingly.
To ensure that such things do not afflict our chosen providers, we make their client apps go through a comprehensive test on VirusTotal.com.
Just like all other software, even a VPN can behave a bit awry at times and get disconnected. But this can mean that your IP gets exposed every time such a thing happens, making you vulnerable.
A kill switch is a special security feature VPNs offer that severs your internet connection whenever the VPN fails to connect or gets disconnected suddenly.
Service Features To Look for in a Best Mac VPN
Moving on from the security front to the performance front. When choosing a VPN, performance should be your top priority because you don’t want to get underserved when you’ve paid the full price. Here are the most important such features to look for in a VPN service:
Servers are what make a VPN work. They are the routes through which your connection can be re-routed in order to hide your real location, so they should be a top priority on your list.
Usually, the top providers have anywhere from 700-2000 servers, but some even go above that and offer 3000-5000 servers worldwide.
Don’t go for a provider if it doesn’t offer <500 servers because a smaller server park can get overcrowded and result in slow speeds and in some performance issues.
But the diversity of locations you get is just as important as the number of server itself.
The more locations a provider offers, the easier it is to connect to a server in close proximity and limit the amount of ping rate and speed loss you get.
Go for a provider that offers at least servers in 25-40 countries worldwide.
Zero Bandwidth Limitations
VPNs that come with data caps get a huge thumbs down from our end as they demean the whole exercise of using the VPN in the first place i.e. to cover your identity limitlessly, irrespective of how much you browse, play or stream.
Usually, this isn’t a major issue as most providers don’t put a cap on your data, but choose wisely as sometimes you can get a bad surprise.
Compatibility is of great value to you, if you really want a smooth and problem free VPN experience.
This holds true especially as far as Macs are concerned because not every VPN offers a compatible client app for use with the platform. In fact, at least 65% of VPNs that we’ve reviewed, don’t offer one.
But even those that offer such an app for Mac, don’t follow it up with good enough user design interface, easy feature access, fast performance etc.
The VPNs we narrowed down for use with Mac have some of the best apps for the OS in the whole industry, offering the best UI and UX design along with being lightweight and fast.
Other Important Factors:
This is often the main bone of contention as users look to get the best at the lowest rate possible.
Usually, many VPNs offer long term subscription plans that can cost you $2-$4/month, making them cost-effective to subscribe to.
But, do note here that some of the Best VPNs out there are expensive, but their price is worth it considering the stellar performance they offer which sets them apart.
You can always find a lot of options in your price bracket that tick all the right boxes but don’t be so miserly that you compromise your own security in order to save a few bucks.
Unblocking Geo-Restricted Streaming Sites
Netflix has tons of content that can be accessed by unblocking different regional libraries. This can be done by a VPN but not all of them are up to the task.
Since 2016, Netflix has introduced a VPN ban weeding out a lot of providers from accessing its site. A few VPNs can still unblock the site and if you are interested in doing so, this can be an important factor in choosing a provider.
Best VPN for MAC OS X 2019
Choosing the best VPN for Mac becomes a whole lot simpler when you can measure up any provider with the critical factors mentioned above.
Our list for top Mac VPNs here consists of all such providers who scored highly on all these factors and for 2019, they are the ones you need to make your final choice from:
1) NordVPN: Feature Rich Provider for Mac users
Based in Panama, there are fewer performance oriented services as NordVPN.
Its boasts a zero logging policy, fast speeds, a server network of more than 5228+ servers, access to a 3-day free trial, cheap pricing plans and a highly intuitive Mac app for all the features to be used on.
It comes out clear in all DNS and WebRTC leak tests and its warrant canary is incredibly clean and transparent.
Read our full NordVPN Review here to know more.
2) ExpressVPN – Reliability at the Extreme level
Security and performance are the hallmarks of this service. No other provider can boast of such reliability as ExpressVPN.
From an indomitable reputation for keeping zero logs to military-grade encryption, access to over 2000+ servers among others, ExpressVPN has trumped all other VPNs when it comes to offering a safe experience on all devices.
Its Mac app is powerful, fast and above all, easy to use and the service comes equipped with a responsive live chat, video tutorials and setup guides, making its use a breeze for most subscribers.
Its pricing is a bit on the higher end, but it’s worth it.
Here is our full ExpressVPN Review if you want to know more about the provider in full detail.
3) Surfshark – Lowest Priced Best VPN for Mac
Climbing up the ranks incredibly fast is this provider, based in the British Virgin Islands. The biggest hallmark of Surfshark is its transparency and safety practices which include feats like conducting an independent security audit and offering a warrant canary.
It’s the best VPN for Mac at the cheapest price among the top providers. Its On-Touch Mac VPN client can be used even by novices comfortably.
Server switching is fast as you experience while drifting from one server to the other on its 500+ strong server network spread over 50 countries globally.
4) PureVPN – Unblocks geo-restricted sites for Mac users
A VPN full of apps and features, PureVPN is perhaps the only provider in the list that offers so much for so less. It has the most incredible deals the year round and keeps users hooked on to it by being one of the services for streaming with fast speeds, optimized servers, and diverse client apps.
Its chat support can help you set up its service on Mac through its client app in no time at all. On top of this, its location diversity is astounding, offering access to over 180+ locations worldwide, clearing other providers by a wide margin.
To know more about PureVPN, read this full review of the service.
Worst VPN for Mac OS X 2019
Half knowledge is always dangerous and when you learn to know how to spot the good ones, it’s always better than you cap it off by understanding on how to stay away from bad ones as well.
Worst VPNs can be incredibly harmful to not just you devise like Mac but to your overall security. From honeytrap VPNs logging and selling user data to VPNs with zero usefulness, worst VPNs flood the market currently.
Here are some you definitely need to stay away from:
1) Hola VPN: Major Issue – Running a botnet service while masquerading as a legitimate VPN provider.
2) Onavo VPN: Major Issue – Owned by Facebook to use it as a honeytrap to log user data.
3) Super VPN Free VPN Client – Major Issue: Popup Ads along with pathetic performance.
4) Betternet VPN (Free Version) – Major Issue: A CSIRO study found that it serves ads to make revenue and it even indulges in selling data.
Are Free Providers Suitable for Macs?
Running a legitimate VPN is incredibly hard as you require a considerably high amount of capital to pull it off. Therefore, providers who offer a Free VPN service are not to be trusted majorly, as they often indulge in shady practices to rake in revenue from users.
From botnet networks to selling private user data, Free VPNs have been found to be messed up as protecting the user is concerned.
The best way forward here is to avoid the freebies at all costs. If you don’t have the budget to go for the bigger providers, then some pretty good Cheap VPN options are available for Mac and other device users.
Most top providers even offer free trials and refund policies which can allow you the room to test the waters out before subscribing to them.
How to Set up a Dedicated Mac VPN Client App on your Device?
Setting up Mac clients is just a three-step process if your provider offers one.
Here’s how it goes:
- Subscribe to a Top Mac VPN service and obtain user credentials
- Download and Install the Mac client from their official site
- Login with your credentials, connect to a server and start using the internet through your Mac safely and anonymously
Here are the links to downloading Mac client apps of the Best VPNs mentioned above:
How to Setup VPN on Mac OS without Using a Dedicated or Open Source VPN Client App?
Macs allow you to setup a VPN without even needing a client app from the provider or from an external source. You can do that only through using Mac’s internal system itself!
If you are in possession of a VPN settings file, this process can be completed in just a single step:
- Double click on your VPN configuration file.
- Network Configuration settings will now be opened automatically.
- For manually going to Network Configuration Setting: Apple menu > System Preferences > Network > Action > Import Configurations > Choose File > Import.
For those who don’t have a settings file, you can always do it manually. Here’s how to get there:
- Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Network.
- Click on (The Add Button) > Interface Menu > VPN.
- Choose the VPN Type Popup menu. Select your preferred protocol from among these:
- Enter a name for the connection being created after this and click on “Create”.
- Enter the following.
- Account Name
- Server Address you wish to connect to
- Click on Authentication Settings.
- Enter required Info (You get this from your VPN provider/network administrator).
- Click OK > Connect.
Tunnelblick for Mac – Best OpenSource Client
A highly trusted, free OpenVPN client, Tunnelblick is popular among those who don’t trust VPN client apps.
Tunnelblick is also Open Source so you don’t need to worry about any zero-day vulnerabilities or malware being present in it.
However, we do advise caution here for our users as setting up TunnelBlick is a bit hard. The installation process can seem daunting for newbies, so they should stick to VPN client apps for different platforms to use VPN services on their devices.
Most VPN clients, especially the ones offered by top provider now offer OpenVPN as a protocol, eliminating much of the need to use resources like Tunnelblick in the first place.
On top of this, Tunnelblick is not for everyone as it’s complex to operate.
If you still want to go ahead with it, here’s how you can set it up on your Mac device: (We’ve used NordVPN as a reference VPN here)
- Go to the net and download the client
- Now go to your provider’s site and ask it for its OVPN Configuration Files Package for Macs. Here is the link for this package at NordVPN
- Now, to start the setup process, navigate to your Folders for Download on your Mac device. Here you will see a file with a .dmg extension. Click on it.
- The Tunnelblick Disk Image Finder Window will now be opened. To proceed, double click on the Tunnelblick icon.
- Now click on “Open” allowing your system to authorize the Tunneblick setup.
- You will get a dialog box asking for permission to install the client. Click on “Install”.
- The installation will now be completed automatically. Now once that gets done, a dialog box will ask you if you want to open it. Click “Launch”.
- You might be required to enter your admin username and password to do so. Enter them to move forward.
- If Tunnelblick now demands extra permissions to repair/permissions, grant them by entering your username and password again.
- Close Tunnelblick.
- Open the Configuration zip files we downloaded in step 2 by unzipping it through a file archiving software. If you don’t have one, use “Keka”.
- Before moving forward any further, ensure that Tunnelblick is completely closed or you will get an error from your system that the Configuration files cannot be loaded.
- Now add all the servers by selecting all of the files at once and double-clicking on one. All of the servers will now be available on your Tunnelblick server list.
- Almost there! Click on the Tunnelblick Icon (top right), select your preferred server and just click on Connect!
- Just enter your VPN username and password.
- Click on “Save in keychain” and continue using your VPN on Mac.
- In the same list where the servers are, an option to disconnect will appear below your selected server. Click on it to disconnect from the server.
Best VPN for MAC Reddit
If you sift through Reddit to check for dedicated threads discussing the Best Mac VPNs, you will feel that the user opinions differ widely.
From MullvadVPN fans to those who swear by Windscribe, there is no way to categorize or even pin down the top recommendations.
An even bigger problem here is the presence of spammers who promote their own services by commenting in favor of them, making these review unreliable.
If you really want to get proper user reviews for different services, you can check out their trust factor on sites like TrustPilot which offers genuine VPN ratings.
However, they won’t be platform specific, as like for Mac VPNs.
Best VPN for MAC FAQs
Can I use a free VPN with Mac OS?
Many Free VPNs are not trustworthy these days, so we recommend that you go for premium paid services to get the best experience out of your VPN subscription.
Which is the most suitable OpenVPN for Mac?
The best OpenVPN software to set up a VPN manually on Mac is undoubtedly TunnelBlick. It’s a bit difficult to setup for newbies but its highly reliable and safe once you get through with the installation.
What is the Best Mac VPN for Torrenting Safely & Anonymously?
We recommend that you only opt for providers that explicitly offer support for Torrenting and don’t leak your IP or log your data. You can know more about them in our guide on the Best Torrenting VPNs in 2019.
Wrapping Things Up
Do try all of our recommendations and make sure you let us know what your experiences were in the comments section below! We would love to hear them and would gladly modify our opinions on the best VPN for Macbook in the next review based on them! Write Away.