Article updated on April 12, 2024 at 8:05 AM PDT

Best Mac VPN for 2024

If you're a MacOS user, your virtual private network should be as smart as your machine. Here are the VPNs we recommend based on our latest testing.

Our Experts

Written by 
Attila Tomaschek,
Rae Hodge
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Attila Tomaschek
Attila is a Staff Writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services with a focus on virtual private networks. He is an advocate for digital privacy and has been quoted in online publications like Computer Weekly, The Guardian, BBC News, HuffPost, Wired and TechRepublic. When not tapping away on his laptop, Attila enjoys spending time with his family, reading and collecting guitars.
Expertise Attila has nearly a decade's worth of experience with VPNs and has been covering them for CNET since 2021. As CNET's VPN expert, Attila rigorously tests VPNs and offers readers advice on how they can use the technology to protect their privacy online and
Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
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VPNs Tested

We intensively test each VPN, making sure it meets our standards for privacy, speed and usability.

Editors' choice
See Price at ExpressVPN

Best Overall VPN


Privacy protection and transparency

Savings 49% off with 12-mo plan (+3 free months)
  • Strong commitment to privacy and transparency
  • Forward-thinking security enhancements
  • Excellent for streaming
  • Streamlined, easy-to-use app across platforms
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (British Virgin Islands)
  • DNS leaks detected (but immediately addressed)
  • Expensive
  • Only eight simultaneous connections
  • Apple TV app needs work
Price $13 a month, $60 for six months or $100 for a year
Latest Tests DNS leaks detected, 25% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 3,000 plus servers in 105 countries
Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

ExpressVPN is CNET’s top pick as the best VPN overall. It’s a veteran VPN provider that consistently demonstrates a strong commitment to privacy and transparency. It’s also excellent for streaming with effortless unblocking for all sorts of streaming content, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. ExpresVPN boasts the easiest VPN app to use on any platform, whether MacOS or another operating system. ExpressVPN also delivers the most consistent and streamlined VPN app experiences across platforms. Its minimalist interface is simple to use, whether you’re an advanced VPN user or if you’ve never used one before. The app settings are easy to navigate and finding a server location is straightforward. We like how the app always connects in a snap, which isn’t always the case with other VPNs -- like Surfshark -- which often struggle to connect immediately on the first attempt.

In 2024, we measured a 24.8% average speed loss with ExpressVPN. This is still fast, considering that many VPNs can slash your internet speeds by 50% or more. However, we saw substantially better speeds from faster VPNs like NordVPN (11% speed loss) and Surfshark (17% speed loss). Still, ExpressVPN’s speeds were largely consistent and aligned with our expectations across protocols and server locations. In the end, ExpressVPN’s speeds were still plenty fast enough for general browsing as well as for more data-intensive activities like streaming, gaming and videoconferencing -- especially if you use Lightway, where we saw only a 7% speed loss on Mac.

The company’s latest independent audit is slated to be published soon, building on its industry-leading audit count. ExpressVPN says it collects no logs, a claim bolstered by a . In addition to its transparency efforts, ExpressVPN’s privacy protections are top-notch and forward-thinking. The provider recently upgraded its proprietary open-source Lightway VPN protocol with Quantum Protection to help guard against future threats from quantum computers, along with encryption enhancements to better protect against threats like eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. And ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology elevates the protections of the traditional RAM-only server architecture by reinstalling the entire software stack with every reboot.

ExpressVPN provides eight simultaneous connections, which is slightly more generous than NordVPN’s six, but considerably less than the unlimited simultaneous connections others like Surfshark, PIA and IPVanish allow. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can request your money back within 30 days of your purchase. But for Express’s exceptional service, you’ll need to pay a premium -- it’s one of the most expensive VPN providers currently on the market. The service costs $13 per month, $60 every six months or $100 per year, which is considerably more expensive than the $11 per month or $60 per year that Surfshark charges. NordVPN is more in line with ExpressVPN on price at $13 per month or $100 annually (after a promotional $60 price for the first year).

See Price at Surfshark

Best Cheap VPN


Extensive features at a great price

Savings $2.29/mo +2 months free, 85% off ($59.54)
  • Lots of unique security features
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • RAM-only server network
  • Inconsistent speed performance
  • 14 Eyes jurisdiction (Netherlands)
  • No transparency reports
Price $11 per month, $48 for the first year (or $59.54 for 2yrs)
Latest Tests No leaks detected, 17% speed loss in 2023 tests
Network 3,200-plus servers in 100 countries
Jurisdiction Netherlands

Surfshark boasts an impressive suite of privacy and security features, unlimited simultaneous connections, an easy-to-use interface and an expansive global network. And it's still significantly cheaper than most of its competitors. That's what has helped Surfshark earn CNET's Editors' Choice for Best Value VPN in 2022. Along with standard VPN features like a kill switch and DNS leak protection, some of the more notable Surfshark features include camouflage mode (which hides the fact you're using a VPN), split-tunneling, NoBorders mode (which lets you use Surfshark in regions where VPNs are restricted) and multihop VPN connections. You'll also get access to Surfshark's CleanWeb technology, which blocks ads and malware and helps you avoid phishing attacks. With its Dynamic MultiHop, IP Randomizer and IP Rotator functions, Surfshark's Nexus network can give you a few extra layers of protection while you use the VPN -- which can be particularly beneficial to people with critical privacy needs. 

In our tests, Surfshark had no problems unblocking Netflix and Amazon Prime Video content, but we did run into a fair bit of trouble accessing Disney Plus. After testing various servers in the US and other countries where Disney Plus is available, we were finally able to access the content when we connected to a server in Boston. You may need to test a few servers yourself before gaining access to Disney Plus content with Surfshark.

Surfshark offers cheaper introductory prices that jump after the first billing cycle. Even so, Surfshark manages to keep its prices lower than most other VPNs -- helping it earn CNET's Editors' Choice for Best Value. The yearly plan starts out at $48 for the first year, then jumps to $60 for any additional years of service. If you opt for the two-year plan, you'll pay $60 up front for the initial two years combined, then $60 a year for any additional years. Surfshark's monthly plan stays constant at $13 a month. If you're not satisfied with the service for any reason, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

See Price at NordVPN

Best for gamers and streamers


  • Reliable, competitive speeds
  • RAM-disk servers
  • Feature-rich software
  • Visual server map could use additional functions
  • Discounts steeper for longer contracts
  • Only six simultaneous connections allowed

NordVPN is the fastest VPNs for MacOS -- and all other platforms, for that matter -- because of its best-in-class internet connection speeds. In our 2024 testing, CNET Labs clocked a mere 10.1% average speed loss on MacOS with OpenVPN and 12.56% using NordLynx (Nord’s proprietary WireGuard derivative). Its combination of user-friendly design that doesn't compromise on features makes Nord an exceptional choice for casual VPN newcomers and seasoned power users alike. Costing $13 per month, $60 per year or $96 total for two years, NordVPN initially sets you back less than premium VPN competitors like ExpressVPN, but more than wallet-friendly rivals like Surfshark and PIA. However, subsequent price hikes jack up the price to $100 per year, which aligns with many other VPN providers, such as Express.

As one of the fastest VPNs, NordVPN works well for bandwidth-intensive applications like gaming or video streaming. We experienced no issues streaming US and UK Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus libraries on most devices. Privacy-focused users will appreciate Nord’s advanced features, including a Double VPN and Onion over VPN (Tor), which provide extra encryption. Nord also relies on RAM-only servers, and a 2023 Deloitte audit backed up its no-log claims for improved transparency. Although zero-logging policies are difficult to verify with complete certainty, third-party audits offer peace of mind. Folks with serious privacy concerns can even purchase a NordVPN subscription using cryptocurrency for pseudo-anonymity. 

NordVPN’s global server network comprises more than 6,000 servers spanning over 60 countries. That’s a little short of the international reach of competitors like Surfshark and ExpressVPN, but a planned expansion in Q1 of 2024 should increase Nord's server count to 100 countries. Overall, NordVPN sports advanced privacy features in an intuitive service.

In addition to MacOS, NordVPN runs on almost any platform you can think of including Windows, Linux, Android/Android TV, iOS/iPadOS, browsers and even Apple TV.

The best Mac VPN in 2024

The best Mac VPNs can keep your personal information secure and beef up your privacy online, whether you're rocking a desktop Mac or toting around a MacBook of either the Air or Pro variety. Installing a VPN can improve your privacy by masking your browsing and IP data from parties interested in those particular details.

ExpressVPN has been ranked by CNET as the best VPN provider and was named the best VPN for Mac computers by our experts. ExpressVPN has received high marks for the service's dedication to privacy and transparency, its quick connection speeds, and its superior Mac app. We put close to a dozen popular consumer VPN providers to the test to see how they perform on MacOS devices. If ExpressVPN isn't for you, we went ahead and highlighted a collection of great VPN services for Mac users below. Each provider has its own unique set of features and characteristics -- allowing you the ability to choose the one that would work best for your particular needs. 

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Other VPNs we tested

Of the numerous other VPNs we've tested, the three providers outlined below are the most notable alternative choices. Though none are the best of the best, each is a capable option for anyone looking for something other than what the top three Mac VPNs offer.    

Proton VPN

Proton VPN is a Swiss-based open-source VPN provider that offers excellent privacy features for Mac users. While Proton VPN's primary focus is on privacy and transparency, its Mac app is easy to use and it does a decent job unblocking content on various streaming platforms. And if you're looking for a free VPN, Proton VPN's free tier is the only one that CNET recommends. 

While Proton VPN's free tier doesn't include access to all of its servers, its ad-blocker tool or advanced privacy features (which include its Secure Core servers or Tor Over VPN function) there are no usage limits, and the encryption, obfuscation and leak protection is all the same for free users as they are for paid users. Premium plans are priced at $10 a month or $72 a year, with a 30-day money-back guarantee included.   

Read our Proton VPN review.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is one of the most budget-friendly VPNs in the business. PIA offers a $12 monthly subscription, $40 annual tier and a three-year plan at $79. Unlike many VPN rivals including ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark, PIA foregoes price hikes, making it one of the cheapest MacOS VPNs. Like Proton VPN and Mullvad VPN, its apps are all open-source. However, PIA is a US-based VPN, which may be a deal-breaker if you have heightened or critical online privacy needs. Nevertheless, PIA issues semi-annual transparency reports, has been independently audited and has had its no-logs claims tested in the wild. 

PIA's Mac app is highly customizable, so it's great for anyone who likes to tinker with their VPN connection or have a dashboard with a lot of information at hand. PIA is decent for unblocking streaming services. But its high speed loss of 49% in our 2024 tests -- up from 24% in our 2023 benchmarks -- means it’s not ideal for folks with slower or more unreliable connections, like satellite internet.

Read our PIA review.


IPVanish is another US-based VPN provider that's a good option for VPN newbies or casual users. Its Mac app is simple and user-friendly and offers a multitude of options to connect to a VPN server. IPVanish's Quick Connect feature is the quickest and easiest way to connect to a server, but the feature typically didn't connect us to the most optimal server when we used it to connect. For optimal performance via IPVanish's Mac app, we recommend connecting manually to a server displaying a light server load. Speeds are decent (when you connect manually), and you can use IPVanish to access geo-blocked content, but its kill switch feature on Mac is limited to the OpenVPN protocol -- which means you could be sacrificing your connection speeds if you want to enable IPVanish's kill switch on your Mac.

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How we test Mac VPNs

When we determine the best Mac VPN for our readers, we address a number of factors that are fundamental to being a Mac user: First, if you're a MacOS user, you're used to a clean, intuitive user interface with a minimal learning curve and a well-organized set of digital tools. That's why we thoroughly test each VPN's features and overall usability. In addition, though not all Apple products are faster than a Windows or PC device, we test each VPN's connection speeds to see how it complements MacOS machines' reputation for being fast. 

We also know that for a lot of Mac users, a broad resistance to app-borne viruses and malware is a big reason for choosing that ecosystem over Windows. To that end, we assess a VPN's antitracker capacity and its general compatibility with Apple's increasingly bolstered privacy policies. We test for leaks and we test each service's kill switch functionality to ensure it's working as it should. We test each VPN's ability to circumvent geographical restrictions, and we evaluate each provider's pricing to determine the service's overall value. 

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Factors to consider in a Mac VPN

Most VPN providers offer an app for Mac computers, but it can be difficult to choose the right provider with so many options available. Based on our extensive research and hands-on testing of VPNs over the years, these are the most important factors to consider when choosing a VPN: 


The primary consideration for any VPN -- including a Mac VPN -- should be privacy. If your Mac VPN is unable to sufficiently protect your online privacy, then your VPN is useless. At a minimum, your VPN should employ industry standard AES 256-bit encryption along with offering basic privacy protections like a kill switch, DNS leak protection and a no-logs policy. For critical privacy needs, you'll also want a VPN provider that's based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, offers obfuscation and has a RAM-only server architecture. Additional privacy features to look out for include Tor over VPN capabilities, ad and tracker blockers and multihop connections. Also, look for a VPN that undergoes regular third-party security audits, as audits can help bolster trust in the VPN's ability to protect its users' privacy. 


Mac computers are generally known to be pretty fast, so you'll probably want a fast VPN that can deliver excellent speeds. The speed of your VPN can have a major effect on activities like streaming, downloading, video conferencing, gaming and general web browsing. To keep things running as smoothly as possible, you'll want to look for a VPN that will have as minimal an impact on your regular internet speeds as possible.  


MacOS is designed to be clean and intuitive, so if you're used to the feel of the operating system, you'd probably want a similar experience with the VPN software you use. A good Mac VPN should run smoothly and have a decluttered user interface that's easy to use regardless of your technical expertise. It should have a large network of servers around the world so you can connect easily and reliably from wherever you are, and it should be able to help you access geo-restricted content from various regions.     


VPN pricing varies greatly from provider to provider, so if you're on a budget, you may want to consider the cost and overall value of your MacOS VPN. Typically, you can expect to spend about $5 to $13 a month for a monthly VPN subscription plan. If you want to save money, you can opt for an annual subscription, where prices can range from roughly $30 to $100 a year. Be careful with free VPNs, though, because you may end up putting your privacy at risk instead of protecting it if you go with a free option. Proton VPN is currently the only free VPN that CNET recommends. However, most VPNs offer a money-back guarantee that can be anywhere from a week to 45 days. You can also get a seven-day free trial with many VPNs if you sign up through Apple's App Store. So you'll most likely have options to try various Mac VPNs risk-free before you decide whether to fully invest in one. 

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What's the best Mac VPN right now?

ExpressVPN is the current CNET Editors' Choice for best overall VPN. We evaluate VPNs based on their overall performance in three main categories: speed, security features and price. Express isn't the cheapest, but it's among the fastest, and so far, is the most secure. At lower costs, Surfshark is a close second among our picks, thanks to its impressive performance and unlimited device support. NordVPN, our third choice, is a die-hard heavy-hitter. It costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, has an enormous network that's constantly getting faster and more secure, and is easily the most reliable service we've tested. 

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What is a mobile VPN?

Use a mobile-friendly VPN to avoid slower speeds and ensure greater data privacy for your whole device. Mobile VPNs generally have a smaller memory footprint, and require less processing power than desktop VPNs, so they run faster and save more battery. Our top three VPNs listed above all have excellent, easy-to-use mobile VPN app options for their services. Some VPNs will only work with one type of platform -- like Apple or Android -- and some are universally compatible. To find the right mobile VPN for you, check out our mobile-specific VPN guides below. We routinely update them with our retesting information so check back often. 

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What's the best free VPN service?

Proton VPN's free tier is the only free VPN we've come across so far that's worth using. It costs a lot of money to operate a VPN, and free VPN services usually make up for the lack of subscription revenue by selling user data. And in addition to being limited in usability and light on security, many free VPNs are fronts for malware distribution, which is why it's generally best to avoid them. However, Proton VPN's unlimited free tier is fast, secure and can be used for most online activities, including streaming Netflix. But if you're on a budget and want access to a premium VPN solution, you can also take a look at our picks for the best cheap VPNs.

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What's the most secure VPN for Mac?

Each of the three VPNs we highlight on this page offer the same level of AES 256-bit encryption. You'll be able to secure your connection via the same encryption standards whether you're using ExpressVPN, Surfshark or NordVPN. Each has also been independently audited for security, and each one operates a RAM-only server infrastructure, which helps reduce the possibility of data being stored on a VPN server. Our DNS leak tests of all three providers revealed no leaks of any sort, and each one's kill switch worked flawlessly. 

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Can you get in trouble for using a VPN?

You can potentially get in legal trouble for using a VPN if you're in a country like China or Iran that bans or outlaws VPN use altogether. Otherwise, in the vast majority of regions around the world, you don't have to worry about getting into any legal trouble just for using a VPN. Just remember that if you're doing something illegal online, it's still illegal whether you're using a VPN or not. And if you're in a country where VPN use is illegal or restricted in any way, it's imperative that you connect to an obfuscated server so your VPN traffic is disguised as ordinary HTTPS traffic. This hides the fact that you're using a VPN in the first place. 

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What does my ISP see when I'm connected to my VPN?

Your ISP will see that you're connected to a VPN and it will see the IP address of the VPN server you're connected to, along with the amount of data you're transmitting. It will also see timestamps of when you connected to the VPN. Other than that, it won't see your browsing history or the websites you visit since your internet traffic is encrypted and rendered unreadable when you connect to a VPN.

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