When you’re surfing the web, the websites you visit, and sometimes other users on the same network, can gain access to private data you might not want shared.
Most of the time, this information will only be used to track your session history and serve you tailored ads and services, but there are certain circumstances where bad actors may be able to lift sensitive information from your web browsing.
To prevent this, many users enlist the help of a dedicated virtual private network (VPN) service provider. A VPN obfuscates your connection data by diverting your requests through a third-party server based in a data centre, either in your own country or abroad.
This hides your IP address from snoopers, prevents your browsing history from being tracked, and provides a good level of location and data protection while you surf the web.
As an average Mac user, you may wonder why you need a VPN to surf the web, especially as Apple-built products are less prone to malware. But the risks of connecting to the internet unprotected are greater than you think!
Here, we’re going to look at some of the best VPNs for Mac users in 2023, and discover which VPN service provides the best all-round protection and speed.
But first, let’s explore some of the reasons an Apple Mac user might need a VPN service, and why you should consider using a VPN to browse the web.
What are the main uses of a VPN?
The number one use of VPNs is to provide privacy and security to your browsing session as you surf the web.
Even if you think your general browsing history is of no great interest to anyone else, you should still consider using a VPN to protect your personal information.
This is especially important if you regularly connect to public WiFi networks, such as at airports, cafes, or even university and college networks.
On these public networks, sophisticated hackers can intercept your browsing data, and lift information such as email addresses, passwords, and even payment information.
VPN services for Mac users are important to protect privacy and data when browsing the web, and this is even more important when using a public network.
VPNs can also be a great way to access products and services that are restricted in your region or country.
One of the most common scenarios where people use VPNs is the video streaming service Netflix, which offers different shows to users in different regions, and also airs certain series to American users before Europeans.
If you’re like most and you simply can’t wait for the next instalment of your favourite show, then accessing Netflix through a VPN server based in America will let you watch the U.S. version of Netflix, either on your Android device or desktop.
This is great news for users who love to use their Android device to watch shows on the move.
Best VPN For Mac Users in 2023
So, let’s get started and discover the best VPNs for Mac users!
By far one of the most popular VPNs on the market, Nordvpn is a Panama-based company which launched in 2012.
NordVPN’s Panama base of operations is a strategic choice, as the South-American nation has no data retention laws – meaning your data isn’t logged and stored.
The company takes web freedom and user data privacy so seriously, that in 2019 NordVPN shut down its Russian servers altogether, in response to Russian authorities demanding they block certain websites.
Nordvpn has a Trustpilot rating of 4.5 stars, or ‘Excellent’.
NordVPN technical details
Nordvpn uses top-end encryption methods to protect your browsing data from prying eyes, and have consistently proven themselves as one of the safest VPN providers on the market.
Its technical features include:
- Built-in Killswitch – Killswitches are essential to protect your communications in the rare event that your VPN loses service. If this happens, NordVPN will automatically stop your device from accessing the internet.
- 55+ Country Servers – NordVPN users can access servers in 59 countries, including those in both North, South, and Central America; Australia and New Zealand; most European countries; Turkey, Georgia, and Israel; and East Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia.
- 5,848 servers – The more servers a VPN service has, the better. This means your service is less likely to encounter disruptions, and provides a more secure connection. NordVPN has one of the largest number of servers of any VPN provider, at almost 6,000.
Nordvpn special and obfuscated servers
If you’re a more technical user, you may want to make use of NordVPN’s large range of special server options.
- Double VPN – Just as the name suggests, double VPN connections offer not one, but two layers of protection. Essentially, this means that traffic is routed through two servers, providing twice the encryption – especially useful if you’re a politically protected person, or elements of your work are sensitive.
- Dedicated IP Servers – If you’re a business user, you may benefit from purchasing a dedicated server. These give you your own trustworthy fixed IP address, which can be used to securely login to business servers, while still encrypting your data. These cost $70 and are based in France, Germany, Netherlands, UK, or the USA.
- P2P Servers – NordVPN allows peer to peer (P2P) traffic connections on certain servers, which is great for torrenting sites which usually block VPN traffic.
- Onion over VPN – The Onion network users Onion Routers, often called ‘Tor’, to obfuscate traffic much more effectively than a regular VPN. Onion over VPN servers route your browsing traffic through a NordVPN server, and then through the Onion network, for ultra-secure communications.
- Obfuscated Servers – These servers will bypass network firewalls and other internet restrictions, even at a national level. If you live in a nation where internet access is heavily censored by government agencies, then consider using an obfuscated server.
Does NordVPN work with Netflix?
We’ve had a look at some of the technical features of Nordvpn, and there’s no disputing that the service is perfect for power-users who need a robust VPN.
But what about the average user? At an affordable subscription price as we’ll look at later, NordVPN will also appeal to regular users who simply want to access video streaming services like Netflix – but does it work?
NordVPN is compatible with Netflix, and it’s actually one of the best VPNs for video streaming, as it provides incredibly fast bandwidth and download speeds.
NordVPN guarantees it’s users that they will be able to access Netflix and other streaming services, and it works hard to stay on top of new blocking attempts by streaming services.
Which operating systems does NordVPN support?
With support for all major operating systems, including macOS and iOS, NordVPN really does provide protection for every type of device.
This is great news for users who want a VPN service for both their Apple Mac and maybe their iPhone and a few other devices, as NordVPN covers up to six devices from one subscription.
So, from just one account, users can download and access NordVPN’s services on six separate devices, such as your MacBook, your partner’s Windows laptop, your parents desktop PC, and a few mobile devices!
This is one of the main features that makes Nordvpn one of the best value for money VPN services, as essentially it’s up to six VPN’s in one!
Alternatively, users who setup NordVPN directly on their router can enjoy the protection on all devices that access the internet through that router.
How much does NordVPN cost?
NordVPN offers multiple levels of membership options, with the best value for money deal costing $125.64 for three years service – equivalent to just $3.49 per month, a 70% saving.
If you don’t feel like committing to a three year plan, or you don’t want to shell-out a lump sum, you can subscribe to Nordvpn for $11.95 per month, or a 1-year plan for $6.99 per month.
Students can get a special discount – up to 15% off – with a 30-day money back guarantee if they’re not satisfied.
For Mac users, NordVPN is a superb, trusted, and feature-rich VPN service. There are very few features which NordVPN doesn’t provide, and the VPN provides excellent data encryption for both professional and regular users at a great price.
NordVPNs huge range of specialty servers provide several options for encrypted communications beyond the standard VPN connections, and the opportunity to buy a dedicated IP address for business users is a great option.
Another of the most popular VPN services, ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, and provides traffic encryption services to multiple operating systems.
Mac users will be pleased to hear that Expressvpn has up-to-date full clients for multiple macOS builds, including Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and the newest build, Catalina.
This covers most Apple Mac devices, such as the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Apple iMac Pro and Mac Mini.
In 2017, Turkish authorities failed to recover information important to an international case from ExpressVPN’s servers, which the company have said is a testament to their high-level of user privacy, and the company believes that such measures are necessary to protect our right to privacy online.
ExpressVPN has a Trustpilot rating of 4.5 stars, ‘Excellent’.
ExpressVPN technical details
As one of the leading VPN providers, ExpressVPN implements the latest encryption technology to protect users online communications.
ExpressVPNs advanced technical features include:
- 3,000+ Servers – Expressvpn uses hundreds of servers in 94 countries to provide stable and secure service at all times to its customers, with over 3,000 servers in total.
- Military-grade Encryption – ExpressVPN used AES-256 encryption methods, protecting against DNS and IP leaks, and also WebRTC leaks.
- Router Support – If you don’t want to use ExpressVPN directly through your Apple Mac, you can instead connect via a router – serving every connected device in your home.
- Internet Killswitch – Express VPN users can instantly kill their internet connection if their VPN connection unexpectedly drops.
ExpressVPN Specialty Servers and Features
Quite a few of Expressvpn’s features mirror the same functions as NordVPN’s specialty servers. Let’s explore a few of them here:
- Split-tunneling – Split-tunneling routes a portion of your traffic through a VPN tunnel, whereas some apps and devices you connect can access the internet without going through a VPN. This encrypts traffic you want protected, whereas some traffic, such as local area network devices, stay connected. This feature is available on macOS.
- Zero-Knowledge DNS – One of the most common ways your traffic data is leaked is through a ‘domain name system’, or ‘DNS’. ExpressVPN provides their own DNS on each server, so no activity logs or DNS leaks can occur.
- Trusted Server security – ExpressVPN uses independently audited TrustedServer technology to provide an extra layer of protection to its users. All data is wiped every time servers are rebooted, their servers don’t write data to hard disks, and servers run on RAM only.
Does ExpressVPN work with Netflix?
As a well-resourced VPN provider, ExpressVPN generally stays one step ahead of Netflix’s blocking of unblockers and proxy servers.
A lot of VPN providers simply can’t match Netflix’s VPN blocking, but ExpressVPN claims that their service provides a ‘secure, throttle-free solution’ for Netflix’s largest library – the U.S. version – for Mac and iOS users.
What’s more, users can try ExpressVPN’s service risk free with a 30-day trial period, where account holders are free to cancel with a full refund, so if you can’t stream Netflix on your Mac for any reason, you’re not out of pocket.
Which operating systems does ExpressVPN support?
Expressvpn runs on all major operating systems and devices, including both Microsoft, Linux, and Apple computers, mobile devices powered by iOS or Android, a number of wireless routers, and most major games consoles.
For Mac users, ExpressVPN supports the following build versions:
- OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)
- OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)
- OS X 10.12 (Sierra)
- OS X 10.13 (High Sierra)
- OS X 10.14 (Mojave)
- OS X 10.15 (Catalina)
If you have an older version of macOS, for example Snow Leopard, the latest ExpressVPN client may not work. Downloading and installing the client is very straightforward, and all users have to do is login once installed, and enter their activation code.
How much does ExpressVPN cost?
ExpressVPN is a more expensive option than NordVPN, costing $12.95 per month on a 30-day basis, or $8.32 per month if you subscribe for a whole year – billed in a lump sum of $99.95.
If you’re a regular user, you might want to consider what you need out of a VPN service. If watching Netflix and other video streaming services or obfuscating your browsing history while you’re on the move is all you need, then you might want to consider if Expressvpn is worth the extra price.
Expressvpn is trusted by thousands of people to keep their internet traffic encrypted and safe. For Mac users, ExpressVPN is a great choice, as it supports multiple macOS builds dating back almost a decade.
However, it’s higher price tag is something to consider when comparing Expressvpn to other options on our list.
Nevertheless, we do think that Expressvpn somewhat balances out their higher price with access to world-class VPN services, such as split-tunneling, zero-knowledge DNS, and their incredibly secure TrustedServer technology.
As a result, we would highly recommend Expressvpn to those with slightly higher security requirements and bigger budgets, such as business users, professionals who need secure communications, journalists, or politically protected persons.
If we still haven’t convinced you, read our standalone Expressvpn review for a more detailed analysis.
A Bucharest-based provider, Cyberghost is a well-established VPN service that has been running since late 2011 – although the CyberGhost team have been building privacy enhancing technology for over a decade.
Through their advanced VPN service, Cyberghost guarantees that its customers can bypass annoying geo-restrictions, access blocked websites, and safely torrent files P2P.
CyberGhost have a dedicated full-clients for macOS users, which users can download to their Mac and activate with the touch of a button.
The company was also the first VPN provider to release a transparency report for their users, with information such as DMCA complaints, police requests, and key statistics about CyberGhost’s infrastructure. The report, published annually, is a clear sign of CyberGhost’s commitment to their user’s privacy.
CyberGhost has a Trustpilot rating of 5 stars, ‘Excellent’ – the highest rated on our list, with just 1% of users awarding the service 1 star.
CyberGhost VPN Technical Details
The highly experienced CyberGhost team have built one of the most robust VPN services in the world, with multiple privacy-enhancing features.
CyberGhost’s technical features include:
- AES 256-bit encryption – Like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, CyberGhost offers military-grade traffic encryption through AES 256-bit encryption. This prevents snoopers from reading your packet data, and prevents you from being retargeted by advertisers.
- 6,400+ Servers – CyberGhost maintains both incredible speed and security through their huge network of servers. With over 6,400 servers in 90 countries, there is no shortage of connection locations, with a server on almost every continent on Earth.
- No logs policy – Based in privacy-friendly Romania, CyberGhost are under no legal obligation to keep their user’s data on file – and they don’t. The service keeps no logs of user activity, and never collaborates with foreign intelligence agencies. This includes your browsing history, web content, connection times, or bandwidth usage.
- Auto killswitch – Like other VPNs on our list, Cyberghost users can choose to kill their internet connection if their VPN service suddenly drops out.
CyberGhost special servers and features
In addition to regular VPN servers, CyberGhost also has a number of other features which enhance your web browsing experience, including:
- Crypto payments – If your traffic is encrypted and your browsing is private, shouldn’t your payment method be private too? CyberGhost accepts payment in Bitcoin for all of its subscription packages, offering true anonymity!
- NoSpy servers – For browsing which requires maximum security, Cyberghost provides NoSpy servers, which are built from-scratch by the CyberGhost team in their own dedicated data centers. This puts users data securely out of the eyes of snoopers.
- Multi-device support – Cyberghost allows connection of up to 7 separate devices at a time, so you can either use your VPN on both your Mac device and iPhone, or share your VPN connection with trusted friends and family.
Does CyberGhost work with streaming services?
According to CyberGhost’s website, their VPN service provides unrestricted access to Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, BBC, and Amazon Prime.
In fact, they’re one of the few VPN providers which guarantee access to a range of streaming services rather than just Netflix or Amazon Prime, and the CyberGhost VPN team works hard to stay ahead of streaming sites who try to block VPN users.
You can also stream sports matches from foreign nations using CyberGhost.
Which operating systems does CyberGhost support?
CyberGhost has a dedicated full-client for Mac users, in other words, a specially built application for macOS machines.
The Mac client features a clean interface which Apple-family product users will be familiar with, and is incredibly easy to use with just one button to connect to your nearest VPN server.
In addition to macOS and iOS, Cyberghost support Windows, Linux, Android, and even niche devices like Amazon Firestick, Smart Televisions, and games consoles.
How much does CyberGhost VPN cost?
Cyberghost provides incredibly affordable VPN protection, with a 3-year subscription fee equating to just $2.75 per month, billed in a lump sum of $99. This is significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN’s membership options, and even cheaper than NordVPN, which is well known for its value.
If you’d prefer a monthly subscription fee, then CyberGhost’s service is more expensive at $12.99 per month. On the other hand, a 1-year subscription will cost you just $5.99 per month, or $71.88 per year, so this could be a good choice if you don’t want to subscribe for 3-years.
If you’re still unsure if Cyberghost is for you, they also offer the option to try the service completely free for 24 hours. The yearly and three-year subscription plans also come with a 45-day money back guarantee!
If you’re looking for complete anonymity online, at an affordable price, then CyberGhost VPN is worth serious consideration. We have also published a very detailed CyberGhost review if you need more information on it.
CyberGhost protects their users through a combination of military-grade encryption, and an enormous network of servers in multiple jurisdictions.
But it’s their acceptance of Bitcoin payments which makes CyberGhost one of the best privacy-preserving VPNs on the planet, as all you have to provide to start your subscription is an email address for login and customer service – no payment information required.
As a result, we’ve got to recommend that privacy focused users, such as those looking to protect sensitive information for their business, or a journalist working with politically exposed sources, try out Cyberghost VPN.
Acquired by veteran cyber-security company McAfee in 2018, TunnelBear is a trusted VPN service with roots in Canada, with headquarters in Toronto.
TunnelBear wins in the looks department with their Mac application, which sits neatly in your top menu bar as a little bear peering out of a tunnel.
Open the app to find a colourful interactive map, complete with a tunnel icon for each location that TunnelBear has a server you can connect to.
The TunnelBear team commissions regular third-party security audits of their software and services, which is publicly available and published once a year. TunnelBear claims to be the first and only VPN to do this, and they hope it will inspire a new standard of transparency within the VPN industry.
TunnelBear has a TrustPilot score of 3 stars, ‘Average’.
TunnelBear VPN Technical Details
TunnelBear publishes regular blogs where they discuss some of their technical information, however there’s a little less detailed information on their website about the specific technology they use compared to other services.
- Strictly no user logs – TunnelBear doesn’t keep user logs, nor do they collect any personal information or browsing data about their users. This also extends to requests from government agencies and law enforcement.
- 20+ server locations – Users can connect from anywhere in the world, and there’s around 20 server locations worldwide that can be connected to. However, this is fairly low compared to other services.
- DNS leak protection – Some manually set-up VPN servers don’t ensure that DNS leaks are prevented. TunnelBear routes all traffic from user’s computers through their VPN tunnel as soon as the connection is opened.
- Multiple Protocols & encryption – TunnelBear uses both OpenVPN and IKEv2 for Mac users. When a user opens a connection to TunnelBear, they will connect through one of these protocols. Once connected, user’s traffic is encrypted with AES-256 bit encryption.
TunnelBear VPN special servers and features
There are a couple of special features that TunnelBear offer their users to enhance privacy and security, these are:
- Handshake encryption – Occasionally, an attacker can intercept your VPN connection request, and impersonate a TunnelBear server. This means your traffic goes through the attacker instead of through a secure VPN. TunnelBear provides an ‘encryption handshake’ to prevent your traffic being intercepted.
- Vigilant mode – Like a killswitch in other VPN services, TunnelBear’s vigilant mode instantly kills any active internet connection the second your service is interrupted.
- 5 connected devices – TunnelBear users can connect up to 5 different devices, so it’s perfect for users who need VPN services for both Apple Mac and iPhone.
- Crypto payments – Like CyberGhost, TunnelBear also lets users pay for their subscription in Bitcoin. This is a great option for those who want maximum privacy from the start.
Does TunnelBear work with streaming services?
TunnelBear doesn’t currently support major streaming services, such as Netflix, and many other streaming services may also attempt to block traffic that they think is coming through a VPN.
This isn’t so much because TunnelBear doesn’t directly support the use of streaming services, it’s just because TunnelBear currently has access to less servers than its competitors – although this may change in the future.
Which operating systems does TunnelBear support?
TunnelBear supports most major operating systems, including macOS, where the team have built a ‘simple and handsome’ UX/UI for their users.
We agree that TunnelBear has one of the best looking user interfaces, and it’s incredibly simple to use on your macOS device.
You can also connect TunnelBear to your iPhone too, through multi-device support for up to five separate devices.
How much does TunnelBear VPN cost?
Users can get up to 500MB of free TunnelBear VPN connection per month, so if you’re travelling and just need a VPN for airport WiFi or other public networks, then this free allowance might be all you need.
If you decide you need a VPN for all your browsing, a TunnelBear subscription costs just $3.33 per month, regardless of how long you sign-up for.
TunnelBear also offers ‘Teams’ subscriptions, which are $5.75 per user per month, and are perfect for teams of two or more people. Team’s users get unlimited VPN access and a dedicated account manager.
|Contract Length||Monthly Price|
Overall, TunnelBear is one of the most affordable VPN services, and they’re flexible monthly subscription price is a welcome break from other providers who try to encourage users to sign-up for three months.
Similarly, a free 500MB is a great way to occasionally access the protection of a VPN, without needing to buy anything.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t support streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, so TunnelBear users can’t currently use their VPN to avoid geo-based streaming restrictions.
That’s likely disappointing news for regular users, who usually just want a VPN service that will let them access a wider range of shows. However, TunnelBear still has some great features that would benefit users who just want encrypted traffic.
TunnelBear’s limited servers may not be adequate for every user, as there’s simply not as much choice in location or different IP ranges to connect to. This is quite disappointing as more servers generally mean a more secure and stable connection – but this may change in the future. If you want a more detailed analysis of TunnelBear, read our TunnelBear review.
Now we’ve had a look at each VPN provider in detail, let’s look back and compare some of the most important features of each, to help you decide which is best for your needs.
Server number and locations
The number of servers a VPN service users is very important for privacy and security. So, which VPN has the most servers?
|VPN Provider||Number of Servers||Countries|
The winner – CyberGhost
CyberGhost has the most servers, over 500 more than the next best competitor, NordVPN. This is essential for providing uninterrupted VPN service and protection.
VPN streaming support for Mac users
Many average users will be using VPNs to access streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and sports channels. So, which VPN supports the best streaming services?
|VPN Provider||Streaming Supported?||Guaranteed Streaming|
|Nordvpn||Yes||Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.|
|Expressvpn||Yes||Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.|
|Cyberghost||Yes||Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.|
|TunnelBear||No||No guaranteed streaming|
The winner – NordVPN
Although both ExpressVPN and CyberGhost both provide great work arounds for streaming content, NordVPN has committed to keeping streaming services open for its customers at all times, constantly updating their methods to stay ahead.
Monthly VPN provider cost
Cost is always one of the most important factors when choosing a new product or service, and in the world of VPNs, more expensive doesn’t always mean a better service.
|VPN Provider||Cheapest Monthly Price|
The winner – CyberGhost
CyberGhost is the most affordable VPN service, however NordVPN is also a great price too at just $3.49 per month. TunnelBear, while cheaper than NordVPN, offers far less features.
The best VPN provider for Mac users
Overall, the best VPN provider for Apple Mac and macOS users has to be NordVPN.
While other VPN providers each have their strengths and weaknesses, NordVPN provides a mix of both highly reliable encryption, features that appeal to professional users, a huge range of dedicated servers, and an attractive subscription price that is affordable to everyone.
We particularly like NordVPN’s specialty servers, such as Onion over VPN and double VPN, which provide the ultimate in traffic encryption and browsing privacy – essential for business users and politically exposed persons.
Close second is CyberGhost, who has grown their range of services immensely in the past few years. CyberGhost is a great choice for users who want to pay in Bitcoin, to keep their payment information private.
Although CyberGhost is both cheaper per month than NordVPN and has many similar functions, NordVPN’s extra security features give it a slight edge.
ExpressVPN is an incredible service and provides one of the best VPNs on the market, with many innovative features and a great security track record.
However, for their subscription price tag, over double that of NordVPN, ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a great deal extra than other, cheaper VPN providers.
We liked TunnelBear’s flexible membership options and their free 500MB VPN connection, and also their audit report is a great initiative that other VPN companies should follow.
But, TunnelBear’s seriously limited amount of servers and its inability to guarantee uninterrupted streaming services is disappointing, and it’s yet to prove itself as a serious competitor to the other three on our list.
No matter which VPN you choose for you Mac, make sure you stay safe while you’re browsing, and protect your privacy online!