Have you ever wondered why VPNs have become increasingly popular in the past years? Well, there are two significant takes here.
Staying safe while using the internet has become quite difficult in the past decade. The number of threats to privacy and security has increased like anything. The issues are so wide-spread that it makes zero sense for anyone to use a public Wi-Fi network.
At the same time, though, the internet isn’t devoid of restrictions, either. In fact, we see more region-specific services than global ones. This means you can access resources only if you are from a particular region, say the United States. Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, etc. have these geography-based restrictions.
The worst part is that almost all digital devices are vulnerable to these threats/restrictions. And, your Mac is not an exception. Just like every other device, your MacBook or iMac can also be a victim of problems related to privacy and geographical restrictions.
This is why you may want to get one of the best VPN for Mac. And, you know what? There are some free-to-use VPN services that you can count on.
- TunnelBear is the overall best free VPN app you can download for Mac today. Although the free version can give you a limited amount of bandwidth, it works seamlessly with your Mac. It also packs convenient features like automatic disconnection and multi-device support.
- NordVPN is another great option if you need a Mac VPN service with advanced support and customizability. You get to enjoy a premium, secure browsing experience without paying too much. Even if you are getting started with the whole VPN thing, NordVPN is easy to master.
- ExpressVPN is another trusted name in a world of free VPNs for Mac. You get some really cool features like split tunneling and enhanced connection reliability with the macOS client of this VPN provider. This VPN also has a no-logging policy along with military-grade encryption.
What Is VPN for Mac?
The term VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN app for Mac is a network-based software that allows you to connect to a Virtual Private Network. Depending on the VPN service and the preferences, the app can connect your Mac to a private network, mostly based on a server abroad. All the web browsing requests are then forwarded through this VPN.
A flow chart of when you have enabled a VPN connection would look like this:
Your Mac VPN Server >> Website >> VPN Server >> Your Mac
As you can see, the VPN server works as the security barrier between your Mac and the target website. Most VPN providers use military-grade encryption to ensure that strangers cannot see anything that happens inside the network. Even your Internet Service Provider will be able to see only an encrypted line of data to the VPN server and back.
This VPN server could be placed anywhere in the world. If you are from the United States but would like to access the Netflix library in the United Kingdom, you can choose a UK-based VPN server. However, if you want to protect your privacy while using a public/weak Wi-Fi network, choosing any server location can offer you the benefit of encryption.
The VPN app, also known as the VPN client, oversees the connection process to the VPN server. It may also offer additional features like automatic disconnection and split tunneling. Although macOS comes with an in-built utility for enabling VPNs, a VPN client makes things more comfortable than ever. Apps from trusted VPN service providers integrate well with your Mac as well.
Fortunately, there are both free and paid VPNs available for Mac.
Who Should Get A VPN for Mac?
If you can relate to the following situations, you probably should get a VPN client and service for Mac.
- You want better security and privacy protection while using the internet, primarily through a public Wi-Fi network. This may happen regardless of whether you use the connection to handle essential data like payment.
- You want to access content that is not available in your region due to content policy. You may want to access Hulu or the US Netflix library from a place other than the US. Similarly, you want to utilize services that are only available in certain territories.
- You want remote access to a network that is only available when you are physically in the system. A VPN can tunnel all your requests through the private tunnel, making it seem like you are in the local network, even when traveling abroad.
- You want to bypass censorship by your local authorities or ISP. Many governments use techniques of censorship to prevent their citizens from accessing some particular types of web content. You can use a VPN as the easiest way to bypass this.
- You want to protect your identity while browsing the web, especially the deep or dark web. You can use a VPN service to prevent to also prevent advertisers from tracking you through the internet using cookies/trackers.
- You want to bypass firewalls in your office/college that prevent you from accessing specific content. Your office/college may have blocked YouTube, torrenting, or Gaming servers on the network. A VPN can help you regain access to everything.
- You want to enjoy multiplayer gaming with better latency without spending too much. You can use a VPN to tunnel your connection to the game server through a VPN server that is close to the game server you want to play in.
- You want to save money while shopping by disguising your original location. Some online stores tend to show different prices for the same product, depending on the region the user is from. A VPN can help you stay away from this discrimination. This applies to flights and hotels as well.
- You want to stay away from speed throttling by your ISP and enjoy a better internet experience. An ISP may try to throttle your speed while you try to access a resource-heavy website. By covering up what you are accessing, VPNs can reduce the chances of such throttling.
If you want any of these benefits, a VPN is an essential thing on your Mac.
How We Tested and Picked the Best Free VPN for Mac in 2020?
Here are the factors that we valued the most while picking the best free VPN for Mac from the hundreds of options in the market. This means you can enjoy a healthy combination of the following features/qualities if you choose any of the VPN services on this list.
- Pricing: We have picked VPNs that come with either a free plan or a free trial. You will be able to use either a limited-data free plan or a limited-time free trial with full features.
- Privacy: Because privacy is our primary concern, we have chosen the most trusted and reliable VPNs in the market with military-grade encryption. These VPNs have a strict no-logs policy as well.
- Ease of Use: The VPN must have an easy-to-use VPN client for macOS. This way, you can connect to a VPN server in a single click.
- Compatibility: Although we are looking for a VPN for Mac, it’s good to choose a VPN service that can function well on other platforms like Android, iOS, Chrome, Apple TV, Linux, etc.
- VPN Servers: The VPN service should allow you to choose between different server locations, which come in handy while breaking away from geo-locked content access.
- P2P Support: We also checked if the VPNs allow you to use P2P protocols over the VPN. This means you’d be able to download torrents when connected to the VPN.
- Support: Customer support is also an essential factor while choosing a free VPN for your Mac. Even if you come across troubles, it’s good to have people who can help you out.
- Additional Features: We had given extra points to additional features like auto-disconnect and other privacy optimizations.
Based on these pointers, along with what previous users say about the services, we’ve picked the best free VPNs you can find today.
Our Picks: Best Free VPN for Mac in 2020
TunnelBear is undoubtedly the best free VPN you can get for Mac in 2020. One of the most reliable providers in the industry, TunnelBear offers up to 500MB/month as a part of its free plan. You can use this data with a bunch of impressive features like VigilantBear, which stops all internet traffic if the VPN connection faces any problem. It also does a fantastic job of bypassing VPN detection by optimizing the traffic.
When it comes to the technical side, TunnelBear VPN supports AES 256-bit military-grade encryption and VPN servers in more than 20 countries. Using the intuitive app, you can set up Trusted Networks, which the VPN would treat as secure lines. Instead of taking up a whole window, the TunnelBear app for macOS resides in the menu-bar, enabling quick connections to the desired VPN server.
With more than 21 million users across the globe, TunnelBear is a fantastic choice for other platforms, such as Windows, Android, and iOS. Independent security audits and a strict no-logs policy make this VPN a competent one in terms of privacy.
- Intuitive macOS app
- Internet kill switch
- Amazing security
- Low monthly data in the free plan
NordVPN is another famous name in the industry, and it also offers a dedicated VPN client for macOS. While it does not have a completely free plan, you get a 30-day free trial, which gives you access to all the premium features. This means you don’t have to worry about bandwidth limits for a month. You get a convenient set of features like Quick Connect and Internet kill switch.
Taking a step even further, NordVPN uses a combination of advanced encryption and NordLynx protocol — offering you peace of mind. The app also brings customization features like custom DNS and CyberSec, the latter of which protects your VPN experience from malware and cyber threats. Although not as minimal as the TunnelBear app, the NordVPN app for macOS leaves room for flexibility.
As a VPN service, NordVPN boasts more than 5000 servers across 59 countries. This is a vast number, and it helps you in using even not-so-common services like P2P and Onion support. Last but not least, you get some more features like Personal IP and no-logs policies.
- Highly customizable
- Full-feature free trial
- P2P & Onion support
- Mediocre speeds in some servers
ExpressVPN is another free VPN service that works so well with macOS. This trusted VPN provider offers an incredible VPN client for Mac, and it works on the majority of models out there. More importantly, the app integrates so well with macOS that you can enjoy features like split tunneling and zero-knowledge DNS. But, again, you don’t get a free version. Instead, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
During these 30 days, you can use all sorts of features like unlimited bandwidth, offshore privacy protection, and 256-bit encryption security. Split tunneling is one of the unique features that allow you to use the VPN connection only for specific apps. ExpressVPN also brings the standard set of features like the internet kill switch and multi-device support.
ExpressVPN claims to have more than 3000 servers in 160 locations across the world, ensuring full bandwidth and speed. It also provides excellent customer care and regular updates. It’s great that you can start using the VPN in just a few minutes. And it also integrates well with macOS, despite the various options inside.
- Easy Setup
- Split tunneling
- Zero-knowledge DNS
- No free trial
VyprVPN is one of the few VPNs that provide the customer so much control over the tunneling process. This is an excellent choice for Mac if you want a better way to secure your web browsing experience. When compared to other VPN apps, VyprVPN focuses more on privacy-protection features, including Chameleon, VyperDNS, and VyperVPN Cloud.
Powered by an independent no-logging review, the VPN offers a considerable level of privacy as well. You’d get the standard set of features like Kill Switch and Public Wi-Fi Protection. You also have an option to optimize VPN connection for individual applications. More importantly, the macOS app for VyprVPN comes with support for WireGuard, the trusted VPN protocol.
Just like many other VPN services on this list, VyprVPN offers only a money-back guarantee. On a rather good note, though, you can enjoy all these flagship-level features while trying out the service. By the way, we’ve to keep in mind that the VPN app isn’t as lightweight as others.
- Based on WireGuard
- Per-app VPN Connection
- Dedicated privacy features
- No free version/trial
5. hide.me VPN
We’d recommend taking a look at hide.me VPN if you need a simple VPN app for macOS. Optimized for a beginner and Pro alike, this VPN service packs enough features to protect your identity online. What’s more important is that you get a free version, which gives you up to 10GB of data per month. The free version of the VPN also restricts the number of accessible locations and simultaneous connections.
On the bright side, you can enjoy no-logging, ad-free VPN experience with the free plan. Something you will miss is streaming support. As a service, you get the standard protection package, which includes encryption, offshore location, and split tunneling. Some of these features are not available in the free version, though. It can, however, keep your Mac more secure.
It’s also great that hide.me VPN has its apps available for multiple platforms. Although not at the same time, you can access the VPN service through Android, iOS, and even Amazon Fire OS. All in all, if you need some data to handle your basic VPN needs, hide.me VPN gets the job done.
- 10GB Data/month
- No-log, no-ad VPN
- Extensive support
- Speed throttling
ProtonVPN comes from the same great minds behind ProtonMail, a privacy-friendly email service. As a VPN app for macOS, ProtonVPN seems to be an impressive choice. It comes with a free version that doesn’t have any bandwidth restriction. However, you can connect only one device and have to choose between servers in just three countries.
You may also face some speed throttling in the process, as well as P2P support. If you don’t mind waiting for a few seconds and don’t want torrent support, ProtonVPN is an excellent choice. Being a service that is based in Switzerland, you don’t have to worry about your privacy. Secure core servers and 256-bit encryption make this VPN an appealing choice from the privacy point of view.
This free VPN service also supports almost all devices out there. By the way, we noticed that the VPN client for ProtonVPN consumes a noticeable amount of resources.
- No bandwidth limits
- Excellent security
- Swiss-based privacy laws
- Speed throttling
7. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield was voted as the fastest VPN in the world, which gives us more reasons to include the VPN. It also offers a basic version without asking you to pay anything. You can even install this VPN app from the App Store directly. As you can expect, though, the free version is limited in some respects. For instance, it has a speed limit of 2Mbps and a daily data cap of 500MB. You can connect to only the United States.
Key features of the Hotspot Shield VPN app for macOS include military-grade encryption and its use of Hydra protocol. Both these work towards providing you a straightforward VPN experience without worries. In light of our experience, the macOS app works perfectly fine, although a bit heavy on resources. With this service, you’d get to enjoy a superior level of protection from digital threats.
Altogether, Hotspot Shield VPN is an excellent choice if you want a no-hassle way to connect to one US-based virtual network. For everything else, you need to pay.
- Straightforward VPN
- Impressive speeds
- Well-built Mac app
- Only one location
8. VPN Gate
VPN Gate is a VPN service that you can use on Mac without paying anything. It’s not a commercial venture, but an effort by the Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan. You can use this service to get almost all the benefits of having a commercial VPN, but with some extra effort from your side. First things first, you do not get an easy-to-connect VPN app.
Because many people use VPN Gate for their academic needs, you may have to deal with reduced speed, network congestion, etc. Moreover, setting up and using the service requires some time. You would have to download an OpenVPN/L2TP client and use the credentials. On the bright side, VPN Gate supports even the old versions of macOS.
You can pick VPN Gate if you are looking for something truly free. Although you don’t get dedicated security features, this service gets the essential tasks done.
- Completely free
- Made for education needs
- Extensive compatibility
- Difficult to set up
WindScribe VPN claims to help you browse the internet with the privacy that you deserve. As a VPN app for Mac, it delivers an impressive performance as well. In addition to unblocking websites and getting rid of many restrictions, WindScribe can block advertisements as well. This means you can have a smooth web browsing experience with fewer worries about tracking.
As a completely free VPN service, WindScribe competes well with others. First of all, you can choose any of the 10 server locations. Regardless of whether you have a Pro plan, WindScribe keeps blocking ads and other intrusive stuff from the web. Just like the premium VPNs for Mac on this list, this service also uses military-grade encryption technology.
So, if you need an ad-blocking VPN for Mac that doesn’t compromise security features, you should check out WindScribe.
- Blocks ads
- Military-grade encryption
- A rich free version
- Support could be better
10. Speedify VPN
We think you should check out Speedify VPN if you feel other VPNs are slowing down your speed. Speedify VPN aims to provide a VPN service that ensures privacy and security without compromising speeds. It’s best suited for games, entertainment, and streaming. Speedify effectively does this so that you don’t have to wait for minutes for a website to load.
As a macOS app, Speedify VPN works quite smoothly. Apart from the standard options like encryption and no-logs policy, it has features to improve specific sections. For instance, you get a streaming mode, which optimizes server selection to enable uninterrupted streams. Similarly, you get low latency while engaging in day-to-day web-based tasks.
Speedify does not have a free version as such. Instead, you have to choose from a variety of freemium plans depending on how many devices you have.
- Improved speed
- Streaming mode
- Low latency
- No free trial
Frequently Asked Questions – Best VPN for Mac
1. How does a VPN work?
A VPN works by tunneling all your internet traffic to a private server and then forwarding it to the site that you want to visit. It repeats the process in reverse, bringing you content from the site. A VPN works as the secure mediator between your Mac and a website/app that you want to use.
2. Does a VPN slow down the internet speed?
You may see a low internet speed when connected to the VPN. This is because of the tunneling that we said before. Because your requests need to be encrypted, sent to the server, and decrypted when returned, the whole process takes more time.
3. Is a no-log VPN necessary?
The entire point of using a VPN is to protect your privacy while browsing the web. A no-log VPN doesn’t keep any record of what you have accessed while using the VPN. This means, even in an event the VPN provider has to submit data to authorities, your information will be secure.
4. Are there any disadvantages to free VPNs?
There have been reports of some VPN providers selling user data to third parties. Most of this data was not personally identifiable. However, even this does not happen with trusted VPN providers like the ones we’ve included in the list. This is why you need to choose a trustworthy VPN in the first place.
5. Is it safe to use VPNs?
As long as you choose a trustworthy VPN service, the entire affair of a VPN is safe. To do this, you need some features like no-log policy and military-grade encryption. We also recommend choosing a VPN that lets you connect to multiple servers across the globe instead of a single location.
We hope our guide helps you to choose the best free VPN for your MacBook Pro or iMac. We have selected VPNs services that offer an intuitive macOS client in the first place. So, regardless of the plan you choose, it will be easier to manage the VPN connection. Which VPN do you use on your Mac, by the way? Let us know through your comments.