Home VPN Best Free VPNs for Mac Tested: Which Ones Work Best in 2024?
Anwesha Roy Tech Writer Author expertise
Disclosure
Disclosure
In our content, we occasionally include affiliate links. Should you click on these links, we may earn a commission, though this incurs no additional cost to you. Your use of this website signifies your acceptance of our terms and conditions as well as our privacy policy.

The Tech Report Why Trust Tech Report Arrow down

Tech Report is one of the oldest hardware, news, and tech review sites on the internet. We write helpful technology guides, unbiased product reviews, and report on the latest tech and crypto news. We maintain editorial independence and consider content quality and factual accuracy to be non-negotiable.

The best free virtual private networks for Mac will encrypt your network data and mask your IP address by rerouting your network traffic through remote servers. However, it can be difficult to tell which free VPN solutions are actually legit and worth your time.

In this guide, we’ll look at the best free Mac VPNs from reputed companies and review how they fare in real-world usage. We’ll tell you about their free VPN features, server availability, and bandwidth restrictions so you can decide if a free Mac VPN is right for you – or if you need a premium option.

Read on to learn about free vs. paid VPNs, which is the right call, and which Mac VPN wins overall.

In This Guide

Best Free VPNs for Mac – The Shortlist

If you’re considering installing a VPN on your Mac, then check out these three options we’ve tried and tested:

1. PrivadoVPN – Best free VPN for Mac in 2024, with a large number of server locations for streamers.
2. Hotspot Shield – Best free Mac VPN if you need a kill switch and split tunneling.
3. Proton VPN – Best free Mac VPN with unlimited data and high-speed servers.

The Top 3 Free Mac VPNs Reviewed

The latest VPN usage statistics show that 47% of users rely on free VPNs. However, free VPNs for Macs come with their pros and cons. They don’t cost a dime, and some of them even offer unlimited bandwidth. But, free VPN providers may not guarantee the same level of data privacy as premium options.

A few trustworthy VPN providers have free plans alongside their premium offers. We’ve found the best free VPNs for Mac that will keep you and your data safe on a tight budget.

1. PrivadoVPN – Best Free VPN for Mac in 2024, with a Large Number of Free Server Locations

PrivadoVPN offers a free VPN app for Macs, desktops, mobile devices, and smart TVs. It has hundreds of global servers in 49 countries and 13 free server locations. This allows you to unlock streaming content in many countries completely free.

However, perhaps the most eye-catching features on offer are the new crop of cybersecurity tools you get through Control Tower – a new addition to the PrivadoVPN lineup. With this, you get access to stopping online threats like phishing attempts, malware, and ransomware.

Alongside this, you can also keep your family safe thanks to the excellent crop of parental control features. Advanced adult content blockers on social media apps and online allow you to control what your children can and can’t see.

The PrivadoVPN user interface
Here’s what PrivadoVPN’s user interface looks like

You can install PrivadoVPN on unlimited devices, but the free plan supports only one connection at a time. On the upside, the software follows Swiss privacy laws; so if anyone were to ask for your data (even the Government), PrivadoVPN isn’t legally bound to reveal it. This gives you the highest level of privacy for free.

We found that PrivadoVPN’s free plan lacks some of its most useful features, such as parental control tools like an adult content blocker and social media monitoring. By upgrading to premium, you’ll also get to use a SOCKS5 proxy—a simple server without encryption that can change your IP address.

Pros

  • Support for unlimited devices
  • The new Control Tower feature blocks ads, prevents tracking, and reduces online threats
  • Keeps you safe against cybersecurity attacks, phishing, ransomware, and more
  • Excellent parental control features for keeping your kids safe

Cons

  • Speed slows down to 1 Mbps after you cross 10 GB of bandwidth use
  • Security features like adblockers aren’t available

Pricing

PrivadoVPN offers a great free plan that’ll work on one Macbook. The free plan lets you connect to more server locations than most free VPNs for Mac. Also, it doesn’t throttle your download speed, and you can use it on any device, ad-free. Upgrades start at $1.99/month for a two-year contract, which gives you access to 10 simultaneous connections.

VPN Best For Starting Price for Paid Plan Free VPN Features Paid VPN Plan Features
PrivadoVPN Streaming $1.99/month – 10 GB of data at uncapped speed
– Support for 1 device connection
– 13 server locations
– Unlimited data
– Support for 10 device connections
– Servers in 49 countries

2. Hotspot Shield – Offers a Kill Switch and Split Tunneling

Hotspot Shield is a great free VPN for Mac, offering more features than most other free providers. Its military-grade encryption uses a proprietary protocol called Hydra – built on Transport Layer Security (TLS) and NIST recommendations.

The company has 3,200+ servers in 80+ countries, so you can switch servers if you find that access is blocked, but free users can access only one location.

Another important feature we found in Hotspot Shield’s free plan is split tunneling. It allows you to selectively pass some app or website traffic through your VPN while excluding the rest. Not only does this improve performance, but it also means you won’t use up your free VPN bandwidth too fast.

The Hotspot Shield user interface
Here’s what Hotspot Shield’s user interface looks like

The free VPN also comes with a kill switch. This means Hotspot Shield automatically terminates your internet connection if the VPN drops. It ensures you’re not left exposed to monitoring or tracking, even for a second.

On the downside, the free plan is restricted to 1 GB of high-speed browsing every month and one simultaneous connection. If you decide to upgrade to premium and bypass these restrictions, you will enjoy a 45-day money-back guarantee, compared to 30 days for most providers.

Bear in mind that Mac users can only link up to 5 devices using one Hotspot Shield account.

Pros

  • Offers Hydra, a proprietary VPN protocol, for superior speeds
  • Annual Transparency Report for guaranteed privacy
  • Kill switch for uninterrupted VPN protection
  • Split tunneling to optimize performance

Cons

  • The free plan has ads
  • No streaming or gaming mode

Pricing

You can use Hotspot Shield for free on one MacBook or upgrade to premium for $7.99/month, which is a little on the higher side. All paid plans come with a 7-day free trial and a money-back guarantee.

VPN Best For Starting Price for Paid Plan Free VPN Features Paid VPN Plan Features
Hotspot Shield Internet power users $7.99/month – 1GB of data at uncapped speeds
– Support for 1 device
– 1 server location (US)
– Unlimited data
– Support for 10 devices
– 125+ server locations
– Optimized for streaming and gaming platforms
– 24/7 support

3. Proton VPN – Provides Unlimited Browsing With No Data Cap

Proton VPN supports secure, high-speed internet access without any restrictions, even if you sign up for a free plan. Proton VPNs unlimited, free-forever plan doesn’t have any ads either.

ProtonVPN’s free service uses the same proprietary protocol as the premium plan, Stealth. It’s an undetectable protocol that can bypass most firewalls and VPN-blocking methods.

This means that online providers – for example, a streaming app that geo-restricts contentwon’t be able to detect and block your VPN-enabled IP address. ProtonVPN also offers a free kill switch, similar to Hotspot Shield, but without split tunneling.

The Proton VPN user interface
Here’s what Proton VPN’s user interface looks like

On its premium app, Proton VPN has 4,500 servers in 90+ countries and works with 10 devices simultaneously. Five of these servers are available in the free Mac VPN, which you can use on one device at a time.

Pros

  • Unlimited high-speed browsing
  • Open source, independently audited app
  • Ad-free VPN experience
  • Uses Stealth, an undetectable VPN protocol

Cons

  • No split tunneling
  • Slow response from free customer support

Pricing

Proton VPN is free forever if you’re happy with the basic features. You can upgrade to VPN Plus for $4.99/month for a two-year contract. And, there’s also a Proton Unlimited option, which includes all premium Proton services for $7.99/month.

VPN Best For Starting Price for Paid Plan Free VPN Features Paid VPN Plan Features
Proton VPN Torrenting and downloads $4.99/month – Unlimited data uncapped speeds
– Support for 1 device
– Basic customer support
– 5 server locations
– Support for 10 devices
– Priority support and live chat
– 90+ server locations
– Security features
– Download speed optimization

Our Top 3 Premium VPNs for Mac in 2024

If you’re struggling with bandwidth caps, limited simultaneous connections, and slow customer support, it might be time to upgrade to a premium VPN for your Mac.

The biggest benefit of using a paid VPN for Mac is that you can choose from thousands of server locations instead of just a handful. This allows you to remove content restrictions no matter where you are. For instance, you can stream Netflix’s entire library by switching to any country in the world. Here are the best Mac VPNs in 2024:

1. ExpressVPN – Best overall Mac VPN for its protocols, features, and user-friendly interface
2. NordVPN – Ideal VPN for storage and file sharing
3. Ivacy VPN – Top Mac VPN for content consumption

The Best 3 VPNs for Mac in 2024 – Detailed Reviews

The global VPN market is expected to reach $350 million by 2032, from just $45 million in 2022. As a result, there are hundreds of providers, which gives you plenty of options to choose from when you’re selecting the best Mac VPN, including both free and paid solutions.

At TechReport, we tested the best VPNs in 2024 to understand how well they perform on Macs and in different use cases. Here are the three best ones according to our hands-on experience:

1. ExpressVPN – Best Overall Mac VPN for its Protocols, Features, and UX

ExpressVPN regularly ranks among our top recommendations for premium VPN solutions owing to its strong encryption, built-in password manager, and zero-knowledge proof.

The ExpressVPN user interface
Here’s what ExpressVPN’s user interface looks like

One of the main reasons to upgrade from a free Mac VPN to a paid option is because of the encryption protocols. ExpressVPN users can choose which protocol they want, which could be OpenVPN, Lightway, or IKEv2.

ExpressVPN is known for its unique TrustedServer technology. Every time a server boots up, it runs the latest software and reinstalls the entire software stack from scratch. It also has 3,000+ servers in 100+ countries, giving you multiple options when you switch your location.

Pros

  • Includes a password manager
  • Present in all major countries and cities
  • Great selection of protocols to choose from
  • Offers the high-speed proprietary protocol, Lightway

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other VPNs
  • No multi-hop connections

Pricing

ExpressVPN costs $8.32/month for a 12-month plan, but thanks to ongoing promos, you can get it for as low as $6.67/month. You’ll also get a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Best For Starting Price for Paid Plan Standout Features
ExpressVPN Enforcing VPN connections via a router $6.67/month – TrustedServer technology
– Multiple protocol options
– VPN kill switch

2. NordVPN – Ideal for Encrypted Storage and File Sharing

NordVPN is another popular VPN for Mac users. It has 6,400+ servers in 111 countries and 1 TB of encrypted file storage. It’s easy to install and can be accessed directly from the Mac app store. This makes the subscription and renewal process easier, as the payment is directly charged to your Apple ID Account.

The NordVPN user interface
Here’s what NordVPN’s user interface looks like

NordVPN’s latest feature, Meshnet, lets you create a local area network (LAN) comprising up to 50 remote devices. You can connect with other Mac (or Windows) users worldwide, and share files, play LAN games, or simply access their devices directly for free.

It also offers a double VPN feature, which routes traffic through two servers instead of one. While this could potentially slow down your connection, it gives you twice the encryption and security.

Pros

  • Malware and phishing protection
  • Includes a password manager
  • Extra discount for two-year plans
  • Monitors the dark web for data leaks

Cons

  • Tends to re-use servers, which then get locked
  • Expensive monthly plan

Pricing

NordVPN starts at $3.69/month for the Basic plan if you subscribe for two years. All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, there’s no free trial.

VPN Best For Starting Price for Paid Plan Standout Features
NordVPN Maintaining your overall online security $3.69/month – Data breach scanner
– 1TB storage in the Complete plan
– malware and adware protection

3. Ivacy VPN – Top Mac VPN for Content Consumption

IvacyVPN has a number of tools that make it ideal for those watching or downloading content online. For instance, the Smart Purpose Selection feature lets you choose which mode you want for your VPN experience – Secure Download, Streaming, or Content Unblocking.

Also, it automatically scans downloads for viruses and malware, protecting your Mac.

The Ivacy VPN user interface
Here’s what Ivacy VPN’s user interface looks like

Ivacy VPN has 5,700+ servers in 100+ countries. You can establish up to 10 VPN connections at the same time. Ivacy VPN includes threat detection technology that detects malware and viruses when you download.

You can also purchase a dedicated IP address instead of switching from one server to another. This prevents online providers (like streaming apps) from finding out that you’re using a VPN so that they don’t block your connection.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Protection from online threats
  • Login into many devices at once
  • Works with older platforms, including Blackberry

Cons

  • Details of the free plan are unclear
  • No kill switch on Mac

Pricing

Ivacy VPN starts at just $1.17/month for a five-year plan as it’s among the handful of VPN companies offering heavy discounts for longer subscriptions. You can also avail of a 30-day money-back guarantee, along with its 7-day trial for $0.99 and free one-day trial.

VPN Best For Starting Price for Paid Plan Standout Features
Ivacy VPN Users with many devices, esp. needing backward compatibility $1.17/month – Split tunneling
– Smart Purpose Selection
– Dedicated IP address

How to Choose the Best VPN for Mac

Follow these criteria to choose the best VPN for your Mac:

  • Look for a free-forever (or affordable) plan: Check the VPN’s entry-level prices. Some free VPNs offer unlimited high-speed connectivity and multiple server locations. If you upgrade, look for plans between $1 and $7 per month.
  • Explore the user interface: If the VPN is complex or difficult to navigate, you’ll simply turn it off, leaving you unprotected. So, you need seamless UI and VPN apps for all your devices, including non-Apple-manufactured ones.
  • Read up on the security protocols used: The best VPNs for Mac (indeed, any device) will use industry-standard protocols like OpenVPN (based on AES 256), WireGuard, Lightway, and IKEv2.
  • Test the server speed: Use the free plan or trial period to test the VPN’s server speed. Anywhere from 50 Mbps to 300 Mbps is great for daily use.
  • Find out about any data caps: Technically, free VPNs for Macs offer unlimited data, but most providers will throttle your speed after you reach a threshold. Go through these terms and conditions carefully before committing to the VPN.
  • Ensure your preferred locations are covered: When you’re looking for the best free VPN for Mac, check if the country of your favorite streaming show is covered.
  • Talk to customer support: If you face issues, you need 24/7 customer support (chat and email) and a handy self-service portal. Also, take a special look at the ease of cancellation and how to get refunds.

Are Free VPNs Legit?

Whenever it comes to a free cybersecurity solution – whether it’s a free password manager or even a free antivirus – we are always wary of its legitimacy. The good news is that there are some legit free VPNs. As long as you do your research, you’ll find reputed free VPNs for your Mac that genuinely work and don’t cause security risks.

However, despite being legit, free VPNs come with their fair share of challenges. In a recent report, Statista found that free VPN users struggle with:

  • Slow internet connectivity (36%)
  • Difficulties in using streaming services (19%)
  • Difficulties in accessing websites (19%)
  • Limited server locations (19%)
  • Frequent disconnections (19%)

For just a few dollars a month, you could avoid these problems. Most reputed VPN providers, including ExpressVPN, are vetted by Apple, so you know you’re in good hands.

ExpressVPN offers a seven-day free trial of all its premium features. It’s fully refundable for the first 30 days, and you even get three months free when you sign up for the annual plan. So, if you feel that you can’t trust a free VPN, ExpressVPN is a good alternative.

How We Test VPN Apps For Our Reviews

At TechReport, we’re committed to bringing you the latest, most insightful updates from the world of technology since 1999. Our team follows strict journalistic standards, and all reviews on our website are 100% researched and authored by humans.

To find the best free VPN solutions for Mac, we started with a long list of eight VPNs, which we narrowed down to three based on reliability, market reputation, Mac compatibility, and features. We tested each software hands-on in a Mac OS 13 environment, focusing on server availability, speed, and user experience.

To bolster our findings, we also referred to customer reviews on trusted websites like G2, Capterra, Trustpilot, and Gartner Peer Insights. This allows us to understand how the VPN works under real-world conditions and workloads.

Our recommendations are informed by the team’s experiences reviewing Mac VPN solutions for in-depth guides. You can find out more about VPN solutions from the extensive resources we’ve authored, like:

Step-By-Step Guide – How to Use a VPN on Mac

Modern VPN solutions offer a quick and simple setup process and detailed tutorials. Here, we’ve explained how to use ExpressVPN on Mac (OS X 10.13 and up).

Step 1 – Subscribe to a VPN Plan

Head to the ExpressVPN pricing page and choose your preferred plan—one month ($12.95/month), six months ($9.99/month), or annual ($6.67/month). Enter your email ID, select your payment method, and proceed to checkout. ExpressVPN also supports Bitcoin payments.

Step 2 – Download the VPN App for Mac

Open the ExpressVPN website and head to ‘My Account;’ sign in using the email ID used in Step 1. You’ll also have received a verification code in your email. Enter the code when you’re signing in for the first time. Once you’ve opened your account, go to the ‘Dashboard.’

Downloading the Mac VPN file from the dashboard
The Mac VPN file is available from the dashboard

Click ‘Download for Mac.’ Don’t close this browser window, as you’ll need to copy the activation code.

Copy the VPN activation code
Copy the VPN activation code to paste into connected devices

Step 3 – Install the VPN App

Open the full you’ve just downloaded. The installer will ask you for permission and guide you through the process. Keep clicking ‘Continue’ until you reach the “Installation Type” screen, which looks like this:

The Mac VPN installation process
Installing the VPN on Mac

Select ‘Install.’ The next few steps will be completed automatically. Once you’ve completed them, close the installation wizard.

Close the VPN installation wizard
The VPN is now installed on your Mac

Step 4 – Set Up ExpressVPN on Mac

After installation, ExpressVPN on Mac opens automatically. Click ‘Sign In’ and enter the activation code you copied to your clipboard earlier. You can paste it by pressing Command + V or control-clicking the rectangular field and clicking Paste.

Activating the VPN on your Mac computer
Activating VPN on your Mac computer using the activating code

You may be prompted to allow ExpressVPN IKEv2 to work on your Mac; click ‘Allow’ to continue. At this step, you can also set up ExpressVPN to auto-start at launch and send diagnostics to make the app better.

Give the necessary Mac permissions
Give the necessary Mac permissions to use the VPN

Step 5 – Connect to a Server

To connect to a VPN server location, click the ‘On’ button, which will prominently display on the app. Connecting to a VPN server

By default, ExpressVPN suggests the location that provides the optimal experience for you, called Smart Location. You can change it anytime. Once you’re connected, the background switches to green. Use the three-dot button to switch to a different server location or start enjoying your Mac VPN. Smart Location, ExpressVPN

Verdict – Are Free VPN Apps for Macs Good?

Free VPN apps for Macs can be extremely useful if you do your research and select a reputed solution. Your bandwidth and server access will be restricted, but you’ll still be able to mask your IP address and access blocked content at acceptable speeds.

It’s important to be realistic about what free VPNs can offer. Expect a trade-off in terms of the number of servers, available bandwidth, and features. You may not be able to use premium features like password management and threat prevention.

However, there are a few areas where you can’t compromise. Any Mac VPN you choose—free or paid—must offer a no-logs policy and AES 256 encryption. Look out for 100% free apps that don’t follow a freemium model. Their monetization sources are dubious, and they may be a scam.

In our tests, PrivadoVPN, Hotspot Shield, and Proton VPN all emerged as reliable Mac VPNs. To lift the restrictions, you’ll need to move to a premium tool like ExpressVPN, which has great international coverage, high speeds, and a handy Safari browser VPN extension.

FAQs

Do Macs have a free VPN?

Is there any 100% free VPN?

How to get a VPN on a MacBook for free?

Is there a built-in VPN for Mac?

References

The Tech Report - Editorial ProcessOur Editorial Process

The Tech Report editorial policy is centered on providing helpful, accurate content that offers real value to our readers. We only work with experienced writers who have specific knowledge in the topics they cover, including latest developments in technology, online privacy, cryptocurrencies, software, and more. Our editorial policy ensures that each topic is researched and curated by our in-house editors. We maintain rigorous journalistic standards, and every article is 100% written by real authors.

Anwesha Roy Tech Writer

Anwesha Roy Tech Writer

Anwesha is a technology journalist and content marketer based out of India. She started her career in 2016, working for global MSPs on their thought leadership and social media before branching out in 2018 with her own team. 

She writes on technology and its intersections with communication, customer experience, finance, and manufacturing and has her work published across a wide range of journals. In her downtime, she enjoys painting, cooking, and catching up with the latest in media and entertainment.

Anwesha has a Master’s degree in English literature from one of India’s top universities.

Latest News

Apple’s New Safari Ad Takes a Dig at Rivals, Especially Google Chrome
News

Apple’s New Safari Ad Takes a Dig at Rivals, Especially Google Chrome

446.40% $SHIB Burnt After WazirX Security Breach – Shiba Shootout Nears $700K Milestone
Crypto News

446.40% $SHIB Burnt After WazirX Security Breach – Shiba Shootout Nears $700K Milestone

Wazir X (India’s largest crypto exchange) suffered a serious security breach on July 18, with $5T Shiba Inu ($SHIB) stolen, among other cryptocurrencies.  After the news broke, $SHIB’s price plummeted...

Microsoft’s Biggest Global Outage: Everything You Need To Know
News

Microsoft’s Biggest Global Outage: Everything You Need to Know

A global outage of Microsoft’s beloved Windows software has brought almost half the world to a standstill. From airports to supermarkets and banking services, many crucial day-to-day services have been...

Shiba Inu Team Says Upcoming P2E Game Is Significant for SHIB, BONE, and Shibarium Ecosystems
Crypto News

Shiba Inu Team Says Upcoming P2E Game Is Significant for SHIB, BONE, and Shibarium Ecosystems

OTC Markets Overwhelm CEX Markets as New Wallets Amassed Over 1.45M Bitcoin Tokens This Year
Crypto News

OTC Markets Overwhelm CEX Markets as New Wallets Amassed Over 1.45M Bitcoin Tokens This Year

Brad Garlinghouse Reveals Ripple Will Buy Back $1.4 Billion Worth of Stock as IPO Approaches
Crypto News

Brad Garlinghouse Reveals Ripple Will Buy Back $1.4 Billion Worth of Stock as IPO Approaches

Bitcoin BTC's Tight Bollinger Bands Reveal $190,000 as Next Possible Price Target
Crypto News

Bitcoin BTC’s Tight Bollinger Bands Reveal $190,000 as Next Possible Price Target