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Advertisement You have plenty of reasons for wanting to use a virtual private network (VPN) on your Mac. They include browsing safely on public Wi-Fi, hiding your location, accessing region-locked content, and keeping your file sharing habits to yourself. Setting up a VPN on your Mac is easy. MacOS has built-in support, and some VPN services provide their own hassle-free software. You can also install third-party tools for using different protocols. Method 1: Use Your VPN Provider’s Software Depending on your VPN provider ( We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly.), they may provide access to software that allows you to use the service.
This software is tailored to your provider. Thus, you don’t have to mess around with configuring your connections, inputting IP addresses, or checking which protocols you can use. Most VPN providers provide this software for Mac and Windows users.
Linux is inherently more secure than Windows. But this doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep an eye on how you access the internet. A firewall is necessary, and increasingly so is a VPN. Using provider software is a simple case of downloading and installing the client, logging in with your username and password, then connecting to a server of your choice. Provider software makes it easy to jump around from server to server, since the software keeps a list of available connections. If you’re using your VPN to access region-locked content, this makes it easy to pick a server to connect to. Some providers have specific servers that are compatible with BitTorrent traffic.
The software makes it easy to make sure you don’t fall foul of the rules. Method 2: Use Apple’s Networking Tools macOS has built-in support for creating VPN connections as part of Apple’s own networking tools.
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You can access these by heading to System Preferences Network, then clicking on the Plus button. From here you can specify a VPN connection, pick the VPN type (protocol), and give your new VPN connection a name. It pays to be descriptive when naming your connection if you intend to use more than one VPN server. For example, you might plan to access region-locked content in other countries.
MacOS includes support for L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) over IPSec, Cisco IPSec, and the newer IKEv2 (internet Key Exchange version 2) protocol when setting up a VPN. L2TP is considered reasonably secure, though the protocol itself provides no protection. Instead it uses the IPSec secure network protocol, which is still relied upon by millions of VPN users every day. IKEv2 is a more modern choice of protocol, favored for its ability to quickly reestablish a VPN connection in case of network dropout. Like L2TP, it also uses IPSec for encryption, though it’s still favored by many over L2TP for its speed. Apple’s desktop OS used to support PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol). This is a much older and more vulnerable protocol that was once favored by corporate networks but has since fallen by the wayside.
If you want to create a PPTP connection, you’ll need to use a third-party app (like ) to do so. But you should avoid this unless it’s necessary. So which protocol should you use? That depends on OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP: what do they all mean?
We explain the major VPN protocols so you can choose the best one for your privacy needs. Provider provides access to. You should always avoid PPTP where possible, with L2TP and IKEv2 providing a passable level of security. But if you want an even more secure VPN connection Method 3: Use Third-Party VPN Software Two other VPN protocols exist that aren’t supported out-of-the-box within macOS: SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) and OpenVPN. SSTP is a proprietary standard which mostly only works with Windows, since it’s owned by Microsoft.
SSTP uses closed-source SSL 3.0 encryption, which is why it’s considered highly secure (even though the code isn’t open to inspection). OpenVPN, as the name may suggest, is a fully open source technology based on. This means the code is freely available for anyone to inspect. It supports AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). This open approach is often lauded a a proof-of-concept for stress-testing technology against outside attack. Both of these standards are more secure than any included with macOS. It’s possible for VPN provider software to use either, so you might already use OpenVPN or SSTP and not even realize.
But if you want greater control over your VPN setup, try one of the following apps. We’ve How do you know which VPN client to use? Should you use your VPN provider's proprietary ap, or a flexible solution that can connect to several different services? If you need more options. OpenVPN: Tunnelblick If you want to use OpenVPN on your Mac, Tunnelblick is the best tool for the job. It’s free, open source, and provides an easy-to-manage GUI for connecting your Mac via OpenVPN. You can add a long list of connections using downloadable configuration files, then select different servers using the main client or menu bar icon.
Download: (Free) SSTP: sstp-client While SSTP is a Windows technology, it’s possible to connect to an SSTP server using macOS or Linux with sstp-client. The macOS version of this client depends on the Macports project; the easiest way to install it is using.
Download: (Free) Which VPN Solution Should You Use? Your VPN provider will likely recommend you use their own client, which makes connecting and managing your VPN connections easy. If you want to use your own client, you’ll need to make sure the connection you make is compatible with your chosen VPN protocol. When given the choice, OpenVPN provides better security than L2TP or IKEv2. You should always endeavor to keep your VPN client updated, since security issues can and do arise (and often receive patches quickly). Another option is to Installing a VPN is a great idea. But running the VPN app on each device is a pain.
The answer is to install a VPN on your router. This allows you to manage your connection for the entire network, ideal if you’re connecting to a local VPN strictly for security purposes. Explore more about:,.
Prefer manual setup? See the instructions for manual setup for. Jump to section Download the app Open the Welcome Email you received when you signed up for ExpressVPN.
Click the link in the email. If you cannot find the link,. Once you have clicked the link in the welcome email or signed in to the website, click on Download for Mac. This will start the download for your app. Do not close the window! You will need it for the next step. If you want to download and run an older version of ExpressVPN, click Show all versions and download the app version you want.
You can find the. Get your activation code To use ExpressVPN on your Mac computer, you will need your activation code. To copy your activation code to the clipboard, click the copy code icon in the top-right corner of the box containing the code.
You will be asked to provide it. Install the app Locate the downloaded file on your computer and open it. A window will pop up, saying, “This package will run a program to determine if the software can be installed.” Click Continue, and keep clicking Continue until you reach the Installation Type screen. After selecting install destination, click Install.
You will see the following window ONLY if you have installed ExpressVPN on your Mac before. If you do not see this screen, skip ahead. Select Keep existing account if you are reinstalling ExpressVPN with the same activation code as before. Select Remove existing account and let me switch to another account if you are using a new activation code. Select your preference and click Continue. Wait for the installation to complete, then click Close.
Set up ExpressVPN After the installation is complete, the ExpressVPN app will open automatically. Click Sign In. On the ExpressVPN Setup screen, enter your activation code. This is the code you found. You can paste it by pressing Command + V, or right-clicking the rectangular field and clicking Paste. Then click Sign In. You will be asked whether you want ExpressVPN to launch on startup. Select your preference to continue.
Finally, you will be asked whether you want to share anonymous diagnostics with ExpressVPN. This helps ExpressVPN continually improve its products and services. Select your preference and continue. You are now ready to access our many VPN server locations. Connect to a VPN server location To connect to a VPN server location, click the On Button.
By default, ExpressVPN will suggest the location that provides the optimal experience for you, called Smart Location. Once you see the “Connected” message on the app screen, you can begin surfing with freedom and security! Underneath your current location, you will see a list of app shortcuts. Shortcuts allow you to quickly launch apps and sites (such as for video streaming) directly from ExpressVPN right after you are connected. Note: A single ExpressVPN subscription can be used simultaneously on three devices, regardless of platform. If you try to use more than three devices simultaneously on one subscription, you will see this screen: Need help?.
Disconnect from the VPN server location To disconnect from the VPN server location, click the On Button while the VPN is on. You will know you are disconnected when the “Not connected” message is shown.
Choose a different VPN server location To choose a different VPN server location, click on the ellipsis to access the list of VPN locations. To connect to a server location, double-click the location. The list of VPN locations features three tabs: Recommended, All, and Recents. The Recommended tab shows you ExpressVPN’s top picks for you to connect to. The All tab lists the VPN server locations by region. You can expand and collapse the lists by tapping on the triangular arrowheads.
The Recents tab has two sections. “Recently Connected” shows the three most recent locations you connected to. “Favorites” shows the locations you have saved as a favorite by clicking the star icon next to the location name.
You can also search for your desired server location by using the search bar. Inside the search bar, type the name of your desired server location and then double-click the server location in the search results to connect to it. After disconnecting from a server location you selected, you can return to your Smart Location (the location recommended for the smoothest experience) by clicking Smart Location. Switch to a different VPN protocol VPN protocols are the methods by which your device connects to a VPN server. Switching to a different protocol can help you achieve faster connection speeds. To switch to a different protocol, click on the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences. Make sure you are not connected to the VPN when doing this.
In the Protocol tab, select the protocol you want to use, then return to the app’s home screen. Note: PPTP and L2TP-IPsec provide weak security benefits and should only be used for anonymization or for changing locations. How to add shortcuts to the ExpressVPN app The shortcuts feature appears on the ExpressVPN home screen after you connect to VPN. (It will not appear the first time you connect, but it will appear from your second connection onward.) Shortcuts allow you to conveniently and quickly launch apps and websites straight from ExpressVPN anytime you are connected. If you find yourself regularly visiting a handful of favorite destinations after connecting to VPN—a particular streaming service or social network, for example—adding it as a shortcut saves you from having to switch back to your device’s home screen or browser to find it each time. To launch an app or website, click its icon when connected to the VPN.
If you have fewer than five shortcuts selected, you can add one by clicking the gray plus (+) icon. You can also add or remove shortcuts by clicking on the hamburger menu (≡), then selecting Preferences Shortcuts. Click the plus (+) sign to add a shortcut, up to a limit of five. To remove a shortcut, highlight it and click the minus (–) sign. Launch and connect ExpressVPN on startup To launch and connect ExpressVPN when starting up your Mac:. In the ExpressVPN app, click the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences General.
Under Startup, check the boxes for launching ExpressVPN on startup and connecting to your last used VPN location. Use the VPN Speed Test To use the VPN Speed Test, you must be disconnected from the VPN.
Click on the hamburger menu (≡), then click Speed Test. On the Speed Test screen, click Run Test. The test will take a few minutes to run.
After the test is finished, select the locations with HIGH Speed Index, LOW Latency, and HIGH Download Speed. Use Connection Per App (split tunneling) This feature allows you to decide which apps use the VPN and which apps do not use the VPN when you are connected to ExpressVPN. Note: You must be disconnected from the VPN to change your split-tunneling settings. To change your “Connection Per App” settings, click the hamburger menu (≡) and go to Preferences. Tick the box in the Connection Per App section and click Settings. From there, you can decide which of your apps will use the VPN and which ones will not use the VPN when you are connected to ExpressVPN.
Enabling Split Tunneling Note: The below instructions are only for macOS High Sierra (10.13) users. Follow the steps above in this section, but w hen prompted, click Open System Preferences. You will see a notification for “System Extension Blocked.” Click OK.
In System Preferences, click Allow next to System software from developer “ExprsVPN LLC” was blocked from loading. You may need to click the lock icon and enter your password to make changes. You will now be able to go back to the app and change the split-tunneling settings.
IN DEPTH: Need help?. Optional: Use the Menu Bar If you don’t want to use the ExpressVPN app via the main window, you can choose to operate it by just using the Menu Bar. This grants almost all of the functionalities of the app as when it is operated by the app window. To operate the app from the Menu Bar only: On your desktop (while the main app window is displayed), click the ExpressVPN Menu Bar icon and then click Preferences.
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In the Advanced tab, select Menu Bar & Dock. You can repeat the steps above to select whether to use ExpressVPN from both the Menu Bar and Dock, from the Menu Bar only, or the Dock only.
Use the Spotlight Search to connect instantly Mac power users, now you can use the Spotlight Search to connect to your Favorite, Recommended, or Recently Connected server locations instantly. How to connect instantly via Spotlight Search: Hit Command (⌘) + spacebar. In the Spotlight Search, start typing: Connect to server location name Select the location you wish to connect to and press Return, or double-click it. This will open the ExpressVPN app and automatically connect you to your server location.
How to disconnect instantly via Spotlight Search Hit Command (⌘) + spacebar. In the Spotlight Search, start typing: Disconnect This will open the ExpressVPN app and automatically disconnect you from your server location. Use the ExpressVPN browser extension From your app, click the hamburger menu (≡), select Preferences, then go to the Browsers tab. Click Get Browser Extension and follow the on-page instructions.
Note: You cannot use the ExpressVPN browser extension without the ExpressVPN app. Access printer and shared folders on local area network Some users may experience problems with accessing shared folders and printers on LAN while connected to the VPN. For assistance, see and instructions on.
Uninstall the app To remove the app from your Mac computer, you must first close the app. Open Terminal by going to Applications Utilities Terminal Run /Applications/ExpressVPN.app/Contents/Resources/uninstall.tool Type “ yes” when asked, then enter your password to confirm you want to remove the app from your computer. Close Terminal. ExpressVPN has been removed from your machine.