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How to install a VPN on a Mac | Set up a VPN for Mac

Set up a VPN for Mac


Are you new to VPNs? Why not head over to Hannah’s Gamergirl Blog to find handy guides and reviews for gamers.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are recommended privacy tools that help hide your online activity from prying eyes, unblock streaming services and enable torrenting. Whether you’re interested in a dedicated software, OpenVPN, or a VPN solution built into your Mac, our guide is here to simplify things by walking you through its advantages and how to set it up.

Use Mac software for VPN

The first thing to do is to choose the right provider for you. Although we made things easier for you with our list of the best VPNs for Mac, there are a few things to consider depending on what you want a VPN for:

  • Privacy – All VPNs are designed to hide your IP address from ISPs and authorities like the government, but not all offer the same amount of privacy. Some keep identifiable data about their users, such as usage logs. For absolute privacy, you’ll want to choose a file VPNs without logs.
  • flow – Since VPNs allow you to change your IP location to almost anywhere in the world, they allow you to unblock restricted websites and bypass censorship. However, not all of them can get around geo-restricted streaming services, as country-specific services detect and block those trying to access from another country. You will need a file Hulu or BBC iPlayer VPN If you want to access these platforms, or a file Netflix VPN to unlock regional content.
  • torrent – If you torrent without a VPN, the identifiable real IP will appear in the peer section and leave you exposed to all kinds of repercussions. A VPN can help with this, but not all providers allow torrenting, and instead will be partial to passing your data to the authorities. Instead, you need a torrenting VPN that specifically states that it allows torrenting, as these services have a vested interest in protecting your privacy.
  • multi device – It’s all well and good about choosing the perfect VPN for your macOS, but if you’re using it on more than just a Mac, the number simultaneous connections And systems support It will affect your decision.

macOS is not well supported by dedicated VPN clients like Windows, but there is still plenty to choose from with dedicated Mac software. Most of them follow the same principles of installation, but there may be slight differences to consider that appear in the provider’s help set:

  1. Register in the VPN. See our best VPNs guide for more information.
  2. Download his Mac software.
  3. Installing the application. Usually this just involves double clicking on the downloaded .dmg file and the following instructions.
  4. Run the application. You will likely be asked to enter your account details in the first round. Note that it is normal for VPN apps to require administrator privileges to run.

Once in the app, simply select the VPN server you wish to connect to, and hit connect. However, it is worth looking at the application options. Important settings such as DNS leak protection and lock keys are often optional and must be enabled manually. I have no idea why, but there you are.

ExpressVPN’s Network Lock feature provides a firewall-based kill switch and DNS leak protection. So make sure to turn it on.

You may also want to check that the app is using the OpenVPN protocol, like many of the default protocols for less secure (but possibly faster) VPNs. Please see here for more information about VPN protocols.


Tunnelblick is an open source, free to download OpenVPN client software that can be configured to work with special Tunnelblick configuration files (.tblk), or any standard OpenVPN configuration files (.ovpn and .conf).

It now includes full DNS leak protection and Real-time Communications (WebRTC) leak protection. The latest beta client also features a firewall-based kill switch.

  1. Download Tunnelblick or the regular OpenVPN configuration files from your chosen VPN service. You will need one file for each VPN server location, although it is often possible to download multiple configurations in one zip file. In this case, you will need to decompress the files before using them.

  2. Download, install and launch Tunnelblick. On the welcome screen, select “I have configuration files”.

  3. Drag the configuration file (or multiple files for multiple server configurations) to the Tunnelblick icon in the menu bar.

  4. Hit Install, then choose whether you want to install only for yourself or for all users of your Mac. It will probably ask you for your administrator password.

  5. And that’s all set up for your VPN! To connect to a VPN server, click on the Tunnelblick icon in the menu bar and select a VPN server.

    The icon will turn a shade darker to indicate that you are connected. If you hover over it, additional information will be displayed.


Turn on DNS leak protection

IPv4 and IPv6 DNS leak protection is not enabled by default in Tunnelblick. To enable DNS leak protection, go to Configurations -> Settings and check the boxes next to Route IPv4 traffic through VPN And Disable IPv6.

Note that Tunnelblick does this Not WebRTC leak protection. As such, you’ll need to fix the problem manually (Safari is not affected, anyway).

Run Kill Switch on Mac

New in Tunnelblick’s latest beta is a very welcome kill switch feature. This ensures that your real Internet Protocol (IP) address is not exposed in the event of a VPN outage.

To enable the lock switch, go to configurations And click Individual VPN Configuration (a kill switch must be enabled for each configuration). Click on On unexpected cut Domain and choose Disable network access from the dropdown menu.

Manually configure VPN for Mac PPTP, L2TP / IPsec or IKEv2

macOS comes with a built-in VPN client that supports PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2 VPN protocols. For reasons discussed in detail in VPN Encryption: The Complete Guide, I always recommend using the OpenVPN app instead. But IKEv2 is also a good choice.

The big advantage of PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2 VPN connection is that they can be set up without having to download a third-party VPN app.

  1. go to System Preferences -> Network. tap on + button and select Interface: VPN in the pop-up dialog box.

  2. Choose a VPN protocol (“VPN type”) and a name for the VPN connection (optional).

  3. Fill in the server details with the settings provided by your chosen VPN service.

The built-in macOS VPN client does not feature any form of WebRTC leak protection, so if you are using a weak browser, you must disable WebRTC manually. Note that Safari does not use WebRTC and is therefore not vulnerable to WebRTC leaks. However, it is closed source proprietary software.

How to test a VPN for Mac

No matter what type of VPN you use, macOS will display an icon in your notification bar whenever the VPN is connected. This lets you know at a glance that you are protected.

Clicking on the icon will usually display additional details and options. For further confirmation, the VPN is connected and working properly, you can run an IP leak test…

Check Mac VPN for IP Leaks

Once connected to a VPN (using any method), it is a good idea to check for IP leaks.

The example above shows a bad case of IPv6 leaks. The IPv4 DNS result correctly shows that I am connected to a VPN server in the US, but the site can see my real IPv6 address in the UK via normal DNS leak and WebRTC. Describing this failure is an understatement.

For more information on staying safe online in the UK, take a look at our Best VPN UK guide.

Note that private use – [RFCxxxx] IP addresses are only local IP addresses. They cannot be used to identify an individual or a device, and therefore do not constitute an IP address leak.

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