Free VPN for Mac — Secure Browsing Without Breaking the Bank

BY Stephen Gicharu

Published 30 May 2024

Best Free VPN for Mac

As a Mac user, protecting your online privacy and security is crucial. A virtual private network (VPN) is a critical tool that encrypts your internet connection and hides your online activity. However, many good VPNs cost money.

Our research found that NordVPN ranked first among equals because of its robust features and top-notch security. If you’re looking for a free VPN, choosing wisely and knowing what to expect is essential. 

We’ve reviewed the best free VPNs for Mac users and found those that work best for different needs. Read on to learn other exceptional free VPNs that can protect your privacy and enhance your online experience without costing you a dime.

Let’s jump right to it, shall we?

Best Free VPN for Mac

  1. NordVPN: Best Overall Free Option for Mac
  2. Surf Shark: Best for Versatile Use and Unlimited Connections
  3. Express VPN: Best for Speed and Reliability
  4. Norton VPN: Best for Security with a 7-Day Free Trial
  5. Proton VPN: Best for Free Privacy Practices
  6. Bit Defender: Best for User-friendly Apps on MacOS

Free VPN for Mac: Secure Browsing Without Breaking the Bank

If you’re looking for a free VPN to use on your Mac but don’t want to compromise on privacy or security, here are excellent choices that you should consider.

NordVPN — Best Overall Free Option for Mac


  • No activity logs kept of users
  • Wide device compatibility
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Excellent encryption
  • Over 5,900 servers worldwide


  • Speed may be slower than paid plans
  • Only one simultaneous connection is allowed


NordVPN is a well-known VPN service that is fast and reliable. It doesn’t have a completely free plan, but it offers a trial that acts like a free option.

This trial includes all the full service’s main security and privacy features, like private browsing, malware blocking, and unlimited data.

With the trial, you can connect one device at a time. The speed might not be as fast as the paid plan, but it’s good enough for basic browsing and streaming.

Key features include strong encryption, unlimited data over, a kill switch to stop data leaks if the VPN fails, and an easy-to-use app for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

Pricing plans

The free trial works just like NordVPN’s monthly plan, which costs $11.95 monthly. You can save money by choosing the one-year plan for $83.88 ($6.99 per month) or the two-year plan for $103.76 ($4.32 per month). Both plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Protocol: OpenVPN
  • Encryption: AES-256 bit encryption
  • Simultaneous connections: 1
  • Bandwidth limit: 500MB per day
  • Available servers: US, Netherlands, Singapore
  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
  • Customer support: 24/7 live chat and email

>>> Sign Up to NordVPN

Surf Shark — Best for Versatile and Free Unlimited Connections


  • Connect unlimited devices at once
  • Affordable long-term plans
  • RAM-only servers for better security
  • Good for streaming
  • Many servers worldwide


  • The free version has fewer features
  • Premium connections are more expensive


Surfshark is a top VPN with over 3,200 servers in 65 countries. It offers a wide range of privacy and security tools.

Surfshark uses RAM-only servers, which don’t keep logs and erase all user activity, ensuring strong privacy.

The apps are easy to use and great for various online activities from anywhere. Surfshark also has unique features like IP rotation, which changes your IP address every few minutes for extra anonymity.

Pricing Plans

Surfshark offers budget-friendly annual and bi-annual plans, starting at just $2.49 per month with their 24-month package.

Their monthly plan is $11.99, which is still reasonable compared to other options. They also provide a free 7-day trial.

Standout features include unlimited simultaneous connections on all devices, which is great for personal and professional Mac users. The apps run smoothly in the background without any extra costs.


  • Servers: 3,200+ worldwide
  • Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, routers
  • Encryption: AES-256-GCM
  • Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard

>>> Sign Up to Surfshark

Express VPN — Best for Speed and Reliability


  • Wide device compatibility
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Fast speeds
  • Strong encryption
  • 24/7 online support


  • The free version has limited features
  • Need a paid version for faster connections


ExpressVPN is a popular VPN service known for its speed, security, and compatibility with various platforms, including Mac. It allows you to browse privately and access restricted content seamlessly.

With over 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, ExpressVPN ensures fast and anonymous connections through military-grade encryption.

Their Mac apps are user-friendly, making it easy to connect securely to the fastest server location with just a few clicks.

An integrated firewall adds extra security by blocking unauthorized programs from internet access. If your internet connection ever drops, ExpressVPN quickly reconnects to keep your data safe.

Pricing plans

ExpressVPN has subscription plans with no free option. The 12-month plan is the cheapest at $8.32 per month.

The 6-month plan costs $9.99 per month, and the monthly plan is $12.95. You can pay securely with credit/debit cards or Bitcoin. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Simultaneous connections: 5 devices
  • Platform support: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android etc
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • Kill switch: Automatically blocks Internet if the VPN disconnects
  • Support: 24/7 live chat and email support
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited bandwidth and data

>>>Sign Up to ExpressVPN

Norton VPN — Best for Security with a 7-Day Free Trial


  • Monthly plans start at $4.99
  • Fast speeds and reliable performance
  • It can be bundled with other Norton products
  • Offers a 7-day free trial
  • Ad tracker blocking feature


  • Smaller server network covering only 29 countries
  • Fewer notable features compared to other VPNs


Norton Secure VPN is a reliable, budget-friendly VPN offering fast speeds and consistent performance. You can try it for free for 7 days before subscribing.

It includes security features like a kill switch, split tunneling, and ad tracker blocking. While it may not have as many features as other VPNs, it’s a good choice for secure and affordable browsing.

Key features of Norton Secure VPN include:

  • A kill switch that stops internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.
  • Split tunneling, allows you to choose which apps use the VPN.
  • Ad tracker blocking, protecting your online activity from advertisers.

Pricing Plans

Norton Secure VPN has different options for how much it costs. You can pay $4.99 per month for one device, $7.99 for up to five devices, or $9.99 for up to ten devices. Or, you can choose the Norton 360 Standard plan which includes the VPN, antivirus, and password manager for three devices, for $94.99 per year.


  • Encryption: AES 256-bit
  • Protocols: OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec
  • Server locations: 29 countries
  • Number of servers: Not disclosed
  • Device support: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
  • Customer support: 24/7 live chat and email support

>>>Sign Up to Norton VPN

Proton VPN — Best for Free Privacy Practices


  • Verified zero-logging policy
  • Excellent free plan with 100 servers in 3 locations
  • Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, Prime Video, Disney+, and more
  • Open-source apps with excellent security and privacy features
  • Fast WireGuard and OpenVPN speeds


  • Plus plan is a little pricey
  • Apps could be complex for beginners


Proton VPN, based in Switzerland, is known for its strict privacy policy and top-notch security. It offers a free plan with access to 100 servers in 3 locations, unlimited bandwidth, and no logging.

This is great for Mac users who want security without spending money. Their paid plans have even more features like access to over 2,700 servers in 70 countries, support for WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols, and a kill switch.

Proton VPN also has a “Secure Core” feature that adds extra security by routing your connection through servers in Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland.

A standout feature is their open-source apps, which are fully transparent and regularly audited for security. They also encourage community involvement with a bug bounty program and security audits.

Pricing Plans

Proton VPN has different pricing plans to fit your needs and budget. The free plan is good for occasional VPN users, with access to 100 servers in 3 locations and unlimited bandwidth.

If you need more, the monthly plan costs $9.99/month, giving you access to over 2,700 servers in 70 countries, support for WireGuard and OpenVPN, and a kill switch.

You can also choose the 12-month plan for $5.99/month (billed yearly), or the 24-month plan for $4.99/month (billed every 2 years), both offering the same features at a discounted rate for longer commitments.


  • Number of Servers: Over 2,700 servers in 70 countries
  • Server Locations: 70 countries worldwide
  • Protocols: WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPv6
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Split Tunneling: Yes
  • Country of Registration: Switzerland

>>>Sign Up to Proton VPN

Bitdefender — Best for User-friendly Apps on MacOS


  • User-friendly interface for easy navigation
  • Advanced threat detection and anti-phishing capabilities
  • Fast and reliable connection speeds
  • Compatible with multiple devices, including Mac, iOS, and Android
  • 24/7 customer support for any technical issues


  • Limited server locations compared to other VPNs
  • No free trial available for the premium version


Bitdefender is a great free VPN for Mac. It keeps you safe from online threats with a simple and easy-to-use interface. It detects and blocks malware, viruses, and phishing attempts. Plus, it warns you about suspicious websites.

One of the best things about Bitdefender is its fast connection speeds, so you can browse, stream, and play games smoothly. It works on Mac, iOS, and Android devices, which is handy if you have different gadgets.

If you ever need help, the Bitdefender support team is available 24/7. Their app is straightforward, and they have lots of online guides to help you stay safe online.

Pricing Plans

Bit Defender has different pricing plans to fit various needs and budgets. The free version has basic features, while the premium Antivirus Plus offers more advanced security features and tools.

Antivirus Plus costs $29.95/year for 1 device, $39.95/year for 3 devices, and $59.95/year for 5 devices.

Internet Security is $39.95/year for 1 device, $59.95/year for 3 devices, and $79.95/year for 5 devices.

Total Security is $59.95/year for 1 device, $79.95/year for 3 devices, and $99.95/year for 5 devices.


  • Encryption: AES-256-bit
  • Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec
  • Server locations: 30+ countries
  • Data limit: 200 MB/day
  • Compatibility: Mac, iOS, Android, Windows
  • Customer support: 24/7 online support, email support, and phone support

>>>Sign Up to Bitdefender

What Are VPNs?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is like a secret passage on the internet. It creates a secure connection between your device and a server run by the VPN service.

This connection is like a tunnel that hides your online activity and location. In simple words, when you use a VPN, your data is scrambled and your real IP address is hidden. Instead, websites see the IP address of the VPN server.

This keeps you safe from online snooping and lets you access websites that might be blocked in your area.

How VPNs Work

VPNs operate by creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and a server run by the VPN provider. 

This encrypted connection means that your online activity passes through this VPN server located somewhere else before exiting onto the public internet, effectively masking your device’s original IP address and location.

Connection Process

When you use a VPN, your device connects to the VPN provider’s network first. Then, you get a new virtual IP address from the server’s location. After that, all your internet activity travels through a secure tunnel to the VPN server before going out onto the internet.

IP Masking

By connecting through a VPN server, your original IP address is kept private and replaced with the IP address allocated to you by the VPN server.

This new IP address shows as your location on any websites or services you connect to. So rather than showing your actual home or office location, you appear to be connecting from a virtual location in the server’s country or city.

VPN Servers and Locations

Trusted VPN companies have many servers worldwide. When you connect to a VPN, you can pick which server to use. This helps hide your real location and lets you access content limited to specific areas. 

The more server options a provider offers, the more flexibility you have to pretend you’re in a different place online.

Encryption and Tunneling

Once your device links to the VPN server, all your online actions are wrapped in an encrypted shield before traveling through the VPN connection. 

This shield keeps all your internet traffic, data, and browsing private from anyone between you and the VPN server. Well-known encryption methods for these shields are AES-256, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPSec.

VPN Protocols

There are various VPN protocols used to build the encrypted tunnel, each with its pros and cons. The main ones are OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and WireGuard. OpenVPN is super secure but might need more resources. 

IKEv2/IPSec and WireGuard are faster but a tad less secure. Good VPN services usually offer all three protocols for maximum flexibility and compatibility.

Why Use VPNs on a Mac

VPNs provide important privacy, security, and access benefits for Mac users. Here are some of the key reasons to use a VPN:

Enhancing Security

When you’re on public Wi-Fi, like in a coffee shop or airport, hackers can easily spy on what you’re doing online if your data isn’t encrypted. A VPN scrambles all your online activity, so even on these public networks, your info stays safe from hackers.

Protecting Privacy

Your ISP can see and potentially sell records of every website you visit unless you use a VPN. With a VPN, your internet provider only sees encrypted VPN tunnel traffic and not individual sites, protecting your browsing privacy.

Accessing Restricted Content

Some streaming services, websites, or apps may be restricted or blocked in certain countries. By connecting through a VPN server in another location, you can spoof your location and access content unavailable in your real geographic area. Many use VPNs while traveling abroad for this purpose.

How to Install and Set Up a VPN on Your Mac

Here are the basic steps to install and configure a VPN client on your Mac:

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

  1. Sign up and download the VPN app files from your chosen provider’s website
  2. Open the downloaded VPN app folder and drag the app file into your Applications folder
  3. Open the VPN app and enter your login credentials
  4. The app will prompt you to enable VPN access in System Preferences
  5. Select the app name under VPN and click OK to allow VPN access
  6. Back in the VPN app, pick your desired server location and click Connect

Configuring Settings for Optimal Performance

Once you’ve installed the VPN, spend a bit of time adjusting settings for a smoother experience. Tweak the protocol, adjust security settings if necessary, and make sure the VPN interface is set as a priority in network settings. 

You can also set it up to automatically start and connect when you turn on your device, so you can easily access it with just one click.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you’re having trouble, start by making sure your Mac meets the requirements and is up to date with software updates. If it still won’t connect, try resetting network settings and switching to a different protocol. 

If problems persist, reach out to support. They can help with advanced troubleshooting like checking logs and trying different port forwarding options.

Criteria for Choosing a Free VPN for Mac

Customer Support

Free support is limited, but response times and availability matter. Opt for providers that offer 24/7 live support, even if just via email or web forms for free users.

Speed and Performance

Free servers tend to be slower due to higher traffic. Compare speed test results to pick the fastest free account without significant throttling of non-VPN traffic speeds.

Ease of Use and User Interface

VPN apps should be beginner-friendly with intuitive designs. Server selection, connecting, and profiles must be simple to set up and use for casual users.

Security and Privacy Features

Look for AES-256 encryption, kill switches, and ad/tracker blocking. Leak protection and strict no-logging policies provide greater peace of mind.

Compatibility with macOS

The app should work seamlessly on newer macOS versions without compatibility issues. Updates are important to fix bugs and patch security vulnerabilities over time too.

Disadvantages of Using VPNs for Mac

While VPNs provide important benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

Limited Security Features

Free VPNs tend to lack features like multi factor authentication, updated protocols, and advanced security options found in paid versions. Security may be more limited.

Slower Connection Speeds

Your internet connection will inherently be slower when all web traffic is rerouted through an external server versus a direct connection. It’s especially noticeable with free/overloaded servers.

Data Logging and Privacy Concerns

Some VPN providers, especially free ones, still log user activity and may share usage stats with affiliates despite claims of no logging. Research provider logging policies carefully.

Limited Server Options

You have fewer server locations to choose from with free plans versus unlimited access with paid subscriptions. This can restrict available unblocking power for free users.

Bandwidth and Data Caps

Many free plans have strict monthly data caps and allowances for unlimited data used, while paid plans offer almost unlimited data and high-speed usage. Consider your typical data needs.

Potential for Malware and Adware

Rarely, insecure free VPN apps have been found bundling malware with installation files or showing intrusive ads during usage. Stick to reputable providers.

Best Free VPN for Mac FAQ’s

In this section we provide answers to some of the common questions on free VPN for Mac:

Is It Safe to Use a Free VPN on a Mac?

It’s generally not recommended to use a free version of VPN since you are the product in that case. Free versions of VPNs have to make money somehow, often by selling user data or through a lack of security measures. Paid VPNs don’t have these issues since you are paying for the service directly.

Can I Use a Free VPN for Streaming?

Free VPNs might let you watch geo-blocked shows by pretending you’re somewhere else, but they often have spotty performance. 

Your internet speed might slow down, and some streaming sites are now blocking free VPNs. For better streaming, it’s best to go for a paid VPN with lots of servers to choose from.

What Are the Limitations of Free VPNs?

Free VPNs usually have strict data limits, and if you go over, your speeds can drop a lot. They also don’t have as many server options, customer support, or advanced features as paid ones do. 

Sometimes, they sacrifice security and privacy to stay free, and their performance can be shaky. Paid VPNs don’t have these limitations.

How Do I Know If My VPN Is Working?

Here are a few ways to check if your VPN is working:

  1. Check your IP address on a site like – it should match the VPN location.
  2. Look for a secure VPN icon in your menu bar or network settings.
  3. Try accessing region-locked content – if it works, your VPN is active.
  4. Verify for VPN kill switches and leaks by reading independent reviews.

Final Verdict on Free VPN for Mac

Choosing the right free Mac VPN is an important decision to protect your privacy and security online. The top VPNs we reviewed have strong encryption and features suited for the security you want.

Whether you use your laptop for work, personal browsing, streaming, or gaming, make sure to invest in a VPN that you can trust to secure and enhance your Mac experience.

Do your research to find one that has fast servers worldwide for optimal speeds, doesn’t track your activities, and offers great 24/7 support if any issues come up. Remember, a good VPN is your digital bodyguard – so choose one you can rely on as much as your trusty Mac!