How to Easily Setup a VPN on Your Mac

We do it everyday! We'll show you how!
Michael Michael (175)

When you're doing anything over the internet or saving data to the Cloud while on your Mac, your data and internet usage are being tracked. The only way to completely protect your internet usage and data in macOS is with a VPN, like NordVPN.

What is a VPN?

A VPN or virtual private network encrypts your data and allows you to connect securely to a VPN server to access the internet.

A VPN creates a VPN tunnel, which acts as an encrypted shield, rerouting the encrypted data through one of the VPN servers. So if you use NordVPN when browsing the internet, it's impossible for a hacker or anyone to see your internet usage and data. Even your ISP (internet service provider) can't track your downloads or sell your browsing data.

Check out our VPN essentials to learn even more about VPNs!

Why do I need a VPN on my Mac?

While many use a VPN to connect to a remote workspace set up by their employer, most people use it for security reasons.

Just think about all the private stuff you share and do over the internet—online forms, online purchasing with credit cards, private emails to friends and family, etc. Do you want that information available to a hacker with the resources to get it? Even your ISP gathers that data and could sell it to a third-party advertiser or the government. A VPN will ensure that your internet usage remains private.

Many people also want a VPN to watch US-based Netflix shows or other streaming services. Connecting to a remote VPN server makes it look like you're situated somewhere else, even in another country.

Our recommended VPN for Mac

In this guide, you'll notice us using NordVPN to show you how to set up a VPN on your Mac computer. While these steps will work with any VPN, we highly recommend NordVPN for its speed and ease-of-use. Check out our full review of NordVPN to see why we like it.

Note: If you need to install a VPN on Windows, then we have a separate guide for that.

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App Store VPN Search
  • Go to the Apple App Store.
  • Search for "vpn".
  • Choose a VPN from the results that you want to use on your Mac.

Be wary of the "free" VPNs! They often don't have as many servers, which means you'll notice significant internet slowdowns when using them. And they lack the security features of their moderately priced rivals.

We use NordVPN and love it! They even offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it for free for 30 days.

NordVPN on Mac

Set up account

After downloading the VPN, you'll need to set up your account with the VPN provider. If you're looking for additional security, then you can even use a cryptocurrency to purchase the VPN so your information can't be stored by the provider.

Open the VPN and enable it

When you open the VPN application on your Mac, you'll likely be given options of how and where you want to route your internet traffic. The most important options are:

  1. Country (location of VPN server)
  2. Protocol


If you're just using the VPN for security, then you should choose a VPN server nearby in your own country. If you're using the VPN to try access foreign data or video, then you'll want to choose a foreign country.


The protocol is how the VPN encrypts your data and funnels your traffic through a VPN server. Most often, all you'll need is OpenVPN protocol—so if you're new to VPNs, we'd select that one for now. Just in case, here's a brief overview of the different VPN protocols.


The recommended general-use protocol, OpenVPN, is included in NordVPN. What's unique, however, is that with NordVPN, you can choose between either the TCP or UDP internet protocols depending on what your VPN needs are. OpenVPN is an open-source protocol, making it very secure.


For those looking for the most stable VPN protocol, NordVPN offers the IKEv2 protocol, though notes that Windows users will likely have the easiest time running this particular VPN protocol.

Wireguard (NordLynx)

The newest and fastest VPN protocol available, Wireguard, is available from NordVPN as "NordLynx." This open-source protocol is lightening fast, due to it's minimal coding. This is the preferred protocol for those wanting speed, like gamers or those wanting to stream video.


SSTP, or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, is a protocol owned and operated by Microsoft, which may make some wary of the privacy it offers. Still, it's a secure and good protocol for average use.

VPN icon in the menu bar

You should see a VPN icon from your VPN provider in your Mac's menu bar. You can usually connect from there too.

VPN in Menu Bar
Auto-connect VPN

We recommend going to your VPN setting and preferences to set up the VPN to auto-launch when your Mac starts. This way you'll never have to worry about forgetting to connect before you access the internet.

VPN Status NordVPN

We've got an easy way to make sure your VPN is active! You can check the status of your Mac's VPN anytime by heading over the NordVPN homepage and looking for the protection status at the top of the screen—even if you aren't using NordVPN!

Need to turn it off?

Check out our guide to see how to easily turn off your Mac's VPN.

Easily protect your data while browsing over an unsecure connection.
Michael Michael (175)

When you're doing anything on your mobile device that uses the internet (and what doesn't involve using the internet nowadays?), then you're connecting to a WiFi router that may or may not be secure.