How to Setup and Use a VPN on Your Mac: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

By Moses Johnson - Managing Editor
6 Min Read

Setting up and using a VPN on a Mac is easier than you may think

A VPN is an essential tool for maintaining privacy online. Here’s how to find the best one for you and how to set it up on your Mac.

Two MacBook Pro devices are shown back to back.  

These days, cybersecurity is something everyone needs to think about, not just governments and big corporations.

The good news is, you can use a few basic tools to defend yourself and become a less desirable target to hackers. Antivirus software can help protect you from viruses and other types of malware. But antivirus programs typically only secure your physical devices. To create a secure connection and safeguard your internet activity, you’ll need a VPN to protect the information you’re sending to and from your device.

Even Apple devices, which generally have fewer issues with malware, aren’t 100% safe. So, setting up a VPN on your Mac is important if you want to keep your personal information from being stolen.

A VPN is an important tool used to encrypt your internet connection and maintain your online privacy.

But VPNs are also useful for other tasks outside of protecting your internet traffic and data from prying eyes. You can use a VPN to unblock geo-restricted sites and streaming services, or to securely upload or download files.

Let’s take a look at what a VPN is, how to find the right VPN service for you, and how to set a VPN up on your Mac.

What is a VPN and how does it work?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a tool that can be used to improve your internet security and privacy. It works by creating an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic and obscuring information that could identify you, like your IP address. This makes it more difficult for others to track your browsing habits or see your personal information.

A VPN service encrypts your data and securely routes it through a VPN server on the way to its final destination.

This gives you a level of security and anonymity because your internet provider and the sites you’re accessing won’t be able to track you or determine your location.

Why you need a VPN for your Mac

Apple MacBooks are known for robust security protections, but their toughness against malware and viruses doesn’t automatically protect your privacy. So If you want to prevent your internet service provider from being able to see what websites you are looking at on your Mac and what apps you are using, a well-tested virtual private network will do that.

A good VPN will also prevent websites you browse — and most internet-connected apps on your Mac — from easily being able to determine your exact location. If you travel and frequently use hotel, airport or other public Wi-Fi, a VPN will protect your Mac from the snooping of other users and potentially malevolent actors.

In addition to providing an extra level of security, VPNs are also essential tools for accessing geo-restricted content. In the most extreme cases, VPNs can be used to bypass censorship imposed by authoritarian governments and maintain a free flow of information.

However, it’s more likely that you’ll want a VPN to unblock location-restricted streaming services or sporting events. VPNs are also popular for P2P file sharing or torrenting because they can hide your activity from your internet service provider.

How to choose a VPN service

Not all VPNs are created equal. The level of features, usefulness, security, and service varies greatly from one company to the next.

A good place to start is to figure out why you want a VPN for your Mac and test various services to see which one best meets your needs and fits your budget. Most of the best VPNs have money-back guarantee periods of 30 days or more.

There are free VPNs, but in most cases, you’ll want to avoid these services. A free VPN will often have severe data or performance restrictions and fewer features than a paid service. And that’s the best-case scenario.

Free VPNs could make money by selling your data or bombarding you with ads. And even free services with good intentions may not have the resources to maintain high levels of security and service.

It’s a good idea to shop around, read reviews, and test out the features. To ensure you find a VPN that works for you, here are some factors to consider:

  • Speed: VPNs can slow down your connection a bit. You want to make sure you choose a VPN that offers good speeds.

  • Server network: The more servers a VPN has, the more choices you have about where to route your traffic.

  • User-friendly apps: Some VPN apps are feature-rich, while others are simple. Make sure to pick an app that is easy to use and has all of the options you want.

  • Security and trust: Some VPNs earn money by selling ads or your data. It’s important to trust your VPN provider. Read the terms of service and look for independent audits of the company that verify the VPN is providing the level of security it claims to have.

  • Device compatibility: If you have more than one device, for example, a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad, you’ll want a VPN that can be installed on all of them.

  • Money-back guarantee: Make sure to get a VPN that offers a money-back guarantee, so that if you don’t like the service, you can easily cancel your subscription within the allotted time frame.

How to set up and use a VPN on your Mac

VPNs are easier to use on your Mac than you may think Here’s how to get a VPN set up on your Mac quickly — and start browsing privately — in just a few minutes.

How to Set Up a VPN on Mac Using a Third-Party VPN App

Setting up a VPN on a Mac is a quick and easy process. Once you’ve found a VPN provider you want to use, just visit the VPN provider’s website to get started.

  1. **Find the download for your Mac device **Find the appropriate application for your Mac device and begin the download. In most cases, there will be a list of download links you can click on right at the top of the VPN website.

  2. Enter the payment information — Depending on the VPN, you may be asked to provide payment information before you can use the service.

  3. Set up the VPN on your Mac–Launch the application installer to begin the installation process on your MacBook. With some products, you may be asked to grant permission to install different parts of the application, such as configuration files or helper tools.

  4. Launch the VPN service on your Mac–Once installed, launch the application and begin using the service by choosing a VPN server location (or quick connect) and connecting to the server.

And you are good to go! Once you’re connected to the VPN, you’re all set to begin browsing the web privately and securely. For peace of mind, you can check the VPN’s connection status on the application screen (it should say On/Off, or Connected/Disconnected, etc).

How to Set Up a VPN on Mac Using VPN Settings

To set up a VPN via the Mac’s built-in VPN settings, make sure you have all the necessary data first. This includes the VPN type, the server address, username, password, and shared secret. All this information is specific to each VPN and provided by your VPN operator.

How To Set up a VPN in macOS 13 Ventura

If you’re using macOS 13 (Ventura), follow the steps below to manually set up a VPN on your Mac

  1. On your Mac, choose Apple menu .
  2. Click System Settings.
  3. Select VPN from the sidebar.
  4. Click Add VPN Configuration on the right.
  5. Select the type of VPN connection you want to set up.
  6. In the Display Name field, type in a name for the new VPN service.
  7. If you’re setting up an L2TP over IPSec VPN, click the Configuration pop-up menu, then select a configuration.
  8. If you don’t need multiple configurations, stick with the Default configuration.
  9. Type in settings for the new VPN service.
  10. If needed, enter additional settings.
  11. L2TP over IPSec: You can enter settings for Options, TCP/IP, DNS, and Proxies.
  12. Cisco IPSec or IKEv2: You can enter settings for DNS and Proxies.
  13. Click Create to finish setting up BPN on your Mac.

How do I remove a VPN from my Mac?

If your VPN provider has you using an app, quit out of the app and locate it (most likely in the Applications folder) then delete it. If it’s not an app, follow the steps below to remove a VPN configuration from your Mac:

  1. Choose Apple menu.
  2. Click System Settings.
  3. Select VPN from the sidebar.
  4. On the right, click the Info button next to the VPN service you want to remove.
  5. Click Remove Configuration.
  6. Confirm you want to remove configuration.

The Bottom line

If you’re looking to secure your Mac’s internet data and keep your information private, then you should consider installing a VPN on your Mac. A VPN can also hide your location and unblock geo-restricted content, which also makes it a useful tool for streaming and P2P file sharing.

Most VPNs give you a month or more to try out the service and receive a full refund if you’re not satisfied. So it’s easy to try out a VPN and see if it’s a good fit for you.

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By Moses Johnson Managing Editor
Moses Johnson is the Editorial Director of, who has a keen eye for news, rumors, and all the unusual stuff around Apple products. Moses is commonly referred to online as The Professor, with decades of experience in tech under his belt.
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