How to Setup a VPN On Mac? Step by Step Process

There is a big difference between a proxy and a VPN. Proxy only provides you application wide security by hiding your IP address. Whereas, VPN offers complete security by encrypting your internet traffic and providing operating system-wide security through a VPN client software. Typically, a VPN service provider will provide you with a VPN client software. But if they don’t then you can either setup VPN on Mac with the help of its native VPN client or go for generic VPN client software such as Cisco AnyConnect or OpenVPN. If you are wondering how to setup a VPN on Mac then read on further to know the steps. In fact, setting up VPN for Mac OS involves simple steps.

Virtual Private Network or VPN secure your internet activity from eavesdroppers and hackers. VPN server sits in between your client machine and target website and creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server.

This tunnel is unbreakable and the data being sent or receive over it is completely secured. It hides your location and IP address from the outside world. Before we see how to setup a VPN on Mac, let’s understand what is a VPN client?


What is a VPN client?

A VPN client is a standard software which you can install on your devices such as a laptop or smartphone. Thereafter, you have to configure it with necessary settings related to VPN services such as VPN server location or its IP address, VPN protocol, etc.

In short, a VPN client is the primary building block of a VPN infrastructure. A VPN client first interfaces with the VPN server before it can serve you the functionalities of a VPN service.

VPN client also checks the user credentials and establishes a connection with the VPN server. This software helps you in achieving machine wide security. What it means that after a successful VPN connection, you will be free to run any application such as web surfing, email, online games, etc.

There will be absolutely no requirement to perform any application wise security settings and you can rest assured after running a VPN client.

Suggested read: How to Setup a VPN On Windows Step by Step?

As I told you before, a VPN provider usually provides a VPN client. But sometimes, you want to configure a specific protocol which has no support for a VPN service then you can setup a VPN client on Mac.

How to setup a VPN on Mac with its native VPN client software?

  • Open Apple Menu and go to System Preferences.
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  • In System Preferences, click on Network.
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  • There would be a ‘+’ icon on the bottom left portion of the page. Click it. You will see a dialogue box.
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  • Click the interface option and select VPN.
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  • The moment you select VPN option, a new drop down will add as VPN type. Here you have to choose from three VPN protocols such as L2TP over IPSec, Cisco IPSec, and IKEv2. Usually, L2TP over IPSec is a popular choice.
  • Enter the service name and then click on Create. You can use any name but make it meaningful and try to add protocol name in the name of the service.
  • Now this service will be added on left side of the pane. On the right side, you will a configuration window. Here you can either chose default configuration setting or configure a custom one. A custom configuration would be needed if you have multiple VPN settings. For example, a user might have a VPN setting for an office in the USA and one for an office in India.
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  • The next field requires the location of IP address of the VPN server. This is critical as a VPN provider might have several VPN servers placed across the globe.
  • Now you have to enter your account name or username in the third and final field.
  • Then click on the authentication settings option. Here you must enter the password.
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  • After all of the boxes have been filled ensure that the checkbox which states ‘Show VPN status in Menu bar’ has been ticked. This will show a VPN icon in the top menu bar. The icon looks like a luggage tag.
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  • Click on Apply.
  • Click on the luggage tag type icon that has just been introduced in the menu bar.
  • Click on Connect and on a successful connection, a timer will start.

How to setup a VPN on Mac with a VPN client software provided by VPN service provider?

Setting up a VPN client software or app that is provided by your VPN service provider is super easy. Usually, you will get different software based on what device you will use it with.

Every VPN service provider has their own set of instructions but mostly they are same. In this example, I will go with NordVPN as it is preferred by us for various reasons. Not to mention, there are other good VPN service providers such as ExpressVPN, GooseVPN, etc.

  1. Open your choice VPN service provider website, such as NordVPN, and select a suitable plan.
  2. Create your user account and keep your user details somewhere secured since you require it on a daily basis.
  3. Now select Mac OS in the download area and here you can either click on download or download OpenVPN.
  4. If you click “Download” then you will be taken to iTunes store website. Click “View in Mac App Store” and you will see your Mac’s local App Store.
  5. Click “Get” option and install the app on your Mac.
  6. It will take a few seconds to finish the installation.
  7. You can also download OpenVPN, which gets locally stored on your Mac. Some of the countries, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, etc., have put restrictions on Apple applications related to VPN. But OpenVPN setup package will get you past this restriction.
  8. Open the installed VPN app from the list of apps.
  9. You have to sign in with your username and password.
  10. Now VPN app will ask your permission to add VPN configurations in your machine’s settings. Allow it. You may be again prompted to enter your Mac’s username and password.
  11. You are all set to use VPN app on your Mac.
  12. Usually, most VPN service providers have several servers located across the globe. You can either choose a local VPN server of your parent country or chose outside country VPN server if you are looking for ways to get access to any blocked content based on geo-location.

Over to you on how to setup a VPN on Mac

If you have an option of installing a VPN app provided by your VPN service provider then go for it as the process is easy. But do remember, this is an additional software and may require some space on your Mac hard disk.

On the other hand, if you just setup a VPN on Mac with the help of its inbuilt functionality then you avoid any third-party software. Also, Mac will be updating its software upfront with essential functionalities and security fixes.


A lot of cyber-attacks have occurred in recent times which has made online security very important. A Virtual Private Network ensures that your internet traffic isn’t subject to outside scrutiny when you are surfing online.


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