Do Macs have a built-in VPN?

Apple may be known for its secure devices, but we answer whether or not its Mac computers have a built-in VPN, or if you'll need to install a third-party provider

Woman working on MacBook laptop resting on knees
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A question that arises often when considering the necessity of a VPN on Apple devices is whether or not one comes built-in on Mac computers, iPhones and so on. This is a fair question considering Apple gadgets have the reputation of being incredibly secure compared to their competitors. 

And the very straightforward answer is no, VPNs don't come built-in on Macs. You'll therefore need a VPN from a third-party provider in order boost your security and online privacy while also reaping the other benefits of the best Mac VPN, including streaming service unblocking and getting around blocked or banned websites.

Read on as we explain how Mac computers support the use of VPN software, and the most suitable provider whether you're looking to install on your iMac, MacBook laptop, iPhone, or iPad.

Is there a built-in VPN for Mac?

While there isn't strictly a built-in VPN on your Mac readily available to encrypt your connection while surfing the web, Apple does provide the interface to either manually configure a VPN or directly install a client onto its devices. 

On a Mac, you can manually set up your VPN by heading to System Preferences > Network. From here you can manually add a VPN by clicking '+' and selecting 'VPN'.

You'll need the server address, remote ID, as well as a username and password. For those wanting to configure their personal VPN, you'll be able to find these details within the account of your chosen service on its website. For those wanting to set up a VPN to access files remotely from your work or school's private network, your institution will be able to provide these details.

The easiest way to get your Mac VPN set up, though, is to simply sign up to a specific provider and download the dedicated app, with all our top VPN to recommend for Mac coming with dedicated clients for macOS. 

What's more, if, for instance, you want to set up a VPN on your iPad or iPhone, most VPN providers also have specific clients in their roster of apps for these devices, too.

Which VPN is the best for Mac?

ExpressVPN takes the title as the best Mac VPN3 months free on 12-month plans100% risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee

<a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">ExpressVPN takes the title as the best Mac VPN, beautifully assimilating onto macOS and into your Apple ecosystem with a sleek and intuitive interface, while also providing top security and privacy features, impeccable speeds, and powerful streaming unblocking. Best of all, T3 readers can benefit from 3 months free on 12-month plans and rest assured of their purchase with ExpressVPN's 100% risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Person in home office using an Apple iMac 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

Why do I need a VPN on my Mac?

As mentioned, Mac computers are considered fairly sturdy beasts in terms of any vulnerability to viruses and hackers. However, it can never hurt to be too careful, especially as such online threats could continue to mutate and grow in strength in order to take down targets. 

Of course, where MacBooks are concerned as particularly portable devices, a Mac VPN offers that extra layer of reassurance of better online anonymity thanks to their all-encompassing encryption. This is especially prevalent when you consider the use of public networks while sitting in a café to do some work, or while traveling and wanting to stream on your long train journey. By connecting to a VPN, you can completely conceal your IP address and any details identifying your device and your online activity. 

Partnered with a number of great privacy features including kill switches, DNS leak tests, auto-connect, and a variety of protocols and encryption types to keep you browsing safely, there's also the added bonus of bypassing geo-restrictions. 

Whether your institution has blocked certain apps or websites, or you're abroad and want to access content back home, the best streaming VPNs are those with servers based all around the world. Hop on and appear as if you're elsewhere in order to watch your native broadcaster, or stream titles exclusive to foreign Netflix libraries.

Alice Marshall
eCommerce Editor

Alice is eCommerce Editor at Future, with a focus on streaming services such as Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO Max, as well as VPN. Nowadays she looks after and writes guides and how to watch articles across TechRadar and CinemaBlend. Previously a Commercial Content Writer for Trusted Reviews, Alice has worked in the eCommerce space for over five years and over two years writing about consumer tech.