Setting up a VPN on Mac OS

Corporations, governments, and criminal organizations employ virtually limitless methods of Internet surveillance. Thankfully, our options for maintaining our online security and privacy are advancing right alongside them. One of the chief options are virtual private networks, or VPNs for short, the function of which is all but written into the name: VPNs create simulated private networks situated within public ones. Think of them as virtual VIP rooms that ensure that all the data you transfer in your browsing is safely cloaked from view, whether that data is on your phone, tablet, or computer.

The benefit of this service should be fairly clear if, like most Internet users, you would rather not have your personal online activities laid bare to the prying eyes of complete strangers. And because of their popularity of VPNs, the market has expanded enormously in recent years, with the top VPNs all offering a broad range of functionality.

This post will tell you how to set up a VPN on the latest version of Mac OS.

Setting up VPN on a Mac OS Sierra

Download

The first thing you need to do with any VPN is download the appropriate installation software. This process is slightly different based on which provider you choose, but generally when you sign up at a VPN website, you are sent a link via email. This will take you to the downloads page, where you can obtain the VPN file. Select the Mac version, but keep the download window open for the following step.

Setup VPN on Mac OS

Activate

Most VPNs will then send you an activation code. These codes can be quite long, so simply copy the code and paste it into the appropriate field when prompted.

Install

Next, put the VPN on your system. You will get the usual Mac message: “The package will run a program to determine if the software can be installed.” Click to continue. The VPN will then guide you through the typical process of installing a program, to include save location and authorization to setup. Some VPNs will ask if you want to anonymously share analytics about your VPN connection to help them optimize their software, which is entirely up to you.

Setup

Now it’s time to open the VPN and get it activated. This is typically where you can paste the activation code you copied earlier.

Connect

In order to work, a VPN has to be connected to an Internet server location. Most VPNs will have a feature that suggests servers based on where you are in the world, giving you optimal connectivity. The VPN should now be turned on, granting you security and privacy as you surf the Internet. From here you can also connect other devices to the VPN, some providers allowing multiple simultaneous connections.

Troubleshooting

As with any solution, a host of potential problems comes with it. You can troubleshoot the usual VPN obstacles with a few basic steps. First, make sure you have a solid Internet connection. Without it, your VPN is a steering wheel without a car. Also, check that your VPN configurations and login info has been correctly entered. Use the correct, updated browser, and test to make sure your network is working properly. (If your router is so out of date that it does not support VPN, this will be a problem, too.) But sometimes your network’s firewall settings get in the way, so enable VPN pass through, forward the appropriate ports, and open the protocols. Don’t worry if this sounds hyper-technical: Your router should have VPN-related guides online that will tell you what to do. If your challenges persist beyond these steps, there are countless online forums that provide tips on setting up a stealthy, secure VPN.

The setup for Windows is almost identical, and most VPNs are built to work as well on one OS as another. Some Windows 10 users have had issues with blinking screens and spotty connectivity since updating, but the main difference in VPN functionality will ultimately be the type of provider you choose. And in this decision, the usual adage applies: You get what you pay for.

Amol Wagh

Author of Game Marketing Book: Market Your Indie Game Like A Pro! 7 years of Tech Blogging & Digital Marketing. Co-founder at Dotline Inc & a Gamer. Follow me on Twitter @amolwagh, @amol.wagh

  • Victor

    There are two ways by which VPN can be used on Mac. One is the app as you have covered in he article and the another is manual configuration. Although the VPN provider I use i.e. Ivacy has its Mac VPN app but configuring it manually feels techy.