4/26/17
10:02 am

Using a VPN On Your Mac

It is relatively easy to use a VPN service on your Mac. Simply install the software that the service provides, and then set some preferences. From there it is usually automatic. Some services let you pick a server location and set some networks to be trusted at all times.

Video Transcript
So here's how to use a VPN. It's actually very simple and it should be somewhat automatic once you have it installed. So I've installed a VPN here. I'm using one called Cloak and it's at getcloak.com This isn't necessarily one that I've determined is the best. I've tried a few. This one works really well so I've stuck with it. This plan that I'm using applies to all my Macs and my iOS devices as well. So I'm able to just have one plan and then use it for all of them.

Once I've installed Cloak, I've downloaded and installed it, at the top here I've got this little icon here that gives me access to Cloak. Right now I'm connected to WiFi and you can see I'm using a trusted network. So my own home network I've indicated to Cloak in the Preferences that it's trusted and there's no need to use VPN.

But as soon as I connect to another WiFi connection, like say one at a hotel or coffeeshop something like that, then automatically it's going to try to secure my connection. Now I can manually try to secure it right here by clicking the Secure My Connection button to over override my preference not to use it there. But I can also go in and change how things work.

So right now, for instance, under Networks, I've got several networks here that I've listed as being totally okay and I have various other things. Like for instance I can say I want to connect to a VPN only in the United States. It has all these different VPNs. So they have different servers all around the world. The default would be to set to fastest available. The downside to using the fastest available is sometimes the fastest available is one that maybe outside the country. Especially if you're traveling. So what happens then is your IP address that servers think that you have and when they try to locate you it seems to be from somewhere else.

So, for instance, if I was hooked up to Japan I would automatically get the Japanese version of some websites because it determines that I'm in Japan. But if I stick with the United States that means my connection is going to go from Japan, all the way back to the United States, and it will appear as if I'm in the US. It's kind of a nice thing there because then I get the English language version of websites. It doesn't confuse the site by making them think I'm in Japan or somewhere else. So it's kind of a nice benefit. If I was not using VPN that would be automatic. If I'm connecting from Japan it would think I'm in Japan, which I am, and I may get the wrong language on the website.

I've got my Account information. I've got Updates. There's some Advanced settings. Things like that. But in general once you have it setup, and if your network is not listed here, then you can count on the fact that it will connect automatically. So you don't have to do anything. You just simply connect to the WiFi at a coffeeshop. It will then automatically start connecting here. You'll see some dots. Then it will come up with a checkmark that it's connected.

So let's try securing my connection here now. Then you can see it attempting to do it and I don't even have to have that open. You can see that it changed there and now I've got this blue icon here and it tells me by notification that my connection is secured.

So now I'm actually using a VPN just like I showed you in yesterday's video. My connection is secured between myself and Cloak and then Cloak then goes out to the internet. So my ISP, the WiFi router, or anything or any other steps there, they're not going to know where I'm going or what information I'm sending. That's secret information between me and the VPN server, in this case Cloak, and of course I'm trusting Cloak because I'm paying them and I've looked into them and I've decided I will trust them although not necessarily trust the ISP that is say is at the coffeeshop at the hotel.

That's the idea behind VPN. It's really easy to install. Any VPN. They all kind of install and run automatically. Most of them have trials. You can just search for Mac VPN and come up with different plans, different prices, different features. You know I like how this little interface works here so it's another plus for me for Cloak. But some may actually have a better interface. So you may want to just give some a try. If you've tried a VPN and you like it please leave a mention in the Comments because it would be nice for other people to see which other VPNs people recommend.

Comments: 27 Responses to “Using a VPN On Your Mac”

    David Hold
    4/26/17 @ 10:53 am

    How about a review of/ comments on:
    1 Opera VPN free, unlimited, iOS app or button on opera browser
    2 betternet free unlimited chrome extension plugin

    4/26/17 @ 10:55 am

    David: Haven’t used Opera’s thing. It only works inside that browser, so it doesn’t provide protection for other network activity or apps. I assume that Chrome extension is the same since it is in the browser by definition. Only a portion of Internet activity is “in the browser” with perhaps a majority being mail and apps.

    markb
    4/26/17 @ 1:42 pm

    I use the paid TunnelBear product and it works fine on my Mac and iOS devices.

    Mr. Luigi
    4/26/17 @ 4:27 pm

    I use Opera’s Free VPN iOS app on my iPhone and iPad. It does show things down a bit. But, heck, it’s free and unlimited and I suggest folks give it a try if you’re looking for cheap, global protection on an iDevice. I haven’t used the Opera browser with built-in VPN. But, as Gary said, that only protects you when using the Opera browser. Here’s the link to Opera’s Free VPN app. Opera Free VPN – Unlimited Ad-Blocking VPN by OSL Network
    https://appsto.re/us/TOWAab.i

    chacalcdn
    4/27/17 @ 11:25 am

    Using ExpressVPN and fully satisfied. Was using Netshade b4 but kept having problems using Safari browser.

    Peter Johnson
    4/27/17 @ 11:28 am

    Here is a website that compares various VPN companies along with a trust column. I used to use Cloak but have switched to Mullvad.
    https://thatoneprivacysite.net/vpn-comparison-chart/
    Mullvad: https://www.mullvad.net/

    Michael Davidson
    4/27/17 @ 12:15 pm

    Is it necessary to use a for-$$$ VPN, or are there quality free VPN’s out there?

    4/27/17 @ 12:42 pm

    Michael: Not sure. I pay for mine as there always has to be some downside to a free service. And security isn’t a place where I’m looking for a bargain. I haven’t tried any free VPN services.

    Robert Burnett
    4/27/17 @ 1:25 pm

    I use PIA VPN but found that when I connect the Firewall is automatically disconnected on my MacBook Pro. Spoke with Apple Store staff in Edinburgh, they knew of PIA but had no solution to the Firewall issue. It appears that when you connect to PIA the user has to accept the PIA firewall. No idea if this is the same for all VPN’s. Any feedback would be appreciated by yourself or Apple.

    Jerry
    4/27/17 @ 2:19 pm

    If you have multiple user accounts on the Mac, does the VPN work on all accounts or does each user have to have a VPN separately?

    MissDori
    4/27/17 @ 2:20 pm

    I compared reviews of several VPNs online before deciding which one to purchase, and finally decided on NordVPN (available in the App Store). I am impressed with their great customer support. I had previously tried a different one from the Apple App Store and was very unhappy with it; I could never reach customer support. I’ve had this one now for about a month, it covers up to six devices/computers active at one time and has some special pricing for multi-year bundles.

    4/27/17 @ 2:57 pm

    Robert: Interesting. Perhaps a firewall gets in the way of a VPN? And perhaps it isn’t needed? Tried looking up information about it. but since both firewalls and VPNs are things servers use too, it was hard to find an answer. Perhaps ask a firewall/security expert about that.

    4/27/17 @ 2:58 pm

    Jerry: Most VPN services I have found will work on multiple computers and devices. Once installed on your Mac, the software should be available across all user accounts, but you may have to log in omniscience’s each the first time you use it on each. Depends how they set up their software.

    John Russell
    4/27/17 @ 5:05 pm

    My wife and I are headed to Alaska soon. Any recommendations for a good VPN that has a “family plan,” at least for just the two of us? Thanks.

    4/27/17 @ 5:10 pm

    John: Most allow you to use it across several or even unlimited devices. So you sign up for one plan and use it on all of your devices.

    DutchRo
    4/28/17 @ 6:05 am

    Gary: Could John Russel have a issue with the limit on the number of simultaneous connections under the same account?

    4/28/17 @ 7:38 am

    DutchRo: Not as long as they are aware of the limit, if any, from their chosen VPN. I regularly used the same VPN with a MacBook, iPad and iPhone and never seem to have an issue with Cloak.

    MIke Fisk
    4/28/17 @ 7:49 am

    I was using Private Internet Access (subscription) which became unstable and there support suggested an open source product Tunnelblick which works fairly well and I’m guessing is free unless the PIA people count then as part of there stable? Will find out come renewal time.

    Bruce Anschutz
    4/28/17 @ 8:26 am

    I use SurfEasy VPN. I have found it to work the best for me.
    https://www.surfeasy.com/

    Patrick
    4/29/17 @ 2:23 pm

    Hi Gary – we’ve always found your info helpful so thanks for that (belong to a little Mac computer club).

    I’ve used HotSpot Shield for several years now and have found it mainly pretty good. One downside is only 5 devices at once can be connected through your account. Have been disappointed only twice when it has disconnected for no reason.

    Dan
    5/2/17 @ 10:07 am

    Gary, the recent federal ruling that allows ISP’s to sell personal content is disturbing to me. This looks like a way to prevent my home ISP from gaining access to it. Is that correct?

    5/2/17 @ 11:22 am

    Dan: Yes, using a VPN means that your ISP doesn’t know what sites you are visiting and what data you are sending and receiving. But the sites themselves know, if yo are logged in. So your ISP doesn’t know what you type on Facebook (and didn’t before, since Facebook uses https), but Facebook does (of course, since the whole point is for Facebook to display this information to your friends).

    K
    5/4/17 @ 7:49 am

    My first VPN was proXPN which I found too cumbersome to setup on my iOS devices as well as it constantly dropped connections too.

    After some moderate research, I picked NordVPN. So far, no issues on either macOS or iOS.

    Check out privacytools.io, thebestvpn.com, and other reviews (non-sponsored) for their recommendations too. There is a lot of marketing hype and FUD surrounding VPNs so choose wisely. Stay safe out there…

    Phyllis S.
    5/5/17 @ 9:45 pm

    I’m using ExpressVPN on my iPad and iPhone. It was easy to install and seems to work fine. Am I correct in assuming I don’t need to use it on my iMac desktop computer?

    5/5/17 @ 11:31 pm

    Phyllis: If you are using a VPN to protect yourself when on public or untrusted Wi-Fi (like I am) and you are using your own trusted Wi-Fi at home with your iMac, then you don’t need a VPN. But if you are using it to hide where and what you are doing online from your ISP (like others do) then you need to use it all the time on all your machines.

    Phyllis S.
    5/6/17 @ 3:43 pm

    Thanks, Gary. That’s what I thought. I travel a lot and I just want protection so I can use my iPad for things like on line banking, if needed. BTW, I’m really enjoying your Patreon posts, so I’m glad I’m participating and helping out – a little, anyway!

    5/6/17 @ 3:56 pm

    Phyllis: Thanks! Most (all?) banks would be using https, so you should be relatively safe. But I also use VPN when logging into my bank’s website from outside my house, so I agree with you there.

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