How to Set Up and Use ExpressVPN on Mac

You can set up ExpressVPN on your Mac in under a couple of minutes. This VPN brings a native application for your computer, which works on both Intel- and Apple Silicon-based Macs. On top of that, there are two additional ways to configure ExpressVPN on macOS manually. So, let's first explain that situation.

If you use macOS 10.13 - High Sierra, 10.14 - Mojave, 10.15 - Catalina, 11 - Big Sur, 12 - Monterey, or 13 - Ventura, you should go with ExpressVPN's native application.

If you use Mac OS X 10.11 - El Capitan or macOS 10.12 - Sierra, you need to configure ExpressVPN manually.

The situation explained above is the result of ExpressVPN's decision to no longer support those outdated macOS versions. So, even though you have multiple options in front of you, we recommend updating your system.

And now, here's how to use ExpressVPN on your Mac.

How to Set Up ExpressVPN on a Mac

We recommend installing and using ExpressVPN's native application on your Mac, as that's the easiest way to get started. However, you can also set up ExpressVPN on your Mac manually. These are your options:

Method #1: Install ExpressVPN's Native macOS Application

Let's show you how to install ExpressVPN's application on your Mac, giving you access to all the features this VPN offers. Go through the following steps:

1. Sign up for ExpressVPN using your computer and any Web browser.

2. Once you subscribe, click "My Account" using the top-placed main menu on ExpressVPN's site. Provide your credentials and access your ExpressVPN account dashboard.

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Once you get to your online dashboard, click "Download for Mac." ExpressVPN's installation file will now download to your computer.

Download for Mac Button on ExpressVPN Website

4. Open the "Downloads" folder on your Mac and double-click on ExpressVPN's installer. Click "Continue" several times, and then finalize ExpressVPN's installation by clicking "Install."

Installing ExpressVPN on macOS

5. Go ahead and open ExpressVPN (it can be found in the "Applications" folder).

Logging in to ExpressVPN

6. Select "Sign In" and then copy and paste your ExpressVPN activation code. If asked to install a VPN configuration, select "Allow." Complete the initial (one-time) setup.

Installing ExpressVPN Profile on macOS

7. Right now, you should see ExpressVPN’s home screen. Click on the ON/OFF button, and ExpressVPN will connect you to the closest server.

Connecting to ExpressVPN Server

8. To disconnect and end your VPN connection, click on the ON/OFF button again. 

9. To pick another server, click "Smart Location." Then, double-click on any country or server name. Once ExpressVPN’s home screen turns green, you’ll be connected. That’s it!

Choosing Different ExpressVPN Server
Connected to ExpressVPN Server

Method #2: Set Up ExpressVPN Manually via L2TP/IPsec

If you can't use ExpressVPN's app, you can set up ExpressVPN on your Mac manually. That means you'll be using the L2TP/IPsec protocol Here's what you need to do:

1. Subscribe to ExpressVPN using your mac on your Web browser.

2. After subscribing, click "My Account" using the main menu on the ExpressVPN site (at the top). Provide your credentials and access your ExpressVPN dashboard.

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Navigate to Set Up Other Devices > Manual Configuration > L2TP/IPsec.

L2TP Configuration ExpressVPN

4. On the right, note your L2TP username and password. Then, scroll down and pick a VPN server (note its server address, which you'll need to use shortly).

ExpressVPN L2TP Credentials

5. On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Network. Click the "+" sign in the bottom-left corner and a pop-up should appear. Fill out the required information in the following way:

  • Interface: VPN.
  • VPN Type: L2TP over IPsec.
  • Service Name: Provide a memorable name for your VPN connection.
MacOS VPN Connection Manual Creation

6. Click "Create" and you'll return to the "Network" interface. Input your server address (from your ExpressVPN dashboard) and your account name (your L2TP username).

MacOS VPN Config

7. Click "Authentication Settings," and a pop-up will appear. Here's what you need to input:

  • Password: Enter your L2TP password (from your ExpressVPN dashboard).
  • Shared Secret: Enter "12345678" in this field.
Advanced Settings VPN MacOS

8. Click "OK" to dismiss the "Authentication Settings" screen. Then, Click "Advanced" and tick the following box: "Send all traffic over VPN connection." Click "OK" to confirm your input.

Advanced VPN Preferences macOS

9. To connect to your newly added VPN server, click "Connect." Once you're ready to disconnect, visit the "Network" interface again and click "Disconnect." That's it!

Realtime VPN Stats macOS

You can repeat the procedure explained above if you wish to add more than a single VPN server. That way, you can create connections to multiple servers and switch between them seamlessly.

Method #3: Set Up ExpressVPN Manually via OpenVPN

To set up ExpressVPN on your Mac via OpenVPN, you need to use a third-party application called Tunnelblick. These are the steps you need to take:

1. Get your ExpressVPN subscription using your Mac and any Web browser.

2. Then, click "My Account" using the top-placed main menu on ExpressVPN's site. Provide your email and password, and then access your ExpressVPN dashboard.

Signing In to ExpressVPN Website

3. Navigate to Set Up Other Devices > Manual Configuration > OpenVPN.

ExpressVPN OpenVPN Files

4. Note your OpenVPN username and password. Then, pick a VPN server by scrolling down, and then download its OVPN file(s) to your Mac.

5. Download and install Tunnelblick.

Tunnelblick Installation Wizard

6. Open the application and click "I Have Configuration Files." Drag-and-drop the OVPN file on the left side of Tunnelblick's interface. Then, provide your OpenVPN credentials.

Tunnelblick Startup Screen

7. Click "OK" and then click "Connect" to initialize your VPN session. When you're ready to disconnect, go back to Tunnelblick and click "Disconnect." That's it!

VPN Log Tunnelblick Active Connection

Tunnelblick lets you add multiple OpenVPN connections. So, if you wish to have access to more servers, download their OVPN files and add them to Tunnelblick. In other words, repeat the steps explained above, and you'll get access to as many servers as you want.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to privacy protection, ExpressVPN is our #1 recommendation - for any Mac user and any version of macOS. And also it works on non-Apple devices as well. So, here's how to set up ExpressVPN on all its supported devices, ensuring your privacy has bulletproof protection.

ExpressVPN is the best option - but it's not the only option. If you'd like to check what else is out there, here's our guide to the best VPN for Mac.


Can I Use ExpressVPN on a Mac?

Yes, you can use ExpressVPN on your Mac. You can use its native macOS application or set up ExpressVPN on your Mac manually via L2TP/IPsec or OpenVPN.

Does ExpressVPN Work on an M1 Mac?

Yes, ExpressVPN works on any Mac powered by M1 and M2 chips. The VPN brings fully compatible and native software with fast and fluid performance.

Does ExpressVPN Work with Safari?

ExpressVPN no longer offers a dedicated extension for Safari. However, if you use install ExpressVPN on your Mac as a native application, you'll get to protect your traffic flowing through Safari or any other Web browser.

Can I Use ExpressVPN on a Mac as a Virtual Router?

Yes, you can turn your Mac into a virtual router using ExpressVPN. That's done by sharing your existing VPN connection to any other device (via Ethernet or Wi-Fi).

For more info, turn to our guide on how to share your ExpressVPN connection from a Mac.

This is where we conclude our guide to setting up ExpressVPN on a Mac. If you have any questions, make sure to post your comment below. Lastly, thanks for reading!

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