Smart TVs have come a long way in the past decade, and this especially applies to their software. Many of them are powered by different operating systems and support custom applications that extend their functionality. However, in terms of VPN services, the situation isn’t that straightforward. To set up a VPN for smart TVs, you’re forced to use various workarounds. Still, you have several options in front of you, as we’ll show you the four most effective ways to use a VPN no matter what smart TV model you have. So, let’s teach you how to use a VPN on your smart TV in 2020.
To illustrate this procedure, we’ll be using a VPN that we’ve tested extensively, along with dozens of other VPNs. We’re talking about ExpressVPN, which we firmly believe is genuinely the best VPN in 2020. It provides you with high-end protection for your privacy, while also allowing you to take full advantage of everything that your smart TV offers. Yes, we’re talking about streaming movies and TV shows and accessing all-new streaming platforms, among numerous other VPN-related features.
Keep in Mind: Smart TVs are powered by platforms that usually don’t allow you to install and use a VPN directly on your TV. Therefore, we’ll be talking about possible workarounds, allowing you to use a VPN on your smart TV by connecting to another device that’s already running a VPN application and is connected to a secure server.
Finally, these are the 4 methods to set up a VPN for smart TVs in 2020:
- Method #1: Install a VPN on Your Router
- Method #2: Share a VPN Connection From Your Computer
- Method #3: Use a Dedicated Media Streaming Device
- Method #4: Cast Media From Other Devices
Method #1: Install a VPN on Your Router
Good to Know: Installing a VPN on a router isn’t the easiest process, but it’s by far the most effective one. Once you set everything up, you can continue using your smart TV without any alteration of your usual workflow.
Installing a VPN service directly on your smart TV is impossible, in the majority of cases. However, you can still reap the benefits of your VPN by connecting your smart TV to a router that’s already running a VPN service. This is actually the best way of using a VPN, as you can protect your entire household at once. This way, you don’t have to deal with individual VPN clients on your computers or handheld devices, as you’re protected as long as your devices are connected to your home router.
This process starts by picking a VPN that supports different kinds of routers. Based on our experience, you won’t find a better option than ExpressVPN. This one comes with the OpenVPN protocol, making it perfectly suitable for routers. You get more than 3,000 servers, ultra-fast speeds, and ExpressVPN also unblocks a range of streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO NOW/GO, BBC iPlayer, and plenty more.
Then, your next step is to pick a VPN router. You can start by reading our guide on how to choose a VPN router based on your priorities, needs, and budget. And after that, it’s time for you to find some viable options. We’ve done the hard work of finding truly the best VPN routers. However, keep in mind that DD-WRT routers are often recommended for running a VPN service. So, learn more about DD-WRT and then check the best DD-WRT routers available now. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry – you can find pretty decent yet affordable DD-WRT routers.
Finally, once you get your VPN subscription and have a VPN-compatible router at hand, it’s time to combine these two. To learn all there is to know about this procedure, we offer your our recently updated guide on how to set up a VPN on a router – with a special emphasis on DD-WRT routers.
Method #2: Share a VPN Connection From Your Computer
Good to Know: This method works on Windows and macOS computers. However, keep in mind that you need to have an active VPN connection before sharing your Internet connection. So, here’s how to set up a VPN on Windows, as well as how to set up a VPN on a Mac (pay attention to the second installation method described there).
As mentioned above, you need to have a VPN installed on your computer before sharing your Web connection. However, not just about any VPN will do the job, as you need a fast-performing one (especially when it comes to streaming). Your best option right now would be ExpressVPN. And now, let’s see how to set up a VPN for smart TVs by sharing your Internet connection from another device.
VPN Connection Sharing on Windows 10
Before moving further, you need to make sure that you have a VPN installed on your Windows PC. Also, you should be connected to your router wirelessly. So, here’s how to share your VPN connection with your smart TV.
- Open the Start menu (lower-left corner) and type in “Mobile Hotspot.” You should see the applicable search result, so go ahead and click on it. Alternatively, you can also find this option by going to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Hotspot.
- At the top of the screen, you’ll see a switch that can be moved left or right. So, go ahead and click on this switch – and you’ll enable your Windows’ Mobile Hotspot feature, allowing other devices to connect yo your computer. However, we’re not done as we need to customize this setup.
- Make sure to select “Wi-Fi” in the “Share my Internet connection from” dropdown menu. You can also click on “Edit,” where you can set up a name for your wireless connection and a password. Make sure to remember your network’s name and password, as you’ll need it in a couple of moments.
- Now, scroll down and click on “Change adapter options.” A new window should open, showing you all your network adapters (physical and virtual ones). You should right-click on the adapter installed by your VPN. We hope that you’ve installed ExpressVPN, so you can now right-click on “ExpressVPN TAP Adapter” and then pick “Properties.”
- Select the “Sharing” tab. Then, enable the option that allows other network users to connect through your computer’s Internet connection. Using the dropdown menu that should appear, pick the Wi-Fi network you’ve just created and click “OK.”
- Finally, restart your PC. Then, launch your VPN application and connect to a specific server. Then, go back to your smart TV and connect to the wireless network you’ve just created. Click on its name, provide the password, and that’s it. From this moment on, your TV’s wireless connection will use your computer’s VPN connection.
Keep in mind that your Windows PC needs to be on for this method to work. Also, you need to be connected to your VPN in the background (on your computer). As long as you meet those requirements, your smart TV will use your VPN connection.
VPN Connection Sharing on macOS
An important prerequisite here is to create an L2TP/IPSec VPN connection on your macOS (which is done manually via System Preferences). Once done, here’s how to share your VPN connection over Wi-Fi with your smart TV.
- Go to System Preferences > Sharing. Take a look at the left side of this window and click on “Internet Sharing.”
- You will see a dropdown menu next to “Share your connection from.” You need to select your VPN connection here (the one you’ve added manually to your macOS). Then, select “Wi-Fi” from the list next to “To computers using.”
- Take a look below and now click on the “Wi-Fi Options” button. This is where you can create a name for your new Wi-Fi connection. Select “WPA2 Personal” from the menu next to “Security.” And finally, input your password (and make sure to remember it, as you’ll need it soon enough). Click “OK” to confirm your input.
- Finally, make sure to enable Internet sharing by clicking on the box next to “Internet Sharing” label on the left. Confirm your decision and macOS will let you know if you’re actively sharing this new Wi-Fi network. Also, it’s a good idea to go to System Preferences > Networks and see if your VPN connection is active there. It means that your VPN connection should be active in the background, and your Internet sharing should be active as well.
- Finally, feel free to connect to the network you’ve just created. Go back to your smart TV and connect. From this moment on, your smart TV will use your Mac’s VPN connection.
Don’t forget that your Mac needs to be powered. And also, your VPN connection should be running in the background. This will allow you to keep the Internet alive for your smart TV while streaming movies and TV shows.
Method #3: Use a Dedicated Media Streaming Device
Good to Know: This method requires you to buy an additional device – a dedicated media streamer. To review your options and find the best pick, we’ve done the hard work of finding and recommending truly the best options for running a VPN.
Those looking to set up a VPN for smart TV have another, highly exciting option. Using a dedicated media streaming device allows you to expand your smart TV’s functionality in a big way. And as a bonus, plenty of those devices support and run VPNs natively. So, let’s take a closer look at what that means.
A media streaming device is a dedicated device that sits next to your TV. You can think of it as a set-top box, except that it’s easier to use. These are tiny devices connected to your TV via an HDMI cable. There’s also another cable that powers this device. As such, media streaming devices take all the processing power from your smart TV while using your TV’s panel to display their interface. This is a very interesting option if you have a 4K TV, as many media streaming devices bring the best possible video quality with some post-processing done on their own.
Generally, there are two significant groups of media streaming hardware. First, we have Android-powered streamers, such as the Nvidia Shield TV (powered by Android TV). The same applies to Amazon’s Fire OS streamers (such as the Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV Cube). All of those devices run on a modified version of Android. Since they come with a huge number of native VPN applications, installing VPNs on them is quite easy, similar to how you install an app on your smartphone. For additional information, make sure to read our guide on how to set up a VPN on Fire OS. And if you decide to get an Android TV device, here’s how to set up a VPN on Android.
Lastly, let’s not forget Apple’s media streaming device, suitable for those who use iOS and macOS devices and computers. We’re talking about two devices here: Apple TV and Apple TV 4K. Keep in mind that Apple TV devices are among truly the best media streaming devices out there. However, they don’t natively support VPNs. Still, you can use SmartDNS services and workarounds to set up a VPN on Apple TV devices. Click on the provided link to learn more.
Lastly, no matter which device you pick, you’ll need a reliable and capable VPN service. Without any doubt, your first pick should be ExpressVPN. To see other options, here are the best VPNs for Android, Amazon’s FireOS, and Apple TV media streamers.
Method #4: Cast Media From Other Devices
Good to Know: The following method will explain how to use your smartphone or tablet as your VPN hub, and then cast your media to your large-screen TV. Aside from getting a VPN subscription, no other expenses are required.
We have another option for those looking to set up a VPN for smart TV. This one doesn’t require you to go through a complicated installation procedure, and it doesn’t demand to buy additional hardware. Instead, it involves “casting” media from your smartphone and tablet, so let’s take a closer look.
Casting media to your TV means sending video from your smartphone or tablet to your large-screen TV. Let’s illustrate this by giving you an example. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can install its official app on your smartphone. Then, you use your smartphone to access your library and find something interesting to watch. As soon as you hit the “Play” button, you’ll see an option on your screen to send that video file to your TV. So, instead of watching movies or TV shows on your smartphone, you can watch them on your TV. Keep in mind that everything required for this operation happens on your phone, and you need to have the Netflix app open while casting. In other words, you’ll be using your TV to display the chosen video only.
Before going deeper, we need to address an important matter. If you have an Android smartphone, your TV needs to support Google’s Chromecast (Cast) protocol. If you have an Apple-made smartphone or tablet, your TV needs to support Apple’s AirPlay protocol. Of course, mixing these is possible up to some point. For example, the Netflix app on iOS supports both Google’s and Apple’s casting protocols. So, if you have an iPhone and a TV with Chromecast (without AirPlay present), this combination will work.
So, you might be wondering how do VPNs fit into this picture? Well, you can install a VPN on your smartphone. Connect to a specific server to unlock any media streaming service you want to use. Then, proceed like you usually would – open the media streaming app and start playing a movie or TV show on your phone. However, don’t forget that the final step is to cast your video on your TV. You don’t have a VPN installed on your TV – but you have everything you need on your phone.
Finally, all there’s left is to provide you with some helpful articles where you can learn more about VPNs. We highly recommend using ExpressVPN, as this one supports an unbelievably large number of media streaming services. So, if you decide to go this route, make sure to check the best VPNs for Android, and then here’s how to set up a VPN on Android. Also, here’s the best VPN for iOS, along with how to set up a VPN on iOS.
So, this would be the end of our guide on setting up a VPN on smart TVs. In case of any questions or doubts, make sure to let us know by posting a comment below. We’ll do our best to respond promptly. And of course, enjoy using VPNs and streaming media!