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This tutorial will show you how to set up ExpressVPN for Mac on macOS.

This app requires Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or 10.11 (El Capitan), or macOS 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), or 10.15 (Catalina) to use.

You can find your macOS version by clicking About This Mac in the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen.

Important: If you’re using Mac OS x 10.9 (Mavericks) or older, use the L2TP or OpenVPN manual configurations.

Jump to…

Download the app
Get your activation code
Install the app
Set up ExpressVPN
Connect to a VPN server location
Disconnect from the VPN server location
Choose a different VPN server location
Switch to a different VPN protocol
How to add shortcuts to the ExpressVPN app
Launch and connect ExpressVPN on startup
Use the VPN Speed Test
Use Split Tunneling
Optional: Use the Menu Bar
Use the ExpressVPN browser extension
Access printer and shared folders on local area network
Change languages in the ExpressVPN Mac app
Uninstall the app


Download the app

Open the Welcome Email you received when you signed up for ExpressVPN. Click “Set Up ExpressVPN.”

Click the "Set Up ExpressVPN" link in the welcome email.

If you can’t find the email, sign in to your account.

Type your email and password to sign in to your ExpressVPN account.

Click the red Download button. This will start the download for your app.

Click "Download for Mac."

Keep this browser window open, as you will need it for the next step.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Get your activation code

To use ExpressVPN on your Mac computer, you will need your activation code.

Click the activation code in the box to copy it to your clipboard. You will be asked to provide it later.

Click the activation code in the box to copy it to your clipboard.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Install the app

Locate the downloaded file on your computer and open it. A window will pop up, saying, “This package will run a program to determine if the software can be installed.” Click Continue, and keep clicking Continue until you reach the “Installation Type” screen.

Click "Continue" to install ExpressVPN.

After selecting the installation destination, click Install.

Click "Install" to install the ExpressVPN app.

You will see the following window ONLY if you have installed ExpressVPN on your Mac before. If you do not see this screen, skip ahead.

  • Select Keep existing account if you are reinstalling ExpressVPN with the same activation code as before.
  • Select Remove existing account and let me switch to another account if you are using a new activation code.

Select your preference and click Continue.

Click "Continue" to keep existing account.

Wait for the installation to complete, then click Close.

Click "Close" to complete your installation.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Set up ExpressVPN

After the installation is complete, the ExpressVPN app will open automatically. Click Sign In.

Click "Sign In."

Enter your activation code. This is the code you copied to your clipboard earlier. You can paste it by pressing Command + V, or right-clicking the rectangular field and clicking Paste. Then click Sign In.

Paste your activation code to sign in.

If you are prompted to allow ExpressVPN IKEv2 to be added on our VPN configurations, click Allow to continue.

Click "Allow" to complete the VPN configurations.

You will be asked whether you want ExpressVPN to launch on startup. Select your preference to continue.

Select your preference for allowing ExpressVPN to launch when your computer starts.

Finally, you will be asked whether you want to share anonymous diagnostics with ExpressVPN. This helps ExpressVPN continually improve its products and services. Select your preference and continue.

Select your preference for helping improve ExpressVPN.

Congratulations! You are now ready to access our many VPN server locations.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Connect to a VPN server location

To connect to a VPN server location, click the On Button. By default, ExpressVPN will suggest the location that provides the optimal experience for you, called Smart Location.

Click the On Button to connect.

Once the app says “Connected,” you can begin surfing with freedom and security!

Underneath your current location, you will see a list of app shortcuts. Shortcuts allow you to launch apps and sites (such as for video streaming) directly from ExpressVPN right after you are connected.

Learn how to add shortcuts.

The "Connected" message on the ExpressVPN.

Note: “With one subscription, you can connect up to five devices to the VPN at the same time.” If you try to connect more than five devices simultaneously, you will see this screen:

The "Connection Limit Reached" message on the ExpressVPN app.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Disconnect from the VPN server location

To disconnect from the VPN server location, click the On Button.

Click the On Button to disconnect.

You will know you are disconnected when the screen says, “Not connected.”

The "Not connected" message on the ExpressVPN app.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Choose a different VPN server location

To choose a different VPN server location, click the location picker to access the list of VPN locations.

Click the Location Picker on the ExpressVPN app.

To connect to a server location, double-click the location.

The list of VPN locations features three tabs: Recommended, All, and Recents.

The Recommended tab shows you ExpressVPN’s top picks for you to connect to.

The "Recommended" tab on the ExpressVPN app.

The All tab lists the VPN server locations by region. You can expand and collapse the lists by clicking on the triangular arrowheads.

The "All" tab on the ExpressVPN app.

The Recents tab has two sections. “Recently Connected” shows the three most recent locations you connected to. “Favorites” shows the locations you have saved as a favorite by clicking the star icon next to the location name.

The "Recents" tab on the ExpressVPN app.

You can also search for your desired server location by using the search bar. Inside the search bar, type the name of your desired server location and then double-click the server location in the search results to connect to it.

Search for a location you have recently connected to.

After disconnecting from a server location you selected, you can return to your Smart Location (the location recommended for optimal experience) by clicking Smart Location.

Click the Smart Location on the ExpressVPN app.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Switch to a different VPN protocol

VPN protocols are the methods by which your device connects to a VPN server. Switching to a different protocol can help you achieve faster connection speeds.

To switch to a different protocol, click the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences…. You will need to be disconnected from the VPN in order to switch protocols.

Click "Preferences..." on the ExpressVPN app.

In the Protocol tab, select the protocol you want to use, then return to the app’s home screen.

Select a protocol you want to use on the ExpressVPN app.

Important: L2TP/IPsec provides weak security benefits and should only be used for anonymization or for changing locations when other protocols do not work.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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How to add shortcuts to the ExpressVPN app

The shortcuts feature appears on the ExpressVPN home screen after you connect to VPN. (It will not appear the first time you connect, but it will appear from your second connection onward.)

Shortcuts allow you to conveniently and quickly launch apps and websites straight from ExpressVPN anytime you are connected. If you find yourself regularly visiting a handful of favorite destinations after connecting to VPN—a particular streaming service or social network, for example—adding it as a shortcut saves you from having to switch back to your device’s home screen or browser to find it each time.

The ExpressVPN app's shortcuts.

To launch an app or website, click its icon.

If you have fewer than five shortcuts selected, you can add one by clicking the gray plus (+) icon. You can also add or remove shortcuts by clicking the hamburger menu (≡), then selecting Preferences > Shortcuts.

Click the plus (+) sign to add a shortcut, up to a limit of five. To remove a shortcut, highlight it and click the minus (–) sign.

Add a shortcut in the Preferences menu.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Launch and connect ExpressVPN on startup

To launch and connect ExpressVPN when starting up your Mac:

  1. In the ExpressVPN app, click the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences… > General.
  2. Under Startup, check the boxes for launching ExpressVPN on startup and connecting to your last used VPN location.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Use the VPN Speed Test

To use the VPN Speed Test, you must be disconnected from the VPN.

Click the hamburger menu (≡), then click Speed Test.

Click "Speed Test" on the ExpressVPN app.

On the Speed Test screen, click Run Test. The test will take a few minutes to run.

After the test is finished, select the locations with HIGH Speed Index, LOW Latency, and HIGH Download Speed.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Use Split Tunneling

The Split Tunneling feature allows you to decide which apps use the VPN and which apps do not use the VPN when you are connected to ExpressVPN.

Important: You must be disconnected from the VPN to change your split-tunneling settings.

To change your split tunneling settings, click the hamburger menu (≡) and go to Preferences….

Tick the box in the Split tunneling section and click Settings.

From there, you can decide which of your apps will use the VPN and which ones will not use the VPN when you are connected to ExpressVPN.

Pick your preferences for split tunneling in the Preferences menu.

Enable Split Tunneling on your Mac

Important: The below instructions were tested on macOS Catalina (10.15.12).

Follow the steps above in this section, but when prompted, click Open System Preferences.

Click "Open System Preferences" to enable split tunneling.

You will see a notification for “System Extension Blocked.” Click OK.

Click "OK" to enable system extensions.

In System Preferences, click Allow next to System software from developer “ExprsVPN LLC” was blocked from loading. You may need to click the lock icon and enter your password to make changes.

Click "Allow" in the Security and Privacy menu.

You can now return to the ExpressVPN app and change the split-tunneling settings.

IN DEPTH: Learn more about the split-tunneling feature

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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If you do not want to operate ExpressVPN using the main app interface, you can use the Menu Bar instead. The ExpressVPN status menu is in the Mac menu bar at the top of your screen, and gives you access to almost all of the functions available in the main app window.

To operate the app from the Menu Bar: Click the ExpressVPN Menu Bar icon and then click Preferences….

Click the ExpressVPN Menu Bar icon and then "Preferences."

In the Advanced tab, select Menu Bar & Dock.

Select Menu Bar and Dock in the Advanced tab.

You can select whether to use ExpressVPN from both the Menu Bar and Dock, from the Menu Bar only, or the Dock only.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Use the ExpressVPN browser extension

From your app, click the hamburger menu (≡), select Preferences…, then go to the Browsers tab. Click Get Browser Extension and follow the on-page instructions.

Click "Get Browser Extension."

Important: You cannot use the ExpressVPN browser extension without the ExpressVPN app.

Learn more about the ExpressVPN browser extension here.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Access printer and shared folders on local area network

Some users may have problems accessing shared folders and printers on LAN while connected to the VPN.

Troubleshoot issues accessing your intranet, printer, or shared folders on your local area network (LAN).

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Change languages in the ExpressVPN Mac app

If you’re using macOS 10.15 or later, you can change the language of the ExpressVPN app.

Note: If you are using an older macOS that doesn’t support this feature, you can use the ExpressVPN browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, which offer wide language selections.

On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Language & Region.

Click Apps. Then click the plus (+) icon.

For Application, select ExpressVPN. For languages, select your preferred language. Click Add.

Click “Add” to save the language setting for ExpressVPN.

You will be prompted to relaunch ExpressVPN. Click Relaunch now.

Click “Relaunch Now.”

You can now use ExpressVPN in your preferred language.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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Uninstall the app

To remove the app from your Mac computer, you must first close the app.

Open Terminal by going to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

Run /Applications/ExpressVPN.app/Contents/Resources/uninstall.tool

Type “yes” when asked, then enter your password to confirm you want to remove the app from your computer.

Close Terminal. ExpressVPN has been removed from your computer.

Enter your username and password to remove the ExpressVPN app.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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