This guide will show you how to set up ExpressVPN for Mac on Mac OS X.
This app requires Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), or 10.15 (Catalina) to use.
You can find your Mac version by clicking on About This Mac in the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen.
- 1 Download the app
- 2 Get your activation code
- 3 Install the app
- 4 Set up ExpressVPN
- 5 Connect to a VPN server location
- 6 Disconnect from the VPN server location
- 7 Choose a different VPN server location
- 8 Switch to a different VPN protocol
- 9 How to add shortcuts to the ExpressVPN app
- 10 Launch and connect ExpressVPN on startup
- 11 Use the VPN Speed Test
- 12 Use Split Tunneling
- 13 Optional: Use the Menu Bar
- 14 Use the ExpressVPN browser extension
- 15 Access printer and shared folders on local area network
- 16 Change languages in the ExpressVPN Mac app
- 17 Uninstall the app
Download the app
Open the Welcome Email you received when you signed up for ExpressVPN. Click the link in the email.
If you cannot find the link, sign in to your account here.
Once you have clicked the link in the welcome email or signed in to the website, click on Download for Mac. This will start the download for your app.
Do not close the window! You will need it for the next step.
Get your activation code
To use ExpressVPN on your Mac computer, you will need your activation code.
To copy your activation code to the clipboard, click the copy code icon in the top-right corner of the box containing the code. You will be asked to provide it later.
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.
After selecting install destination, click Install.
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.
Wait for the installation to complete, then click Close.
Set up ExpressVPN
After the installation is complete, the ExpressVPN app will open automatically. Click Sign In.
On the ExpressVPN Setup screen, enter your activation code. This is the code you found earlier. You can paste it by pressing Command + V, or right-clicking the rectangular field and clicking Paste. Then click Sign In.
You will be asked whether you want ExpressVPN to launch on startup. Select your preference to continue.
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.
Congratulations! You are now ready to access our many VPN server locations.
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.
Once you see the “Connected” message on the app screen, you can begin surfing with freedom and security!
Underneath your current location, you will see a list of app shortcuts. Shortcuts allow you to quickly launch apps and sites (such as for video streaming) directly from ExpressVPN right after you are connected. You can find out more about shortcuts here.
Note: A single ExpressVPN subscription can be used simultaneously on five devices, regardless of platform. If you try to use more than five devices simultaneously on one subscription, you will see this screen:
Disconnect from the VPN server location
To disconnect from the VPN server location, click the On Button while the VPN is on.
You will know you are disconnected when the “Not connected” message is shown.
Choose a different VPN server location
To choose a different VPN server location, click on the location picker to access the list of VPN locations.
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 All tab lists the VPN server locations by region. You can expand and collapse the lists by tapping on the triangular arrowheads.
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.
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.
After disconnecting from a server location you selected, you can return to your Smart Location (the location recommended for the smoothest experience) by clicking Smart Location.
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 on the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences…. Make sure you are not connected to the VPN when doing this.
In the Protocol tab, select the protocol you want to use, then return to the app’s home screen.
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.
To launch an app or website, click its icon when connected to the VPN.
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 on 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.
Launch and connect ExpressVPN on startup
To launch and connect ExpressVPN when starting up your Mac:
- In the ExpressVPN app, click the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences > General.
- Under Startup, check the boxes for launching ExpressVPN on startup and connecting to your last used VPN location.
Use the VPN Speed Test
To use the VPN Speed Test, you must be disconnected from the VPN.
Click on the hamburger menu (≡), then click Speed Test.
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.
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.
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.
Enabling Split Tunneling
Important: The below instructions are only for macOS High Sierra (10.13) users.
Follow the steps above in this section, but when prompted, click Open System Preferences.
You will see a notification for “System Extension Blocked.” Click OK.
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.
You will now be able to go back to the app and change the split-tunneling settings.
IN DEPTH: Learn more about the split-tunneling feature
Optional: Use the Menu Bar
If you do not want to use the ExpressVPN app via its main window, you can choose to operate it by just using the Menu Bar. This option gives you access to almost all of the functions available in the main app window.
To operate the app from the Menu Bar only: On your desktop (while the main app window is displayed), click the ExpressVPN Menu Bar icon and then click Preferences….
In the Advanced tab, select Menu Bar & Dock.
You can repeat the steps above to select whether to use ExpressVPN from both the Menu Bar and Dock, from the Menu Bar only, or the Dock only.
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.
Important: You cannot use the ExpressVPN browser extension without the ExpressVPN app.
Learn more about the ExpressVPN browser extension here.
Some users may have problems accessing shared folders and printers on LAN while connected to the VPN.
For assistance, see Network Lock instructions and instructions on adding your printer IP address.
Change languages in the ExpressVPN Mac app
The ExpressVPN Mac app is currently only available in English.
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
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.