Can’t access your favorite websites? Need to unblock a site on your Mac and aren’t sure where to start? Don’t worry, there are plenty of options at your disposal. Accessing blocked websites on Mac hardware can be as easy as running specialized software each time you connect to the internet. VPNs are especially powerful in this regard, as they let you access blocked content without sacrificing overall speed. Read below for our full guide on how to unblock websites on a Mac!
Start with a Reliable VPN
Unblocking websites isn’t always an easy task. There are dozens of barriers to consider, everything from corporate firewalls to ISP blocks and government censorship efforts. Fortunately, VPNs are one of the best catch-all tools that can unblock the vast majority of websites without any extra effort on your part. Just sign up, install, and you’re ready to access blocked content!
Why You Need a VPN
It’s never been more important to keep your data secure when going online. Mass surveillance efforts put into place by governments are known to harvest information and store it for later use. ISPs collect data and sell it to the highest bidder. Even the social networking sites we use spy on our online activities, even when we surf to other websites. Connecting to the internet without any sort of protection has become a liability, and that’s why VPNs are indespensable.
Virtual private networks provide a wealth of privacy and anonymity features, all through encryption. This process wraps each packet of data that leaves your device in a layer of unbreakable cryptographic code. No one can see what’s inside these packets except your device and your VPN, creating a safe tunnel of privacy between you and the internet. VPNs also assign you a non-local IP address each time you connect to make it difficult to trace your real world location.
VPN Features You Need
When it comes to accessing blocked websites on Mac, not all VPNs are created equal. Below are the most important features you should consider when researching a strong VPN.
- Reputation – Can you trust your VPN? Using well-established services thousands of users recommend is a good starting point for keeping your data secure.
- Strong encryption – 256-bit AES encryption is the industry standard for securing online communications. Anything less and you could risk your identity being discovered.
- Logging policy – VPNs can store logs of your activity, just like an ISP. To ensure this doesn’t happen, go with a service that has a strict zero-logging policy.
- Software availability – You need to run custom VPN software on your Mac in order to access the service’s features. If they don’t support Mac OS, you’re out of luck!
- Security extras – Does the VPN offer an automatic kill switch? DNS leak protection? Identity obfuscation? These help keep you hidden online while providing extra tools for accessing blocked websites.
Recommended VPNs for Unblocking Websites on Mac
We used the criteria above to select some of the most reliable VPN services for accessing blocked websites. Use them on your Mac, your iPhone, or any other devices you own. Every time you connect you’ll be able to enjoy a safe and secure browsing experience.
1. ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN
ExpressVPN is an all around amazing VPN. It’s easily one of the fastest VPNs on the market, which is perfect for streaming videos and downloading large files. ExpressVPN is also incredibly easy to use, offering custom software and apps for a wide variety of platforms, including Mac OS and iPhone. All of this comes with full access to ExpressVPN’s network of hundreds of servers in 94 different countries, giving you a fast connection no matter where you need your virtual IP address to be located.
On the privacy side of things, ExpressVPN delivers strong 256-bit AES encryption on all data combined with a zero-logging policy on traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. Both of these help keep your data safe from prying eyes, allowing you to access blocked websites without leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind. You also get DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch features with ExpressVPN’s custom software.
2. NordVPN – Strong Protection
NordVPN is a trustworthy, fast, and reliable VPN that offers access to one of the largest networks in the industry. The list is constantly growing as the days go by, but at the time of writing NordVPN has over 3,300 servers in 59 different countries, meaning you’ll never have a hard time finding a fast server in the location of your choosing! NordVPN also lets you take advantage of incredible security and site unblocking features like double encryption, onion over VPN routing, and DDoS protection.
NordVPN also has a strict zero-logging policy that covers bandwidth, traffic, time stamps, and DNS access, more than most competitors, and plenty keep all of your data secure. Its custom Mac and iOS software comes with an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection features, as well, and all data that leaves your computer will be secured with strong 256-bit AES encryption.
3. CyberGhost – Reliable Security
CyberGhost delivers a secure connection and fast service no matter where you live. The VPN company runs a large network that deliver lightning fast connections on Mac, PC, and smartphone. Over 1,200 servers are currently online, covering 60 countries with dozens of options in each region. You need speed to access blocked websites, and CyberGhost definitely delivers.
On the privacy side of things, CyberGhost offers 256-bit AES encryption, the industry standard for unbreakable data protection, combined with a thorough zero-logging policy on traffic, time stamps, and IP address. DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch ensure your identity stays hidden no matter which sites you access, as well, allowing you to surf and stream anything you like without sacrificing your privacy.
4. PureVPN – Privacy and More
PureVPN delivers more than just VPN protection. If you need to unblock sites on your Mac and want to stay completely secure, this clever service offers an entire suite of protection features designed for ultimate online invisibility. Ever wanted built-in virus protection on your Mac? How about malware shields, app blocking, and anti-phishing DNS website filters? PureVPN has them all, and you don’t have to install any crazy extras to get them. Just install and start surfing.
PureVPN’s virtual private network features are perfect for keeping your data safe. Every user gets full access to over 750 servers in 140 different countries, each locked down with 256-bit encryption and a zero-logging policy on all traffic. PureVPN also bundles DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch into every version of its software, creating an amazing foundation for online privacy on your Mac, iPhone, or other device.
Why are Websites Blocked?
In most cases of blocked websites, you can regain access simply by installing a good VPN. Sometimes the filtering measures employed are more sophisticated, however, which means you could be forced to take stronger action. Below are some of the most common blocking situations with tips on how to defeat them.
Some businesses, universities, and large companies block access to certain websites on their internal internet service. This can range from simple pornography and gambling filters to more serious blocking efforts that prevent access to social media sites. Most of these firewalls are simplistic in nature, meaning you can access forbidden sites on your Mac without too much effort.
If you can’t access a site because it’s being blocked by a business or school, your best bet is to use a VPN. This helps obfuscate the contents of your data packets, making the filtering software unable to see what sites you’re trying to access. If the filter can’t see what you’re doing, it can’t stop you from doing it, allowing you to surf the web freely and privately. Just make sure to install the VPN on your Mac before accessing the censored network, as many companies do not allow access to VPN downloads.
Blocking access to content based on a user’s location is both a common and a completely legal practice. This is especially frustrating when using services like Netflix or YouTube, as both of these companies filter out video content based on where you live. If you want to access a website that’s blocked based on region, your best bet is, once again, a VPN.
VPNs provide encryption that wraps your data in unbreakable code. They also remove your local IP address from this data and replace it with one associated with the VPN’s network. So, for example, if you can’t access Facebook from your home, try opening your VPN software and connecting to a server in the U.S. or Canada. Reload the page and suddenly the site will show up, all thanks to virtual IP addresses!
One of the more aggressive forms of website blocking comes in the form of government censorship. Countries like China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are famous for their tightly controlled web access. In these cases it’s much more difficult to access blocked websites on a Mac. A VPN can usually help, especially if it was made for breaking through censorship barriers, but sometimes the methods employed are too strict to easily bypass.
If a government or ISP censorship firewall is preventing you from accessing a website, try using a VPN first. If that fails, use one of the alternate methods described below.
Other Ways to Access Blocked Websites
VPNs are great all-purpose tools for accessing most blocked websites, but sometimes they simply aren’t enough. If you need access to a certain site and don’t mind getting your hands dirty with a little technical work, the methods below are almost guaranteed to help you break through the barrier.
Shadowsocks (SOCKS5 Proxy)
Shadowsocks was designed to open up internet access in areas where free speech is under attack. It uses the SOCKS5 protocol (Socket Secure 5) which transfers data packets between clients and servers using a proxy server. Simple, but remarkably effective. It also doesn’t cause as much slowdown as other alternative methods.
To use shadowsocks you’ll need to rent a cheap shadowsocks server via the website above, which can be expensive. If a VPN isn’t cutting it, this is definitely the way to go. Shadowsocks offers both a GUI and command line client for Mac OS.
SSH (Secure SHell) tunnels are a unique method of wrapping data in a layer of SSH encryption, allowing them to pass through filtering and censorship services undetected. SSH is used by a number of mainstream services and software, including webmasters sending files from hosts to servers. For this reason it’s extremely unlikely SSH traffic will be blocked by any government or business entity.
SSH tunnels can be extremely slow, but they’re perfect for accessing a single blocked website. You won’t be able to use it for streaming videos or downloading large files, but if social media or news sites are all you need, SSH can work surprisingly well. Learn more about SSH tunnelling by reading our complete guide.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) tunnels are another legitimate protocol that can help you access blocked websites. If you’ve ever seen a site with a green padlock icon in your browser’s URL bar, that means it’s secured with HTTPS. The “S” points to SSL tunnel encryption. Accessing blocked websites using one of these protocols is surprisingly straightforward.
The downside to SSL tunnels is that you often need separate software to use them. Stunnel is the most popular, but it isn’t available for Mac. Instead, try using a VPN that offers SSL tunneling as part of its core package. NordVPN is one of the best in this regard, so if you need to unblock a website on your Mac, that’s the way to go.
The Tor Browser can break through just about any website block, no matter how strong it is or who’s deploying it. There are some serious pros and cons to running the software, however, including the fact that you can’t download torrents or watch videos while using it. If simple site access is all you need, though, Tor is an easy solution. Check out our feature How to Use Tor: A Guide to Getting Started to start using Tor on your Mac.
Staying safe online is crucial in today’s privacy-oriented world. Being able to unblock websites is a wonderful side effect of this process. VPNs are the most useful tools you can deploy in this regard. They help you access blocked sites, stream movies from other countries, and protect your privacy no matter what you do on the internet.