How to set up and use the ExpressVPN Mac app – Version 7.x on Mac OS X

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This guide will show you how to set up ExpressVPN for Mac on Mac OS X. Note: This app requires Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan)10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), or 10.14 (Mojave) 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.

Prefer manual setupSee the instructions for manual setup for Mac OpenVPN and Mac L2TP.

Jump to section

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 Connection Per App (split tunneling)
Optional: Use the Menu Bar
Use the Spotlight Search to connect instantly
Use the ExpressVPN browser extension
Access printer and shared folders on local area network
Uninstall the app


Download the app

Open the Welcome Email you received when you signed up for ExpressVPN. Click the link in the email.

ExpressVPN welcome email with Set Up ExpressVPN button highlighted.

If you cannot find the link, sign in to your account here.

ExpressVPN Sign-in screen with Sign In button highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN setup screen with Download for Mac button highlighted.

Do not close the window! You will need it for the next step.

If you want to download and run an older version of ExpressVPN, click Show all versions and download the app version you want. You can find the setup instructions for other ExpressVPN Mac apps here.

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.

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.

ExpressVPN setup screen showing activation code and with Click to Copy button highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN Installer introduction with Continue button highlighted.

After selecting install destination, click Install.

Installation Type screen with Install button highlighted.

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.

Existing Account screen with Continue button highlighted.

Wait for the installation to complete, then click Close.

Installer Summary screen with Close button highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN Sign-in screen with Sign In button highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN setup screen showing activation code field.

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

ExpressVPN Launch on Startup request screen.

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.

ExpressVPN diagnostics sharing request screen.

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.

ExpressVPN home screen with On Button highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN home screen showing shortcuts bar.

Note: A single ExpressVPN subscription can be used simultaneously on three devices, regardless of platform. If you try to use more than three devices simultaneously on one subscription, you will see this screen:

ExpressVPN Too Many Connections warning.

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 while the VPN is on.

ExpressVPN Connected screen with On Button highlighted.

You will know you are disconnected when the “Not connected” message is shown.

ExpressVPN Not Connected screen.

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 on the ellipsis (…) to access the list of VPN locations.

ExpressVPN home screen with Location Picker ellipsis icon highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN locations menu with Recommended tab highlighted.

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

ExpressVPN locations menu showing all locations tab.

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.

ExpressVPN locations menu showing Recent locations.

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.

ExpressVPN locations menu with search bar highlighted.

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.

ExpressVPN home screen with Smart Location highlighted.

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 on the hamburger menu (≡), then click Preferences…. Make sure you are not connected to the VPN when doing this.

ExpressVPN hamburger menu with Preferences highlighted.

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

Note: PPTP and L2TP-IPsec provide weak security benefits and should only be used for anonymization or for changing locations.

ExpressVPN Preferences menu showing Protocol tab.

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.

ExpressVPN Connected screen showing shortcuts bar.

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 PreferencesShortcuts.

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.

ExpressVPN Preferences menu showing Shortcuts tab.

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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 PreferencesGeneral.
  2. Under Startup, check the boxes for launching ExpressVPN on startup and connecting to your last used VPN location.

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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.

ExpressVPN hamburger menu with Speed Test highlighted.

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 IndexLOW Latency, and HIGH Download Speed.

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

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Use Connection Per App (split tunneling)

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

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

To change your “Connection Per App” settings, click the hamburger menu (≡) and go to Preferences….

Tick the box in the Connection Per App 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.

ExpressVPN Connection per App menu.

Enabling Split Tunneling

Note: 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.

ExpressVPN split-tunneling permissions menu with Open System Preferences button highlighted.

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

system extension blocked

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.

security privacy

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

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

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If you don’t want to use the ExpressVPN app via the main window, you can choose to operate it by just using the Menu Bar. This grants almost all of the functionalities of the app as when it is operated by the 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….

select-preferences-menu

In the Advanced tab, select Menu Bar & Dock.

expressvpn mac 7 appearance

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.

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

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Use the Spotlight Search to connect instantly

Mac power users, now you can use the Spotlight Search to connect to your Favorite, Recommended, or Recently Connected server locations instantly.

How to connect instantly via Spotlight Search:

Hit Command (⌘) + spacebar.

In the Spotlight Search, start typing: Connect to [server location name]

Select the location you wish to connect to and press Return, or double-click it.

connect instantly with the spotlight search integration

This will open the ExpressVPN app and automatically connect you to your server location.

How to disconnect instantly via Spotlight Search

Hit Command (⌘) + spacebar.

In the Spotlight Search, start typing: Disconnect

spotlight-search-disconnect

This will open the ExpressVPN app and automatically disconnect you from your server location.

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.

expressvpn mac 7 get browser extension

Note: 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 experience problems with 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.

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.

enter password to uninstall app

Close Terminal. ExpressVPN has been removed from your machine.

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

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