How to share a VPN connection from your Mac

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This tutorial guide will show you how to share your VPN connection from a Mac computer. Follow these steps to make your Mac a virtual router.

In order to share your Mac’s VPN connection over Wi-Fi, your Mac must be connected to the internet with an ethernet cable.

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Set up an L2TP VPN on your Mac
Configure your L2TP VPN
Connect to your L2TP VPN
Set up your VPN for sharing
Start Internet Sharing
Stop Internet Sharing
Disconnect your L2TP VPN


Set up an L2TP VPN on your Mac

Important: L2TP-IPsec provides weak security benefits and should only be used for anonymization or for changing locations.

Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen, then select System Preferences….

Apple menu with System Preferences... highlighted.

In the System Preferences menu, click the Network icon.

System Preferences menu with Network highlighted.

In the Network window, click on the plus (+) sign at the bottom of the left panel to add a new service. In the pop-up window, select the following options:

Interface: VPN
VPN Type: L2TP over IPsec
Service Name: [choose a name for your VPN connection]

Then click Create.

Network window showing field for assigning your network a name.

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

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Configure your L2TP VPN

For these next steps you will need your username, password, and a server address. You can find these under the Manual Configuration (PPTP and L2TP-IPsec) section of the Set Up ExpressVPN page.

To find your ExpressVPN account information, sign in to your ExpressVPN account, click on Set Up ExpressVPN, then click on Manual Config on the left side of the screen and choose PPTP & L2TP-IPsec.

To copy your username and password, click on the “copy” icons in the top-right corners of the username and password fields.

ExpressVPN credentials for PPTP and L2TP manual config.

Enter the following details:

Configuration: Default
Server Address: [server address of your choice]
Account Name: [username]

Check the box next to “Show VPN status in menu bar” to see your VPN connection status in the menu bar.

Mac Network menu with Configuration dropdown highlighted and VPN status box checked.

Next, click on Authentication Settings…. On the User Authentication screen, enter your password, then enter 12345678 for Shared Secret. Click OK.

Mac Network menu showing fields for Password and Shared Secret.

Next, click on Advanced…Check the box for “Send all traffic over VPN connection,” then click OK.

Options tab of Network menu with Send all traffic over VPN box highlighted.

Click Apply to save all of your settings.

Network menu with Apply button highlighted.

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

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Connect to your L2TP VPN

Click Connect to start your VPN connection.

Network menu with Connect button highlighted.

You are now connected to an ExpressVPN server.

Important: Do not run or connect to the ExpressVPN app on your Mac when preparing to share your L2TP connection.

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

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Set up your VPN for sharing

Return to the System Preferences menu, then click on Sharing.

System Preferences menu with Sharing icon highlighted.

In the Sharing menu, select Internet Sharing from the left panel. The Internet Sharing options will appear on the right side of the screen. Set the following settings:

Share your connection from: [the L2TP VPN connection you just created]

To computers using: check the box for Wi-Fi

Sharing menu with Internet sharing and Wi-Fi highlighted.

Select Wi-Fi Options…, and enter the following details:

Network Name: [choose a network name]
Channel: [leave as default]
Security: WPA2 Personal
Password: [choose a password]
Verify: [re-enter your password]

Then click OK.

Sharing menu's Wi-Fi options window, with Security dropdown and OK button highlighted.

Anyone wishing to connect their device to your VPN network will need the password you have just set.

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

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Start Internet Sharing

On the Sharing menu, check the box next to Internet Sharing.

You will see a prompt asking you to turn on Internet Sharing. Click Start.

Sharing menu with Internet Sharing and Start button highlighted.

When Internet Sharing has been activated, a green light will appear next to the text: “Internet Sharing: On.”

Sharing menu with Internet sharing status showing green for On.

In your menu bar, you now have two new icons.

The following icon shows your VPN connection status:

Menu bar with VPN connection icon highlighted.

The following icon shows your Internet Sharing status:

Menu bar with sharing icon highlighted.

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

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Stop Internet Sharing

To stop Internet Sharing, return to System Preferences > Sharing.

Uncheck the box next to Internet Sharing.

Sharing menu showing internet sharing box checked.

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

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Disconnect your L2TP VPN

To disconnect your L2TP VPN, go to System Preferences > Network.

Click Disconnect.

Network menu with Disconnect button highlighted.

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

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