Split tunneling allows you to choose which apps use your VPN on a Mac and which don’t and here we show you how to setup VPN split tunneling on a Mac.
What Is Split Tunneling?
Split tunneling is useful because it gives you more control over when and how your VPN is used.
For example, VPNs often make it difficult to print wirelessly as your VPN makes your Mac “invisible” to the printer.
Split tunneling allows you to still print over a VPN by still enabling you to connect to your printer without your VPN getting in the way.
Split tunneling can also be used to allow certain games to use your VPN but not certain apps or websites such as banking websites.
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Split Tunneling on Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur & M1/M2 Macs
It’s important to note that at the moment, there are very few VPNs that support split tunneling on the latest versions of macOS and Apple Silicon M1/M2 Macs.
If you try to setup split tunneling on macOS 11 (Big Sur) or macOS 12 (Monterey) or macOS 13 (Ventura) you’ll get an error message similar to this one on Express VPN: “Split tunneling is not available with this version of macOS and has been disabled.”
The reason for this is that Apple has made changes to the latest versions of macOS which make it harder for VPN services to do split tunneling on a Mac. This is partly for security reasons too.
At the moment therefore, most VPNs that support split tunneling on a Mac, can only do it on Intel Macs using macOS Catalina and earlier which means only macOS 10.15 or earlier.
The only VPN that supports split tunneling on Big Sur, Monterey and M1/M2 Macs is Hide.me which supports both standard split tunneling and inverse split tunneling.
Which VPNs Support Split Tunneling On Mac?
At the moment there are very few VPNs for Mac that support split tunneling. Not even the best VPNs such as NordVPN for Mac and SurfShark For Mac support split tunneling on macOS.
And as we’ve mentioned, those that do only support it on Intel Macs using macOS 10.15 Catalina or earlier.
However, the following VPNs are the few that do support split tunneling on a Mac:
- Private Internet Access
- Hide.me (also works on Big Sur, Monterey and M1 Macs)
How To Split Tunnel On Mac Using A VPN App
With this in mind, here we show you how to setup split tunneling on a Mac using a VPN app.
In this example, we’ll use ExpressVPN which supports split tunneling on Intel Macs running macOS Catalina or earlier but the instructions will be similar for other VPNs that support split tunneling on a Mac.
- Go to Preferences > General and check the Connection Per App box at the bottom of the panel.
- Then select Do Not Allow Selected Apps To Use The VPN. You then simply select which apps you want to exclude from using the VPN.
- Click OK and close the Preferences and you’re done.
How To Setup Split Tunneling On A Mac Manually
If your VPN does not support split tunneling, then you can setup split tunneling manually on a Mac using the macOS Network settings.
This requires using Terminal which is a free command based tool in macOS.
This is also how to split tunnel on a Mac if you’ve setup a VPN manually on a Mac to connect to an office or corporate environment.
- Make sure you are disconnected from your VPN
- Go to System Preferences > Network
- On the left, click on your VPN connection and go to Advanced settings > Options
- Uncheck the box for Send all traffic over VPN connection
- Click Save and then connect to your VPN.
- Go back to Application > Utilities > Terminal
- In macOS Terminal, type ifconfig and press Enter. You need to write down the name of the interface that is being used by the VPN on your Mac that will appear by the cursor. If you are using L2TP like most VPNs do, this is usually ppp0.
- You then need to login as a root user on your Mac in Terminal by typing sudo su into the terminal command line. You will be asked to enter your Mac password.
- You then need to enter the following command in Terminal but replacing “ppp0” with the name of your VPN interface if it’s different and replacing the destination subnet you want to route the VPN through.
sudo route -nv add -net 10 -interface ppp0
sudo route change default 192.168.0.1
You’ve then setup split tunneling manually on your Mac.
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