Most VPN providers offer their customers custom VPN clients to connect to the network. This software ranges from harmless to non-functional and can be a place of frustration for users.
Fortunately, you probably don’t have to use it. Most service providers also support OpenVPN, an open source VPN standard that runs through a separate software client. The best known Mac OpenVPN client is Tunnelblick, and it is excellent. Tunnelblick is designed specifically for the Mac, and its sleek icon resides quietly in your menu bar, ready to connect to a VPN at any time.
To get started, you need to install Tunnelblick from the developer’s website and install the necessary OpenVPN configuration files from your VPN provider.
1. Charge the latest stable version from the Tunnelblick website and install it on your Mac.
2. The first time you open Tunnelblick, a message appears stating that you need the VPN configuration files. Click “I have configuration files.”
3. The following window explains how to install the VPN configuration files. Click OK. ”
4. The above configuration files should be available from your VPN provider as a list of files with a .ovpn extension. These files contain all the information about your VPN services that Tunnelblick needs to work. You may need to contact customer service or do a Google search to find them.
5. After downloading the files, open the Tunnelblick configuration screen by clicking its icon in the menu bar and selecting “VPN Information…”
6. To add configuration files to Tunnelblick, drag and drop the .ovpn files to the left menu pane of the Finder. Do not drag over other files, such as .crt or .pem files.
7. Select “Apply to all” and click “Me only” in the next window.
8. Configurations are automatically added to the system and are available for connection.
Log in and log out
1. To open a new VPN connection, click the icon in the Tunnelblick menu bar and select a configuration.
2. Enter the username and password of your VPN service provider and click “OK”.
3. A small growl window will appear in the upper right corner of the screen showing the status of the connection. Once connected, the notification window will disappear.
4. If the Tunnelblick icon is now black instead of light gray, the connection is established.
5. To see the connection status and external IP address, click the Tunnelblick icon and look at the first line. Click this same menu item to sign out.
Sharing credentials between configurations
If your VPN provider has multiple exit points, you can configure Tunnelblick to use the same login information for everyone. Otherwise, it will ask for your login information once during installation, which can be annoying. If you can, set it up before connecting to a VPN for the first time, as this will reduce any possible errors.
1. Click the Tunnelblick icon.
2. Select “VPN Information…” to open the configuration menu.
3. In the menu screen that opens, click the Settings tab and then click the Advanced button…
4. On the “VPN Tags” tab, select “All configurations use common tags”. This will configure all your VPN connections to use the same username and password.
5. To specify the user name and password used by the credentials, connect to a VPN connection that does not already have credentials stored.
6. Enter your username and password and be sure to select “Save to Keychain” under your username and password.
7. After you log in, the application saves this login information and applies it to any other VPN connections you start.
Tunnelblick is a powerful OpenVPN client for MacOS that can handle multiple configurations at once. If you get the OpenVPN configuration files from your VPN provider, you can get started.