This tutorial is a guide on how to set up SoftEther VPN on Mac. As the SoftEther VPN server can support multiple protocols, there are several options to connect from macOS.
This article also briefly explains what SoftEther is and what are the advantages of a SoftEther VPN server.
SoftEther VPN setup on macOS [Summary]
A SoftEther VPN server can “serve” multiple protocols such as SoftEther VPN, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SSL VPN, SSTP. To connect to such a server from macOS, you have the following options:
- Connect using the SoftEther VPN protocol:
- Option 1: Install the SoftEtherVPN GUI, a third-party application that is easy to configure Softether.
- Option 2 (Not recommended): Use the SoftEther VPN software provided by the SoftEther project.
- Connect using the L2TP/IPSec protocol:
- Set up an L2TP connection using the macOS built-in VPN client.
- Connect using OpenVPN:
Depending on the type of server you need to connect to, there are several options to use a VPN on Mac.
What is SoftEther and what are its advantages?
SoftEther is a project developed in Japan at the University of Tsukuba. It consists of the Softether protocol, a relatively new VPN protocol, and a VPN server that can accept connections using various VPN protocols (Softether, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, OpenVPN).
The SoftEther VPN server can be installed on Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows (check our guide on how to use a VPN on Windows), Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD. You may find more information about the SoftEther server architecture here.
SoftEther has some significant benefits:
- The SoftEther VPN project is open-source. Thus, free and constantly updated.
- The SoftEther protocol is fast.
- The protocol uses high-level encryption (AES 256-bit and RSA 4096-bit).
- The SoftEther traffic can penetrate highly-restricted firewalls.
- SoftEther fully supports IPv6.
What is a SoftEther VPN server?
The SoftEther VPN server is the central piece of the SoftEther system and accepts connections from various VPN clients or VPN bridges. Moreover, a SoftEther server can be accessed from various devices running operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS.
To use the SoftEther protocol, a SoftEther server needs to be installed. Such a server can successfully replace other VPN servers (e.g., OpenVPN).
Public SoftEther free VPN servers (using the SoftEther technology) can be found listed on the VPN Gate project website (also created by a team from the University of Tsukuba).
How to connect to a SoftEther VPN server from Mac?
To connect to a SoftEther VPN server, you need to configure a VPN client capable of communicating with the server.
The Mac application provided by the SoftEther VPN project should be the first choice. However, as mentioned on their website, the existing VPN client is only experimental, and it is “very difficult to use because of lack of GUI.” But, if you are comfortable with using command lines, you may give it a shot.
Thus, other options need to be explored.
Connect using the SoftEther VPN protocol
As the VPN client for Mac from SoftEther is not recommended, here is a third-party SoftEther client application you may use:
- Download the SoftEtherGUI app, a SoftEther VPN client.
- Unzip the file and copy the SoftEtherGUI.app to the Applications folder.
- Start SoftEtherGUI from your Launchpad.
- Enter your Mac username and password.
- You may need (for newer macOS versions) to grant running permissions.
- From the Menu bar, click on the SoftEtherGUI icon and Start SoftEtherVPN.
- Click Configure Accounts.
- Next, add a new configuration click the “+” button.
- Type in the following information (you need to know them from the SoftEther server administrator):
- Account Name: a name for your VPN connection;
- Server: the name or the IP address of the VPN server;
- Port: the communication port (e.g., 443);
- Hub: VPN;
- Username: the username provided by the server administrator.
- Password: the password provided by the server administrator.
- Check the Radius option (if required).
- Click the Apply button.
- Make sure you have the following options checked:
- Send All Traffic Over VPN.
- Use Remote DNS, to prevent DNS leaks.
- To connect to the VPN: Menu Bar > SoftEther icon > click on the name of the VPN configuration you just created.
Important! The SoftEtherGUI app is no longer maintained, but it works on macOS Catalina as well. However, you may need to stop and restart it several times until the application is able to properly initialize its settings.
The comments posted on the SoftEtherGUI project page show that SoftEther might also work on macOS Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave.
Connect using the L2TP/IPSec protocol
To connect to a SoftEther server using the L2TP/IPSec protocol, you need to create a manual L2TP VPN connection using the macOS built-in VPN client:
- Click on the Apple icon on the top left corner of your screen.
- Open System Preferences. Next, click on Network.
- Click on the “+” button from the left panel.
- For the Interface, select the VPN option.
- Next, select L2TP over IPSec as the VPN Type.
- Type-in a Service Name (e.g., “SoftEther Connect“).
- Click on the Create button.
- Enter the Sothether VPN server name or IP address to the Server Address textbox.
- Enter the VPN user name to the Account Name field (provided by the server administrator).
- Further, click the Authentication Settings button and enter your VPN account access password.
- Select the type of Machine Authentication: Shared Secret or Certificate (ask the server administrator). Click the OK button.
- The final step: click the Connect button to establish the connection to the SoftEther server using the L2TP VPN protocol.
To disconnect from the VPN: go to System Preferences > Network > VPN connection name and click on the Disconnect button.
When connecting using the L2TP protocol, you may consider disabling IPv6 to prevent IP leaks.
Connect using OpenVPN
Another option to connect to a SoftEther VPN server from Mac is to use the OpenVPN protocol. In order to be able to do that, you need an OpenVPN configuration file (.ovpn) from the server administrator. Download it from your email or from the URL sent by the administrator.
The most popular OpenVPN client application for Mac is Tunnelblick (alternatively, you may install Viscosity for Mac). Here is how to proceed:
- Download and install Tunnelblick.
- Search the .ovpn on your Mac.
- Drag and drop it on the Tunnelblick icon in the menu bar or on the list of configurations in the Configurations tab of the VPN Details window.
- Click on the Connect button to initiate the encrypted tunnel between your Mac and the VPN server.
Getting connected to a SoftEther server on Mac is not as easy as you would expect. However, depending on the available VPN protocols, you have several options for connecting SoftEther VPN on Mac, the options that were presented above.
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my SoftEther GUI Client wont load, every time I click “start…” it shows not responding on Activity Monitor. Currently im using Catalina 10.15.4, any solustion for this?
You probably have a tap kext already loaded (if you have Tunnelblick or other VPN client running) and SoftEther GUI Client is no able to load its own.
Here is what you could do:
– Force quit SoftEther GUI.
– Start SoftEther GUI and access “View log”.
– If you see the “Failed to load tap kext” error at the bottom of the log proceed with the following instructions.
– Open Terminal and run “kextstat | grep -v com.apple”
– You will probably see several records. Pay attention to the “Name (Version)” column.
– Run “sudo kextunload -b [name]”, where [name] is the name of the tap (the record should contain the “tap” string, for example, “net.tunnelblick.net”). Next, run it for all records.
– Run “kextstat | grep -v com.apple” and make sure there are no records left.
– Open the SoftEther GUI app. Check the logs for the “Failed to load tap kext” error. It should not be there anymore.
– Start SoftEtherVPN. You may need to close it and start it again.
Please let me know the result.
Is there a way to use my mac as a server for someone to connect through me?
Yes, you need to install the Softether VPN server on your Mac: http://www.softether-download.com/en.aspx
So I used to have the issue where it stopped responding. Now when I click on “Start”, it just closes. In “view Logs’ the text at the bottom is
“Impossible to vend the object”
Hi Eddy. I am not able to identify the error you mentioned. Are there other log records before this one?
I encountered the same issue. Below is the log. Thanks for your help in advance.
2020-09-09 22:08:27.743 SoftEtherGUI[529:6329] BundlePath: /private/var/folders/mk/lj31_2qs4k9cx44dz5d9rkfr0000gn/T/AppTranslocation/C5DCCA44-6A41-4C21-BD49-92C1EEF45F56/d/SoftEtherGUI.app/Contents/Resources
2020-09-09 22:08:27.751 SoftEtherGUI[529:6329] Failed to read data from KeyChain
2020-09-09 22:08:27.759 SoftEtherGUI[529:6329] BundlePath is /private/var/folders/mk/lj31_2qs4k9cx44dz5d9rkfr0000gn/T/AppTranslocation/C5DCCA44-6A41-4C21-BD49-92C1EEF45F56/d/SoftEtherGUI.app/Contents/Resources
2020-09-09 22:08:27.759 SoftEtherGUI[529:6336] /private/var/folders/mk/lj31_2qs4k9cx44dz5d9rkfr0000gn/T/AppTranslocation/C5DCCA44-6A41-4C21-BD49-92C1EEF45F56/d/SoftEtherGUI.app/Contents/XPCServices/execHelper.xpc/Contents/MacOS/execHelper
2020-09-09 22:08:27.759 SoftEtherGUI[529:6329] Done!
2020-09-09 22:08:32.314 execHelper[533:6407] Starting
2020-09-09 22:08:32.315 execHelper[533:6407] BundlePath is /private/var/folders/mk/lj31_2qs4k9cx44dz5d9rkfr0000gn/T/AppTranslocation/C5DCCA44-6A41-4C21-BD49-92C1EEF45F56/d/SoftEtherGUI.app/Contents/XPCServices/execHelper.xpc/Contents/Resources
2020-09-09 22:08:32.315 execHelper[533:6407] vpnclientPath is: /private/var/folders/mk/lj31_2qs4k9cx44dz5d9rkfr0000gn/T/AppTranslocation/C5DCCA44-6A41-4C21-BD49-92C1EEF45F56/d/SoftEtherGUI.app/Contents/MacOS/vpnclient
2020-09-09 22:08:32.316 execHelper[533:6407] Found 1 tun/tap kexts
2020-09-09 22:08:32.316 execHelper[533:6407] Checked tap
2020-09-09 22:08:32.316 execHelper[533:6407] Impossible to vend the object
Move the SoftetherGUI app in the Application folder and try again.
Hello. Sorry for the very late reply. I open it, it freezes for a minute then closes. I put it in the Applications folder like you said to someone else, and now I can open the thing before it freezes. So…yay?
This is what it gives me in Console
default 20:32:24.060289 -0600 launchservicesd CHECKIN:0x0-0x8de8de 58769 com.lastgrid.SoftEtherGUI
error 20:32:24.195497 -0600 SoftEtherGUI AEGetDescData of non-desc type ‘reco’ not a good idea
default 20:32:26.746345 -0600 authd Succeeded authorizing right ‘system.privilege.admin’ by client ‘/Applications/SoftEtherGUI.app’  for authorization created by ‘/Applications/SoftEtherGUI.app’  (13,0)
default 20:32:26.802784 -0600 authd Succeeded authorizing right ‘system.privilege.admin’ by client ‘/usr/libexec/security_authtrampoline’  for authorization created by ‘/Applications/SoftEtherGUI.app’  (3,0)
default 20:32:26.804128 -0600 security_authtrampoline executing /Applications/SoftEtherGUI.app/Contents/XPCServices/execHelper.xpc/Contents/MacOS/execHelper
default 20:32:34.077470 -0600 SoftEtherGUI LSExceptions shared instance invalidated for timeout.
I’m having same problem with using SoftEtherVPN for school with L2TP protocol. I have been given the server address, username and password, but I can’t connect to VPN. I’d be happy to email you screenshots.
Hi Nicolas. We have sent you an email. Please let us know more regarding the error you get.
I am trying to go for option two, but where do i get
Susanna, you get the server credentials from the server administrator or the VPN service provider. The Softether VPN server can communicate using the L2TP/IPSec protocol, but some settings need to be done on the server-side.
Hi Vlad. I had an issue using the Softether GUI app that you suggested. It didn’t work for me and I did have the “Failed to load tap kext” . When I entered the “kextstat | grep -v com.apple” command, there was nothing in the “Name (Version)” column. I even moved the application under the ‘Applications’ folder but that didn’t work. What should I do?
To be honest, there is not much you can do. The app stopped working for me completely. Probably due to the latest macOS updates. You should probably use another VPN protocol on Mac.