How to set up PPTP VPN on Mac (macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and below)

How to set up PPTP VPN on Mac (macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and below)

This short tutorial helps you set up a PPTP VPN connection on your Mac. It also explains why PPTP is no longer supported on macOS starting from version 10.12 (Sierra) and what are the alternative solutions to set up PPTP VPN on Mac.

PPTP VPN setup on macOS [Summary]

Important! Taking into account that are no free and working solutions for setting up PPTP on Macs running Big Sur and Catalina, you may take into consideration setting up PPTP on a router and connect your Mac to it on cable or WiFi.

  • For macOS 11 (Big Sur): The new macOS has restricted the options to use PPTP even further. At this time, the only working solution we could find is the VPN Tracker 365 (pre-release version). It is a Universal app for both Intel Macs and Apple Silicon M1 Macs running Big Sur.
  • For macOS 10.15 (Catalina): The PPTP library was removed from the macOS kernel.
    • Option 1: Install PrimoVPN, a light, and affordable PPTP client for Mac.
    • Option 2: Use VPN Tracker, a commercial macOS VPN client.
    • Option 3: Select an alternative VPN protocol.
  • For macOS 10.12 (Sierra), macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), and macOS 10.14 (Mojave): The PPTP VPN protocol was removed from the built-in VPN client.
    • Option 2: Use Shimo or PrimoVPN, a commercial VPN client application.
    • Option 3: Alternatively, set up an IKEv2, Cisco IPSec, or L2TP over IPSec connection.
  • For Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) and below (Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, etc.):
    • Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen.
    • Go to System Preferences > Network.
    • Click on the “+” button from the left panel.
    • Select the VPN option as the Interface.
    • Select PPTP as the VPN Type and enter a Service Name.
    • Click on the Create button.
    • Enter the VPN server name or IP to the Server Address textbox and the VPN user name to the Account Name field.
    • Click the Authentication Settings button and enter your VPN account access password. Click the OK button.
    • Finally, click the Connect button.

Are you looking for more options to connect to a VPN? Here is how to use a VPN on Mac.

What is PPTP and what are its advantages?

PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol is a VPN protocol introduced in 1999 by Microsoft and adopted on other operating systems as well, including macOS.

The PPTP protocol became popular due to its speed and simplicity. By the way, PPTP is recommended for increasing your VPN speed. However, several security vulnerabilities were discovered (related to the PPP authentication and the design of the MPPE protocol), and PPTP was no longer seen as safe.

Nevertheless, PPTP is still used to set up VPN connections on Windows, on Linux, and create encrypted PPTP tunnels on Android.

Why is PPTP not available for macOS 10.12 (Sierra) and above?

Due to security concerns, Apple decided to remove PPTP support from the built-in VPN client, starting with macOS Sierra (10.12). Similarly, PPTP was deprecated from iOS 10.

Additionally, starting from macOS 10.15 (Catalina), the PPTP.ppp plugin (the one responsible for creating the PPTP VPN connection) was completely removed from the macOS kernel.

PPTP VPN alternatives for macOS 10.12 and above

The simplest and the most effective way to solve the problem of connecting to a PPTP VPN from macOS is to choose an alternative VPN protocol.

From version 10.12, macOS supports VPN protocols that are more secure than PPTP: IKEv2, Cisco IPSec, and L2TP over IPSec.

From version 10.15 (Catalina), using one of the protocols mentioned above is the only free solution (as far as I know).

The setup is straightforward: during the manual configuration, choose the type of the VPN protocol and proceed accordingly.

How to set up a PPTP VPN on Mac - Alternative options

A more desirable approach is to install OpenVPN on Mac if the VPN server accepts the OpenVPN communication protocol. WireGuard is also a great PPTP alternative.

How to set up a PPTP connection on macOS Catalina (10.15)?

As Apple removed the PPTP.ppp kernel extension starting from macOS Catalina, several workarounds that were previously available (check the next section) stopped working.

I have spent many hours searching for a solution to this problem and here it is what I have found:

  • (Free solution, but it did not work for me.) You may install a PPTP library, create the config file, and enable the PPTP connection from the command line. The approach is described here. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it work and kept receiving the “MPPE required but peer refused” error.
  • (Affordable approach) I recently discovered the PrimoVPN app, a light PPTP VPN client. I was able to establish a PPTP connection from my Mac running macOS Catalina.
    Set up PPTP VPN on Catalina - PrimoVPN
  • (Expensive, but working.) Another working solution is the commercial VPN client called VPN Tracker (thank you, Chris, for your suggestion!). It installs its own PPTP library in order to be able to create the PPTP connections. Unfortunately, VPN Tracker is quite expensive for the regular VPN user ($99.99/year). However, if you need to urgently get a PPTP connection you may sign up for the free trial.
How to set up a PPTP VPN on macOS Catalina - VPN Tracker client application

How to set up PPTP VPN on macOS 10.12, macOS 10.13, and macOS 10.14?

Even though for these macOS versions, PPTP is no longer available in the macOS built-in VPN client, a PPTP connection can still be set up. Here are the available options.

Important! These solutions do not work on macOS Catalina and above.

Use the command line

A simple script can be created to configure and directly use the PPTP.ppp plugin in order to initiate a VPN over PPTP connection.

Basically, you need to create a file and paste the following commands (more details here):

plugin PPTP.ppp
noauth
remoteaddress "------VPN server name or IP address------"
user "------VPN username------"
password "------VPN password------"
redialcount 1
redialtimer 5
idle 1800
# mru 1368
# mtu 1368
receive-all
novj 0:0
ipcp-accept-local
ipcp-accept-remote
refuse-eap
refuse-pap
refuse-chap-md5
hide-password
mppe-stateless
mppe-128
# require-mppe-128
looplocal
nodetach
ms-dns 8.8.8.8
usepeerdns
# ipparam gwvpn
defaultroute
debug

Then, from the Terminal app, execute the commands in the file with the PPTP.ppp plugin:

sudo pppd file ~/path-to-your-file/vpn.txt

The script will create a VPN connection to the specified server and it will authenticate with the provided username and password.

To disable the VPN stop the pppd process:

killall pppd

You may create a file for every VPN server you want to connect to and initiate the PPTP connection as needed.

Use the ShimoVPN client application

The Shimo VPN application is a commercial VPN client (€49 per user) for macOS that easily creates VPN connections of various types. It is particularly suitable for connecting employees to the company servers, or students to the university computers.

The Shimo VPN app supports all major VPN protocols: CiscoVPN, OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, and all standard-compliant IPSec connections. Shimo also enables you to set up split tunneling on Mac or to establish encrypted SSH connections, including port forwarding for secure web browsing.

For macOS Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave, Shimo is an excellent PPTP VPN client:

  1. Download and install Shimo.
  2. Click on the Shimo icon to open Shimo Preferences.
  3. Open the Accounts tab and click on ‘+’ to create a new PPTP/L2TP connection.How to set up PPTP VPN on Mac with Shimo VPN client app
  4. Enter the Remote Host (VPN server name or IP address), Username, and Password.
  5. Connect to the newly created account.

Unfortunately, for macOS Catalina, Shimo is not able to create PPTP (or L2TP) connections.

How to set up PPTP VPN on macOS 10.11 and below?

For older OS X (macOS) versions, the setup of a PPTP VPN connection consists of the following steps:

  1. Click on the Apple icon from the menu bar, in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Open System Preferences > Network.
  3. Click on the “+” button from the left panel.How to set up a PPTP connection on Mac - Leopard
  4. For the Interface, select the VPN option.
  5. Next, select PPTP as the VPN Type and type-in a Service Name.
  6. Click on the Create button.
  7. Enter the VPN server name or IP to the Server Address textbox and the VPN user name to the Account Name field.
  8. Further, click the Authentication Settings button and enter your VPN account access password. Click the OK button.
  9. Lastly, click the Connect button.

To disable the VPN on Mac, enter the VPN connection properties (System Preferences > Network > VPN connection name) and click on the Disconnect button.

Important! When setting up a PPTP VPN connection it is important to disable IPv6 on Mac to prevent IP leaks.

Set up PPTP on your router

As there are no simple ways to connect to PPTP from the recent macOS versions, I recommend considering setting up PPTP on your main router or to an additional router (if you have one available).

Most of the modern routers are VPN-enabled and accept PPTP connections. To set up a VPN connection on your router you have to:

  1. Log in to the admin area (control panel) of your router.
  2. Look for the VPN settings page and choose PPTP.
  3. Set the PPTP parameters (server hostname or IP address, username, password) and save.
  4. Connect your Mac by WiFi or cable to the router and test the VPN connection.

Summary

The latest versions of macOS (10.15 and above) do not support PPTP, and you need to choose an alternative VPN protocol to hide your IP address.

For previous macOS versions, PPTP can be either set up from the Network interface (OS X 10.11 and below) or from the command line (macOS 10.14 and below). Additionally, the Shimo VPN client is a good option.

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