WARNING: It is highly recommended that you use a VPN (virtual private network) to hide your IP address and personal information when browsing blocked, banned or potentially unsafe sites. This is an additional security measure that can keep you and your personal information safe while you navigate the unknown parts of the internet. MacInfo recommends NordVPN to stay safe. They don’t retain logs of their user’s activity, they have great server coverage across the globe and are extremely affordable. Click here to get access to NordVPN for only $3 a month – a limited MacInfo offer.
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Whether you want to bypass parental control software, access blocked sites on a locked-down school computer or get around your government’s censorship regime, this article will show you various ways to access blocked websites on your Mac. Please note that some of these methods may not work in some countries, such as Mainland China, due to their particularly advanced censorship implementations that block services used to get around the blocks. It is also important to know that while some of these methods provide a high level of anonymity, it is potentially possible for your identity to compromised by law enforcement – something which is important to consider if engaging in illegal activity.
1. Use a free online proxy.
By far the easiest way to get around a blocked website on your Mac is to use a free online proxy. Commonly known as a “web proxy”, these services come in the form of a website where you type in a URL to access it via the proxy. For those of you who don’t know, a proxy is a server that acts as a intermediary between your Mac and a website, so you can anonymize yourself & get around blocked sites due to the fact that you never make a direct connection to the sites you’re visiting.
Because they are free many web proxies are loaded with intrusive banner ads and pop-ups, which can ruin your browsing experience. There are some that either have no advertising or moderate it, but with thousands of free web proxies available on the Internet they can be difficult to find – so here are three good ones to save you from searching:
Highwayproxy – a free service run from the Netherlands, Highwayproxy is about as simple and minimalistic as web proxies come. On its homepage which looks very similar to Google, just type the URL you want to view to experience fast, ad-free browsing. Very few (if any) websites are blocked by ISPs in the Nether, so Highwayproxy will unblock pretty much any site you’ll ever want to visit! If all you want to do is browse FaceBook at school or porn at work, then this service is what you need.
ProxFree – for those who want a free web proxy with servers in a multitude of different countries, ProxFree offers an ad-free solution. Like Highwayproxy, you simply type in a URL to visit it via the speedy proxy. But if you want to appear to be in a specific country, there’s a drop-down list underneath the URL box that allows you to select a certain server in a certain country. This is useful if you want to visit a website available only to Americans or only to Britons, and do no live in the respective nation.
HideInIP – very similar to ProxFree, HideInIP is a free online proxy where you can browse from proxy servers in several different countries. While there is a single advert on the homepage, you won’t experience any ads or other disruptions when you’re browsing with HideInIP.
Although free online proxies are a useful tool for unblocking websites and maintaining some degree on anonymity on your Mac, they are vulnerable to hacking & many are run by government agents or scammers who will harvest your personal information. So do not preform tasks such as online banking using these services – if you need to do things like that use a commercial VPN, which are explained below.
2. Install the Hola extension
If you want to unblock websites such as Hulu or the BBC iPlayer, Hola is an extension you might want to consider installing. Free, fast and extremely easy to set up, Hola is a proxy that works by routing your Internet traffic through the computers of other Hola users. In exchange some of the traffic belonging to other Hola users is routed through your Mac, much like a peer-to-peer network (which is how Hola can be offered for free). It’s possible to route your Mac’s traffic through any country that has Hola users, which includes many (if not most) of the world’s countries. One major disadvantage to this extension is the fact that it only support Google Chrome and Firefox – so if you use Safari or Opera, you’re going to have to use a different method to unblock websites on your Mac. For those of you who do use Chrome/Firefox however, Hola can be freely installed here.
3. Use a commercial VPN.
Commercial VPNs utilize the same basic principle as free online proxies to protect your identity and unblock websites on your Mac, but are a big step-up in security and functionality. A VPN from a reputable company is safe enough to do your online banking over, shop with a credit card and log in to sensitive websites. Setting up a VPN will most likely involve installing some software on your Mac, which all of your Internet traffic will be routed through – you will therefore need the computer’s administrator password. VPNs are a better long-term solution than web proxies because in addition to all of your Internet traffic being automatically routed through the VPN you can set many of them to turn on when your Mac starts up, meaning it will always be on. Here are some of the best value, most trusted commercial VPNs on the market today:
Features: NordVPN keeps zero logs of your activity and allows for TOR over VPN, which is a big deal if maximum privacy is important to you. They also accept payment via Bitcoin which can increase anonymity further.
Disadvantages: NordVPN offers servers in 47 countries, which falls a little short of Hide My Ass. This may be important to you if there is a certain obscure country that you want to route your VPN through.
Price per month: $8.00 (decreases to a minimum of $4 if you purchase for a year). Easily the cheapest out of the three VPNs listed here.
Features: ZenMate is an extremely fast and easy to use VPN service that not only offers desktop/mobile clients but browser extensions as well — this means for example that you can choose to encrypt only your web browser if you wish rather than the entire connection.
Disadvantages: Cannot manually pick which server you would like to connect to, only the country that the server is in. This will generally only matter for power users.
Price per month: $8.99 monthly, decreases to a minimum of $5 if purchased for a year.
Features: Connect to websites via any one of hundreds of servers located in more than 34 countries. Supports your iPhone/iPad as well as your Mac, all for one price. Offers unlimited data transfer, and does not keep records of your activity (so the authorities can’t get a-hold of it!)
Disadvantages: High price for the number of countries they have servers in – other VPN providers have many more countries to choose from, if having an IP address from a specific country is important to you.
Price per month: $12.95 (decreases when you buy for 6 months or a year).
4. Browse with TOR.
If none of the above options worked or were desirable, there is one more way to unblock websites on your Mac and remain anonymous: Browse via the TOR network using its free open-source software. The TOR network, synonymous with the Deep Web and its hidden services, was pioneered by the U.S army to provide an extremely high level of anonymity for its users. The network works by sending your traffic through a number of computers (called “nodes”) that are also using TOR, so that the end website doesn’t know who you are and your ISP doesn’t know what you’re visiting. In return your Mac will also be used as a node for others to route their TOR traffic through, which is pretty similar to how peer-to-peer file sharing works.
Since your ISP doesn’t know which websites you’re visiting, TOR is an effective way to unblock websites on your Mac. Some websites however block TOR traffic or require you to verify that you’re a human when browsing with TOR – this is because high volumes of traffic from one node in the network leads some sites to suspect abuse. Don’t worry though, as this is only a problem with a small number of websites.