WARNING: We recommend 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 internet. MacInfo recommends NordVPN to stay safe.
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 still be compromised by law enforcement - not that we condone illegal behavior in the slightest, but some folks just don't want to be snooped on!
Table of Contents
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 an intermediary between your Mac and a website, so you can anonymize yourself & get around blocked sites, because 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. Some have no or moderate advertising levels, 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:
- 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 not live in the respective nation.
- Hide.Me- The homepage, which looks very similar to Google, is honestly just a lot more visually appealing than all the other proxies available on the internet. You can just type the URL you want to view to experience fast, ad-free browsing. Hide.Me 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.
- VPNBook - very similar to ProxFree, VPNBook is a free online proxy where you can browse from proxy servers in UK, US, France, and Canada. While there is a single advert on the homepage, you won't experience any ads or other disruptions when you're browsing with VPNBook. With that said, in our experience, this tends to slow down a bit, so if you're an impatient person, this one's probably not for you.
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 and many are run by government agents or scammers who will harvest your personal information. So do not perform tasks such as online banking using these services - if you need to do things like that use a commercial VPN, which is explained further below.
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 supports 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 Grade VPN
Commercial VPNs utilize the same basic principle as free online proxies to protect your identity and unblock websites on your Mac but offer a massive 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, and 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 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's a quick rundown on the VPN solution that we think offers the most value, and that is one of the most trusted commercial VPNs on the market today:
- Advantages: NordVPN keeps zero logs of your activity and allows for TOR over the VPN, which is a big deal if maximum privacy is important to you. They also accept payment via Bitcoin which can increase anonymity further. Another huge, and relatively new advantage NordVPN sports is a feature called Threat Protection that actively prevents malware, tracking, malicious ads while collecting data on what sites are safe and what sites are not. It is an additional safety suite wrapped into the VPN functionality.
- Disadvantages: NordVPN offers servers in 59 countries, which falls a little short of one of its competitors, HideMyAss. This may be important to you if there is a certain obscure country that you want to route your VPN through.
- Price: If you want a monthly package, NordVPN will cost you $11.95, however, if you're looking to save, you can get an annual bundle that will cost you as low as $3.49 a month. Easily the cheapest and best value out of the three VPNs listed here.
4. Browse With TOR
If none of the above options worked, or they simply aren't viable for you, 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 will block TOR traffic, however, 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.
Click here to download TOR for macOS.
One of the simplest ways to block or unblock a website is through the Screen Time feature on your Mac. Here’s how you can do that.
- From your desktop, click on the Apple icon or navigate to the dock at the bottom and go to System preferences.
- Go to Screen Time. You will get another introductory window, click continue.
- If you're using a Mac with a family and have an active Family Sharing group, you will get a pop-up to choose the user you're going to change the settings for. Select your family member and contine.
- Click on the Content & Privacy on the left. You will get an option to turn it on upon clicking it, in case it isn't.
- Click on Content, and select Unrestricted Access next to the Web Content.
You can also add specific websites you want to allow or block by selecting the "Allowed Websites Only" option to only these websites.
iPhone or iPad Settings
You can also access similar settings to parental control on your iPhone or iPad to do the same.
- First, open the Settings app.
- Tap on Screen Time.
- Tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
- Tap on Content Restrictions.
- Go to Web Content.
- Select Unrestricted Access.
This will unblock any blocked websites that you may come across. You can also achieve the same result by completing disabling content and privacy restrictions. You can do that by navigating to the same section from Screen Time.
Unblock Sites Using Terminal
The Mac OS terminal can be used to unblock websites as well. However, this is only applicable on sites that are blocked by editing the hosts file in the first place. If you suspect a site is blocked using the hosts file, follow along to learn how you can edit the hosts file to unblock the said website.
- Go to your Finder, and click on the Applications.
- Open the Utilities folder.
- Inside the folder, run the Terminal.
- Inside the Terminal, type "sudo nano /private/etc/hosts" (without the quotation marks), and press Enter. It will open the hosts file inside the terminal text editor.
- You will find a bunch of websites here, locate the one that is blocked for you.
- Go to the beginning of the line by clicking, and hash it out with #.
- Now, press Control + O and Enter. This will save the file for you.
- Close the file, press Control + X.
- Finally, flush the DNS cache of your Mac by entering this command: "sudo dscacheutil -flushcache"
When you type ‘#’ at the beginning of any line, the system ignores anything typed after it. Once you’ve typed the hashtag character, try accessing the site, and you should be able to access it. You might see some helpful prompts at the bottom of the terminal indicating "^X" or "^O". It simply means Control + X or Control + O.