How do I configure a VPN on my iPhone? With the built-in network configuration tool!

Apple makes it easy to set up a VPN client that supports L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec. If your company has a private intranet that you need access to while on the road, or if you travel the globe and want your iPhone to think it's still in your home country (or a different country), a VPN will help you out. Here's how.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network, or VPN, is a service that creates a direct connection from your computer to another network. Some businesses have an internal intranet that can only be accessed while you are on-location. A VPN can create a secure connection by rerouting the connection to that location.

It is often used when logging onto a public Wi-Fi. It will redirect you to a different end-point so you won't be seen as using the public network.

It is also regularly used to make an iPhone look like it is physically in a different location. This is useful if you want to access regional services or content that isn't available in the country you are currently in.

Before you start

You can use a VPN service, like ExpressVPN, Tunnelbear, or Opera VPN. All you will need to get started with one of these services is to download the app onto your iPhone or iPad.

You can also configure your VPN client manually.

You will need the setup information before you start, like the server, remote ID, username, and password. If you don't have this information, ask your system administrator or tech support for your company, or contact your VPN service for help.

How to set up a VPN service on your iPhone or iPad

The easiest way to set up a VPN client on your iPhone or iPad is through an app like ExpressVPN, Tunnelbear, or Opera VPN. Download one of those great apps, install it on your iOS device, and open it.

After signing up or signing into your account, you'll be prompted to give permission to add a VPN configuration to your iPhone. Tap Allow to have the VPN configured on your iPhone automatically.

You'll then be prompted to enter your passcode or Touch ID to give permission to change your VPN settings. Enter your passcode, or activate Touch ID.

Once the VPN is enabled, you can select and connect it at any time without having to open the app again (use the app to change location and adjust other settings).

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap VPN.

    Open Settings, then select VPN

  3. If you have more than one, select the VPN client you want to use.
  4. Toggle the Status switch on.

    Select a VPN client, then toggle the Status switch on

When you're done using the VPN, follow the instructions above to turn it off. Don't forget to turn it off, especially if you're on a free, limited plan.

How to manually configure a VPN on your iPhone or iPad

With your login information on-hand, you can manually configure a VPN client on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap VPN.
  3. Tap Add VPN Configuration.

    Open Settings, then tap VPN, then tap Add VPN configuration

  4. Tap Type.
  5. Select your VPN type from IKEv2, IPSec, or L2TP.
  6. Tapp Add Configuration in the upper left corner to go back to the previous screen.

    Tap Type, select a type, tap Add Configuration

  7. Enter the VPN settings information including description, server, and remote ID.
  8. Enter your authentication login including your username (or certificate), and password.
  9. If you use a proxy, enable it by tapping Manual or Auto, depending on your preferences.

    Enter VPN log in info

  10. Tap Done.
  11. Under VPN Configurations, toggle the Status switch on.

    Tap Done, then toggle the Status switch on

When you're done using the VPN, go to Settings > VPN to turn it off. To enable the VPN again in the future. Go to Settings > VPN and toggle the Status switch on.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about manually configuring a VPN client on your iPhone or iPad? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.