Sharing your VPN connection on any operating system

Devices such games consoles, media streaming dongles, and smart TVs can all benefit from the geo-spoofing benefits of a VPN but are unable to run VPN software. In this guide, we show you how to share a VPN connection with any device.

How to share a VPN connection

1. Use a VPN router

This is by far the easiest method. Most medium to high-end routers feature a built-in VPN client these days, which should be configurable for almost any VPN service. 

Another alternative is to flash your existing router with DD-WRT or Tomato firmware, although buying a pre-flashed and pre-configured DD-WRT or Tomato router from Flashrouters is easier and guarantees that you won’t end up with a bricked router!

Note that low-end routers can often run a VPN client, but are not powerful enough to do so at speed. If you want to avoid buffering problems when streaming video content then you’ll probably need to spend at least $100 USD or so on a decent VPN router.

2. Share a VPN connection with your Windows or Mac computer

You can share your Windows’ or Mac VPN connection with your non-VPN capable via either WiFi or Ethernet cable. We have instructions for doing this below This can be handy when you don’t want (or can’t afford) to splash out on a new router.

3. Change DNS settings

This method doesn’t actually use a VPN at all as it relies on changing your device’s DNS settings. A number of VPN services, however, include a free smart DNS service as part of their standard VPN package.

If this is the case with your VPN service, then just about any internet-capable device will allow you to change its DNS settings to make it appear to be in another country.

How to share a VPN without a router

Share a VPN Connection in Windows 10 over Ethernet

1. For this method to work your PC must usually be connected to the internet via WiFi. If you have two or more Ethernet PC ports on your PC, though, you can use the second port to connect to the internet instead.

2. Sign-up for one the VPN services listed above, install it in Windows and connect to a VPN server. Connect your device to your computer using an Ethernet cable. Modern laptops often do not feature a dedicated Ethernet port, so you may need to purchase a USB-C to Ethernet adapter cable or similar.

3. Go to Start -> Network & Internet -> Status -> Change your network settings -> Change adapter options.

network status

4. Find your VPN connection. If it is an OpenVPN connection, then it may be named after your VPN provider or it may use the generic “TAP-Windows-Adapter VPN” label. Right-click on it -> Properties.

Network Connections

Click on the Sharing tab and:

a) Check “Allow Other Network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.”

b) In the “Select your private internet connection” drop-down menu select your Ethernet connection.

Ethernet Properties

Hit Ok.

Your non-VPN device should now be sharing your Windows VPN connection, but it never hurts to reboot it just to be sure.

Share a VPN Connection in Windows 10 over WiFi

Windows 10 now has the native ability to create a WiFi hotspot with compatible WiFi adapters. This allows you to share your VPN connection with any WiFi-capable device using a single WiFi adapter (whether it be a USB dongle, a WiFi card, or WiFi chip soldered onto your laptop’s motherboard).

1. For this to work, though, you need a compatible WiFiadapter. Right-click Start -> Command Prompt and type (or copy and paste in):

netsh wlan show drivers

Look for the line saying “Hosted network supported:”

  • If it says “yes” then we can proceed with this guide.
  • If it says “no” then we can’t. You can try updating your WiFi drivers, although it may be easier to just get a new WiFi dongle. Alternatively, you can use the Ethernet method outlined above. 

Administrator command prompt

Lucky us! We’re good to go.

2.  Go to Start -> Network & Internet -> Status -> Change your network settings -> Mobile hotspot. Turn Mobile hotspot On and make a note of its SSID settings (Network name and Network password).


Mobile hotspot

3. Turn on your VPN.

4. Go to Start -> Settings -> Network & Internet -> Status -> Change your network settings -> Change adapter options.

Network status

5. Note that you can now see your hotspot connection. It will be called “Local Area Connection* xx”, and labeled “Microsoft Wi-Fi Direct Virtual Adapter”. 

Find your VPN connection. If it is an OpenVPN connection, then it may be named after your VPN provider or it may use the generic “TAP-Windows-Adapter VPN” label. Right-click on it -> Properties.

Network connections

Click on the Sharing tab and:

a) Check “Allow Other Network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.”

b) In the “Select your private internet connection” drop-down menu select your hotspot connection (Local Area Connection* xx”).

wifi 4 properties

Leave “Allow other network users to control or disable shared Internet connection” enabled, and hit Ok.

5. Connect your non-VPN device to the Windows hotspot you created via WiFi using the SSID details you noted in Step 2.2.

Share a VPN Connection in macOS over Ethernet

For this method to work your Mac must be usually connected to the internet via WiFi.

No Mac has more than one built-in Ethernet port and many have none. But USB-C and Thunderbolt accessories can provide additional Ethernet ports. If you have two more Ethernet ports available, then you can use a second port to connect to the internet instead of WiFi.

This method uses the built-in macOS VPN client, and therefore only works using the PPTP, L2TP, or IKEv2 VPN protocols.

1. Sign-up for one the VPN services listed above, and then manually configure the macOS VPN client to use it. Connect to a VPN server.

VPN setup mac

2. Connect your non-VPN device to your computer using an Ethernet cable.

3. Go to System Preferences -> Sharing. Then:

a) Share your connection from: [the VPN connection you just manually setup].

b) To computers using: [your Ethernet interface]. In the example below, our MacBook is using a USB to Ethernet adapter.

c) Turn on Internet Sharing by clicking its checkbox (uncheck to turn off).


Macbook air internet sharing

Share a VPN Connection in macOS using WiFi

This method requires your Mac to be connected to the internet via Ethernet cable or second WiFi adapter (such as a USB dongle). You can then connect to it over WiFi and benefit from the VPN. Unlike Windows 10, macOS is not able to create WiFi hotspot using a single WiFi adapter unless it is connected to the internet via a separate adapter.

Again, this method only works with the built-in macOS PPTP. L2TP and IKEv2 client. Not OpenVPN.

1. Sign-up for one the VPN service that works with MacOS, and then manually configure the VPN client to use it.  Connect to a VPN server.

2. Connect your non-VPN device to your computer using an Ethernet cable.

3. Go to System Preferences -> Sharing. Then:

a) Share your connection from: [the VPN connection you just manually setup].

b) To computers using: WiFi.

c) Click on WiFi Options…


internet sharing

d) Check your network settings and select an SSID password for your new hotspot. Click “OK” when you’re done.

configure an internet sharing network

e) Turn on Internet Sharing by clicking its checkbox (uncheck to turn off).

internet sharing mac

Spoof your location using a VPN’s Smart DNS Service

The details for this very much varies by device but is usually not hard. Most VPN services that offer smart DNS have detailed setup instructions for a variety of popular non-VPN devices.


change DNS settings expressvpn

Above we can see the ExpressVPN’s smart DNS instructions. As long as you have valid smart DNS server IP, pretty much every internet capable device ever made can configure to use it.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

6 Comments

  1. Toby

    on June 21, 2019
    Reply

    Hi I use ProtonVPN for data encryption over the internet. Laptop is on the internet wirelessly. ProtonVPN uses the TAP Windows adapter V9. When I share it through the LAN and hook up my PS3 to it(Ethernet from PS3 to my laptop), my PS3 never gets an IP address it just fails. Whats the issue? IPV4 settings are all automatic on both LAN ethernet and TAP ProtonVPN Windows Adapter V9. What should I do?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Toby

      on June 24, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Toby. Hmm. It sounds like you have everything setup correctly, so it _should_ work. All I can suggest is rebooting your PC.

  2. Darshan

    on October 20, 2018
    Reply

    This is a neat trick. However on the Windows PC running OpenVPN Client, is there a way to not use the TAP adapter and keep it solely for ICS only? I don't want the host computer to use the VPN for any network activity. I solely want ICS shared NIC to use the TAP adapter.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Darshan

      on September 20, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Darshan. I don't think so, as the TAP adapter must be active for this to work.

  3. Johnny Tucats

    on August 27, 2018
    Reply

    Was this really published on August 8, 2018? Did you check the method provided at http://rodrigo.sharpcube.com/2010/06/20/using-and-sharing-a-vpn-connection-on-your-mac/ ? FYI the at least two of the Terminal commands in the shell executable that the author creates have been deprecated for quite a while (since El Capitan, I think). If you know how to work around this issue you're invited to update your post. Finding and linking instructions that are eight years old without checking them...

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Johnny Tucats

      on August 28, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Johnny, No, it not a new article. Our system automatically refreshes the publication dates of articles from time to time in order to prevent them from disappearing from Google. As the named author, though, I'll note that the text is not mine and is paraphrased from something I wrote for a different article some 5 years or so ago. So there has been something of a mix-up. Thanks for noticing, and I'll fix and rewrite asap.

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