Private Internet Access brings back split tunneling on MacOS VPN

Private Internet Access VPN apps running on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and other platforms.

One of the best VPN services around just revealed to have fixed a problem gripping the industry for years—and it hopes to help other providers doing the same.

As of February 22, 2024, Private Internet Access (PIA) has finally reintroduced the split tunneling functionality on its MacOS app. The feature, which allows you to decide which traffic to exclude from or direct into the VPN tunnel, was suddenly removed from MacOS devices in 2021. It's now out in beta, with the full release schedule for March 7 due to go open-source "for the good of the industry."

The good news doesn't end here, either. The VPN provider even launched its long-awaited Apple TV VPN app with what it claims to be an "industry-first" dedicated IP option for extra functionality.

Meeting PIA's users needs

"We’ve got an amazingly dedicated user base. They’re also very vocal when they need something. We had more than 20,000 request tickets for [MacOS split tunneling] alone in 2023," Himmat Bains, Head of Product at PIA, told me. "By reintroducing this well-loved feature, we’re delighted to equip our users with even more tools that give them greater control over their online privacy."

As mentioned before, Apple axed split tunneling from the MacOS ecosystem three years ago without much warning or explanation. Bains explained that it all started with the release of macOS Big Sur in November 2020, which removed the Network Kernel Extension APIs needed for this feature to work.

From then, the only way to keep using split tunneling on a Mac VPN was using older versions of devices' operating system—something which opened users up to other security issues. "Many of our users are incredibly security conscious so, for them, this wasn’t an option," said Bains.

Until now, at least, as the team has finally managed to spot and use a new change to Apple’s network extension API to bring back this crucial functionality. PIA has even chosen to open-source it in the hope that the entire industry and macOS users everywhere could benefit from its work.

Commenting on this decision, Bains told me: "This feature is like an online seatbelt. Volvo opened their patent up to save lives, and I hope we can similarly contribute to the greater good by open sourcing our safety and security features." 

Private Internet Access' split tunneling graphic

"The split tunneling feature has actually never appeared on Apple’s mobile iOS. Our fix for the macOS system relies on an API that’s only available on that platform, so unfortunately, our fix can’t be ported over—but we’re watching and waiting," Himmat Bains, Head of Product at PIA, told me. (Image credit: Private Internet Access)

From today, you'll also be able to harness the power of PIA as a reliable Apple TV VPN thanks to its new dedicated VPN app (now in beta). This means no more need for daunting installations or turning to alternative methods.

Again, this was a release that PIA's community long asked for, said Bains. However, the provider decided to go even further with their application by adding a dedicated IP functionality to it. It now claims to be the "world-first" VPN to offer such an option.

"We wanted to offer customers the ability to stream from a static IP address to avoid network congestion and false reports of suspicious login attempts," Bains told me. "Dedicated IPs are ultra secure. We don’t know which dedicated IP address is assigned to which account, which effectively means there’s no way to tie your online activity back to you."

It's worth noting that you'll need to pay an extra fee to take advantage of this feature, starting from around $2 per month.

As previously announced when we talked about PIA's plan for 2024 back in December last year, a new interface for its Android VPN is also expected to be released in the coming months.

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to