This guide explains how to use the Mullvad VPN desktop app (for Windows, macOS and Linux) and all of its features. We also have specific user guides for Android and iOS/iPadOS.
For help with downloading and installing the app see the following installation guides.
- Install Mullvad app on Windows
- Install Mullvad app on macOS
- Install Mullvad app on Linux
- Install Mullvad app on Android
What this guide covers
- Starting up Mullvad
- Create account
- Log in
- Too many devices
- Switch location
- Update the app
- Temporarily blocked Internet – kill switch always on
- Settings menu
- Important notes
Starting up Mullvad
When you start Mullvad for the first time you have two options:
- Create a new account - use this if you never had a Mullvad account or you want to make a new one.
- Log in with an existing account - use this if you already generated an account on our website that you want to use.
If you don't yet have an account number, click Create account and a new account number will be created for you.
To start using the app, you need to add time to your account. You can either buy credit on our website or redeem a voucher that you received, or bought from one of our resellers.
Enter your Mullvad account number and hit Enter or click the green button with an arrow.
If you click in the empty account number field, the last account number that you used will be displayed. If you want to remove this, click on the delete icon on the right side of the number.
Too many devices
If you login on an account that already have 5 devices you will be notified about this.
To be able to login you will need to remove one of the devices by clicking the X to the right of the device name
Click "Yes, log out device"
You can now click "Continue with login" to login with the device.
Once you have logged in with an account number that has time on it, you can click on Secure my connection to connect to Mullvad VPN. You can see the status of your connection on the app's connection screen.
By default, the app will initially connect to a server in Sweden. If you choose a different location, the app will remember your latest selection for the next time you start the app.
Connection status - know when you are connected
Once connected, the Mullvad app will visually signal this in a few ways:
- The padlock in the system tray (Windows/Linux) or menu bar (macOS) will turn green.
- The top bar of the app will be green.
- The app says "Secure connection" on the connection screen.
- A green dot on the map background shows where you are connected.
When you are connected, you can click on the server name (e.g. nl4-wireguard) in the connection screen to show connection details, including tunnel protocol (WireGuard or OpenVPN), the VPN server's entry (in) IP address and port, transport protocol (UDP or TCP), and your exit (out) IP address from the VPN server.
Is your browser leaking?
Use our Connection check to verify your connection status and to see if your browser is leaking information and jeopardizing your privacy. This can occur even while connected to Mullvad.
Next to the Disconnect button is a Reconnect button. If you are connected to a country or a city then you will most of the time get reconnected to another Mullvad server in that country or city if you click on this. It also changes the port it connects to the server on, unless you have set a port in the app settings.
To select a different country, city or server, click on the Switch location button.
Select a country
On the Select location screen, scroll down with the mouse scroll wheel or using the scroll bar in the right edge. Then click on the country that you prefer and the app will connect to it automatically.
Select a city
On the right side of the country there is a down arrow. Clicking on this will reveal a list of cities that you can choose to connect to.
Select a server
On the right side of the city there is another down arrow. Clicking on this will reveal a list of servers that you can choose to connect to. If the tunnel protocol is set to Automatic you will see OpenVPN servers in the top and WireGuard servers thereafter (where available).
It can happen that you won't be able to select a location because its servers are currently unavailable. Such a location will have a red dot beside it and the name will be greyed out. Also individual servers can be disabled and show a red dot.
You can check our website server list where you can click on the down arrow for a server to possibly learn more about it.
Filter by provider
After you click on Switch location you can click on the button in the top right corner and then click on Filter by provider.
Here you can select or deselect server hosting providers to show or hide them in the location list. This is useful if you find that servers from some providers work better for you than others.
If you want to disconnect from Mullvad, just click on the Disconnect button on the connection screen.
Know when you are disconnected
When you are disconnected, the Mullvad app will visually signal this in a few ways:
- The padlock in the system tray (Windows/Linux) or menu bar (macOS) will be red.
- The top bar of the app will be red.
- The app says "Unsecure connection" on the connection screen.
- A red dot on the map background shows your real location.
Update the app
If you are running an old version of the app, you will see a notification on the connection screen that says "Update available". Click on the arrow icon on the right side of the message to open our Apps download webpage. We recommend that you keep your app up to date. You can also choose to participate in our Beta program.
Temporarily blocked Internet – kill switch on
In case there is a problem while the Mullvad app is connected, you may notice that your Internet has suddenly stopped working. Check to see if the padlock in the system tray/menu bar has turned green with a red dot. If so, the connection screen in the app will also display "blocking Internet".
This is the app's built-in kill switch at work, automatically blocking the Internet upon VPN connection failure to ensure that your traffic is not accidentally leaked outside of our secure tunnel.
You will experience this in a few situations:
- If the app disconnects due to a connectivity issue.
- If you run out of time on your account while connected.
- While the app is establishing a connection when you start the app.
The app will continue to block your Internet traffic until a secure connection is made or reestablished, or until you manually disconnect from the app.
If you are worried about those times when you forget to start the app – leaving you unsecure – consider doing one of the following:
- Under Advanced settings, turn on Lockdown mode.
- Configure your browser with our SOCKS5 proxy which only works when you are connected to Mullvad.
The Settings menu can be accessed by clicking on the gear icon in the top right corner on the connection screen.
From here, you have access to several sub menus.
Here you can view information pertaining to your account, including your account number, your device name, when your paid time runs out, and a link to our website to Buy more credit. If you have purchased or received a voucher then you can use Redeem voucher here. You can also Log out in case you want to log in with another account number.
Starting three days before your account credit expires, you will see a notification in the connection screen.
See the Preferences section in this guide.
See the Advanced section in this guide.
This tells you which version of the app you are currently running. Click on this and you'll be taken to our website to download the latest version. If you don't have the latest one, you will see a warning message here and in the connection screen.
Report a problem
If you are having issues you can let us know by sending a problem report. Enter your email address if you want a reply. Describe your problem in English or Swedish. The log files are anonymized before being securely sent to us. You can also easily view the logs by clicking on View app logs.
FAQs & Guides
This link will take you to the Help section of our website.
This option allows you to change the app's display language.
Clicking on the red Quit button shuts down the app. Doing so will disconnect you from any connection you had with the app, leaving your Internet traffic exposed and unsecure, unless you have the Lockdown mode setting enabled.
There are many settings in Preferences and they will be described below. To see them all you can scroll down with the mouse scroll wheel or use the scroll bar in the right edge.
Launch app on start-up
If this is enabled then the Mullvad app will start up when your computer's operating system has started.
With this setting enabled, the app will automatically connect to Mullvad VPN when it launches.
Block ads / trackers / malware / gambling / adult content
If you enable this then Mullvad will use the block list filtered DNS server to prevent some known ads, trackers and/or malware domains from loading in your web browsers and apps. In case you have a problem with a website you can try to disable this. We also recommend that you use other Privacy tools for your browser.
Local network sharing
Enable this setting in order to access other devices on the same local network, such as printers and network attached storage (NAS). In many cases it's best to use the IP-address of the device when you connect to it.
Control whether or not you want system notifications to be displayed. Critical notifications, such as when the app temporarily disconnects, will always be displayed.
Monochromatic tray icon
This setting allows for a grayscale tray icon instead of the default colored one.
Unpin app from taskbar (Windows only)
Enabling this setting opens the app in a new window which you can move around freely. The window stays open until you close it.
Start minimized (Windows and Linux)
Enable this setting if you only want to show the tray icon when the app starts. On Windows this setting is only available if you have enabled "Unpin app from taskbar" (otherwise the app will always start minimized).
Enable this option to get notified directly in the app when a new beta version is available.
As usual, to see all settings in this menu you can scroll down with the mouse scroll wheel or use the scroll bar in the right edge.
This enables/disables IPv6 communication through the tunnel. You will be assigned both an IPv4 and IPv6 Mullvad address.
Lockdown mode (previously: Always require VPN)
Attention: enabling this will always require a Mullvad VPN connection in order to reach the Internet.
The app's built-in kill switch is always on. This setting will additionally block the Internet if clicking Disconnect or Quit.
Split tunneling allows you to exclude some apps from the VPN. See the guide Split tunneling with the Mullvad app.
Choose which VPN protocol you'd like your connection to use. With Automatic selected, Windows uses OpenVPN while macOS and Linux use WireGuard.
To change the WireGuard settings make sure that the Tunnel protocol is set to Automatic or WireGuard.
If Automatic does not work well for you then you can select port 51820 or 53.
You can enable multihop to increase your anonymity. Your Internet traffic will then be routed from one WireGuard server to another. Note that this can impact your speed and latency. See our guide Multihop with WireGuard if you want to know more.
After enabling multihop you can go back and click on Switch location and select an Entry location and Exit location.
Normally the app connects to a WireGuard server using it's IPv4 address. If your network or device only supports IPv6 then you can select that here.
The default MTU (maximum transmission unit) for WireGuard in the Mullvad app is 1380. You can set it to 1280 if the WireGuard connection stops working. This may be necessary in some mobile networks. Increasing the value might achieve slightly higher speeds in some cases.
To change the OpenVPN settings make sure that the Tunnel protocol is set to Automatic or OpenVPN.
When using automatic It will default to UDP because it is generally faster than TCP. However, sometimes only TCP works on certain restricted networks, and it may be more stable.
You can set either Automatic, TCP or UDP.
Enabling Bridge mode routes your traffic through two servers - first a Shadowsocks bridge server and then an OpenVPN server - instead of one, in essence a multihop. The Automatic setting means that it will only be used if there is a problem to connect without it.
Follow our guide How to use bridge mode for full instructions.
You can use this setting if you are connected with OpenVPN with UDP. It will avoid packet fragmentation which in some cases can cause the connection to stall, for example https:// (SSL) websites may not load properly. The default value (max package size) is 1450 and 1300 is a good value to start with if you have this particular problem. You could also try to change to TCP instead.
Use custom DNS server
Use this option if you want to use another DNS server instead of the DNS on the Mullvad VPN server. Enter the IP-address to a DNS server.
You can only use a public/external DNS server if you connect to a Mullvad WireGuard server, but you can use a local DNS server both with WireGuard servers and OpenVPN servers.
Note that this can affect your privacy if it's logging your DNS requests.
Early boot leaks on macOS
If you are using macOS, note that the Mullvad app can’t ensure it starts before other applications start sending traffic to the Internet - thus your traffic may leak during system startup.
We recommend that you do not enable "Open at Login" for applications that you do not want to leak Internet traffic. Wait until the Mullvad app has started and connected to a server, and then start them manually. Note that some system services can still leak before the Mullvad service has started.
"WireGuard" is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.