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Support Center / Troubleshooting / How to change VPN protocols or select Smart Protocol

How to change VPN protocols or select Smart Protocol

All our VPN apps use secure VPN protocols:

  • Windows: OpenVPN, WireGuard®
  • macOS: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
  • Android: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
  • iOS/iPadOS: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
  • Linux: OpenVPN

Learn more about VPN protocols

You can use OpenVPN in UDP or TCP modes. UDP is faster, but TCP is more reliable and can be effective at defeating certain kinds of censorship.

Learn more about the difference between UDP and TCP

Smart Protocol

Our Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS/iPadOS apps also support the Smart Protocol anti-censorship feature. This intelligently probes networks to discover the best VPN protocol configuration required for optimal performance or to bypass censorship.

For example, it can automatically switch from IKEv2 to OpenVPN, or OpenVPN UDP to OpenVPN TCP, using different ports as required.

Learn more about how Smart Protocol works

Smart Protocol is enabled by default in all apps that support it and must be disabled to manually change VPN protocols. In this guide, we show you how to enable or disable Smart Protocol and how to manually change VPN protocols.


1. Open the Proton VPN app and go to  Settings → Connection tab → Default Protocol.

2. Select Smart (Protocol), OpenVPN (TCP), OpenVPN (UDP), or WireGuard from the dropdown menu.

Change VPN protocol in Windows


A system extension is required to use alternative VPN protocols and/or Smart Protocol on macOS. 

1. If you are installing the app for the first time, you will be prompted to allow this extension the first time you run the app (jump to step 2). 

If you are upgrading from an older version of the app, you will be prompted to do this the first time you select OpenVPN, Wireguard, or Smart Protocol in Preferences

To do this, open the app and go to the menu bar → ProtonVPNPreferencesConnection tab and select Smart Protocol, OpenVPN (TCP), OpenVPN (UDP), or WireGuard from the Protocol dropdown menu.

Select VPN protocol

2. A window will open to help guide you through the process. Click Begin configuration to continue.

Enable system extensions for macOS

3. When the System Extension Blocked window opens, click Open Security Preferences.

Open security preferences

4. This opens the macOS Security & Privacy settings. Click the lock and enter your password or use Touch ID to unlock your Security & Privacy preferences. Then click Allow next to System software from application “ProtonVPN” was blocked from loading.

Allow the extensions in the macOS Security & Privacy settings

5. Select both ProtonVPN checkboxes and click OK.

Enable Proton VPN extensions

5. Click OK in the confirmation dialog box.

macOS configuration completed
6. In the PreferencesConnection tab, you can now select your preferred Protocol from the dropdown menu, or choose Smart Protocol.

Select VPN protocol

Is root access or special permissions required to change VPN protocols in macOS?
No. When you first change to the OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols (or Smart Connect), macOS creates a new network service and a new System Extension is installed. As a security feature, macOS asks to authenticate these changes with a password or using Touch ID.

This does not require root privileges, and none are asked for.You can verify that a new Proton VPN network service is created by going to SettingsNetwork.

New network connections in macOS settings


1. Open the Proton VPN app and go to Settings.

2. Toggle the Smart Protocol switch on or off. To manually select your VPN protocol, toggle it off.

Android smart protocol

3. If Smart Protocol is disabled, you can manually choose which VPN protocol to use. Tap the name of the VPN protocol you are currently using.

Android change VPN protocol

4. Select the VPN protocol you would like to use from the list.

Android select VPN protocol


1. Open the Proton VPN app and go to  Settings Security Options and tap the Protocol currently being used.

Tap Protocol in Settings

3. Select a VPN protocol (or Smart Protocol).

Select protocol

Linux CLI

Run the tool from a terminal window:

protonvpn-cli c

Select a country and server. You will then be prompted to Choose a protocol. (Note: At the moment, the Proton VPN Linux CLI only supports OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP.)

 change protocol linux cli.

Related questions

Does Proton VPN store user information?

Unable to connect

How to change country/server selection?

Post Comment


  1. Kris

    This option for TCP is not available in the most recent version as of today Version 1.3.0 (686) for Mac or Version 1.3.2 on Android. Please advise. TCP should be the default on mobile due to poor network provider connections.

  2. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello Kris. Only windows application supports TCP/UDP switching since all other applications of ours are running IKEv2 which does not have that option.

  3. Niklas

    Where is this option for IOS and MacOS? I can´t find any option to change protocols anywhere.

  4. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello. iOS and MacOS uses IKEv2 which has no option to change the protocol version by its nature.

  5. Alessandro Tagliapietra

    Where is this setting on the OSX app?

  6. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello. Make sure that you have our application open, then left side on the tool bar click on ProtonVPN -> Preferences.

  7. Joeffel

    Then how come the Android client uses IKEv2 instead of OpenVPN?

  8. ProtonVPN Team

    Hello Joeffel. For our standards, IKEv2 seems to be faster than openvpn protocol while holding strong encryption and its easier for us to built a VPN application on it. That is why the IKEv2 was chosen for the Android application. OpenVPN version might come in the future, but for now we do not have plans for it as iOS application is our main priority.

  9. Noc

    Doesn’t work in China. The Great Firewall automatically detects standard OpenVPN protocols, so connections get immediately throttled or reset. Please develop a non-standard protocol to obfuscate the connection. The option to manually change ports would also be helpful.

  10. ProtonVPN

    we’ll be adding additional obfuscation technologies in the future, they’re on the (long) todo list

  11. feafa

    Add SSL tunneling to VPN cout.

  12. David Koch

    1. Initially I had to look up “how to log in” because I either missed it, or the instruction to enter full ProtonMail log-in including was not present.
    2. I still cannot find information about “Profile” and what I can use it for.
    3. Secure Core does slow things down a bit, such as logging into ProtonMail, but speed when SC is off is very good.
    4. So far, your new VPN has operated in a way my current VPN does, so I feel comfortable with it and with the features you’ve included. Good job!

  13. vic

    yes great job

Comments are closed.

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