Set Up Amherst VPN on a Mac


Note: This article describes using the older Amherst College VPN service. Use this service if you don't have MacOS 10.15.x (Catalina). If you do have Catalina or Big Sur installed use the GlobalProtect VPN service.

Some Amherst College resources require that you use a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connection in order to access them. This article describes how to set up such a connection on a Macintosh computer. 

Note: When you are connected using this service, ALL of your Internet traffic will flow through Amherst. This can be important if you are located in a juristiction that restricts access to services that Amherst uses such as Google Apps for Education. 

We have three VPN servers: Be sure you set up to connect to the one appropriate for your needs.


  1. Make sure you first have a network connection and that you can access the Internet. Then, select System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Click on the Network icon. Depending upon how your Mac is configured, you may need to click on the lock icon to make changes to the network settings. In this case you will be prompted to enter an adminisrator password for your Mac. 
  3. Click on the plus sign in the lower left of the window. From the dialog box select VPN for the Interface.
  4. From the drop-down list for the VPN Type: select L2TP over IPSEC.
  5. Enter a Service Name that corresponds to the VPN server you are connecting to. For example, if connecting to you might enter VPNStudent as the Service Name. vpn setup screen
  6. Click Create to continue.
  7. In Server Address, enter the address of the VPN server you want to connect to. Your options are:
    • for most faculty and staff.
    • for faculty and staff connecting to resources behind the Amherst administrative firewall.
    • for students
  8. Enter your Amherst username in the Account Name field.
    vpn setup screen 2
  9. Click the Authentication Settings button.
  10. In the User Authentication section check Password.
  11. In the Machine Authentication section check Shared Secret. In the Shared Secret field, enter amherstvpn.
    vpn authentication setup screen
  12. Click OK.
  13. Click box labelled "Show VPN status in menu bar."
  14. Click Apply
  15. You must have the VPN connection at the top of the Service Order list for it to work. Click the gear-shaped button found below the connections list directly to the right of the minus button.
  16. Choose Set Service Order from the drop-down list.
    service order screen 1
  17. Click and drag the Amherst VPN connection to the top of the list. You may actually have to first move it to second place, then drag the top service below it.
    service order screen 2
  18. Click OK then Apply.

Service Categories

Service Categories: 
Network & Wi-Fi


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