For the uninitiated, a VPN, or “Virtual Private Network,” is a privacy tool that aims to provide security and privacy when using their network, after all, it’s right there in the name. VPNs aren’t perfect but when you need anonymity, fire up a VPN and let it do the work of hiding your tracks and keep your data from getting collected. With that in mind, sometimes you need to turn your VPN off.

For the most part, you should always keep your VPN running; it can’t protect you if it’s been disabled. However, when troubleshooting is involved, your VPN can get in the way, especially concerning network issues. Turning your VPN off is one less headache to worry about.

Unfortunately, there are dozens and dozens of VPNs available. Creating steps for every single VPN is beyond the scope of this article. Fortunately, most VPNs are fairly similar to one another, so much so that the steps provided here can apply to just about any VPN you’re using. Rather than cover individual VPNs, this article will address the disabling of VPNs on different operating systems, like Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

Turning Off VPNs with Windows

There’s two ways to access your VPN and both revolve around the use of your taskbar. Both steps are provided, so choose the one that best fits the VPN you’re using. And remember, the steps provided are a generalization; you may have to improvise depending on your VPN.

Your VPN is in Hidden Icons

1. Look to your taskbar, by default, located at the bottom of your screen.

2. On the far right, where your clock is, you’ll see a small arrow, that’s your icon tray. Click it and it will open up a small window containing any hidden icons you have.

right click your VPN’s icon

3. Now, right click your VPN’s icon. This will open a command menu. Most VPNs will provide a command to disconnect. If it’s there, go ahead and click Disconnect.

Your VPN is in Notifications

1. Look to your taskbar, by default, located at the bottom of your screen.

Choose your VPN from the panel

2. Go to the very end of the taskbar on the right and you’ll see a speech bubble, which is Notifications. Click it. It will open a panel on the right side of the screen.

3. Choose your VPN from the panel. From there, you can turn your VPN off.

Turning Off VPNs with Mac OS

VPNs can be configured in different ways, like Windows, Mac OS has a few ways of turning it off, but it depends entirely on the VPN and the way it was implemented.

From the VPN Interface

1. Locate the VPN on your Dock at the bottom and open it.

2. On the interface of the VPN, you should see an option to Disconnect. If you do go ahead and click it.

3. If you don’t see the option to disconnect the VPN, you may have to head into the VPN’s Settings, most always represented by a gear icon and turn the VPN off from there.

From Your Network Settings

1. Open your Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen. Doing so will open a drop down menu.

Click System Preferences

2. Click System Preferences and then choose Network.

3. On the left hand side, you’ll see “Network.” Locate the VPN and, when the option presents itself, click Disconnect.

Turning Off VPNs with Android

1. Locate and launch the VPN app. You can find the VPN app somewhere on one of your home screens or look for it in your App Drawer, where all of your currently installed apps are housed.

2. When the VPN app launches, look for the option to Disconnect, usually found on the main menu of most, if not all, VPNs.

3. If the ability to turn it off isn’t provided on the main menu, then you’ll find it in the VPN’s Settings, usually indicated by a gear icon, and you should have the option to turn it off from the menu.

Turning Off VPNs with iOS

1. Locate and launch the Settings app. You can find the Settings app on one of your home screens. If you can’t find it, you might be swiping past it. Double-check inside any app folders you may have, too.

2. Locate the VPN in your settings. When you’ve found it, select it.

3. With the options expanded on, choose to turn it off.