ExpressVPN Not Working with Apple Studio Display

This is the strangest problem. I can use ExpressVPN without issue on my new 14-inch MacBook Pro. But as soon as I connect it to the Apple Studio Display, it cuts off my connection to the internet. I used to have an LG 5K UltraFine display and ExpressVPN worked without issue connected to this monitor. I’ve opened up a support ticket with ExpressVPN, but after a few weeks of back and forth, nothing has happened.

Is anyone else having this problem? Are there other VPNs that work with the Apple Studio Display?

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Following to hear the solution to this. So weird.

I have no real theories, but I will ask… what is connected to the Studio Display?

No longer use Express, but just tried with Surf Shark and it worked fine.

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I have 1 USB lightening cord to plug-in my iPhone, but this still happens when I remove that 1 wire.

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This is pretty puzzling. My take on this: the Apple Studio Monitor messes with the Mac Network Settings and this makes ExpressVPN drop the connection. This messing around can be routing network connections through the USB-C cable between the compter and the monitor, but I fail to understand why would a display need that. Maybe to update its firmware? Perhaps the Apple Studio Display is too smart?

If you have a monitor connected with HDMI, it could be that you are not able to view certain streams, because of a possible lack in HDCP compatibility.
Is it possible, that something comparable exist for the cable standard used for the connection between those MBP and the monitor?

Am I the only one wondering what other software might not work with this display?

As far as I understood, the software itself is working, but the VPN is not operable!?

Right, to give a little more detail. With the MacBook not plugged in and ExpressVPN connected to a VPN site, I’m able to ping websites normally. As soon as I plug the MacBook into the Studio Display, I’m unable to ping any website. I’ve tried both urls and IP addresses, so it isn’t just DNS that’s a problem. I’m wondering if the mini-iOS running in the Studio Display is somehow hijacking the VPN connection? Hard to understand why that would happen.

My money is on this one.

Maybe take a look at the network interfaces listed in the Network section of System Settings while connected to the display. Make sure that your WiFi (or whichever interface you want to use) is highest in the list.

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I am leaning more towards a bug or misconfigured feature of either USB-C or Thunderbolt.

However, there is of course the possibility that the monitor has its own IP address for some technical reason, and that the VPN and monitor are both using the same IP range. Theoretically, the default route could be overwritten to point towards the monitor instead of the running VPNs outbound tunnel… but I feel this is far fetched. Then again, it does run iOS or some close variation thereof, so I guess there are plenty of opportunity for errors in such a complex system.

So I finally tried Surfshark
and it works with the Studio Display! So it’s some weird issue with ExpressVPN. If they can’t figure it out, I guess I’ll have to switch.

Hi @jcarucci,

I’m the ExpressVPN engineer working on fixing this after our Support Team informed me of issue.

My investigation so far: the Apple Studio Display is special in that it runs a version of iOS inside. That iOS instance communicates with your Macbook Pro over some sort of internal Ethernet interface via Thunderbolt.

Our ExpressVPN Mac app currently does not reliably understand that this internal Ethernet interface is not a regular interface that has Internet access. It causes the app to fail to route your DNS requests to ExpressVPN’s DNS servers. Since our Mac app is designed to be fail-safe, it will automatically block DNS resolution to prevent your DNS requests from leaking to third parties.

That causes your setup to fail to browse the Internet once you’re connected to ExpressVPN.

We’re working on ordering a Studio Display so I can debug this issue myself and come up with a fix in a future verison of the ExpressVPN app. I’ll be honest: it’s not be easy to get ahold of these new Studio Displays! They take a while to ship after an order has been placed.

I’m sorry for the inconvenience this issue has caused you. I hope you can be patient with me as I work to fix this.



Thanks Andre, nice to see that ExpressVPN engineers read this forum!

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BTW, Apple has this new developer center now, so maybe you can get in touch with them and they’d let you use a Studio Display on their campus:

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@andre.l @jcarucci
ACautionaryTale got it, here’s the temporary fix. Open System Preferences > Network.

Click the circle with the three dots and select “Set Service Order”:

Drag and drop whatever your primary adapter is to the top, this is what Express VPN tries to connect on. In my case, I’m using WiFi

Click OK, then Apply in the main network settings window. Sorry, I would include more screenshots, but I just registered.

The Studio Display creates a peer-to-peer connection with your Mac so that it can download software updates (because of course it can). That connection usually appears first in the network tab, and is what Express VPN establishes a VPN on. Since you can’t select the adapter in Express VPN, moving WiFi to the top of the list fixes the issue.


This fixed it! How did you figure it out?

Oddly I don’t see the studio display as a network device.