How to identify VPN protocols in OS X

Christopher Breen
3 June, 2014
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A reader who wishes to remain anonymous requires more information about a VPN connection than OS X is willing to provide. The reader writes:

“I’m helping out at my spouse’s small office and want to help configure her colleagues’ Macs with the same VPN configuration I somehow successfully set up for her many months ago. The problem is that I can’t remember which protocol I originally used – L2TP, PPTP or IPSec – and nothing in System Preference’s Network preference tells me. How can I tell the difference?

When you first set up a VPN connection by opening the Network preference, clicking the plus (+) button near the bottom-left corner of the window, choosing VPN from the Interface pop-up menu, and selecting the kind of protocol you’ll use from the VPN Type menu, the Service Name field will display the protocol in parentheses – VPN (L2TP), for example. Of course, if you change that service name (as most people would) you lose the broad hint OS X provides. Fortunately, there’s another way.

The three kinds of connections display different options. For an L2TP connection you’ll see entries for Configuration, Server Address, and Account Name as seen here:

vpn lt2p window

PPTP connection adds an Encryption pop-up menu to those items as you can see.

vpn pptp window

And when you set up an IPSec connection you lose the Configuration pop-up menu, as you can see here.

vpn ipsec window

 

 

 

by Christopher Breen

 

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