How to use VPN for only one specific application?

VPNs are great, but if we use an application for them then they’re going to route all of our Internet traffic through the VPN. So if we enable a VPN software then our Chrome/Firefox, email software, Steam, Epic Games Launcher, Spotify, etc are going through a VPN and it’s not a great solution, as some of these companies are against using a VPN for some reasons.

So how to enable VPN for just one program?

For Android users, it’s not that complicated. You can use your VPN like NordVPN or ExpressVPN through an external open-source app like OpenVPN for Android. In the app settings, there is a config option of “allowed apps” which can use the VPN connection. There you can choose a specific app or apps that OpenVPN can work with. It’s not needed to have a rooted phone, so that’s a plus.

For Windows or Mac to limit VPN to one application you can also use VPN desktop apps like NordVPN or Surfshark.

VPN service with split-tunnelling – choose which selected software will use VPN connection

The easiest way to limit VPN to one application is to find a VPN software that has an option to work with only specific applications. This is often called split-tunneling.

Split-tunneling is a VPN service feature that basically allows choosing which software will connect with the Internet using VPN and which will not.

For instance, in ExpressVPN there’s this option in their program for Windows and Mac. Go to Options -> General -> Split tunneling -> Check Manage connection on a per-app basis -> Click Settings. And there it is, an option to include and/or exclude certain applications the use of a VPN connection to the Web.

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Split tunneling VPN

NordVPN also has a built-in split-tunneling in their Windows app as seen on the screenshot below:

nordvpn split tunneling

Another well-acclaimed VPN – Surfshark has a very similar option for split tunneling called Whitelister. Currently, it works on Windows and Android devices via their application allowing you to choose which traffic should be filtered through VPN.

Virtual machine VPN

Other solution which is a bit more tech-savvy is to install a virtual machine and then install a VPN and one chosen application on the virtual machine and all the Internet traffic will be going through a VPN only there.

The virtual machine is a system within a system. For instance, if you have Windows 10 you can install software like VirtualBox and then another Windows 7/8/10 on it or some Linux. And then you can install VPN software on this system on a virtual machine and this VPN will run only for applications on this system, not on your main system.

Use software that has proxy connection setting

Some applications that require an Internet connection to work properly might have a proxy setting. Somewhere in preferences -> connection -> proxy, like uTorrent or Google Chrome have. Below is a screenshot from uTorrent with this type of a setting:

VPN proxy connection setting
uTorrent proxy/VPN configuration

VPN extensions for web browsers

And finally, if you just want to use VPN for browsing websites then you can install a plugin for a VPN, ideally, if your VPN provider has a ready extension like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Surfshark. This way you can access only certain websites using a VPN and other ones using your regular connection.

Most VPN providers have plugins for popular web browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Make sure that you are installing the correct, official extension, because you will have to enter your VPN credentials in there.

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Marcus Richardson

I love testing and writing about new tech. I'm also a gamer and an engineer. Check out my Twitter for keyboard stuff.

5 thoughts on “How to use VPN for only one specific application?”

  1. We need a command call for VPNs – i.e. in the shortcut call for a particular site, as in a Windows shortcut to open a bank website and only for the bank website and to close the VPN when the transaction is closed.

    • That would be a job for a programmer to create it in a secure and efficient way. The best generally available solutions are just VPN apps and browser extensions. For instance in Google Chrome you can setup a VPN extension to a particular user profile and work with VPN just on that profile.


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