How to install/upgrade StrongSwan on Mac OS

Created by Richard Augspurger at 27-10-2017 13:46:41 +0200

Installing VPN on Mac OS X is a breeze thanks to StrongSwan. This guide will run you through the installation process of installing and configuring StrongSwan on your Mac.

This guide assumes you have not installed StrongSwan on your computer before.

Installing StrongSwan

To install StrongSwan you go to the following page:

On that page, scroll down until you see something like this:

Select the latest version and download it. When it's done downloading, extract the app and place is in your Applications (Or Programma's in Dutch) folder.

Now double click StrongSwan and you should see a little swan icon in the top of your screen.

Configuring StrongSwan

To configure StrongSwan, you left-click on the swan icon and click Add connection...

You'll be shown a popup to fill in the details. These details will be given to you by an administrator of your VPN.

Note that the information in the image above are placeholders and will not work for you.

(server address is "")

Press OK and click the swan icon again. Mouse over the connection you just made and click Connect (You can also click the name of your connection to do that)

If you did the configuration right, you'll be asked to fill in a password. This password is also given to you by an administrator of your VPN along with any specific instructions if needed (such as usage of an Authenticator).

Fix Strongswan on OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

After upgrading to El Capitan you might find that Strongswan will no longer work.

To fix this, follow this guide:

Uninstall Strongswan

Before getting started, you need to uninstall Strongswan from OS X.

First we need to kill Strongswan and charon-xpc.


Open your terminal and type the following:

pkill -9 strongswan
pkill -9 charon


This will kill the processes. To be sure they're no longer there, type the following (ignore anything in the output that has the word "grep" in it)

ps -ef | grep strongswan
ps -ef | grep charon


There is likely 1 matched line that will have the word "grep" in it. Ignore that, that's the command you just executed.

If there are more lines, run the pkill -9 command again. 


Next, go to your Applications (or Programma's in Dutch) and delete the strongswan application.

Next, go to your Library (or Bibliotheek in Dutch)  and then to PrivilegedHelperTools, you'll find something called org.strongswan.charon-xpc or something similar. Delete that too. You'll be asked for your password here.


Now restart your mac.

Reinstalling Strongswan

After your mac has restarted, open your browser and go to There you'll find a bunch of files.

Download the latest version of Strongswan. At the time of writing, this is


After downloading, unpack the file you received and you'll be greeted with the Strongswan application. DO NOT OPEN IT YET!

Right click the Strongswan application and click "Show package contents" (or "Pakket inhoud tonen" in Dutch) and go to Contents > Library > LaunchServices

Here you'll find the file org.strongswan.charon-xpc, copy it and paste it in Library > PrivilegedHelperTools (where you deleted the old one before). You'll be asked for your password again.


After you've done that, move the Strongswan application into your Applications folder. Now open it and try to connect. You should get the password box like you did before.


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