Set up OpenVPN for Mac OS X

In this article:

Step 1. Request access

By default, this service is disabled for all users, so you’ll need to request access first. Please check your OpenVPN profile before you request access just in case you already have access.

To request access, email with the following information:

  • Your Essex ID
  • The S number of your work computer – look for a sticker on the side or front of your computer
  • Details on what you want to access

Please allow one working day for the IT Helpdesk to enable the service. We’ll send you a confirmation email when it’s done.

Once you have confirmation proceed to step 2.

Step 2. Check the settings on your work computer

This step will check that you’re listed as a Remote Desktop User on your work computer. If you don’t plan on using Remote Desktop, you can skip this step.

On your work Windows computer:

  • Click Start or Search
  • Type Remote settings
  • Choose Allow remote access to your computer from the search results.
  • Click Select Users…
  • Check that your Essex username is listed:
    • If it's listed you don’t need to do anything.
    • If it is not listed, click Add…, type in your Essex username and then select Check Names. Your username should underline.
  • Select OK on all of the open windows.

This is all your need to do on your work computer.

Step 3. Set up OpenVPN on your home computer

Please note that you should only add your University login name and password to the keychain if your Mac requires a secure password to login and unlock it. If it doesn’t require a secure password to login and unlock it, you should not store your University login name and password on the keychain. This should prevent unauthorised access to University resources should your Mac be lost or stolen.

On your Mac home computer:

  • Go to and download the latest stable version of Tunnelblick.
  • Open the Tunnelblick installer and then double-click on the Tunnelblick icon.
  • Click Continue.
  • Depending on your Mac's security settings, you may now be prompted to provide your Mac administrator username and password, if so enter these and click OK.
  • Click Place Icon Normally.
  • Click Quit.
  • Download the Essex University v2.ovpn configuration file. This file contains the necessary settings your computer or device needs to be able to connect to the University network remotely.
  • Open the the Essex University v2.ovpn and then choose Only Me. You may need to enter your Mac administrator credentials again.
  • Click on the Tunnelblick icon (top-right) and select Connect Essex University v2.
  • When prompted, enter your University login name and password. Do not use a leading CAMPUS\ or trailing Choose whether to Save in keychain. Click OK.
  • You should now be connected.

If you can’t connect see help and troubleshooting.

Step 4. Connect to Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop lets you log in to your work computer as if you were at your desk.

  • Download and install Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Mac.
  • Start Microsoft Remote Desktop Client.
  • Enter your work computer’s five digit S number followed by, for example
  • Click Connect.
  • Enter your Essex login name and password, and then click OK.

You should now be remotely logged in to your work computer.

Remote access to other resources and systems (People Manager, Unit 4, file shares)

If you use Agresso or iTrent then you are automatically given remote access to these. However, you must still connect to OpenVPN first.

Unit 4 (Agresso)
People Manager (iTrent)
File shares

The easiest way to access file shares is to connect using Remote Desktop Connection.

Help and troubleshooting

Can't connect? Please try the following before you contact the IT Helpdesk:

Check if your password has expired

You won't be able to connect to OpenVPN if your password has expired. Check if you can sign in to another service, for example Webmail

  • If you can sign in to Webmail then your password has not expired.
  • It you can't sign in to Webmail then your password may have expired in which case you'll need to change your password.

Still need help?

Submit a support ticket →