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Can I use both iCloud Private Relay and Viscosity?

iCloud Private Relay is a new feature introduced in macOS 12 (Monterey) and offered to iCloud+ subscribers. It acts in a similar fashion to a HTTPS proxy server, and tunnels web traffic and DNS lookups through a proxy server to hide your real IP address. It is disabled by default.

In many ways it is like a commercial VPN service: it is designed to hide your real IP address to make it more difficult to identify you, while also encrypting the traffic between you and the server. However, unlike a commercial VPN service, it doesn't tunnel all traffic on your computer, only HTTP traffic, DNS lookups, and web pages in Safari.

iCloud Private Relay is currently in beta, with Apple still adjusting the way it works, how it interacts with VPN connections, and the functionality exposed to developers.

iCloud Private Relay can currently cause several problems when used alongside a VPN connection. We do not recommend having Private Relay and a VPN connection active at the same time. However, we hope to have improved compatibility between Viscosity and Private Relay in a future update.

Known Issues

VPN DNS Servers Are Not Used in Both Full and Split DNS Mode

iCloud Private Relay performs its own DNS lookups via the Private Relay servers and ignores the local computer's DNS settings. Your VPN connection's DNS server/s will not be used to perform lookups while Private Relay is active. This can result in internal domains failing to resolve. This affects all applications, not just Safari.

VPN Connections That Use Port 80 Fail To Connect

In some instances, an OpenVPN connection may be configured to use port 80 (commercial VPN Service Providers often do this to help workaround VPN blocking attempts). iCloud Private Relay mistakenly thinks that the connection is a standard HTTP connection and will attempt to proxy it via a Private Relay server, breaking the VPN connection.

Disabling iCloud Private Relay

It is recommended that iCloud Private Relay be temporary disabled while using a VPN connection. To disable iCloud Private Relay:

  1. Open the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  2. Click on the Apple ID icon.
  3. Un-tick the checkbox next to "Private Relay".
  4. Click the "Turn Off Private Relay" button when prompted.