I have long wondered what the significance of the VPN icon in the menu bar is:

vpn icon

Anyone know?


I think people are misunderstanding my question. It is the icon for the built-in OSX VPN. I use it regularly. My question is what the icon itself represents. A padlock? A tunnel? A spaceship?

closed as primarily opinion-based by bmike Feb 21 '14 at 14:43

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Not sure. Click around. Is it from a program you installed or an OS X built-in feature? You may find this site useful: computers.tutsplus.com/tutorials/… – Joseph Hansen Feb 21 '14 at 1:44
  • I don't think people understand your question. I have always wondered the same thing! I don't think it represents anything but am not sure. – miken32 Feb 21 '14 at 4:34
  • As you can see, people get confused about questions that can be summarized as "That thing I just explained - Why did Apple do that?" Have a peek at help center and feel free to edit this to make a practical case as to why you need to know the answer or how it affects you getting something done that's on-topic and we can reopen this. – bmike Feb 21 '14 at 14:45
  • @bmike you're right, I have no practical need to know this - just a long standing curiosity. – pickardwebdev Feb 21 '14 at 14:50

There's a few people think it's an RSA SecurID tag:



Don't know if I buy it though.

  • Still not a 100% answer, but this does seem most likely. Thanks! – pickardwebdev Feb 21 '14 at 14:08
  • By the way, the file is at /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/VPN.menu/Contents/Resources/VPN0.pdf. – miken32 Feb 21 '14 at 16:49

It is what it says it is - a VPN (virtual private network) indicator. I use it every day to connect to the office. The VPN gives me a secure, encrypted tunnel through a potentially insecure public network (like a cafe or airport).

That indicator changes when you're connected, and optionally you see how long you've been connected alongside it.

This is only for Apple's built-in VPN; there are others like Cisco AnyConnect, that use different encryption protocols; those don't use that icon. You must have a VPN set up on your computer for that to appear (SystemPreferences->Network, in the left hand column)


If you have zoom turned on and zoom in real tight on that icon, it does -in a vague sort of way-, look like one of those RSA SecureID tokens that some companies pass out

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .