An object to create and manage the tunnel provider’s VPN configuration.


class NETunnelProviderManager : NEVPNManager


Like its superclass NEVPNManager, you use the NETunnelProviderManager class to configure and control VPN connections. The difference is that NETunnelProviderManager is used to to configure and control VPN connections that use a custom VPN protocol. The client side of the custom protocol implementation is implemented as a Packet Tunnel Provider extension. The Packet Tunnel Provider extension’s containing app uses NETunnelProviderManager to create and manage VPN configurations that use the custom protocol, and to control the VPN connections specified by the configurations.

The NETunnelProviderManager class inherits most of its functionality from the NEVPNManager class. The key differences to be aware of when using NETunnelProviderManager are:

Configuration Model

Each NETunnelProviderManager instance corresponds to a single VPN configuration stored in the Network Extension preferences. Multiple VPN configurations can be created and managed by creating multiple NETunnelProviderManager instances.

Each VPN configuration is associated with the app that created it. The app’s view of the Network Extension preferences is limited to include only the configurations that were created by the app.

VPN configurations created using NETunnelProviderManager are classified as regular enterprise VPN configurations (as opposed to the Personal VPN configurations created by NEVPNManager). Only one enterprise VPN configuration can be enabled on the system at a time. If both a Personal VPN and an enterprise VPN are active on the system simultaneously, the enterprise VPN takes precedence, meaning that if the routes for the two VPNs conflict then the routes for the enterprise VPN will take precedence. The Personal VPN will remain active and connected while the enterprise VPN is active and connected, and any traffic that is routed to the Personal VPN and is not routed to the enterprise VPN will continue to traverse the Personal VPN.

Profile Configuration

It is possible to create Packet Tunnel Provider configurations using configuration profiles. See the and payload types in Configuration Profile Reference. To specify that a configuration created via a profile payload is associated with a particular app (and therefore allow the app to use NETunnelProviderManager to manage the configuration), the app’s bundle identifier must be set as the value of the VPNSubType field in the profile payload.

Credential Storage

VPN credentials such as private keys and passwords that are imported into the system via configuration profiles are stored in the keychain in a special access group called In order to use these credentials the app and Packet Tunnel Provider extension must have the keychain access group entitlement.

Routing Network Data to the VPN

There are two ways or methods by which network data is routed to the VPN:

  • By destination IP address

  • By source application (Per-App VPN)

Routing by Destination IP

This is the default routing method. The IP routes are specified by the Packet Tunnel Provider extension at the time that the VPN tunnel is fully established. See NETunnelProvider for more details.

Per-App VPN

The only way to configure Per-App VPN is by enrolling the device in a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system, and then linking apps that are managed by the MDM system with a VPN configuration created from a configuration profile payload. Here are some details about how this works:

  • The MDM server creates a configuration profile containing a payload. The payload contains all of the usual VPN configuration profile payload fields, and also must contain a VPNUUID field, containing a unique string defined by the MDM server.

  • If the VPN provider extension is a Packet Tunnel Provider extension, then the ProviderType field in the payload should be set to packet-tunnel. If the VPN provider extension is an App Proxy Provider extension, then the ProviderType field in the should be set to app-proxy.

  • The MDM server adds a VPNUUID key to the attributes dictionary of all of the managed apps that will use the VPN. The value of the VPNUUID key must be set to the same unique string contained in the VPNUUID field in the payload.

  • The MDM server pushes the configuration profile and the managed apps to the iOS device using the MDM protocol.

The MDM client running on the device creates one app rule in the VPN configuration for each managed app that is linked to the VPN configuration via the VPNUUID app attribute.

Per-App VPN On Demand

The Per-App VPN app rules serve as both routing rules and VPN On Demand rules. This is in contrast to IP destination-based routing, where the VPN On Demand rules are configured separately from the routing rules. When the onDemandEnabled property is set to true and an app that matches the Per-App VPN rules attempts to communicate over the network, the VPN will be started automatically.

It is possible to set regular VPN On Demand rules in a Per-App VPN configuration via the onDemandRules property, but only NEOnDemandRuleDisconnect rules will be used. When a NEOnDemandRuleDisconnect rule matches, apps which match the Per-App VPN rules will bypass the VPN.

Testing Per-App VPN

As described above, an MDM server is required to configure Per-App VPN for VPN apps distributed via the App Store. To make testing Per-App VPN easier, it is possible to configure Per-App VPN without an MDM server during development by using the NETestAppMapping Info.plist key.

Here is what you need to do to make use of this capability:

  • Create a configuration profile containing a payload as described in Configuration Profile Reference. In addition to all of the usual VPN configuration payload fields, the payload must also contain a VPNUUID field, containing a unique string defined by you.

  • Add the NETestAppMapping key to your app’s Info.plist. The value of this key should be a dictionary that maps VPNUUID values to arrays of app bundle identifiers. Here is a sample:

  • Rebuild the app.

  • Install the app and the configuration profile on the device.

The system will create one app rule in the VPN configuration for each bundle identifier listed in the array in the NETestAppMapping dictionary corresponding to the value of the VPNUUID field in the payload.


Managing Tunnel Configurations

class func loadAllFromPreferences(completionHandler: ([NETunnelProviderManager]?, Error?) -> Void)

Read all of the VPN configurations created by the calling app that have previously been saved to the Network Extension preferences.

func copyAppRules() -> [NEAppRule]?

Create a copy of the app rules currently set in the configuration.

Getting Tunnel Configuration Properties

var routingMethod: NETunnelProviderRoutingMethod

The method by which network traffic is routed to the tunnel.


Inherits From

Conforms To

See Also

VPN Configuration

class NEVPNManager

An object to create and manage a Personal VPN configuration.

class NETunnelProviderProtocol

Configuration parameters for a VPN tunnel.

class NEAppRule

The identity of an app whose traffic is to be routed through the tunnel.