ju ka

Network debugging on macOS

The last time someone asked My internet is broken, can you help me? I thought a blogpost might be a good way to share some tools macOS contains that can help to debug your network (future me ✋).

In this post I want to show some tips and tricks on how to find common networking problems.

When I approach a networking problem, I try to get some structure in my debugging workingflow by using the OSI model. We will have a look at each layer and try to isolate the problem layer by layer.

OSI layers

In the following section we will have a look at each layer and try to find some tips and tricks for debugging. It is intended to be a short checklist and therefore does not include more in-depth details on each step.

1-2 Physical, Data Link

  • Ethernet cable plugged in?
  • LEDs on ethernet port flashing?
  • WLAN signal quality:
    • Open Wireless Diagnostics.app > Menu Bar open Window > Info & Performance
    • The Info window gives you some clues on your current network (Channel, Channel Band, Active PHY Mode etc.)
    • Performance: Are there variations in e.g. the noise and the resulting Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI)?

3 Network

  • Is the cloudflare namesever reachable: ping 1.1 (aka. ping
  • Do I have the right IP address?
    • are link local addresses (RFC5735) that might be self assigned by your machine -> DHCP servier not reachable.
    • IP address of guest network?

4-7 Transport, Session, Presentation, Application

  • Is the DNS resolution working properly?
    • Get DNS record $ dig A juliankahnert.de
    • Ask a specific namesever: $ dig A juliankahnert.de @1.1
    • Response correct (HTTP status code etc.) $ curl -I http://juliankahnert.de
    • Validate the certifcate: $ curl --insecure -vvI https://juliankahnert.de/ 2>&1 | awk 'BEGIN { cert=0 } /^\* SSL connection/ { cert=1 } /^\*/ { if (cert) print }'

Other Use Cases

Where runs the server of ...?

Tools like ipinfo help you to find the ASN>) and its name. This can reveal the hoster (e.g. Hetzner or Uberspace).

Where can I change the DNS records?

You might have more than one registrar and want to find to namesever responsible for a (sub)domain.

$ dig NS juliankahnert.de

More information: 35c3: Domain Name System

DNS: Clear Cache

If you have changed DNS records and you can clear the cache of some nameservers:

You can use a DNS Checker to valide DNS changes.

Tip: Set a short DNS record TTL some time before you make changes. This will speed up the DNS propagation and your testing afterwards.

Network Performance

Since macOS Monterey there is a networkQuality CLI included in the OS. This is a nice way to test the transport layer of your network.

$ networkQuality
==== SUMMARY ====
Upload capacity: 20.014 Mbps
Download capacity: 183.036 Mbps
Upload flows: 16
Download flows: 20
Responsiveness: Medium (467 RPM)


There are several ways to approach a networking problem. The tools described in the article can give you some first insight.

If you think there are some tips, tricks or tools missing just leave me some feedback. I love to add them to this post! 🤓

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