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: Cloudflare Google

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.


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! 🤓

Tagged with: