ifconfig - macOS


The ifconfig command, short for “interface configuration,” is a traditional Unix-based utility used to configure network interfaces in UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems, including macOS. It allows users to view and change the settings of network interfaces, such as enabling or disabling interfaces, setting IP addresses, and managing ARP cache, among others. ifconfig is particularly useful for network administrators and for troubleshooting network issues.


The basic syntax of the ifconfig command is as follows:

ifconfig [interface] [options]
  • interface: This is optional and specifies the network interface to configure. If omitted, ifconfig displays information about all interfaces.
  • options: These are used to specify what action to take on the interface, such as assigning an IP address, netmask, etc.


Here are some commonly used options/flags in ifconfig:

  • up – Activates the specified network interface.
  • down – Deactivates the specified network interface.
  • inet – Used to set an IPv4 address to the interface.
  • inet6 – Used for configuring IPv6 address settings.
  • netmask <value> – Sets the net mask of the network interface.
  • broadcast <value> – Sets the broadcast address of the network interface.
  • alias – Allows the interface to be used with more than one IP address.


Here are some practical examples of using ifconfig:

  1. Viewing all network interfaces:

  2. Setting an IP address:

    ifconfig en0 inet netmask
  3. Enabling a network interface:

    ifconfig en0 up
  4. Disabling a network interface:

    ifconfig en0 down

Common Issues

  • Permissions: Running ifconfig might require superuser privileges. Use sudo to avoid permission denied errors.
  • Deprecated: Note that on newer versions of macOS, ifconfig is considered deprecated in favor of the ip command and other modern tools like networksetup.


ifconfig can be integrated with other commands for more complex tasks, such as scripting network configurations or diagnostics. Here’s an example that combines ifconfig with grep to extract the IP address of a specific interface:

ifconfig en0 | grep 'inet ' | awk '{ print $2 }'
  • ip: A modern replacement for ifconfig that provides more detailed and flexible tools for managing network interfaces.
  • netstat: Displays network connections, routing tables, interface statistics, masquerade connections, and multicast memberships.
  • ping: Useful for testing and troubleshooting network connectivity.

For further reading and more detailed information, consult the macOS networking documentation and man pages (man ifconfig).