What is a ping test, and how do I test ping on my Mac are good questions. Ping is used to test your internet speed and quality. In this feature we’re going to look at network ping testing, and how to do a ping test from your Apple Mac.

Ping is a technique used by computers to test whether another computer on the network is responding to it. One computer sends a message (the ping) to another, and the second computer responds. Once the connection between the two computers is established, a ping test is repeatedly performed  to test the latency (delay) between the two computers.

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What is a ping test on the Mac for?

If you’re working on a network, you can use a ping test to check the connection between multiple computers. This is a good for troubleshooting problems with file sharing and other communication problems.

But perhaps more importantly the ping test measures latency (delay) which is the speed between two computers. An online ping test measures the latency (delay) between your computer and another server on the internet.

Use a ping test to check BBC iPlayer quality and video games lag

The Ping Test is often used by gamers to measure delay (also known as lag). This can be used to measure the quality of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for gaming, and other features that require a good internet connection.

It’s worth noting that ping is distinct from raw speed. Your ISP could offer a very fast service, but its ping quality can be low. Which is why sometimes you’ll have a great internet speed, but still find the quality of online streaming services (such as BBC iPlayer) are choppy and that online gaming stuttering. Often the problems lie in the ping quality of your network.

Here are three ways to test ping on your Mac:

1. Test ping on your Mac with an online service

Using pingtest.net web service to test ping

Probably the easiest way to test ping is to use an online service such as Pingtest.net. Here is how to test ping.

  1. Open Safari and enter http://www.pingtest.net in the Smart Search field.
  2. Click Begin test.
  3. An alert appears saying, “Do you want to to trust the website “www.pingtest.net” to use the “Java” plug-in?. Click Trust and then Run in the Do you want to run this application window.
  4. You should see your IP and ISP name to the bottom left of the globe. Check this is correct.
  5. Click Begin Test.

Pingtest.net finds the best server to test and then measure three things Packet Loss, Ping and Jitter. Here is what they mean:

  • Packet Loss: data is sent across the net in short blocks (usually 64 bytes) known as “packets." You shouldn’t lose any packets. Anything other than 0% should be a concern.
  • Ping: This is measured in ms (milliseconds) and the lower the value, the faster the packets take to arrive across the network.
  • Jitter: This is the amount of variance between the different ping measurements. This shows you how stable the Ping amount is. Like ping, it is measured in ms and the lower value is better.

You get a rating from ping test from A - F. If you want to get to know what ping test results are considered good, and why, then take a look at this Measuring Network Quality page.

The ping test results from pingtest.net

2. Test ping on your Mac with Network Utility

Using Network Utility to measure ping on a Mac

It is also possible to test Ping directly on your Mac using the Network Utility app. This is an application included in Mac OS X that enables you to test ping. Here is how to test ping using Network Utility:

  1. Open Network Utility (located inside Applications > Utilities).
  2. Click Ping.
  3. Fill out the “Enter the network that you want to ping” field. You can enter the IP address or web URL. Enter www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer to test the ping with that website, for example.
  4. Click Ping.

Now that Network Utility is running, it returns get ping results for the BBC iPlayer website. Each test reports the packet size (such as “64 bytes”) and lists the ISP and at the end is the ping time measured in ms. Unlike an online service you’ll have to work out the jitter and grade for yourself, but a lower measurement in ms is better.

3. Test ping on your Mac with Terminal

Using Terminal to measure ping on a Mac

You can also test ping on the Mac directly in the Terminal app. Here is how to test ping in Terminal:

  1. Open a new Terminal window (click on Terminal located in Applications > Utilities).
  2. Enter “ping” followed by the IP address or web address. To Ping BBC IPlayer enter ping 81.200.64.50 or ping www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer.
  3. Press Return.

Let the ping program run. Terminal repeatedly tests the ping of the network. Press Ctrl  + C when you are finished to quit the Terminal ping test process.

With this method, you can test ping repeatedly and quickly inside the Terminal. These are the three techniques we use to measure ping. Let us know in the comments if you use any other techniques to measure ping, or to work out if your network is running at full speed.