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.
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.
Because the ping test measures latency (delay) which is the speed between two computers, you can use an online ping test to measure the latency (delay) between your computer and another server on the internet.
For this reason, a Ping test is often used by gamers to measure delay (also known as lag). This can also be used to measure the quality of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for any 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:
How to Ping with Network Utility
It is possible to test Ping on your Mac using the Network Utility app. Before 2014 this was located in Applications > Utilities, but since Apple launched Mac OS X Yosemite it has been relocated.
You will find it in System > Library > Core Service. Alternatively you will find it by clicking on the Apple Menu > About this Mac > System Report > Window > Network Utility.
Or, just type Network Utility into Spotlight and open it that way.
Here's how to use Network Utility to Ping:
- Open Network Utility.
- Click Ping.
- 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 to test the ping with that website, for example.
- Click Ping.
Now that Network Utility is running, it returns get ping results for the BBC 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.
How to Ping with Terminal
You can also test ping on the Mac directly in the Terminal app. Here is how to test ping in Terminal:
- Open a new Terminal window (it's located in Applications > Utilities, or you can just start typing it in Spotlight).
- Enter “ping” followed by the IP address or web address. To Ping the BBC enter ping 126.96.36.199 or ping www.bbc.co.uk.
- Press Return.
- Let the ping program run. Terminal repeatedly tests the ping of the network - it will keep going until you stop it - so press Ctrl + C when you are finished to quit the Terminal ping test process.
Test ping on your Mac with an app
Another way to test ping is to use an app such as Speedtest by Ookla.
- Download Speedtest for Mac from the Mac App Store here.
- Open Speedtest.
- You'll see an alert that "Speedtest" would like to use your current location. Click Allow.
- Click Go.
- Your Speedtest will start - it will tell you your download and upload speed, and will measure 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.