How to disable IPv6 on Mac

How to disable IPv6 on Mac

This short article explains how to disable IPv6 on Mac and presents alternative solutions for the case when the turn off IPv6 option is not available.

The simplest way to disable the IPv6 is to turn off the IPv6 option from your Network settings. However, sometimes the option is not available, and you have to disable IPv6 via Terminal commands.

Disable IPv6 on macOS [Summary]

  • If the IPv6 turn off option is available (more details with pictures here):
    • Open System Preferences > Network.
    • Select the active network adapter (Wi-Fi or Ethernet ) from the left panel.
    • Click on the Advanced button from the right panel.
    • Next, click on the TCP/IP tab.
    • Select the Configure IPv6 drop-down menu and set it to Off
    • Click the OK button.
    • Restart your Mac to make sure the IPv6 is disabled.
  • If the IPv6 turn off option is NOT available:
  • Alternative solution: disable IPv6 on your router.

What is IPv6 and why disable IPv6?

The Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) was designed to replace IPv4 to allow more unique IP address identifiers to be created. This was necessary as the available IPv4 addresses were running out.

However, the complete transition to IPv6 addresses is far from complete. Thus, many Internet services (data centers, Internet Service Providers) still use IPv4 and do not assign public IPv6 addresses. Consequently, most VPN services do not support IPv6 VPN tunnels.

The problem is that, if your network supports IPv6 and the VPN server you are connected to works over IPv4, then your IPv6 traffic may leak.

Top VPN providers offer IPv6 leak protection implemented in their applications, but it is safer to disable IPv6 from your machine. Disabling IPv6 at the system level guarantees no leaks are possible.

For your own safety, we recommend that you disable the IPv6 any time you set up a manual VPN connection on your Mac, no matter the chosen VPN protocol (IKEv2, L2TP over IPSec, OpenVPN).

Important! As IPv4 is still the primary Internet Protocol in use, you can turn off IPv6 without any negative consequences to your browsing activities.

How to check if IPv6 is enabled?

Whether you have IPv6 capability depends on your ISP and the device you are using.

To check your IPv6 settings, you may visit an IP address locator website like IPleak.net. It is important to load IPleak while you are not connected to a VPN.

Disable IPv6 on Mac - Check IPv6 on IPleak

In case you don’t see an IPv6 address, then you may not need to disable it. However, you may still proceed if you regularly connect to public WiFi networks. It is safer to have IPv6 turned off while using unsecured hotspots.

If you see the IPv6 address, then you may proceed with the steps described below.

How to disable IPv6 on Mac?

Disabling IPv6 on a Mac computer is not difficult. However, in case the turn off the option is not accessible for your active network, then you need to roll up your sleeves and run some commands in your Terminal.

Disable IPv6 from Network settings

The simplest method to disable IPv6 on macOS (Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, and below) is to turn off IPv6 from the Network settings (if the option is available):

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Open System Preferences > Network.
  3. Select the network that you are already using.Disable IPv6 on Mac from Network settings (select network)
    Note: If you are connected to the internet wirelessly, the active adapter will be Wi-Fi. However, if you are connected via a LAN cable, the corresponding adapter will be Ethernet.
  4. Click on the Advanced button.
  5. Next, click on the TCP/IP tab. Disable IPv6 on Mac from Network settings (Advanced - TCP/IP)
  6. Select the Configure IPv6 drop-down menu and set it to Off. In case the Off option is not available, then proceed with the command line alternative described below.
  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Restart your Mac to make sure the IPv6 is disabled. You may double-check by loading the IPleak.net website.

To restore IPv6, follow the steps described above and select Automatically in the Configure IPv6 drop-down.

Disable IPv6 from the command line

You may not have the turn off IPv6 option available. In this case, you need to run a command through the Terminal app:

  1. Open Launchpad.
  2. Search for Terminal.
  3. Click on the Terminal.app.
  4. If your active network is WiFi enter the following command:
    networksetup -setv6off Wi-Fi
  5. If you are on Ethernet:
    networksetup -setv6off Ethernet
  6. You may combine both of commands to disable IPv6 on WiFi and Ethernet at the same time:
    networksetup -setv6off Ethernet && networksetup -setv6off Wi-Fi
  7. To re-enable IPv6, you need to replace setv6off to setv6automatic (the default state in macOS), for example:
    networksetup -setv6automatic Wi-Fi && networksetup -setv6automatic Ethernet

The Terminal app when you type in the command to disable IPv6 over Wi-Fi:

Disable IPv6 on Mac - Terminal command line

Alternative solution: disable IPv6 on your router

An option that you may consider if you want to disable IPv6 on all your devices at once is to turn it off from your router. Of course, you need to remember that IPv6 is still enabled on your Mac, and if you connect to the Internet using another Wi-Fi network, you are still exposed to IP leaks.

There are many types of router brands on the market, and the admin panels are quite different. Basically, you need to look for the IPv6 management options and disable IPv6. For example, for some DD-WRT routers, it goes like this:

  1. Go to Administration > Management.
  2. Under IPv6 Support, set IPv6 to Disable.
  3. Click Save, and then, Apply Settings.

Summary

Disabling IPv6 on macOS is recommended while connected to a VPN. Thus, you make sure your IPv6 address is not exposed.

To disable IPv6 on Mac, you can either turn it off from the Network settings, run commands on the Terminal application, or disable IPv6 from the router.

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