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Some Mac users may want to disable IPv6 network support on their computers. This may be desirable to avoid certain network conflicts, or to increase security for users in higher-threat environments, as researchers have identified IPv6 as potentially vulnerable to man-in-the-middle and other network attacks.
While most users do not use IPv6 directly, disabling IPv6 is not without consequences and should only be done by users who know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Some of the major Mac OS X system services, such as the Bonjour discovery service, use IPv6. Accordingly, disabling IPv6 can render AirDrop sharing inoperable, make certain printing services unavailable, and another handy Mac features can also become unusable. This makes it impractical for many to disable.
Mac OS X offers a few ways to disable IPv6, and we’ll cover a simple method using the command line and demonstrate how to re-enable IPv6 if you decide it is necessary. Users can also check if IPv6 is being actively used through System Preferences, which puts Mac OS X in an automatic state by default.
Disable IPv6 in Mac OS X via Terminal
Launch Terminal, located in the / Applications / Utilities / folder, and use the following commands that are appropriate for your situation. Note that many modern Macs only have Wi-Fi cards, eliminating the need for the ethernet option. If the Mac has both WiFi and Ethernet networks, you probably want to disable IPv6 for both interfaces.
To disable IPv6 support for Ethernet:
network setup -setv6off Ethernet
Disable IPv6 for wireless:
network configuration -setv6off Wi-Fi
You can also combine both commands into a single string to disable both wireless and ethernet, just use the following syntax:
network setup -setv6off Ethernet && network setup -setv6off Wi-Fi
Make sure to enter that string in one line to run the command correctly.
Re-enable IPv6 for Wi-Fi and Ethernet in Mac OS X
Undoing the above change is also possible, of course, and you can re-enable IPV6 support with the following command strings entered into the terminal:
network setup -setv6 automatic wifi
network setup -setv6 automatic Ethernet
You can also put this in a single command to re-enable IPv6 for Wi-Fi and Ethernet, such as:
network setup -setv6automatic Wi-Fi && network setup -setv6automatic Ethernet
This simply puts IPv6 back into the ‘automatic’ configuration state that is standard in OS X, if the server you are connecting to does not support IPv6, it will not be used. Re-enabling IPv6 should return all Bonjour services to their normal working state, including the always-useful AirDrop file transfer feature.
Those interested can find out about IPv6 on Wikipedia.
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