Installing iPerf on a Mac OS X system

Iperf is a network bandwidth testing tool that is available for a variety of operating systems. It is available as C++ source code and also in precompiled, executable versions for the following operating systems from iPerf - Download iPerf3 and original iPerf pre-compiled binaries:
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  1. Windows
  2. Android
  3. iPhone / iPad
  4. Apple macOS
  5. Ubuntu / Debian / Mint
  6. Fedora / Red Hat / CentOS
  7. openSUSE
  8. Arch Linux
  9. FreeBSD

It can be used to determine available bandwidth using both Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) data streams.

To install an already compiled version of iPerf on a Mac OS X system, such as a MacBook Pro laptop, download the Apple macOS Intel 64bits version. The latest version is a 3.x version. You will need matching versions on both the client and server systems. E.g., a 2.x version on both or a 3.x version on both. The software is available in ZIP file format. If you double-click on the zip file in the Apple Finder application, a Unix Executable File will be extracted from the .zip file, e.g., iperf3. You can move the file to the Applications/Utilities directory or place it wherever you like on the system.

To run the program, open a Terminal window - the Terminal application is found in the Applications/Utilities directory. If you type /pathtofile/iperf3 -h, where pathtofile is the location where you placed the executable file, for the iperf3 version you will see the following "help" information on the usage of the program:

$ /Applications/Utilities/iperf3 -h
Usage: iperf [-s|-c host] [options]
       iperf [-h|--help] [-v|--version]

Server or Client:
  -p, --port      #         server port to listen on/connect to
  -f, --format    [kmgKMG]  format to report: Kbits, Mbits, KBytes, MBytes
  -i, --interval  #         seconds between periodic bandwidth reports
  -F, --file name           xmit/recv the specified file
  -B, --bind      <host>    bind to a specific interface
  -V, --verbose             more detailed output
  -J, --json                output in JSON format
  --logfile f               send output to a log file
  -d, --debug               emit debugging output
  -v, --version             show version information and quit
  -h, --help                show this message and quit
Server specific:
  -s, --server              run in server mode
  -D, --daemon              run the server as a daemon
  -I, --pidfile file        write PID file
  -1, --one-off             handle one client connection then exit
Client specific:
  -c, --client    <host>    run in client mode, connecting to <host>
  -u, --udp                 use UDP rather than TCP
  -b, --bandwidth #[KMG][/#] target bandwidth in bits/sec (0 for unlimited)
                            (default 1 Mbit/sec for UDP, unlimited for TCP)
                            (optional slash and packet count for burst mode)
  -t, --time      #         time in seconds to transmit for (default 10 secs)
  -n, --bytes     #[KMG]    number of bytes to transmit (instead of -t)
  -k, --blockcount #[KMG]   number of blocks (packets) to transmit (instead of -t or -n)
  -l, --len       #[KMG]    length of buffer to read or write
                            (default 128 KB for TCP, 8 KB for UDP)
  --cport         <port>    bind to a specific client port (TCP and UDP, default: ephemeral port)
  -P, --parallel  #         number of parallel client streams to run
  -R, --reverse             run in reverse mode (server sends, client receives)
  -w, --window    #[KMG]    set window size / socket buffer size
  -M, --set-mss   #         set TCP/SCTP maximum segment size (MTU - 40 bytes)
  -N, --no-delay            set TCP/SCTP no delay, disabling Nagle's Algorithm
  -4, --version4            only use IPv4
  -6, --version6            only use IPv6
  -S, --tos N               set the IP 'type of service'
  -Z, --zerocopy            use a 'zero copy' method of sending data
  -O, --omit N              omit the first n seconds
  -T, --title str           prefix every output line with this string
  --get-server-output       get results from server
  --udp-counters-64bit      use 64-bit counters in UDP test packets

[KMG] indicates options that support a K/M/G suffix for kilo-, mega-, or giga-

iperf3 homepage at:
Report bugs to:

If you run iPerf version 3in server mode with the command iperf -s , you will see the following:

$ /Applications/Utilities/iperf3 -s
Server listening on 5201

Version 3 of the program listens on TCP port 5201 by default whereas version 2.x versions listen on TCP port 5001 by default.

You will also see a window open with the following question (image):

White exclamation mark in a yellow triangle

Do you want the application "iperf3" to
accept incoming network connections?

Clicking Deny may limit the application's behavior.
This setting can be changed in the Firewall pane of
Security & Privacy preferences.


You will need to click on Allow to allow external systems running iPerf in client mode to connect to the system. You can terminate the program from the command line by hitting control-C, i.e., hit the control and c keys simultaneously.

You can check on whether iPerf is allowed to listen for incoming connections on an OS X system by the following steps:

  1. Click on the Apple icon at the top, left-hand corner of the screen and select System Preferences.
  2. Click on Security & Privacy.
  3. Click on the Firewall tab. If the padlock icon is showing a closed lock, click on it to unlock it, which will require that you provide credentials for an account with administrator level access to the system.

    Security and Privacy -

  4. Then click on Firewall Options. You should see iPerf listed. If you see "Block incoming connections" click on "Block incoming connections" and choose "Allow incoming connections" instead.

    iperf - block incoming

  5. Click on Ok

    iperf - allow incoming

  6. You can then close the Security & Privacy window.

You can determine if iperf is allowed to accept incoming connections from a command line interface (CLI), e.g., a Terminal window - the Terminal program is found in the Applications/Utilities directory - by using the socketfilterfw --listapps command as shown below:

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$ /usr/libexec/ApplicationFirewall/socketfilterfw --listapps
ALF: total number of apps = 6 

1 :  /System/Library/StagedFrameworks/Safari/WebKit.framework/Versions/A/XPCServ
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 

2 :  /Applications/Utilities/iperf3 
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 

3 :  /System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk/Contents/Home/bin/java 
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 

4 :  /Applications/ 
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 

5 :  /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/Resources/Python.a
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 

6 :  /System/Library/Frameworks/WebKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/WebKitLeg
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 


The above command shows the status of firewall rules for other applications as well; you can restrict the displayed output to just the rule for iperf with the command shown below:

$ /usr/libexec/ApplicationFirewall/socketfilterfw --listapps | grep -A 1 "iperf"
2 :  /Applications/Utilities/iperf3 
 	 ( Allow incoming connections ) 

If the firewall software on the system is blocking incoming connectivity to iperf, you would see the following, instead.

$ /usr/libexec/ApplicationFirewall/socketfilterfw --listapps | grep -A 1 "iperf"
2 :  /Applications/Utilities/iperf3 
 	 ( Block incoming connections ) 

To run iPerf in client mode to connect to an external iPerf system, use the command iperf -c remotehost where remotehost is the IP address or fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for the remote system. E.g., the iPerf output included below is from a test to a publicly available iPerf server,

$ /Applications/Utilities/iperf3 -c
Connecting to host, port 5201
[  6] local port 59177 connected to port 5201
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]   0.00-1.00   sec   630 KBytes  5.16 Mbits/sec                  
[  6]   1.00-2.00   sec  1.13 MBytes  9.43 Mbits/sec                  
[  6]   2.00-3.00   sec  1.30 MBytes  10.9 Mbits/sec                  
[  6]   3.00-4.00   sec  0.00 Bytes  0.00 bits/sec                  
[  6]   4.00-5.00   sec  23.5 KBytes   193 Kbits/sec                  
[  6]   5.00-6.00   sec  0.00 Bytes  0.00 bits/sec                  
[  6]   6.00-7.00   sec   165 KBytes  1.35 Mbits/sec                  
[  6]   7.00-8.01   sec   222 KBytes  1.81 Mbits/sec                  
[  6]   8.01-9.00   sec   341 KBytes  2.80 Mbits/sec                  
[  6]   9.00-10.00  sec   386 KBytes  3.16 Mbits/sec                  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]   0.00-10.00  sec  4.15 MBytes  3.48 Mbits/sec                  sender
[  6]   0.00-10.00  sec  4.07 MBytes  3.41 Mbits/sec                  receiver

iperf Done.

Related articles:

  1. Using iperf on a Microsoft Windows system
    Created: Tuesday June 28, 2016
    Last modified: Tuesday June 28, 2016
    MoonPoint Support
  2. Installing iperf on CentOS
    Created: Tuesday October 27, 2015
    Last modified: Tuesday October 27, 2015 MoonPoint Support


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