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Chapter 4. Networking > Advanced Network Administration Tools

Advanced Network Administration Tools

The Utilities folder inside the Applications folder includes two powerful utilities you can use to modify and monitor a network (Figure 36): NetInfo Manager and Network Utility. Although a complete discussion of these utilities is beyond the scope of this book, here’s an overview so you know what they do.

NetInfo Manager

NetInfo Manager (Figure 59) enables you to explore and, if you have administrative access, modify the network setup of your computer. With it, you can create and modify network users, groups, and domains and manage other network resources.

Figure 59. NetInfo Manager’s main window.

NetInfo Manager works by opening the NetInfo data hidden away within Mac OS X’s configuration files. Although these files can also be explored and modified with command-line interface tools, NetInfo Manager’s interface is a bit easier to use.

NetInfo Manager is a network administrator tool that requires advanced knowledge of the inner workings of Mac OS X networks.


  • Making changes with NetInfo Manager when you don’t know what you’re doing is a good way to damage NetInfo data files. If you do enough damage, you could make it impossible to use your computer.


  • If you want to learn more about NetInfo data and NetInfo Manager, look for the document titled “Using NetInfo,” which is available on Apple’s Mac OS X Server resources page, www.apple.com/server/resources.html.

Network Utility

Network Utility is an information-gathering tool to help you learn more about and troubleshoot a network. Its features are made available in eight tabs:

  • Info (Figure 60) provides general information about the network interfaces.

    Figure 60. Use the Info tab to get information about a network interface.

  • Netstat (Figure 61) enables you to review network performance statistics.

    Figure 61. Use the Netstat tab to get network performance statistics.

  • Ping (Figure 62) enables you to test your computer’s access to specific domains or IP addresses.

    Figure 62. Use the Ping tab to “ping” another computer on the network or Internet.

  • Lookup (Figure 63) uses a domain name server to convert between IP addresses and domain names.

    Figure 63. Use the Lookup tab to get the IP address for a specific domain name.

  • Traceroute (Figure 64) traces the route from your computer to another IP address or domain.

    Figure 64. Use the Traceroute tab to trace the routing between your computer another IP address.

  • Whois (Figure 65) uses a whois server to get information about the owner and IP address of a specific domain name.

    Figure 65. Use the Whois tab to look up information about a domain name.

  • Finger (Figure 66) gets information about a person based on his e-mail address.

    Figure 66. Use the Finger tab to look up information about a person based on his e-mail address.

  • Port Scan (Figure 67) scans a specific IP address for active ports.

    Figure 67. Use the Port Scan tab to check for active ports on another IP address or domain name.


  • The tools within Network Utility are used primarily for troubleshooting network problems and getting information about specific users or systems.

  • Many of these utilities are designed to work with the Internet and require Internet access.

  • In this day and age of increased privacy and security, you’ll find that the Finger utility (Figure 66) is seldom successful in getting information about a person.

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