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How to Switch Mac OS X to Use OpenDNS or Google DNS

Are you still using your service provider’s DNS servers? If you’re on Comcast, you probably noticed their DNS servers completely died recently, taking down the internet—but anybody using the more reliable OpenDNS or Google DNS had no problems. Here’s how to set it up on your Mac OS X computer.

There’s lots of other reasons to use OpenDNS or Google DNS other than just their rock-solid reliability—they are often much faster than your ISP’s DNS server, and in the case of OpenDNS, there’s loads of extra features like content filtering, typo correction, anti-phishing, and child protection controls.

If you’re using Windows, be sure and check out some of our other articles on the subject:

Otherwise, keep reading for how to set it up on your Mac.

Switching Your DNS Server on Mac OS X

You’ll need to first head into the System Preferences…

Then click on the Network icon…

Then you’ll want to select your network card on the left—you’ll see in my example that I’ve got an AirPort card—and then select the Advanced button near the bottom right corner.

Once you’re there, switch over to the DNS tab, and you can start adding in DNS entries into the list. If you see entries that are grayed out, just ignore them, and click the + symbol at the bottom to add new ones.

Switching to Google DNS

If you want to use Google’s DNS servers, you can add the following two items to the list:

  • 8.8.8.8
  • 8.8.4.4

Switching to OpenDNS

If you’d rather use OpenDNS instead, which has lots of extra features, you can use the following two entries:

  • 208.67.222.222
  • 208.67.220.220

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/17/10

Comments (16)

  1. Hatryst

    What’s the difference between Google DNS and OpenDNS?

  2. Chaos

    This is a different DNS, but the appointment of the same

  3. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Hatryst,

    Laura from OpenDNS here — that’s a great question. Both OpenDNS and Google DNS can offer faster and more reliable DNS, but only OpenDNS offers:

    Phishing and malware protection
    Web content filtering
    Typo correction
    Stats on your network’s activity

    Hope that helps! Happy to answer any OpenDNS related questions. Just shoot them my way to laura @ opendnd dot com.

    Thanks!

  4. ShomikB

    I have two DNS already listed, one that is my own I guess (192.168.x.x) and one by Verizon (71.250.x.x). Which one do I replace? And what are the search domains?

  5. Anton

    @ShomikB Your two addresses should be one internal (to router or gateway that points to your ISP) and the other one should as well be to the ISP but in this case it will go directly to the ISP.

    A search domain is a domain where your computer turns to when it does not get a fully qualified domain name (FQDN). This is like a shortcut, if you have an internal DNS you just need to type hostname instead of hostname.example.com if your search domain is example.com

  6. Mark

    I really like the filtering offered by OpenDNS, and the free account offers plenty of features, including filtering, monitoring, and more. I have my router setup to point to OpenDNS so all machines on my home network get routed to OpenDNS. (I don’t recall the exact configuration — but I’m sure it involves changing the router settings, but on the PC/Mac, I’m not sure exactly how to tell it to use the router’s DNS settings.)

  7. Jaime

    Why wouldn’t you change these settings in your router instead? That way all your computers would use the new dns.

  8. Mohan

    Pretty much the same deal with other OSs, so are you guys gonna start doing tips on OS X?

  9. Hatryst

    Thank you very much. I already use OpenDNS and I’m very satisfied with it ;)

  10. APH

    This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the great DNS benchmarking tool provided by GRC. It’ll tell you which DNS providers are fastest for your location, along with additional information about them. Too bad it’s a Windows program, though you can run it in Wine on OS X or in a VM. Get it for free at http://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm and check out the other neat stuff there.

  11. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Jaime,

    Laura from OpenDNS here again :)

    We generally recommend people set up OpenDNS on their routers. That way every device in the home, from an iTouch to a wii is protected.

    But not all routers allow you to change the DNS; or, maybe you are on someone else’s network and would like to have OpenDNS set up. In that case, you can set it up on your computer instead.

    -Laura

  12. The Geek

    Laura is correct, and we’ve actually shown how to do that (in the article that we linked near the beginning). Setting it up on your own PC is really useful when you take your MacBook to somebody else’s house—or use a hotspot, etc.

  13. Joe

    I ran that DNS benchmark test that APH linked to in a VM. Six OpenDNS addresses showed up as being faster than what I was using, including the two OpenDNS addresses from the post. Can I/should I add all of the entries, or should I keep it to two? If not, does it matter which two I use? I ask because there were two OpenDNS addresses not posted here that were faster than the ones posted. Should I stick to 208.67.222.222 & 208.67.220.220 anyway?

  14. Joe

    Sorry, I realize 222.222 & 220.220 are the ones to use now.

  15. JB12

    @ Anton So should I keep what I have on there, and add the OpenDNS or Google DNS?

  16. Willis

    Is opendns that much better than the current DNS provided by your local ISP (Verizon FIOS for me)?

    Can I have the link to that wallpaper in the examples above?

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