Mac OS X v10.4, 10.5, 10.6: How to look up ".local" hostnames via both Bonjour and standard DNS

Learn how to look up ".local" hostnames via both Bonjour and standard DNS.

The Multicast DNS feature of Bonjour allows devices on a local network to connect to each other without a separate DNS server by using the ".local" domain, as described in this article.

This advanced article explains how to make your Mac look up host names ending in ".local" using both Multicast DNS and standard Unicast DNS using the name servers specified in the Network pane of System Preferences.

Some private networks also use ".local" domains for hosts registered with their internal DNS server, even though it is not a valid top-level domain on the public Internet. If your Mac is connected to such a network, you may want it to look up host names that end in ".local" by using Unicast DNS to speak to a DNS server, the same way that it looks up host names such as "www.apple.com" on the Internet.

Mac OS X v10.6

In Mac OS X v10.6, as long as your network's DNS server is properly configured, you do not have to make any changes on your client Mac.

Host names that contain only one label in addition to local, for example "My-Computer.local", are resolved using Multicast DNS (Bonjour) by default. Host names that contain two or more labels in addition to local, for example "server.domain.local", are resolved using a DNS server by default.

Additionally, Mac OS X v10.6 automatically detects when the local network operator has set up a name server that will answer name requests for a domain ending in ".local". It does this by checking to see if there is a Start Of Authority (SOA) record for the top level domain "local", which is how a DNS server indicates that it claims to have authority over a part of the DNS namespace. As long as the DNS server is properly configured with the required SOA record, Mac OS X v10.6 will detect this SOA record and automatically use this server to look up all host names in the domain.


Mac OS X v10.5

In Mac OS X v10.5, host names that contain only one label in addition to local, for example "My-Computer.local", are resolved using Multicast DNS (Bonjour) by default. Host names that contain two or more labels in addition to local, for example "server.domain.local", are resolved using a DNS server by default.

To use Unicast DNS to look up names like "My-Computer.local", add local to the list of search domains in the Network pane of System Preferences. For Ethernet interfaces, add local to the text box labeled "Search Domains", using a comma to separate it from any other search domain names. For other network interfaces, such as AirPort, click the Advanced button, select the DNS tab, click the + button under the Search Domains list, and add local. If you have multiple entries in this field, be sure that local is first, and separate them with commas. For example:

local, apple.com



Mac OS X v10.4

In Mac OS X v10.4, all host names that end in ".local" are resolved using Multicast DNS (Bonjour) by default. To use Unicast DNS to look up ".local" names, add local to the list of search domains in the Network pane of System Preferences. Select the desired network interface and click Configure. Add local to the Search Domains field. If you have multiple entries in this field, be sure that local is first, and separate them with commas. For example:

local, apple.com

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