How to Manage the Apps Using Your Network Connection on macOS

Nov 7, 2018 4 min read
How to Manage the Apps Using Your Network Connection on macOS

Sometimes your Mac’s network activity can seem like a black box.  There aren’t that many system tools for analyzing network activity, and  Terminal commands like netstat vomit a ton of data that’s  hard to sort through and understand. Fortunately, you’re not the only  one that wants to find and control the apps using your network  connection on macOS. You can check out these following options for  managing your network connection on your Mac.

Using Activity Monitor

If  you want an extremely rough overview of the apps using your network  connection, you can find that under the Network tab in Activity Monitor.

1. Open Activity Monitor from “/Applications/Utilities/Activity” or type “Activity Monitor” into Spotlight.


2. Click the “Network” tab at the top of the Activity Monitor window.


3.  To see the most active processes, click the column titled “Sent Bytes”  to see the processes sorted in order of amount of data sent.


4. You can also click on other column titles to sort by data received and packets sent and received.


Using Loading

Loading  is a free menu bar application that monitors the applications currently  using your Internet connection. It also displays the apps that have  recently used your Internet connection and has options for detailed  breakouts of traffic. All this lives in a tiny menu bar app, and it’s  free, too!

1. Download and install Loading from the developer’s website.

2.  If your Internet connection is currently active, you’ll notice a new  addition to your menu bar: a spinning loading icon. This indicates that  there is traffic on your network.


3.  Click on the Loading icon to reveal a dropdown menu. Under “Loading”  you’ll see applications currently loading content over your Internet  connection. Under “Loaded,” on the other hand, you’ll see apps that  recently finished downloading content.


4. Hold the Alt/Option key on your keyboard while clicking the Loading menu bar icon to reveal  a much more detailed dropdown menu. This shows the process identifier  (PID) for each application as well as each application’s resource path.


5. You can use the PID to kill a misbehaving application with a Terminal command like kill 410.  That particular command would kill Spotify, which is PID 410 at the  moment. Replace that with the process number of the app you want to  kill.

Using Little Snitch

For  total insight into and complete control over your Mac’s Internet  connection, you’ll want to use Little Snitch. It’s a paid app, but it  provides enormous control, allowing you to block or allow traffic on a  process-by-process basis.

1. Download and install Little Snitch from the developer’s website. You’ll need to reboot your Mac during the installation process for Little Snitch to insert its network monitoring daemons.

2.  Little Snitch’s tutorial is helpful, so click through it to learn how  the app works. We care most about the Network Monitor, which should  launch automatically when the tour finishes. If you need to launch the  monitor manually, click on the Little Snitch icon in the menu bar and  choose “Show Network Monitor” from the dropdown menu.


3. The Network Monitor will display all the active connections and their associated applications.


4. Click on an application or process name to learn more about what the process does.


5. To block a process, click the “X” next to the process’s name.



While  macOS doesn’t offer many built-in tools to monitor the network  connection in a useful way, there are a number of third-party  applications that fill in the void. If you need serious management of  your Internet connectivity, you’ll want to use Little Snitch. If you  have a casual interest in your network activity, Loading will be less of  an investment.


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