Mac Built in Speedtest Tool

If you’ve ever been wondering whether the internet connection at your home or office is fast enough, you’ve probably turned to tools like Ookla’s Speedtest, but it turns out macOS Monterey now includes its very own built-in tool for that.

While it’s not as fancy as some third-party tools, one upside is that you don’t need to worry about downloading and installing something else on your Mac just to get a quick speed test. Plus, since it’s built into the operating system, you can check it from any Mac you happen to be sitting in front of — as long as it’s running macOS Monterey, of course.

Uncovered by software developer Dan Petrov, this new network quality tool provides most of the same metrics as other third-party tools, but it’s much simpler to use and has a couple of other interesting tricks up its sleeve.

Here’s how to find it and use it:

  1. Open LaunchPad from the dock on your Mac.
  2. Click in the Search field at the top and type “Terminal.”
  3. Click on the Terminal icon that appears.
  4. In the Terminal window, type “networkquality” and press the Return key.

This includes the actual upload and download capacity, normally expressed in Mbps, or megabits per second, along with a simple classification of your network quality as High, Medium, or Low.

Here’s what these mean, according to Apple’s support document:

  1. Low: If any device on the same network is, for example, downloading a film or backing up photos to iCloud, the connection in some apps or services may be unreliable, such as during FaceTime video calls or gaming.
  2. Medium: When multiple devices or apps are sharing the network, you may see momentary pauses or freezes, such as during FaceTime audio or video calls.
  3. High: Regardless of the number of devices and apps sharing the network, apps and services should maintain a good connection.

Digging Deeper

One of the things that sets Apple’s built-in network quality tool from third-party apps such as Ookla’s Speedtest is that it measures your upload and download capacity in parallel by both sending and receiving data simultaneously.

Most other tools test your download speeds and upload speeds separately, which often produces higher numbers than what you’re actually likely to experience. The overall capacity of your internet connection is based on traffic flowing in both directions — uploads and downloads both share that capacity.

While measurements by tools like Ookla’s may be great for scenarios where you’re purely streaming videos from Netflix or downloading large files, they’re not practical indications of how well your network can handle things like FaceTime calls.

As Petrov explains, when you’re on a video call or voice call, you’re not just receiving a media stream, but you’re also sending one at the same time. A proper network test needs to simulate this, which is precisely what Apple’s tool does.

In other words, don’t be surprised if Apple’s network quality tool gives you lower numbers than third-party tools, at least by default. If you want a more direct comparison, you can force a sequential test by adding a “-s” parameter (i.e., typing “networkquality -s”), which will run the download test first, followed by the upload test, similar to how most other speed testing tools work.

In addition to the overall bandwidth measurements, the network quality tool also shows upload and download “flows.” Petrov says these seem to be the number of test packets that are used, along with Roundtrips Per Minute (RPM), which Apple describes as “the number of sequential round-trips, or transactions, a network can do in one minute under normal working conditions” — a metric that’s also important for features like FaceTime audio or video calls.

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