Typing ifconfig on the command line gives me listings for several devices. I've seen at least the following ones:

  • lo0
  • gif0
  • stf0
  • en0
  • en1
  • en2
  • en3
  • p2p0
  • awdl0
  • bridge0

What specifically do each of them refer to? I know en0 is a wireless connection, en3 is a connection using a Thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter, and en1 is an ordinary ethernet connection. What about the rest?

  • If your first discovered network interface is WiFi, en0 would be wireless, but Macs with physical wired Ethernet have en0 as wired in most cases. – bmike Oct 22 '15 at 16:12

These are properly known as BSD names, so you can look at the BSD / Darwin source code to see what these mean.

  • en is Ethernet
  • lo is loop back or local host
  • awdl is air drop peer to peer (a type of mesh network)
  • bridge is a connection between networks
  • p2p is sometimes a virtualization link and also some people have reported it being used with AirDrop before that changed to be awdl0

The numbers added to the end just increment as you add a second interface of the same type. The rest are tunneling interfaces for VPN and bridging between IPv4 and IPv6:

  • Not all en refer to a wired ethernet connection. Are wireless connections considered a form of ethernet? (If so, how?) – jvriesem Oct 22 '15 at 16:24
  • 1
    @jvriesem The media section will let you know if an Ethernet connection uses wired connections in most cases (and which flavor) - the en tag commingles both wired and wireless hardware. – bmike Oct 22 '15 at 16:31

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