I'm a little bit confused about the difference between a network interface and network service. For example, the ifconfig utility documentation talks in terms of the network interface:

ifconfig en0

While "networksetup" is using network service:

networksetup -getinfo %network service name%

Can a single network interface have multiple network services?

2 Answers 2


networksetup is the CLI interface for network settings panel in System Preferences. From the man page:

The networksetup command is used to configure network settings typically configured in the System Preferences application.

ifconfig is the utility to set up a network interface. From the man page

The ifconfig utility is used to assign an address to a network interface and/or configure network interface parameters.

What you are seeing is two different methods with different nomenclature for the same thing.

networksetup is specific to macOS where ifconfig is more generic and part of the BSD core

As to your question...

Can a single network interface have multiple network services?

Yes. For instance, you can have an alias for that interface. Using actual System Prefs (because it's visually easier), I created a new service called "Ask Different Demo" to my existing interface "Ethernet"

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In computer networking, a network service is an application running at the network application layer and above, that provides data storage, manipulation, presentation, communication or other capability which is often implemented using a client-server or peer-to-peer architecture based on application layer network protocols.

Each service is usually provided by a server component running on one or more computers (often a dedicated server computer offering multiple services) and accessed via a network by client components running on other devices. However, the client and server components can both be run on the same machine.

Clients and servers will often have a user interface, and sometimes other hardware associated with it.

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