11 Feb 2015

Local DNS with dnsmasq on OS X

It's useful to be able to test web applications during development with hostnames that are more realistic than localhost, such as subdomain.my-web-app.dev. Using the dnsmasq package from MacPorts and OS X's support for manual nameserver assignment for specific domains, setting up resolution for local testing domains is pretty straightforward.

"I'm in a hurry!": use the script from this Gist to set up resolution for .dev and .test domain names that point to


  • Installed version of MacPorts
  • Installed Mac OS X command line tools (make, gcc, etc.). If not installed, the following will install them on Yosemite:

    $ xcode-select --install

Installation and Configuration

  1. Install and load the dnsmasq port from MacPorts:

    $ sudo port -v install dnsmasq
    $ sudo port -v load dnsmasq

    This will install dnsmasq and create a launchd service file in /Library/LaunchDaemons/. As soon as the service file is created dnsmasq will be loaded by launchd.

  2. Create the /etc/resolver directory for domain-specific nameserver settings:

    $ sudo mkdir /etc/resolver

    The /etc/resolver directory contains files in resolv.conf format that specify name resolution settings for specific domain names. For example, a file /etc/resolver/exampledomain containing the line nameserver would resolve queries to *.exampledomain using the DNS server at, while resolving queries for all other domains via the system-configured nameservers.

  3. Create a resolver file for each domain you'd like to resolve locally:

    $ echo -n "nameserver" | sudo tee /etc/resolver/dev

    Replace dev with any other custom TLD you'd like to resolve. Don't specify a real TLD here unless you never plan on visiting a domain from that TLD.

  4. Create a dnsmasq rule for each domain you added in step 3:

    $ echo "address=/dev/" | sudo tee -a /opt/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf

    Repeat the above for each domain you added in step 3.

  5. Reload dnsmasq:

    $ sudo kill -9 $(pgrep dnsmasq)

    This will kill the current dnsmasq instance, which will be immediately relaunched by launchd with the new configuration.

  6. Verify the configuration:

    $ dig + short @localhost domain.dev

    This should return on standard output. Verify resolution using OS X's system configuration utility:

    $ scutil --dns

    This should return an entry similar to the following for each custom domain:

    resolver #2
      domain   : dev
      nameserver[0] :
      flags    : Request A records, Request AAAA records
      reach    : Reachable,Local Address

You should now be able to start up a local development server and browse to it at http://localhost.dev:PORT. For example, run python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080 in your home directory and you should be able to see its contents at localhost.dev:8080.