I notice that iTunes seems to suck up all my bandwidth and doesn’t play nice with other applications that use the web when it's downloading. In fact, it doesn't even give itself enough bandwidth when browsing the iTunes Store while downloading large or many files (podcasts, TV shows, large apps, etc).

I'm not concerned with getting all my downloads as soon as possible, they're really low priority, and I'd rather not have to do this while I'm awake, but I can't hit the refresh button if I'm in bed and forgot it already.

Is there an application or tool via the Terminal to limit the download bandwidth that iTunes gets without also hindering web browsers or other applications?

FOSS/GPL software is preferable, but pay software might be acceptable too.


12 Answers 12



CLI (no port-specific filtering but can be adapted):

These tools rely on ports or port ranges as a filter criterium. If you don't know what ports your application uses you can check its documentation or use lsof while the appplication is running to reveal the ports numbers.

sudo lsof -i -P

Most or all of the tools use ipfw which is officially deprecated in favor of pf, so not sure if these solutions will work on OS X 10.9 and beyond.


Old question, but I just got in the thick of a similar problem so I thought I'd reply.

The problem is probably actually due to traffic shaping at your ISP. They aggressively prioritize traffic to known content providers in an effort to provide better streaming service to customers. I'd argue they've gone a little too far in some cases - I just diagnosed a similar problem where a background iCloud photo upload was causing ping times in excess of 45000 ms.

In order to resolve the problem, you can simply reduce the amount of total bandwidth your computer will use in order to prevent the ISP's traffic shaping from completely robbing bandwidth from all other applications. Ironically, this will improve browsing performance on your own computer, in addition to obviously improving performance for other computers on your network. If for example you've got a 15Mbps downstream cap, you can limit your computer to only using 12Mbps of it, and the ISP algorithm will no longer see the need to shape your traffic as aggressively:

sudo ipfw pipe 1 config bw 12Mbits/s
sudo ipfw add 1 pipe 1 tcp from any to me

In my case, it was upstream bandwidth (capped at 1Mbps by my ISP) that was the limiting factor, so I ran the following, which solved my problem:

sudo ipfw pipe 1 config bw 768Kbits/s
sudo ipfw add 1 pipe 1 tcp from me to any

Note that these commands will only be effective until a restart, but to cancel the rule, just do the following:

ipfw delete 1
  • 1
    I find the FreeBSD man page for ipfw, but according to Wikipedia, ipfw was de-emphasized in OS X starting in 10.4 thru 10.5. I don't find ipfw on my installation of 10.10 today, and both Homebrew and MacPorts come up with no actively developed installations for ipfw.
    – dotHTM
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:08
  • 2
    ipfw was discontinued in os x, but there is pf
    – Chris
    Sep 3, 2015 at 12:59

How about waterroof? It's an easy front end for IPFW. (And open source.)


Use IceFloor on [Mountain] Lion

  • I'm downvoting this answer after discovering that IceFloor is more protocol-centered than app-centered. So if I want to restrict just a certain app it's hard.
    – knocte
    Jun 17, 2015 at 9:39
  • Upvoted because exploring IceFloor led me to find Vallum, which allows me to block network access per app. Apr 10, 2017 at 22:19

In relation to the current developments for OS X 10.10, the ipfw executable commonly referred to, is no longer available. However, there is a pf executable, which can handle similar firewall configurations.

There is a GUI interface called "Murus" (http://www.murusfirewall.com), which you can use for configuring pf. As far as I understand, it also actively supports bandwidth limiting (from the UI).


In case someone can not go without ipfw, you could try to compile it yourself. The source code (from FreeBSD) is available here: http://www.freebsd.org/cgi/cvsweb.cgi/src/sbin/ipfw/

Apple also publishes the source code of open source projects it uses(d). ipfw can be found here: http://www.opensource.apple.com/source/network_cmds/network_cmds-329.2.2/


I just found Snail, a simple application to throttle the bandwidth of any app on macOS. It's currently only available in a free beta version but works with macOS 11.1 (the most current version) and works on both Intel and M1 Macs.


This is a really perverse thought, but you might be able to use Mac OS X's built-in ipfw and dummynet to write rules to do this. See the man pages for those tools.


trickle is what you're after.

The only issues are that it does not support executables utilizing kqueue, and it does not support statically linked executables. iTunes should be fine.

  • 1
    I couldn't get trickle 1.0.6 or 1.0.7 to build. After running ./configure I get an error saying that libevent cannot be found. I installed libevent via MacPorts and got the same error when I tried again.
    – dotHTM
    Apr 2, 2010 at 14:00
  • @Kio versions > 1.06 do not build due to problems with the call to poll(). Older ones should work however.
    – user1931
    Apr 2, 2010 at 22:00
  • 4
    I downloaded trickle 1.0.5, ran "$ sudo ./configure" and got the following error just like before: "configure: error: libevent not found". I checked, and MacPorts has libevent installed. Besides, I'm not as fond of software that hasn't been updated in years.
    – dotHTM
    Apr 4, 2010 at 0:35

http://github.com/zquestz/throttled this might be what you're after if you've not found it yet.

  • This is outdated by now and uses ipfw, which is no longer available.
    – Chris
    Oct 12, 2015 at 13:21

I recently found (and still trialing) Vallum to have control over my apps:

It's a macOS Application Firewall that allows you to restrict what apps can use the internet. It's really slick so far, I just created a Default Profile that allows everything that I want to have access, and a Mobile Hotspot Profile that restricts more apps when I'm on the go.

Update: I haven't been able to "throttle" bandwidth for apps using Vallum, only setup different profiles where I restrict more/less apps.

  • 3
    doesn't seem to allow throttling at all
    – GJ.
    Apr 11, 2017 at 15:35
  • @GJ. true, I haven't been able to see that ability either... so far I can only let an app have network access, or not. I've been setting up different profiles as "throttles" for my workaround to this. Apr 18, 2017 at 16:10

The best way to throttle bandwidth on macOS is using Dummynet, which is built into the macOS kernel and works with the pf packet filter. In my opinion the only way to effectively tune bandwidth on a per-process basis is to identify which local ports are bound by the process and then create the corresponding pf dummynet rules. As far as I know the only macOS app that offers this option is Scudo (I'm the developer of Scudo, Vallum and Murus). Scudo 1.0 beta 3 is currently available for free, more info about Scudo per-process bandwidth tuning can be found here: http://www.murusfirewall.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1919&p=3281#p3281

  • I tried this and it appears to work. This is now in beta 6 (beta 3 will not work anymore) -- murusfirewall.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1949 I like the Network Monitor that allows you to add to the firewall and do bandwidth throttling.
    – f01
    Apr 17, 2019 at 11:42
  • This does work and the app is very intuitive and simple to use. I actually bought the single user license.
    – BrutusCat
    Dec 4, 2020 at 12:00

This question has largely been made obsolete for my particular use. I rarely download content in iTunes on a regular basis (podcasts now using a third-party app on iPhone only, AppleTV for iTunes video purchases, and not syncing apps at all to the computer).

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