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On my Macbook Pro, when I navigate to System Preferences -> Network -> Advanced -> DNS, I see the following output that seems to indicate my only configured DNS server is 127.0.0.1.

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Don't I need to be connected to an actual DNS server, such as 8.8.8.8 or 1.1.1.1 or even one of my ISP's provided DNS servers? How can I make DNS requests without being connected to a DNS server?

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  • Greyed-out DNS server indicates you are getting that address from DHCP - check where your DHCP comes from to see if that's at fault [or alternatively disable any loopback services you may be running on apache etc] btw, you can override that by adding a recognised server with the + button, then typing a new default, but your Gateway may also be misconfigured] – Tetsujin Dec 7 '19 at 17:50
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    It is possible that there is a locally running (on your computer) caching DNS server that listens on 127.0.0.1 such as dnsmasq which in turn uses upstream DNS servers to resolve queries originated by your system. Not sure if this is an out of the box setup on Mac, but certainly it can be configured manually. – VL-80 Dec 7 '19 at 17:57
  • Is your Mac successfully resolving names (e.g. if you browse to apple.com, does the page load)? If so, you are running a local DNS server on your Mac (dnsmasq or something similar). This is not an out-of-the-box setup on macOS, it must be something you installed/set up. – Gordon Davisson Dec 7 '19 at 18:15
  • Thanks for the answers -- this set up is on my work laptop. If it's not the default configuration, it must have been something that my company set up via Jamf. – Lincoln Bergeson Dec 7 '19 at 21:31
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I'll expand on my comment and turn it into answer.

It is possible that there is a locally running (on your computer) caching DNS server that listens on 127.0.0.1, such as dnsmasq which in turn uses upstream DNS servers to resolve queries originated by your system.

Based on the comment above (by @Gordon Davisson) it is not an out of the box setup on Mac and has to be configured manually.

If your system is able to resolve domain names it is very likely that this is the case and you have locally running caching DNS resolver. Usually they have their own configuration files where upstream DNS servers are specified.

Note: If you use proxy server for Web browsing, your browser will not perform DNS lookups (this will be done by the proxy server), and you will be able to browse even without DNS server being properly configured in your system, as long as the proxy server is configured with an IP-address, not a hostname.

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