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Frank Denis edited this page Mar 23, 2024 · 71 revisions

Installing dnscrypt-proxy on macOS


Step 1 - Get a root shell

Launch the Terminal application located in /Applications/Utilities folder, or any third-party terminal, to get a command-line prompt.

Type the following command to get a root shell:

sudo -s

Type your system password, Terminal shows a new prompt. Just if you need to do so, you can go back to the previous prompt by typing exit then hit return.

Step 2 - Download and run dnscrypt-proxy in Terminal

Download the macOS version, dnscrypt-proxy-macos-#.##.tar.gz, from dnscrypt-proxy binaries.

Extract it wherever you want, it can be in your home folder, in /Applications folder, or wherever you want, really.

_It is totally possible to have the executable file in one place, the configuration files in another place, the cache files elsewhere and the log files yet somewhere else.

But if this is the first time you install the software, and you don't have any good reasons to makes things more complicated than they should be, just keep everything in the same directory.

At least to start with, and to ensure that everything works as expected.

Then, go crazy if you like. But please, don't change everything before even starting the proxy once, and then complain that it does not work! Start with something boring, and gradually tweak it, if you really need to._

Do NOT change your DNS settings at this point.

In Terminal, go to the folder where you just extracted it using the cd command, i.e. something like:

cd /Users/bob/dnscrypt-proxy

The ls -l command should list a dozen of files, among which you must see dnscrypt-proxy and example-dnscrypt-proxy.toml.

Create the required configuration file using the provided example file, pay attention to type its name correctly:

cp example-dnscrypt-proxy.toml dnscrypt-proxy.toml

Be sure to be in the dnscrypt-proxy folder, where you have extracted it, and type the following command to start its installation:


A dozen of [Notification] lines appear during the installation. At the end, the prompt will not come back if dnscrypt-proxy is running.

If and only if, you need to get the prompt back, type ctrl-C to stop dnscrypt-proxy in Terminal. To restart it, while it's not yet installed as a system service, just type the previous command here above.

Does it look like it started properly?

If not, try to find out why. Here are some hints:

  • dnscrypt-proxy.toml: no such file or directory: make a copy of example-dnscrypt-proxy.toml as dnscrypt-proxy.toml, the required config file, as explained above.
  • not found ELF - not found - Syntax error: ")" unexpected or something similiar: you didn't download the correct archive for macOS.
  • listen udp bind: permission denied: you are not using a root shell as explain in Step 1. Use sudo -s to get one.
  • listen udp bind: address already in use: something is already listening to the default DNS port. Maybe something else, a VPN, an ad-blocker, a firewall, maybe another instance of dnscrypt-proxy that you didn't stop before starting the new one.

No errors? Amazing!

Don't close this Terminal window yet, or dnscrypt-proxy will be stopped!

We must change the current macOS DNS settings.

Step 3 - Change macOS DNS settings

Select System Preferences... in the Apple menu.

Click on the Network icon.

Select your service, most likely Wi-Fi or Ethernet, the one on the top of the list, the one currently in use.

If required, unlock the Locker on the bottom left to be able to apply the following changes.

Click on the Advanced... button then on the DNS tab.

If you don't feel confident, just in case dnscrypt-proxy doesn't work, and want to fail over your current settings, add and/or, or keep your existing IPs AFTER which must be the first at the top of the list! You can always remove that later when everything will work fine.

Select each IP, one after another, and click on the - button to remove all of them from the DNS Servers list.

When the list is empty, click on the + button and enter exactly this IP

Click on the OK button.

Don't forget to click on the Apply button to save these changes!

Close the System Preferences and go back to Terminal.

Hit cmd-N to open a new Terminal window, do not close the one running dnscrypt-proxy.

Check that everything works by sending a first query using dnscrypt-proxy:

./dnscrypt-proxy -resolve

Does it looks like it has successfully resolve

Sweet! Test a few more things: web browsing, file downloads, use your system normally and see if you can still connect without any DNS-related issues.

If anything ever goes wrong and you want to revert everything, open the network preferences pane, and delete from the first line. If it still does not work, delete all the new IPs you might have manually entered.

Step 4 - Tweak the configuration file

Hit ctrl-C in the dnscrypt-proxy Terminal window to stop it, the prompt must appear.

You must still be in the dnscrypt-proxy folder at this point.

The dnscrypt-proxy.toml file has plenty of options you can tweak. Tweak them if you like. But tweak them one by one, so that if you ever screw up, you will know what exact change made this happen.

Type ./dnscrypt-proxy to start the server, and ctrl-C to stop it. Test, tweak, stop, test, tweak, stop until you are satisfied.

The message bare keys cannot contain '\n' typically means that there is a syntax error in dnscrypt-proxy.toml configuration file.

Are you satisfied? Good, let's install it permanently.

Step 5 - Install dnscrypt-proxy as a system service

Hit ctrl-C in the dnscrypt-proxy Terminal window to be sure to stop the proxy.

To register it as a system service, you must still have root privileges, type:

./dnscrypt-proxy -service install

If you use a third-party firewall, an anti-virus, an anti-malware... or similar, read the chapter 'Cohabitation with dnscrypt-proxy' at the end of this page to solve potential conflicts.

This assumes that the dnscrypt-proxy executable and the dnscrypt-proxy.toml configuration file are in the same directory. If you didn't follow these recommendations, you are on your own to modify the /Library/LaunchDaemons/dnscrypt-proxy.plist file to add the required -config options.

If it does not report any errors, your macOS version is compatible with the built-in installer.

Let's install it as a permanent background service!

If you stop or uninstall dnscrypt-proxy service, be sure to restore/have IP(s) of DNS Servers in macOS System Preferences - Network panel - DNS tab! For example, and/or will make it.

These commands apply only to dnscrypt-proxy running as a service!

— Start the service

./dnscrypt-proxy -service start

— Stop the service

./dnscrypt-proxy -service stop

— Restart the service after any of the configuration files has been changed

./dnscrypt-proxy -service restart

— Check that DNS resolution works

./dnscrypt-proxy -resolve

— Uninstall the service

./dnscrypt-proxy -service uninstall

— Delete dnscrypt-proxy

To completely uninstall it, uninstall the service, move the folder where you have decompressed the archive to the trash and empty the trash.

Upgrade dnscrypt-proxy

To find which version is currently in use, type

./dnscrypt-proxy -version

Step 2, here above, explains how to download the latest version.

Replace only the Unix executable file dnscrypt-proxy (~11 MB) with the latest version.

Restart the service, type

./dnscrypt-proxy -service restart

Cohabitation with dnscrypt-proxy

First, check that you are using the latest version!

Then, verify that your configuration file is using correct values, that there is no typing errors,...

Also verify that you have not defined an 'impossible/blocking' configuration, carefully read the Configuration chapter in this manual.

— Little Snitch

During the installation, Little Snitch firewall will show several alerts, like:

Terminal via dnscrypt-proxy wants to connect to ... TCP port ...

dnscrypt-proxy wants to connect to ... on UDP/TCP port ...

You must 'Allow' them 'Forever' to run dnscrypt-proxy without problem.

As dnscrypt-proxy service file is not signed, Little Snitch warns you that it might be a 'Suspicious process', it is normal, no need to worry! Always download dnscrypt-proxy from, and if you are paranoid, check it with Minisign tool and/or build it yourself.

— Drive Pulse

During the installation of dnscrypt-proxy as a service, Drive Genius - Drive Pulse might issue an alert if its preference 'Watch Launch Items Changes' is enabled.

It just informs you that the dnscrypt-proxy.plist file has been added to macOS /Library/LaunchDaemons/ folder. You must click the Ignore this change button to accept this installation.

— DNSMasq

See chapter 'Making things go fast - IPv6 blocking' for DNSmasq.

Control dnscrypt-proxy from the menu bar

BitBar is a really nice tool to add very useful features to your macOS menu bar.

This includes dnscrypt-proxy switcher to control dnscrypt-proxy from the menu bar.

So you can keep dnscrypt-proxy always running as a background service, and just toggle it on and off using this menu bar tool.

If the "Error bind: address already in use" error appears

mDNSResponder listens to port 53 when applications using the native hypervisor run. Docker is an example of an application using this.

mDNSResponser also listens to port 53 when Internet sharing has been enabled.

It is quite annoying, because at the same time macOS doesn't allow to set a specific port for DNS queries. And mDNSResponder's DNS proxy listens to all IPs, effectively preventing another local DNS resolver or proxy from running.

Fortunately, mDNSResponder's DNS proxy can be disabled in its configuration file: /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

As this file is in /System, changing it first requires to disable SIP.





Another workaround is to listen to a different port, and use a local firewall rule to redirect port 53 to it.

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