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Tailscaled on macOS

Denton Gentry edited this page Dec 6, 2023 · 17 revisions

tailscaled on macOS

There are multiple ways to use Tailscale on macOS.

This page is about how to use the open source, non-GUI tailscaled and tailscale binaries.


Install Go

Install Go 1.21 (or whatever the most recently released Go version is) from or Homebrew, etc. Tailscale always requires the most recent Go version and doesn't support older ones.

Compile Tailscale


go install{,d}@main

That'll put the binaries in $(go env GOPATH)/bin, so likely $HOME/go/bin. You can copy or symlink those binaries into your $PATH, or make your $PATH include that directory.

You can also compile from a specific release version. For example to build from the source code used for Tailscale 1.38.2, use:

go install{,d}@v1.38.2

Run the tailscaled (daemon)

sudo $HOME/go/bin/tailscaled

Or, to run it in the background under launchd so it starts at system boot:

sudo $HOME/go/bin/tailscaled install-system-daemon

That copies the binary to /usr/local/bin and installs a plist in /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.tailscale.tailscaled.plist and starts com.tailscale.tailscaled.

(to stop/uninstall, use: sudo tailscaled uninstall-system-daemon)

Use the tailscale CLI tool

See (but ignore the /Applications/ part; that's the path to the GUI's CLI)

tailscale up       # (any optional arguments)
tailscale status


Comparison to GUI version

Compared to the GUI version of Tailscale, running tailscaled instead has the following differences:

  • tailscaled on macOS is much newer and less tested, but it seems to all work.
  • the App Store version uses the Apple Network Extension API; tailscaled uses the /dev/utun TUN interface
  • MagicDNS works, but you need to set as your DNS server yourself. It doesn't yet change your DNS config.
  • tailscaled can run at system boot before any user has logged in (e.g. letting you VNC to your computer after a power outage)
  • is fully open source (Tailscale GUI parts aren't open source on non-free operating systems)
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