4 Ways to Monitor Bandwidth Usage on Your Mac

Although you may be lucky enough to have an unlimited, uncapped internet connection for your Mac, many people still need to keep an eye on how much data they transfer. This could be down to a stingy ISP, or the fact that you’re using a mobile data network when travelling.

There are a number of handy utilities available for OS X that make this process remarkably easy, and can help you ensure that you remain within your allocated usage (and avoid any nasty charges)

Read on to find out more!




SurplusMeter, while not the most beautiful app featured today, is the only one designed with this one goal in mind – to help you monitor your broadband usage. I was surprised that no other software is available that specifically achieves this goal, but several others let you keep track of usage in a roundabout way.

After specifying which day of the month your internet contract starts, and your monthly download cap, SurplusMeter will start tracking what you use – across all network devices. Feedback is given both in a table, and through a progress bar that slowly fills up as you use more data.

It’s specific, clever, and completely free.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later

iStat Menus

iStat Menus

iStat Menus

iStat Menus is a great application, designed by the talented folks at Bjango. Although it’s capable of monitoring almost every aspect of your system, it also handles bandwidth usage tracking very well.

Like many of the utilities shown here today, it only displays data transferred since you last turned on your Mac. This is OK in most cases, but not if you regularly turn on and off your computer.

One useful aspect of iStat is that data transfer is shown separately for each of your different network devices. The downside of this is that you can only see information for devices currently in use (i.e. when an ethernet cable isn’t connected, you won’t see how much data has been transferred through that medium).

Price: $16
Requirements: OS X 10.5, 10.6 or newer required.

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor

A free solution for tracking bandwidth usage comes in the form of Activity Monitor. Bundled with OS X by default, this app has a small “Network” tab at the bottom which will show a few useful statistics about your connection.

Again, Activity Monitor only displays data since you last booted the machine. It shows a figure representing the data sent/received by all network devices, rather than a breakdown.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X

Net Monitor

Net Monitor

Net Monitor

Net Monitor comes in at $10, but has a wide range of features that help to justify the price. You can visualize your network traffic, log your network activity, create history reports and calculate traffic over time.

You can specify certain dates between which you’d like to view a report of data usage, which makes it very flexible to fit your personal broadband package. Similar to the free SurplusMeter, but with a few more advanced options for the technically inclined.

You can try a free demo to decide whether it’s worth forking out $10 for. If I was paying for this type of application, I’d be inclined to go with iStat on account of the extra functionality it brings in other areas.

Price: $10
Requirements: OS X 10.4 or Later

What Do You Use?

Is a capped broadband a connection a problem that you regularly have to struggle with? I’m lucky enough to have an unlimited data transfer allowance each month (and subsequently, you can often find me streaming live TV, listening to music on Spotify, and downloading system updates all at the same time…)

Are there any other applications you use for this purpose? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!


Add Yours
  • If your in Australia then definitely check out Ration:


    Its free!

    Also, it is extensible for any isp on the planet. Provided someone builds the plugin for it.

    • Woah, that looks wicked!

      Currently I have a dashboard widget which shows all the info I need, very simple and very effective.


    • BigPond users, you might like this one:

    • Yeah Ration is great if you live in AU. But if you want to monitor your local traffic and are furmiler with the command line I would sugest vnstat, it keeps hourly/daily/monthly usage info, you can even get a web gui for it if the command line isn’t enough

      • What a neat airltce. I had no inkling.

  • I actually paid for istat menu. I like it a lot. I was a user of the free version already.

  • Thanks for the post! I’ve recently switched from an unlimited slow plan to a limited fast plan with my ADSL, and finding it hard at times to stay under limit.

    I have been using iStat Pro (http://www.islayer.com/apps/istatpro/) which is free, but I might give SurplusMeter or Net Monitor a go.

    Also, anyone know of any decent Mac apps that will check internet usage from providers in New Zealand?

  • using istats on client side and net monitor on server side. istat menu is great for having a quick look – not only bandwith. for having an eye on (server-)bandwith net monitors calendar is great. we’ve had just sometimes trouble with stability (minor crashes / database not writable).

  • iStat was good while it was free, the price now seems excessive for what it does against other free alternatives

  • So will SurplusMeter, or any of the other mentioned software, track bandwidth usage from all the computers on my network, or just usage from the computer it’s installed on?

  • Same question as Al, I need a solution that will track bandwidth on my Airport Extreme router, not the five computers/devices using it. I guess I could run a bandwidth tracking app on all my computers, my ipad, my iphone, etc. and total the numbers up whenever I want to know my usage – but that sucks.

    Who seriously only has one computer/device these days?

    • The poor!
      The really poor don’t even have one!

  • Why isn’t MenuMeters in the list? It’s a great menubar app, I use it for years already and it is FREE! After installing it appears in ‘System Preferences’ and there you can set it up the way you like it.

    • By the way, MenuMeters is an Open Source application!

  • I could run a bandwidth tracking app on all my computers, my ipad, my iphone, etc.

    • Hi Martin, which one did you use to run a bandwidth tracking appfor computers, my ipad, my iphone, etc.?

  • Quota allows you to easily monitor your ISP, Mobile Phone from the providers side of things.

    Quota will alert you via push notifications when you are over your ideal spend or when a certain condition is met. You can also receive regular notifications throughout the day showing your spend vs remaining.

    You can also easily develop your own provider in XML (The canada pack covers most of Canada’s ISP/Mobile and Tolls).

    • Kevin,

      Quota sounds like the thing i’m looking for but my google-fu is too weak to find it. Do you have a link or more info that would help me weed it out of the bajillions of hits that “quota bandwidth monitor” generates?

  • I’m uisng ProteMac Meter for monitoring my network activity.
    Good programm.

  • hi… hey, will any of these solutions distinguish between the data that is coming and going to/from the internet and the data streaming locally over the same wifi device that’s also providing the internet? i’m constantly using the wifi to stream my itunes to the speakers i have plugged into my airport express, and these would be no solution for me if none disregard data flowing over my LAN (the mentioned airplay stream, wireless printing, and an iPod app called Discover that puts a file system on my iPod so i can use the iPod as a general thumb-drive type storage device).

    any advice? any good news for me in the form of an app that does what i need??

  • I’d suggest Rubbernet. It shows per-app bandwidth usage and can monitor remote Macs too. http://rubbernetapp.com

  • I have some reservations about the efficacy of using Network Utility and Activity Monitor to measure a running total of activity going through a machine. Here’s why.

    In my home setup, there’s four machines. One, a mac mini, provides network access to the three others; the other machines have wireless access. The mini gets WAN (Internet) access via wired ethernet, and uses OS X’s Internet Sharing feature to dole out access to the wireless machines. Thus, if any machine talks either on the LAN or the WAN, it must go through the mini to communicate.

    If you use AFP (file sharing) to transfer files from machine to machine, you should see network activity being registered in Network Utility and Activity Monitor. But if you test the difference they show in transferring between a machine and the mini, and wireless client to wireless client, you will find the two utilities will count in the former case, but not in the latter!

    Has anyone else experienced this apparent anomaly?

  • thanks

  • Measure your Bandwidth usage usina AWESOME tool……………Visit

    • This thread was originally about measuring bandwidth usage on a Mac. Networx software is for PCs only.

  • I use iStats and recommend. But he should allow to record net usage.

  • iStat was good while it was free, the price now seems excessive for what it does against other free alternatives…….

  • I’ve been using iSurplus, but just noticed that it’s way under-reporting usage now that I’m using AppleTV. I’m wondering what’s going wrong. Perhaps I don’t have it set up right? Problem is, I don’t quite understand how my usage gets measured while using wi-fi for things like AppleTV. I have iSurplus set up to measure traffic through PPP modem. Is there something I need to adjust? Thanks in advance.