NetStumbler for Mac OS X

NetStumbler for Mac OS X?

If you are looking for a NetStumbler like program for Mac OS X you have several options. My personal favorite is KisMAC. I also use the built in airport utility to scan for wireless access points.


KisMAC is an opensource and free stumbler/scanner application for Mac OS X. It has an advantage over MacStumbler/iStumbler/NetStumbler in that it uses monitor mode and passive scanning.

KisMAC supports several third party PCMCIA cards – Orinoco, PrismII, Cisco Aironet, Atheros and PrismGT. USB Prism2 is supported as well, and USB Ralink support is in development. All of the internal AirPort hardware is supported as well.



MacStumbler is a utility to display information about nearby 802.11b and 802.11g wireless access points. It is mainly designed to be a tool to help find access points while traveling, or to diagnose wireless network problems. Additionally, MacStumbler can be used for “wardriving”, which involves co-ordinating with a GPS unit while traveling around to help produce a map of all access points in a given area.

MacStumbler requires an Apple Airport Card and MacOS 10.1 or greater. MacStumbler doesn’t currently support any kind of PCMCIA or USB wireless device.

MacStumbler works like NetStumbler and relies on responses to probe requests to discover access points. This implementation also prevents MacStumbler from detecting wireless stations or hidden networks because they don’t respond to probe requests.



iStumbler is the leading wireless discovery tool for Mac OS X, providing plugins for finding AirPort networks, Bluetooth devices, and Bonjour services with your Mac.


Airport Utility

The utility is located at:

Typing the above command path can be avoided by creating a symbolic link to the command in /user/sbin/ by copying and pasting below into a terminal window.

sudo ln -s /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport /usr/sbin/airport

This will allow you to simply type “airport” in the terminal window to execute the command.

Typing “airport -s” will scan for broadcasting wifi devices.

See my previous post for more information about the airport utility for additional information.

4 Replies to “NetStumbler for Mac OS X”

  1. rather than a symlink you could just add /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources to your PATH environment variable. Edit your .bash_profile, add it there.

  2. To get any results, you do have to ensure Airport is on; but, as far as Snow Leopard 10.6, the path has changed slightly… Try:

    /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport -s

    I just need to figure out how to keep from losing my wifi connection every other hour… not sure if there are conflicting channels in the neighborhood or if I just have too many wifi devices… :(

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