Merge Ethernet connections on Mac to boost network speeds [Pro tip]

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How to merge Ethernet ports on Mac
A faster, more reliable connection.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4 Did you know it’s possible to merge multiple Ethernet ports into one on a Mac? The feature is simple to set up and can greatly increase speeds for those with super-speedy network connections.

We’ll show you how to set it up.

Apple calls this feature “link aggregation,” and it’s built right into macOS. That means you don’t need any special software to take advantage of it. However, other important things are required.

What you’ll need to merge connections

First, you’ll probably want a fast network connection. Most Ethernet ports will support speeds of up to 1 Gbps as standard; some of Apple’s most recent machines can have 10 Gbps Ethernet ports installed.

If your network isn’t capable of exceeding speeds of 1 Gbps, then, merging Ethernet ports won’t increase your bandwidth. What it will do, however, is provide you with a backup connection.

By default, link aggregation balances network traffic across multiple ports. But if one of those ports fails, all traffic is automatically routed to the remaining ports and your connection remains active.

The other thing you will obviously need for link aggregation is at least two Ethernet ports. These don’t have to be built-in; you can use USB Ethernet devices, but they must support link aggregation.

How to merge Ethernet connections in macOS

When you’re ready to start merging your ports, follow these steps:

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Select Network.
  3. Click the settings cog, then choose Manage Virtual Interfaces.
  4. Click the add button, then click New Link Aggregate.
  5. Select the Ethernet ports you want to combine, give your aggregate connection a name, then click Create.
  6. Click Apply to complete the setup.

Your new aggregate connection is now active and ready to use. You can check detailed information about this connection by clicking on one of the Ethernet ports in your Network connections list.

It’s worth noting that macOS does not limit how many Ethernet connections you can combine. However, many Ethernet switches have an upper limit of four or eight ports for an aggregated bond.