How to Change DNS Settings on iPhone & iPad

Aug 8, 2014 - 7 Comments

Change DNS Settings in iOS When you point your iPhone or iPad at a web address (like osxdaily.com), iOS will perform a DNS lookup to send you to the proper location. DNS servers handle part of that lookup service, translating numerical IP addresses into the readable domain names we’re all more familiar with and associate with web sites and other internet addresses. Most internet service providers provide their own DNS servers, but let’s be honest, they’re not always the fastest, thus you can sometimes speed up your internet service or even resolve some networking issues by changing DNS settings to another set of servers. Changing the DNS settings in iOS are what we’re going to cover here, and the process is the same on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.


Note that you must be connected to a wi-fi network in order to set a new DNS server or change the DNS settings in general. Without a wireless connection, there is either no DNS to change (in the case for a wi-fi only device), or, in the case of an iPhone, DNS is set by the cellular network provider and is unable to be customized until a wi-fi network has been joined.

Changing DNS Settings in iOS

Setting DNS is the same in all versions of iOS and on all devices, though the general appearance will look a bit different from modern versions of iOS compared to older versions.

  1. Open the “Settings” app on the iOS device and tap on ‘Wi-Fi’ (the connected router name will be next to this)
  2. Locate the Wi-Fi router you are currently connected to in the list, this is determined by the checkmark appearing next to the name, and then tap on the (i) button to the right of the router name
  3. How to Change DNS Servers on iPhone and iPad

  4. Scroll down to the “DNS” section and tap on the numbers to the right – this will bring up the keyboard and you can enter in a new DNS IP address (in this example, we’re using Google DNS servers of 8.8.8.8)
  5. Set DNS Servers on an iPhone

  6. Tap on the “Back” button or exit out of Settings to set the DNS change

That’s it, iOS DNS settings have been successfully changed, but the change may not have taken effect yet…

Getting the DNS Change to Take Effect

You’ll likely want to reboot the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in order for the DNS change to take effect, otherwise the old DNS servers may be cached in iOS.

You can either do a hardware reboot by holding on the Power button to turn the device off and on again, or use one of the iOS Settings based software reboot methods if the physical buttons aren’t working or are inaccessible.

How to Know What DNS Servers to Use

Wi-Fi routers almost always dispense a DNS server automatically through DHCP, typically matching the routers IP address, and then they pull the DNS specifics from the ISP. This means you’ll often see something like “192.168.0.1” as the DNS setting when you first check it. If you aren’t experiencing any particular issues with your default settings, there is little reason to change them, unless you anticipate a performance boost by switching DNS to a faster service – more on that in a minute.

Users who want to use different DNS and who are not sure which DNS servers to use can either use ISP provided addresses, or opt to go for the public DNS services like the following:

Google Public DNS IP addresses:

  • 8.8.8.8
  • 8.8.4.4

OpenDNS IP addresses:

  • 208.67.222.222
  • 208.67.220.220

If you’re going to set a custom DNS, it’s generally a good idea to perform a DNS performance test with an app like NameBench to determine which is the fastest from your network and location, this requires using a Mac or Windows PC, but it is worthwhile and can result in better internet experiences and improved performance.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

7 Comments

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  1. Donavon Rutledge says:

    Technology left me at the bottom of the proverbial curve decades ago. Your article looked as though it would be interesting and even useful if I had an inkling whether, why, and when I would need to know this. I guess if I don’t understand it I don’t need to know. Thanks for many of your other postings though.

  2. Alex says:

    Sorry, NameBench is not available in the Netherlands for iPad

  3. Marty says:

    Namebench is way out of date and incorrectly reports domains as hijacked causing unnecessary concerns and wasted time.

    • bettori says:

      NameBench just queries DNS servers from your current location to determine which resolves domain names the fastest…

  4. Raven says:

    I used to use Open DNS. I did not find it any faster and stopped using it because of some issues. I forget what those were, but when I switched to my internet provider’s DNS servers things worked much better.

  5. Grey says:

    If you’re connecting to your home / office router via WiFi: DNS servers should be specified in the router settings, and every device on the local network should have its DNS pointing to the (internal) IP address of that router. Here’s an overview of using OpenDNS http://bit.ly/1kzfqsg and here’s a quick tutorial for configuring OpenDNS on a Linksys router http://bit.ly/1kzfyrP

    If you’re using public WiFi — i.e., any WiFi access point other than your own: You shouldn’t be…unless you’re using a VPN to protect yourself.

  6. Dan says:

    Some WiFi providers, like The Cloud in the UK, won’t work if you mess with the DNS. I had the OpenDNS servers set into my laptop network settings, but it wouldn’t work in the coffee shop I was in. The problem was that the redirect that the login script used would fail unless you were using the router supplied DNS. As OSX, and I’m guessing iOS as well, prefer defined DNS to inherited, having explicit entries can cause problems.

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