Bonjour Network Configuration Services

If you use Apple devices, odds are that you've used Bonjour

Bonjour Network

Bonjour is a method of zero-configuration networking developed by Apple. It makes it possible for computers and printers to automatically find and connect to one another's services using a communication protocol. Bonjour saves time and simplifies tasks such as file sharing and setting up network printers. The technology is based on Internet Protocol (IP), so it works with wired and wireless networks.

Bonjour is not an independent app; it's a service used by apps and computer operating systems. It functions behind the scenes and is enabled on all Macs by default. For example, iTunes uses Bonjour to locate other computers that are running iTunes on your network in order to manage shared media libraries.

Capabilities of Bonjour

Bonjour technology manages network shared resources as types of services. It automatically discovers and keeps track of the locations of these resources on a network as they come online, go offline, or change IP addresses. It provides this information to network applications to give users access to the resources.

As an implementation of zero-configuration networking (zeroconf), Bonjour and zeroconf support three key discovery technologies:

  • Address assignment: Bonjour uses a link local addressing scheme to automatically assign IP addresses to local clients without the need for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). It works with IPv6 and legacy IP (IPv4) addressing schemes. On IPv4, Bonjour uses the private network like Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA) on Windows, and it uses the native link local addressing support in IPv6.
  • Name resolution: Name resolution in Bonjour works via a combination of local host name configuration and multicast DNS (mDNS). While the public internet Domain Name System (DNS) relies on outside DNS servers, multicast DNS works within a local network and enables any Bonjour device on the network to receive and respond to queries.
  • Location services: To provide location services to applications, Bonjour adds a layer of abstraction on top of mDNS to maintain browsable tables of Bonjour-enabled applications that are organized by service name.

Apple took special care with the implementation of Bonjour to ensure its network traffic did not consume an excessive amount of network bandwidth. In particular, the mDNS includes caching support that remembers recently requested resource information.

Bonjour Computer Support for Macs

The operating system and many apps on Mac desktop and laptop computers depend on Bonjour, which is installed and enabled by default on these devices. Bonjour also comes built-in with Apple's iOS operating system for its mobile devices.

Apple computers running newer versions of Mac OS X and macOS support Bonjour; it is embedded in network applications such as the Safari web browser, iTunes, and iPhoto.

Macs require Bonjour to function properly. It should not be removed or disabled.

Bonjour Computer Support for PCs

Apple provides a Bonjour version for Microsoft Windows PCs as a free software download available for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. It is included with iTunes software if you use it on your PC.

Windows PCs do not require Bonjour to function properly, although any app that installs it for its own use (like iTunes) may not work well without it. It is safe to remove Bonjour from PCs. You'll find it under Programs and Features in the Control Panel.

Businesses that run Windows PCs but not Macs (or software that requires Bonjour) don't need to install Bonjour. If PCs and Macs are on the same network, Bonjour is a helpful Windows installation.

How Applications Work With Bonjour

Usually, applications use Bonjour services through standard TCP/IP calls.

Several Bonjour Browser Creative Commons-licensed applications — either downloadable client software for desktop and laptop computers or phone and tablet apps — have been created that allow network administrators and hobbyists to browse information about Bonjour services that advertise themselves on active networks.

Bonjour technology offers a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for both macOS and iOS applications. Individuals with Apple Developer accounts can access additional information at Bonjour for Developers.