Why Little Snitch Mini Is the Best Security Idea In Years

It's like Safari's content blocker, only for your whole computer

  • Little Snitch Mini catches—and blocks—all connections made by all apps on your Mac.
  • It's an easier-to-use version of the regular Little Snitch network monitor. 
  • It's like a browser ad blocker but for your entire Mac.
A screen from the Little Snitch Mini app showing on a MacBook that someone is holding on their lap

Place.to / Mockup Photos

You might be surprised, even horrified, at how often apps on your computer connect to unknown servers across the internet. Little snitch mini is how you regain control.

Apps can talk to pretty much any other computer on the internet. Most of those connections are probably legit, but many may send your location data, analytics on how and when you use an app, and more. Your Mac has a built-in Firewall, but it is a blunt tool. Little Snitch Mini, from Austrian software developer Objective Development, puts you back in control

"What makes the Little Snitch Mini so effective is how visible it makes network connections. It is incredibly comprehensive and allows users to know exactly how and where these connections are being made. So, you have greater control which can increase your privacy, data security, and peace of mind," Ben Michael, attorney at Michael and Associates, told Lifewire via email.

Little Snitch Mini Blocks Connections

Your Mac's Firewall lets you block or allow all internet connections for specific apps but offers little control other than this simple binary on/off switch. You might want your notes app to sync to the cloud or for any other app to be able to check for software updates, but perhaps you don't want them connecting to Google Analytics, for example. Or you don't want your mail app to be able to load tracking pixels or your web browser to connect to any Facebook services, ever. 

An overhead view of someone typing on a MacBook computer with an iPhone on the table nearby.

Cytonn Photography / Unsplash

"Little Snitch is a great way to catch apps that are reporting your data to advertisers, hijacking your device to mine crypto assets, or actually eavesdropping on you for more nefarious purposes. The vast majority of users are simply not aware of how many common apps—especially cheap or free ones—are making their money by selling your data," Kyle MacDonald, VP at mobile device deployment company Mojio, told Lifewire via email. 

Until now, one of the best tools for controlling app connections from your computer has been ObDev's full Little Snitch app. Every time an app tries to make any connection, an alert pops up and asks you to allow or refuse that connection. It learns as it goes, so after a while, you see fewer and fewer alerts, but for some people, it can get a little overwhelming. Little Snitch is just amazing, but it does require a rather large commitment on the user's part. 

Little Snitch Mini is the same kind of thing; only it works more like the content blockers you install in the Safari web browser. Instead of bugging you every time an app connects to a server, it relies on curated block lists combined with a list, and a map, showing you all the connections that apps have made. At any time, you can click the Block button to stop that connection forever. 

The Convenience of Mini

Security is always a tradeoff with convenience. You could keep your computer completely safe by never connecting it to the internet or accessories, but that wouldn't be very useful. And as mentioned above, the built-in Mac firewall is opaque and not really set up to be fine-tuned by the regular user. Or even a savvy power user. 

The vast majority of users are simply not aware of how many common apps—especially cheap or free ones—are making their money by selling your data.

ObDev's regular Little Snitch was an essential tool to keep your data safe, but fatigue can set in after a while. I know one very technical, very security-conscious Mac user—the CTO at a software company—who gave up on it because they couldn't be bothered with the constant pop-up alerts you have to deal with. 

So while Little Snitch is the ultimate protection, its efficacy is diminished if you stop paying attention or end up uninstalling it, which is why Little Snitch Mini is such a fantastic idea. No, it won't protect you from everything, but it is way, way better than nothing. Even if all it does is raise your awareness of how chatty your apps are with unknown internet servers, that's help worth having. 

And there's another place that this new Mini version will fit: onto your family's computers. This lets you offer them some protection, and you can check the connection list occasionally and block anything you don't like. If only all security software could manage this balance of convenience and utility.

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