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Run Ookla Speedtest from Your Menu Bar

If you’re like me, you don’t care how fast your Internet connection is… until it clearly isn’t working as it should be. That’s when I load a Web site like Speedtest.net or Netflix’s Fast.com to see what’s going on. Often, the answer is “something’s whacked,” and I restart first our AirPort Extreme, and if that doesn’t fix the problem, the Arris cable modem provided by Spectrum (previously Time Warner Cable). Those restarts almost always bring my Internet connection back to full speed. I find that annoying, since I would hope that the manufacturers could have anticipated and integrated such a simple fix, but also good, since more complex problems require a long call to Spectrum support.

But it all comes down to that speed test, and while I appreciate Ookla’s Speedtest service, I’m not wild about the ads on the site, particularly the sketchy ones for MacKeeper and similar products that can be difficult to distinguish from the site’s own interface. There are plenty of other services and tools to choose from, and I’ve availed myself of some of them over the years, but I need to perform such tests infrequently enough that I usually find myself going back to Speedtest.net, since it’s the one I can remember. (The main tests I ran across while researching this article include the SourceForge Speed Test, Measurement Lab’s Network Diagnostic Test, the Speakeasy Speed Test, and DSLReports’ Speed Test. They all reported virtually the same performance, though I liked the interface and recommendations from the SourceForge test the most.)


So I was pleased to see that Ookla has now come out with a free Speedtest app for the Mac (10.10 Yosemite and later) that lives in your menu bar and enables you to run a speed test with two clicks.

Once it’s installed from the Mac App Store, you may need to launch it from your Application folder to get it to appear in your menu bar. Click its menu bar icon to open the test window, and click again on the big “Go” circle. Speedtest starts running its tests and reports the results in the same window. To repeat the test, click Go again. The Speedtest app remembers your test results, and you can see your high speed, average speed, and the last three results by clicking the silhouette button in the upper-right corner of the window. For events further back in the past, click Result History.


If you want to quit the app, you can click Quit Speedtest on this screen, which is an odd place to hide the command. Luckily, you can also just press Command-Q at any point.

Perhaps my favorite feature of the Speedtest app is that it continues to run its tests even if you switch to another app. The Speedtest window disappears, but it reports its results with a banner notification.


My primary criticism revolves around Ookla’s decision to make Speedtest a menu–bar-only app. Although it isn’t particularly CPU-hungry, it does seem to consume 1–2 percent of CPU usage on my 27-inch Retina iMac while inactive, and 5–9 percent while running a test. Given how infrequently I need to run speed tests, I’ll probably quit Speedtest after using it rather than let it slow my iMac down, however imperceptibly.

Regardless, if you prefer apps to Web sites, the Speedtest app for the Mac is worth a look. It’s free, easy to use, and doesn’t clutter its interface with ads.

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Comments about Run Ookla Speedtest from Your Menu Bar
(Comments are closed.)

Michael Hambly  2017-01-16 17:43
I thought I'd try this but then looked at what data the iPhone app collects! So now I have deleted the app and won't try the Mac one.
http://www.speedtest.net/mobile/ios/privacy.php
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-17 10:17
That's a general privacy policy, and I highly doubt that the Speedtest app (on iOS or macOS) could even begin to collect all that information. Ziff-Davis is a publishing firm, so they have a lot of properties that can collect more details than the apps.
Doug Lerner  2017-01-16 18:51
The SourceForge test seems to give a very different results from speedtest.net. SourceForge is reporting just 192 Mbps down and 92 Mbps up.

Speedtest.net though is reporting 678 Mbps down and 462 Mbps up, which is pretty typical for this time of day here.

http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/5972909421
David Price  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2017-01-16 19:02
Ookla also has a Speedtest app for the Apple TV.

P.S. I also have Spectrum (Charter Communications).
Duane Williams  2017-01-16 19:12
The Mac menu bar app doesn't let you log in. So your results history does not include other speed test you do.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-17 10:20
True, but I found that when I want to do a speed test, I'm troubleshooting a problem, not trying to collect data in a regular and coherent fashion. My results would mostly contain "incorrect" data that would reflect error conditions rather than general usage. And because I just want an answer, I never even remember to login anyway.

That said, if your goal is to document your Internet performance in a consistent manner, I'd think that it would be a lot easier to automate the Mac app (even if via clicks with Keyboard Maestro). And then you have all the data on your Mac, rather than stored in an account.
Shirley Hershey  2017-02-14 15:23
Try this free speedtest website for your Mac:

http://speedof.me/
Tommy Friedmann  2017-01-16 21:15
How about the flash free http://speedof.me
It complains if you have an ad blocker but seems pretty nifty.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-17 10:23
It thinks my Internet connection is faster than the rest. :-)
From DownUnder: Ookla has just in the last few weeks introduced a Flash free web based speed test, as yet in beta. I had abandoned Ookla because of Flash for DSLreports, but the new Ookla interface is much more appealing (looks the same as the screen shots in the article) so I've switched back, but see little reason for having one more app cluttering up my system. (I never abandoned the Ookla iPhone app.)
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-17 10:24
I primarily use Chrome, where Flash is embedded so it just works, but I did notice that Speedtest.net works fine in Safari just now, where there's no Flash available on my Mac.
David Weintraub  2017-01-17 16:29
You can also quit by clicking on the trackpad on a MacBook with two fingers. A menu is brought up allowing you to specify if you want it to launch on startup and allowing you to quit.
Paul Albert  2017-01-19 13:27
I quit it and now I can't find it again. Do I have to download it again. Nothing in the ~/Library/containers/applicationsupport can be used to bring back again. anybody have any ideas where it resides. Thanks
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-19 13:41
It's just an app in your Applications folder, like normal.
bruce peck  2017-01-30 07:53
Why doesn't the little icon remain in the menu bar all of the time? I have to relaunch it each time I want to use it?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-30 09:48
You'd want to add the app to your Login Items in the Users & Groups preference pane to ensure that it's available all the time. I don't know why it doesn't add itself, which is the standard behavior for menu bar apps.