How do I change my 'hosts' file?

You are likely to ask this as you want to see your domain name before your DNS changes propagate.

Reminder: You normally need to wait 48 hours for propagation to complete.

 Here is an advanced process for forcing your computer to see the site, early:


Edit your hosts file on your PC.

 If you are using Windows, use "Start", "Find", "Files and Folders" to find a file in your windows directory (or WINNT\system32\drivers\etc) called "hosts". Verify that the file is not "read only" by right clicking it, and choosing its Properties. Then open the file for editing with Notepad. There should already be an entry for "localhost". Follow that format when you insert your domain and our IP.

On Windows98 and Windows95, the order may be 'hostname' then 'IP address'. On Windows2000 and WindowsME, the order is 'IP address' then 'hostname'. localhost

Then save this altered hosts’ file and close notepad. Make sure Windows did not silently save the file as "hosts.sam". The filename has to be "hosts". You may also need to reboot for the change to take effect. Next time you try to go to "", your browser will try to find that domain at the corresponding IP instead of looking up the IP through DNS.


Mac OS 9's hosts file format is based on RFC-1035. Mac OS 9 keeps its HOSTS file in the Preferences folder under the System folder. On recent versions of mac OSX, including snow leopard, the hosts file is located at /private/etc/hosts. Edit this file and add a line for each host that you would like to map an IP to:

To find the hosts file in OS X's graphical interface:

  • Open Finder.
  • In the Go menu, select "Go to Folder"
  • Type /etc for the folder name.
  • In the list of files that appear, you should find hosts. Double-click it to open it in a text editor.
  • As in the earlier examples, the format of the file is: "".


On Unix-based systems, as well as OS X's terminal, you can find the hosts file at /etc/hosts.

Once you have modified your 'hosts' file, you can flush your DNS so that you can see your new changes more quickly. Do this from the command line. Depending on your OS, there are different commands: flush dns.


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