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How to Force Curl to Use Outgoing IPv4 or IPv6 Addresses

When working with network requests, ensuring compatibility with either IPv4 or IPv6 addresses can be crucial for troubleshooting, consistency, and network configuration. The curl command-line tool provides options to force the use of IPv4 or IPv6 addresses. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to explicitly tell curl which IP version to use, complete with examples and related information.

Understanding IPv4 and IPv6

Before diving into curl options, let’s briefly understand IPv4 and IPv6:

  • IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4): The most widely used version, represented by four decimal numbers separated by dots (e.g.,
  • IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6): The newer version, designed to address IPv4 exhaustion, represented by eight groups of hexadecimal numbers separated by colons (e.g., 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334).

Forcing curl to Use IPv4

To ensure curl uses only IPv4 addresses, you can use the -4 option. This is particularly useful if you encounter issues with IPv6 connectivity or need to ensure compatibility with IPv4-only environments.


$ curl -4 http://example.com

In this example, curl will resolve example.com to its IPv4 address and make the HTTP request using IPv4.

Forcing curl to Use IPv6

Similarly, you can force curl to use only IPv6 addresses with the -6 option. This can be beneficial in testing IPv6 connectivity or when working in an IPv6-preferred network environment.


$ curl -6 http://example.com

Here, curl will resolve example.com to its IPv6 address and make the HTTP request using IPv6.

When to Use IPv4 or IPv6

Use IPv4 (-4) When:

  • Network Compatibility: The destination server or network does not support IPv6.
  • Troubleshooting: You’re experiencing connectivity issues and want to rule out IPv6-related problems.
  • Consistency: Your infrastructure primarily uses IPv4, and you want to ensure all requests use the same IP version.

Use IPv6 (-6) When:

  • Future-Proofing: Your network and servers support IPv6, and you want to ensure your applications are compatible.
  • Testing: You need to test your application’s behavior and performance over IPv6.
  • Address Space: You want to take advantage of the vast address space provided by IPv6.

Dual Stack and Default Behavior

By default, curl will attempt to use both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses if both are available. This is known as a dual-stack approach, where the tool tries to connect using IPv6 first, and if it fails, falls back to IPv4.

Default Example:

$ curl http://example.com

In this case, curl will use whichever IP version is available or preferred by the underlying system’s DNS resolver.

Additional Curl Options

Here are some other useful curl options related to IP addressing and network troubleshooting:

    • --interface: Specify the network interface to use for the request.
    $ curl --interface eth0 http://example.com
    • --resolve: Override DNS resolution for a specific host.
    $ curl --resolve example.com:80: http://example.com
    • --connect-timeout: Set a maximum time in seconds that curl should spend trying to connect.
    $ curl --connect-timeout 10 http://example.com


Forcing curl to use IPv4 or IPv6 can be essential for various scenarios, including troubleshooting, ensuring compatibility, and testing network configurations. By using the -4 and -6 options, you can explicitly control which IP version curl uses for its outgoing requests. Understanding and utilizing these options can help you manage network requests more effectively and ensure your applications work seamlessly across different network environments.

Feel free to experiment with these options in your network setup!

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