We have iphones in our network and they can't resolve computer names. We want to access internal sites through internal names (http://server), however we can't.

Is there any solution to this?

Thank you.


5 Answers 5


Like Farseeker says, the issue is that what you call "computer names" are actually NetBIOS names. NetBIOS is a protocol of Sytek/IBM's own invention, which has been superceded by a naming service like DNS, so it is generally not supported on non-Windows machines. Linux and Unix machines can use NetBIOS through a thrid-party client called SAMBA, but the iPhone doesn't run SAMBA.

Ultimately, you need to get your Windows machines to resolve over DNS as well as over NetBIOS. There are plenty of ways you could do this:

  1. As has already been said - use Active Directory and enable it's DNS server
  2. Set up a DNS server of your own and add the record for the servers you need
  3. If you are on small LAN, use a router that allows you to specify hosts entries - this is what I do on my home network using IPCop (http://www.ipcop.org/)
  4. As has already been suggested - use a proxy server that has a hosts file with the needed mappings

In short, windows host names do not resolve over DNS by default - you need them to resolve over DNS for iPhones and other devices that use internet standards for name resolution.


When you're in a windows environment, it can (and does) use NetBIOS to resolve the computer names, so if you do not have a central DNS server (like on a home network), it can still map names to IP addresses.

The iPhone however does not support NetBIOS name resolution - because it is not a PC and it is lacking in this protocol. You will never see it included either, because it's fairly left-of-field.

The only way around it is to set up a DNS (if you have an AD then you already have a DNS), or jailbreak your iPhone and edit your hosts file to manually map IPs to names...


Either setup an internal DNS, ie one that you company manages themselves with all the server records, if you have an Active Directory domain then you already have a DNS server. Then have dhcp deliver the DNS servers` IP address or manually config as described in the 1st answer.

Alternatively setup a web proxy on your wireless lan which has a hosts file for the servers you want them to access. Again this needs config'ing on the iPhone by hand or via DHCP.

Some proxy solutions: Squid, Apache mod_proxy



Do you have them listed in a DNS or do you have them provisioned through a hosts file normally?

I get the DNS provisioned from my wireless on my iphone and DNS seems to work just fine. Check under Settings > WiFi Networks > [SID] > DHCP should show DNS and search domains.

I'd like to know how to setup something like hosts for the iPhone where some of the servers I want are not on the DNS.

  • Umm they are not listed nor in hosts, nor DNS. It's just basically computer name. Concerning search domain - on iphone that entry appears to be empty. What is it for? Aug 13, 2009 at 10:41
  • 2
    Search Domain is the DNS suffix that the DNS client will append to any non-fully-qualified domain names. When you type server and your search domain is .myoffice.local then it will actually search for server.myoffice.local Aug 13, 2009 at 11:50
  • Sorry that should have read http:///server (SF correctly translated it into a link) Aug 13, 2009 at 11:50
  • Ugh, still didnt work. But Im sure you get the point. Aug 13, 2009 at 11:51
  • I did get the point and i`ll try it out, thank you. Aug 13, 2009 at 12:16

This is what I do:

  • Go to setting -> wifi -> ssid
  • Type .local into "search domains" box.

I have a windows laptop running Apache with computer name "home-laptop". Now I can go to iPhone's safari and type "http://home-laptop.local".

  • It took me a while to figure out that you meant iPhone > Settings > Wi-Fi > your_network_name > Configure DNS > Manual > Search Domains > .local
    – Ryan
    Sep 14, 2020 at 18:36

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