How to Reset/Restore Hosts file to its Original Version in Mac/Windows

When you encounter iTunes errors like 3194, it is recommended to edit the hosts file. After a certain point, you have edited your hosts file so many times that the original version is all but gone. Of course, you would have ideally created a backup copy of the original but in the event that you didn’t, here’s how to reset/restore the hosts file in Mac/Windows.

Restoring your hosts file is slightly different for Mac and Windows. And even within Windows, it’s different for the various versions that exist. Just to make sure you don’t get lost in the process, we’ve provided the support page for Windows (resetting hosts file). Make sure you check that too.

Reset the Hosts file on Mac:

On a Mac, the hosts file mostly contains nothing more than a couple of lines of active code. The rest of the stuff is just commented out (description of the hosts file itself).

To reset the hosts file, we’re going to open the hosts file in a text editor, replace the entire file with the default text and save it. That’s it.

  • From the Finder, navigate to Go → Go to Folder
  • Type this in the Go to Folder window: /private/etc/hosts
  • From the finder window, click and drag the hosts file to the desktop. (we’re doing this because we can’t open the hosts file directly and edit it)
  • Double-click the hosts file (on the desktop) and it will open in TextEdit (or any default text editor on your Mac)
  • Erase everything in it. Copy the following piece of text and paste it into the hosts file.
# Host Database
# localhost is used to configure the lookback interface
# when the system is booting. Do not change this entry.
##	     localhost	broadcasthost

::1		    localhost
fe80::1%lo0	 localhost
  • Save this file
  • Open the Go to Folder window and open /private/etc/hosts again.
  • Drag the hosts file on desktop back to the /etc/ folder. You will be asked about the existing hosts file. Choose Replace and authenticate with the admin password when asked for it.

Restart your Mac and restart iTunes to get things rolling again.

Reset the Hosts file on Windows:

The easiest way to do this would be to use Microsoft’s Fix It for resetting the hosts file. If you click on this Fix it link, it downloads a msi file. Running this takes you through a wizard which fixes the hosts file automatically.

The Fix It method doesn’t work for Windows 8. Here’s how to manually reset the hosts file in Windows 8 (the manual method works in all other OS versions too):

  • Open Notepad
  • Go to this page and copy the text of the hosts file for your OS version. Different hosts file contents exist for different Windows versions (although they vary slightly).
  • Once you’ve pasted the text into Notepad, save the file as “hosts” – include the quotes. (this is because you don’t want to save the file as a txt file). Save it on the desktop so that you can easily access it in the next few steps.
  • Now, open this location: %WinDir%\System32\Drivers\Etc. You can do this by opening Run and pasting the location here.
  • Once the folder opens, drag and drop the hosts file from desktop into the folder. You will be prompted to replace the file and then prompted for the admin password.

In a Windows machine, make sure you copy-paste the hosts file content that pertains to your OS version.

With this huge update/refresh to the hosts file, you might want to restart your computer. The hosts file is usually used just to map web addresses to specific IP addresses and to block websites (by re-directing/mapping them to invalid/incorrect IPs).