How to share your MacBook wi-fi connection with your iPad

By , Jan 19, 2014

iPad mini MacBook Air Let's Talk iOS

I spent the holidays in a resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which didn’t offer free wi-fi to its customers. If I wanted to get online, I had to pay a hefty price. Even worse, paying for this wi-fi plan would only allow me to connect one device. Signing out of a laptop to sign in from an iPhone simply wouldn’t work. Because I really wanted to get things done, I chose to pay for wi-fi on my MacBook Air.

Once I got wi-fi access on my MacBook Air, I figured I would probably be able to share this connection with my iPhone or iPad. After doing a bit of research, I found out that it was impossible for some reason to share my connection with my iPhone. However, it was possible to share it with my iPad.

Here is what I did to share my MacBook Air internet connection with my iPad

Before I go into the detailed steps, some of you might wonder why you would want to share a MacBook internet connection with an iPad. Well, as I described in the first couple paragraphs of this post, it does make sense in certain situations, such as when you’re on a restricted connection in a hotel for example.

As noted above, this doesn’t work with the iPhone. Trying to Pair with an iPhone to share the internet connection just wouldn’t work. I’m sure there are some valid technical reasons for this. Hopefully some of you can shed some light on this in the comment section.

How to share your Mac internet connection with your iPad

Step 1: On your MacBook, go to Apple > System Preferences > Bluetooth > Turn Bluetooth On.

Step 2: Turn Bluetooth On on your iPad.

Step 3: Your iPad should show up as a new device in the Bluetooth preferences of your MacBook. Click Pair. A six digit number will appear on your MacBook. This same number should show up on your iPad. Confirm the connection by tapping “Pair” on your iPad.

iPad Bluetooth MacBook pairing

Step 4: On your MacBook, go to Apple > System Preferences > Sharing, and do the following, as showed on the screenshot below.

  • Click on “Internet Sharing” from the menu on the left. Do not check the box yet!
  • Select: Share your connection from “Wi-Fi”
  • Check: To computers using “Bluetooth PAN”
  • Check the “Internet Sharing” box from the menu on the left
  • When asked if you’re sure you want to share your connection, select “Start”

share mac internet with iPad

At this point, you should be able to get online on your iPad. Obviously, for this to work, your MacBook will have to be awake and connected to the internet.

Now for the story, I ended up paying again for internet because I couldn’t stand that my iPhone wasn’t connected at all time. So yes, I paid for both my laptop and iPhone. It was well worth the price though, especially if you saw these beautiful pictures I shared on Instagram. I’m being sarcastic, of course.

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  • abdullah575

    PC???

    • Justin Mahone

      Not Yet

    • Markus Hudobnik

      You can already do it on the PC as well.

    • অঞ্জন

      Connectify dispatch can stitch all available connections into one and share using a soft wifi router from windows PC.

  • Jason Duong

    Very handy! Thanks Sebastien.

  • tocsin

    Shouldve got the WiFi on Your iPhone and USB tethered to your computer?

    • Niclas

      Or just use MyWi and share the WiFi to WiFi.

  • Michael

    All my color logo on Zeppelin is only showing black or white on statusbar, how can I fix this?

  • Ben

    Cool!

  • Lobo555

    thanks dude great tip

  • Gucciipad

    I carry around my airport express and make the whole hotel room a wifi for the whole family. One hotel was $40 a day per device. The airport express was that device. ;)

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      That sounds pretty cool (although they more than likely have some sort of fair usage policy that prevents you from doing that). I’m assuming the hotel had ethernet ports for that to work though or can an airport device connect wirelessly to another network and share it?

  • pegger1

    I use a USB wireless adapter, it works to connect to wifi or create a hotspot. So I use the existing laptop wifi to connect then I create a hotspot with the adapter to share with any additional devices

    • Niclas

      Why not use MyWi?

      • pegger1

        MyWi doesn’t add functionality. Just makes it easier to use the existing hotspot feature on your phone. It doesn’t allow wifi to wifi, unless it somehow magically adds another wifi adapter to your phone. It shares your phone’s data connection over wifi.
        That is not at all applicable here.

      • Niclas

        Actually MyWi does add functionally, exactly what I told you.
        You dont need 2 wifi adapters to share wifi –> wifi, as said before, MyWi does it without a problem.
        Advice for future: Don’t just pull “facts” out of your ass, look it up instead!

      • Niclas

        Wifi –> Wifi

      • pegger1

        Wow!! Buddy you still have no clue. Do you even know what tethered means? Connected with a cable. So yes you can share your phone wifi connection with your laptop if it’s connected via usb. Or if you’re getting the connection through the laptop usb, you can create a wifi hotspot to share with other devices.
        But you can NOT be connected to one wifi and create a wifi hotspot to share that connection. You need 2 wifi adapters for that. One adapter can’t do both jobs at once (be connected and act as a hotspot)

        Advice for future:….. take your own advice.

      • Niclas

        This is from wikipedia: “Tethering refers to connecting one device to another.” “Connection of the phone or tablet with other devices can be done over wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), over Bluetooth or by physical connection using a cable”
        You really need to step up your game… I’ve actually tried the function, it works perfectly.
        Heard of MIMO? Look it up.

  • Joseph Silva

    is their a reason it won’t work with an iPhone ?

    • La Cucaracha

      Yeah the antenna is too small

    • Anderson Silva

      I can give a tip: iPhone was designed with the possibility to share its Cellular connection with other Wi-fi or Bluetooth-enabled devices, so we don’t need to do it in the opposite way, right?

      I’m looking for YEARS to do exactly this thing with my iPhone 3GS, because its Wi-fi reception is as bad as hell, and I’m always using my MacBook. Maybe a Jailbreak tweak could enable Bluetooth PAN capabilities on the iPhone, but nothing :/

      • Niclas

        MyWi can share a WiFi to WiFi.

      • Wiljan Veening

        I have also been looking for a way to connect my iPhone 2G via bluetooth tot tethering on my 3GS since the wifi on the 2G is broken.

    • Niclas

      No more than Apple doesent wan’t you to.

  • Yahia

    Or u can PdaNet USB tether the iPhone’s WiFi connection to the MacBook, then share that with the iPad. I used to have to USB tether my phone to my iMac because I had a busted network card.

    • Niclas

      Or just use MyWi to share a WiFi to WiFi.

      • Yahia

        Yeah, but MyWi is too expensive (I’m cheap). PdaNet keeps its USB tethering as a free feature so I just took advantage of that.

      • Niclas

        True MyWi is a bit expensive.
        But it’s a time and money-saver so in the end, it’s cheap for me.

  • Guest

    Funny how I keep hearing “Mac OS X is easier to use” and “Mac OS X has an easier learning”, even though you still need to be thought just as much as you do to fully use Windows…

  • Keksz

    or you just needed a jailbroken iphone with MyWi
    that would do all the things sorted out very quick

    I had in December a similar issue, the hotel wifi was registered per MAC
    and so switch between devices you had to unregister them

    so, I bought MyWi because the shit built-in tethering works only with 3g-wifi but not with wifi-wifi

  • Norberto Dominguez Rangel

    If you can share the Internet MacBook With the iPhone, but first has to go through the iPad and set the ipad to share internet and ready

  • Guest

    Bluetooth PAN isn’t available for me on early 2013 Retina MacBook Pro

    • Norberto Dominguez Rangel

      you must go to System Preferences / Network and the + “interface Bluetooth PAN” and add

  • norberto dominguez

    One question, when I shared wifi iPad from my MacBook and gave the Ipad internet sharing for iphone, q is when I’m away from home with compu closed and continues to share internet Ipad but neither the iPad nor have compu service because I’m browsing internet, I do not understand

  • jlettie

    I own an Apple I-Pad 3 and an Apple MacBook Pro. Is there an USB cable that you connect both devices?

  • dooner

    You were just one step away from connecting that iPhone.

    Do all the above and then turn on Personal Hotspot on the iPad.

    Connect the phone to the personal hot spot and you are golden.

    Of course the easy way to do all of this is to connect the iPad to the paid service and then connect everything to it using the personal hotspot feature (but if you are like me, you remember that right after you hit the button to buy internet on your laptop).

  • Jay Roc

    when i go to sharing > internet sharing > share your connection from, there’s no wifi option in the dropdown. any idea why? i use OSX 10.6.8. would that be the problem? can i still use this solution? so far i can’t get it to work. thanks.