Instant Hotspot iOS 8 Yosemite

Instant Hotspot is a great new feature that allows you to connect to your iPhone’s Hotspot for instant Internet access with zero configuration. As long as your Mac running OS X Yosemite and iPhone running iOS 8 are connected to the same iCloud account, and both devices have Bluetooth enabled, you can quickly tap into your iPhone’s Internet connection from your Mac.

To make an Instant Hotspot connection, click the Wi-Fi icon in OS X’s menu bar, and click your iPhone under the Personal Hotspot heading. Along with your iPhone’s name, its battery life and cellular signal strength will be displayed.

As long as both devices are logged in to the same iCloud account, and Personal Hotspot is enabled on your iPhone, your Mac will be able to see and connect to your iPhone at any time. This is a wonderful feature for those of you who routinely work away from the office, or for those of you who often experience flaky Internet connections.

What are your thoughts on Instant Hotspot? Is this a feature you plan on taking advantage of on a regular basis?

This post is an excerpt from iDB’s Yosemite Interactive Starter Guide. To learn about some of OS X Yosemite’s most outstanding new features, and to support iDB, you can download it on the iBooks Store for $0.99.

View all of the OS X Yosemite Interactive Stater Guide topics:

  • hhumbert

    Looks like a cool feature. I use an Applescript that is tied to a QuickSilver trigger to do the same thing on my MBA running Snow Leopard and iPhone 5s running iOS 7.X.

    For people not familiar with Applescript or Quicksilver, it’s probably a godsend.

    • Josh

      How do you do trigger the “same thing” on an iPhone 5s running iOS 7.x? Don’t you need to manually turn on the Personal Hotspot (under iOS Settings) every time you want to tether a connection to your Mac? (Because AppleScript and QuickSilver are on your Mac, not on your iPhone.)

      If so, that’s not the same thing as what’s being described here…

      • Joseph Allen

        One thing that confuses me. With Mavericks, I tether to my phone pretty much painlessly using solely my bluetooth connection. It’s apparently low battery drain as well. How is this new feature better? Is it mainly a matter of getting the faster connection via wifi (though bluetooth has always been plenty fast for me)?

      • Fofer

        It’s more convenient. You no longer need to manually turn on/off the Personal Hotspot (under iOS Settings) every time you want to tether a connection. The iPhone can stay in your pocket.

  • Rick Hart

    It’s easy w/ mywi 7 for those of us still on the unlimited plans

  • Troy

    Do the devices need to be paired?

    • Josh

      No, but Bluetooth does need to be on, on both devices for it to work. Even if you don’t use Bluetooth for connecting to any other devices on the Mac, even if Personal Hotspot works over WiFi and not Bluetooth, I have learned that Bluetooth itself does need to be on for the iPhone to show up in that “Personal Hotspot” section of the Mac’s WiFi menu, and for it to automatically turn on Personal Hotspot, on the iPhone, when you invoke it.

      I still haven’t found a way to turn OFF Personal Hotspot on the iPhone from the Mac when I’m done though, and I kinda thought that would be automatic, once I disconnected. Still investigating, but I think Apple needs to do a little bit of polishing on this feature.

      I note that even with Bluetooth OFF completely (on the Mac) I could still turn on Personal Hotspot manually on the iPhone, and connect to tether, the “old fashioned way.” My iPhone still shows up in the WiFi menu along with other nearby hotspot names. Just not in the new, separate “Personal Hotspot” section.

      • Jann

        Thanks for the BT advise! This worked for me! Even though my BT was on the whole time, i couldn’t get the “Personal Hotspot” section to appear under the WiFi icon located on the menu bar. But when i tried to turn BT off and on again, voila!

      • Guest

        Cool,

      • Guest

        Nice, glad to help. As an addendum to my post, I kept tinkered a bit, tethering my MacBook Air and then my iMac, using my iPhone as a “personal hotspot” that connected on-the-fly. And I’m not sure what’s changed, but now disconnecting is working properly, too. When I connect to the Personal Hotspot, the function turns on automatically (on the iPhone) and when I disconnect from the Personal Hotspot, I see that it turns off automatically (on the iPhone) as well. Very happy with this convenient feature now!

      • Josh

        Nice, glad to help. As an addendum to my post, I kept tinkered a bit, tethering my MacBook Air and then my iMac, using my iPhone as a “personal hotspot” that connected on-the-fly. And I’m not sure what’s changed, but now disconnecting is working properly, too. When I connect to the Personal Hotspot, the function turns on automatically (on the iPhone) and when I disconnect from the Personal Hotspot, I see that it turns off automatically (on the iPhone) as well. Very happy with this convenient feature now!

  • 22hir

    maybe you should add that not all macs support instant hotspot

    • Stan

      seriously. just found out that mine isnt. some bs

      • 22hir

        same here. macbook pro late 2011

    • Andre Reis

      yep
      MacBook Air (2012 or newer)
      MacBook Pro (2012 or newer)
      iMac (2012 or newer)
      Mac mini (2012 or newer)
      Mac Pro (Late 2013)

  • roo333

    Do you need to have a tethering plan tho? Or if I have an unlimited data plan will it work?

    • Josh

      Yes.
      No.

  • iamse7en

    I need iPhone 6 Plus jailbreak to get my hotspot back.

    • Fofer

      The iOS 8 jailbreak is out now, but it’s half-baked. More so than the jailbreak, you need your tethering app to be updated in order to work with iOS 8.

  • craig

    is anybody else having issues getting to connect to wifi through hotspot? it might just be me being dumb but i got my mac (2012 mbp) and iphone 6 on ios 8.1 both using the same icloud and both have bluetooth on but my phones name isnt showing up in the wifi menu

    • Miguel

      nope, its happening to me as well. I’m not sure if its that I’m not doing it right or what. I can’t get sms relay to work either! MBA 2014 and iPhone 5S!

      • craig

        i may be wrong but i think it could just be buggy because eventually personal hotspot showed up somehow then after a couple of minutes it disappeared and i couldn’t find it now its appeared again lets see how long it stays 🙁

      • Kevin Lancaster – Willson

        i am having the same issue. even when it shows up i cannot connect.

    • Steve R.

      I have an iPhone 5 and a 2014 MBA, and when I opened the Messages app on my MBA a message asking if I wanted to pair SMS from my iPhone to Mac came up and a code was sent to my iPhone 5 and needed to be confirmed, it’s been working flawlessly for about 2 hours for me. Also, check Messages in the Settings app, and click Text Message Forwarding and maybe you can also enable it from there.

      • Josh

        I don’t think Text Message Forwarding has anything at all to do with Instant/Personal Hotspot.

      • Steve R.

        You’re right. I didn’t sleep very much last night and completely misread the post.

  • eXoguti093

    Guess it doesn’t work on Virgin Mobile.. There’s no hotspot settings whatsoever..

    Or is this only iPhone 6?

    • haredx

      It’s any iDevice running iOS8, but your Mac has to be compatible. I had a late-2011 and had to upgrade to mid-2014 for it to work.

      • eXoguti093

        Late 2013 rMBA, iPhone 5S, I don’t have Hotspot on my plan maybe that’s why.

  • Manuel Molina

    Doesn’t seem pointless if you have tethering on your phone already? If this worked for those who don’t have personal hotspot plans, I would be on this fast.

    • Josh

      No, not pointless, as you don’t need to take your iPhone out of your pocket or interact with it in any way to invoke the hotspot function from your Mac.

      • Srinivas

        If the personal hotspot in your iPhone is already ON via bluetooth then it is not required to take your iPhone out of your pocket also previously.

        It will be shown automatically in your wifi networks previously.

        Didn’t understand whats new in this.. am i missing something

      • Fofer

        Yes, you’re missing something. No one leaves (or should be leaving) the Personal Hotspot feature on all the time, on their iPhone in their pocket, just in case they may want to tether another device at some point during their day. It would kill battery life unnecessarily and in many cases, the iPhone would get warmer, too.

        What this feature allows you to do is enable it ON-THE-FLY, from that other device, when (and only when) you need it. And then disable it when you’re done. All without ever having to touch the iPhone or take it out of your pocket or bag.

        Make sense?

      • Kevin Lancaster – Willson

        too bad you need to manually turn the hotspot feature back off on your device….

      • Fofer

        this isn’t true at least not for me. When I disconnect the connection on the Mac, the Personal Hotspot turns off on the iPhone.

      • Srinivas

        Ok the post said Personal Hotspot enabled which i thought personal hotspot ON as precondition for this feature.
        If it is automatically switching ON and OFF hotspot it makes sense.

        For us in India no carrier restrictions on personal hotspot ,so i thought personal hotspot enabled means switching it ON.

      • Kevin Lancaster – Willson

        to turn the hotspot feature you won’t but to turn it back off you need to do that manually for some odd reason.. seems to diminish the value in my opinion…

      • Fofer

        not true, at least not for me. I have tried this feature repeatedly on my MacBook Air and iMac, both with my iPhone 6, and I am able to connect and disconnect without having to handle the iPhone at all. Repeatedly.

      • Kevin Lancaster – Willson

        doesn’t work that way for me. most of the time i can’t connect at all from my Mac(s). when connected i can disconnect but the the hotspot slider on the iPhone never slides off.

  • Cris

    For all of you confused, if your personal hotspot is off, you CANNOT turn it on from your mac, it’s basically the regular personal hotspot you can connect to at anytime, it just recognizes it as a personal hotspot instead of just a wifi signal… they didn’t make any change to the way it’s enabled, they basically tried making it sound cool…

    • slippytoad

      Actually that’s the point. If your hotspot is off it will still appear in the list of networks in the menubar. Selecting it turns Personal Hotspot on and connects your Mac immediately. Disconnecting doesn’t seem to turn Personal Hotspot off however.

      • Josh

        I had the same “disconnecting doesn’t seem to turn off Personal Hotspot” issue at first, too. I tinkered a bit, tethering my MacBook Air and then my iMac. And I’m not sure what’s changed, but now it is working properly. When I connect to the Personal Hotspot, the function turns on automatically (on the iPhone) and when I disconnect from the Personal Hotspot, I see that it turns off automatically (on the iPhone) as well. So keep trying — it’s working properly for me now.

    • Josh

      Wrong, Cris. Instant Hotspot is different from the old, manual way of connecting to Personal Hotspot (when enabled on the iPhone.) This new feature means I can tether my MacBook Air to my iPhone without ever taking my iPhone out of my pocket, or having to turning on Personal Hotspot ahead of time. It turns it on for me, all from the Mac.

      • Cris

        How does the phone stay connected via Bluetooth when not using personal hotspot? It always disconnects my phone

      • Josh

        I’m not sure I understand the question, or perhaps you’re not understanding this new feature. Bluetooth only needs to be on for the Mac (or iPad) for it to be able to”discover” the iPhone as a potential Hotspot, as well as turn it on (on the fly.) The tethering connection itself works over WiFi, not Bluetooth.

      • Nesly Lacroix

        Not exactly true. You can tether also via Bluetooth or USB. As a matter of fact, that’s the original intent of tethering. When you don’t have a WIFI connection.

      • Fofer

        Of course, but that’s old-school tethering, via the DUN profile of Bluetooth. I used to use it all the time, dating back to my (pre-iPhone) Handspring Treo days.

        Have you actually tried it lately though, from Mac OS? It doesn’t work so well. I actually think later versions of MacOS and iOS (and maybe the carriers) disabled it. Personal Hotspot, by way of WiFi, worked much better. And now with Yosemite, Instant Personal Hotspot is even better (easier) — assuming your Mac is new enough to support it.

  • Fofer

    Here’s a tip for troubleshooting. Go to “About this Mac” and choose “System Report” and then click on Bluetooth. There you will see if your Mac supports Handoff as well as Instant Hotspot.

    • Nesly Lacroix

      Great tip.

  • Alex Kainov

    Hey, can someone help me? my WEB search via spotlight doesn’t work totally. any1 have some issues?

    • Nesly Lacroix

      This is unrelated to the thread.

  • Becky Miranda

    Do you have to have the hotspot added to your phone plan in order to use it with the Mac? I’ve googled, can’t find anything that answers my question.

    • Fofer

      Yes you do

  • Aaron

    Having some difficulties…

    I have bluetooth turned on both my iPhone 5s (running ios8.1) and my 2014 Macbook Pro Retina (running Yosemite),

    But my phone’s hotspot ONLY appears in the wifi dropdown if I manually turn on personal hotspot on my phone, exactly like I would have had to do in the past.

    And after I turn it on, it will show up in the wifi menu, but simply as a wifi network. It does not show the battery life, signal strength, etc.

    So basically, nothing has changed from how it was previously.

    how do I make it work???

  • Kevin Lancaster – Willson

    this feature won’t with with my early 2014 Macbook Air or my mid 2012 Macbook pro. it does work with my iPad Air and iPad Mini. the techs at Apple currently have no solution for me.

  • Jin Lugo

    i have a question, everyones making a big deal about this “instant hotspot” i been had this.. i have 3GB of it.. but what i wanna know is…. is the hotspot now unlimited? can i use as much internet as i want without it wasting?

    • Fofer

      The new “Instant Hotspot” is an evolution beyond the previous “Personal Hotspot” feature, in that you can invoke (and disconnect) without ever touching the iPhone. It works straight from the Mac, the iPhone can stay in your pocket. Nothing else has changed. You’re still limited by your cell phone plan, so if you are paying for 3GB, you get 3GB. You pay for any data overages.

      No, it has not magically changed to “unlimited” with this new feature (in fact, old grandfathered plans that have “unlimited” data are typically precluded from using this form of tethering at all.)

  • Nesly Lacroix

    And the reason is you need a Bluetooth 4.0 chip and those systems have it.