You’re already familiar with Personal Hotspot on your iPhone and cellular iPad, which lets you share mobile data with other devices. Similarly, your Mac also has this hidden feature that allows you to share its internet connection with an iPhone, iPad, Android phone, another MacBook, or anything that can connect to Wi-Fi.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to turn your Mac into a wireless Wi-Fi router and share its internet connection. Plus, we’ll also show you how to share your Mac’s Wi-Fi with your iPhone or iPad via Lightning cable or Bluetooth.
- If your Mac is connected to Ethernet, it can distribute that internet wirelessly to other Wi-Fi-capable devices.
- If your Mac is connected to Wi-Fi, it can share that internet connection with your iPhone or iPad via cable or Bluetooth (for older macOS versions only).
- You can’t directly share your Mac’s Wi-Fi as a Wi-Fi hotspot and let other Wi-Fi devices connect to it. However, sharing Mac’s Wi-Fi as Wi-Fi can be possible by using additional accessories such as Wi-Fi network adapters.
Why you would need to do this
1) I spent the holidays in a resort in 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 and shared that with my iPad.
2) Some months back, my Wi-Fi router stopped working. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any spare, and the internet provider said they would replace the router the next day. During this time, I inserted the Ethernet cable into my Mac and turned it into a wireless Wi-Fi router. Next, I connected my iPhone and iPad to that Wi-Fi network.
3) A few years back, when I lived in a hostel, the management there was very reluctant to let us connect to Wi-Fi. After a bit of nudging, they let me connect my MacBook to their Wi-Fi for “work” purposes. I could have dug inside and uncovered the Wi-Fi password from my Mac, but at that time, I didn’t know this was possible. So, instead, I found internet sharing from my Mac to my iPhone via a cable to be a helpful option.
After going through the above incidents, you now have a good idea of how this could be useful. Certainly, you won’t be sharing your Mac’s internet every day. But when the need arises, it’ll come in handy.
The fundamentals are the same on macOS Ventura and previous macOS versions. But there are slight differences in the steps. So, we have listed them under separate headings.
macOS Ventura or later
1) First, make sure your Ethernet cable is plugged into your Mac. Then click the Apple icon () and choose System Settings.
2) Select General from the left sidebar and click Sharing.
3) Hit the info icon ⓘ next to Internet Sharing. Don’t enable this switch yet!
4) Click the menu next to ‘Share your connection from‘ and choose Ethernet Adapter.
5) In the ‘To computer using‘ box, check Wi-Fi.
6) Now, hit the Wi-Fi Options button and set the following:
- Network Name: This is your Mac’s name, and you can leave it as it is.
- Channel: By default, 11 will be selected. But you can change it. 1, 6, and 11 offer 2.4GHz connections, which is great for older, cheaper, and smaller devices, like Apple Watch SE 1st gen. 36, 40, 44, and 48 offer a 5GHz connection which gives you better speed. So, if you only have to connect iPhone 5 or later, iPad (4th generation) or later, and such devices, you can pick a higher channel number. Learn more on Wikipedia.
- Security: For security, the default WPA2/WPA3 Personal is fine.
- Password: This is the most important field here. Use this to set a password so that your Mac’s Wi-Fi hotspot is secured and unauthorized people can’t join it.
With everything in order, click OK and then click Done.
7) Finally, enable the switch for Internet Sharing and click Start.
Your Mac’s Wi-Fi icon will no longer show the bars; instead, it’ll become solid and show an arrow, signifying your connection is being shared.
Now, connect your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, tablet, other Mac, Windows PC, or any such device to your Mac’s hosted wireless network. (steps below)
macOS Monterey and earlier
1) Plug your Ethernet cable into your Mac. Then click the Apple icon () and select System Preferences.
2) Choose Sharing.
3) Click Internet Sharing from the menu on the left. Do not check the box yet!
4) Hit the dropdown menu next to ‘Share your connection from‘ and choose Ethernet.
5) Check Wi-Fi next to ‘To computers using.’
6) After that, click Wi-Fi Options, set a password, and hit OK. For more on this, see the above section.
7) Finally, check the box for Internet Sharing and confirm by clicking Start.
How to connect to your Mac’s Wi-Fi hotspot
The steps to do this will differ from device to device. But the basics are the same, that is:
- Go to the Wi-Fi settings screen of your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, PC, etc.
- Select your Mac’s hotspot name.
- Enter the passcode you set in step 6 above.
- Join Mac’s Wi-Fi network and use the internet!
As stated earlier, without a special wireless adapter, your Mac can’t share its Wi-Fi with other devices by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot. But you can share its Wi-Fi via Bluetooth or cable with supported devices like an iPad and iPhone.
The steps to do this are the same as above, but here’s a recap.
1) Open System Settings and go to General > Sharing.
2) Click the info icon ⓘ next to Internet Sharing.
3) Choose Wi-Fi next to ‘Share your connection from.’
4) Check iPhone USB for ‘To computers using.’
5) Click Done.
6) Turn on the switch for Internet Sharing > Start.
7) Now, connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac using a Lightning or USB-C cable. You may turn off Wi-Fi and cellular data on your iOS device. Start using the internet on your connected iPhone or iPad, and it’ll work using your Mac’s Wi-Fi that’s shared with it via cable.
In this screen recording, you can see that I have turned off Wi-Fi and cellular on my iPhone; still, I can use the internet:
Important: You can’t share your Mac’s Wi-Fi via Bluetooth on recent macOS versions like macOS Monterey and macOS Ventura, but it works on older versions. With that said, here’s how to share your Mac’s internet to iPad via Bluetooth:
1) On your MacBook, go to System Preferences and turn on Bluetooth. Stay on this screen.
2) On your iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth and enable Bluetooth. Now, tap Allow New Connections. Make sure to keep this screen open.
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.
4) Now, on your Mac, follow the steps mentioned above to share its internet. That is, go to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing. Don’t check this box yet!
5) For ‘Share your connection,’ select Wi-Fi.
6) For ‘To computers using,’ select Bluetooth PAN.
7) Now, check the Internet Sharing box and click Start.
At this point, you should be able to get online on your iPad.
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