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How to share WiFi from Mac

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There are times when the Wi-Fi network just can’t give you the connection to the internet you need. Perhaps you are at work and the Wi-Fi just can’t cope with all the iPads and iPhones accessing it so it slows your browsing to a crawl (or your boss decides to change the password for the same reason).

Maybe you are in a hotel and can’t connect all your devices to the room’s Wi-Fi at once. Or possibly you want to allow someone onto your Wi-Fi but you don’t want to give away the password.

Or perhaps it’s the end of the month and you are running out of data on your mobile network plan. You don’t have to stop surfing! It’s easy to create a hotspot from your Mac and share your connection with other devices via Wi-Fi, we’ll show you how.

How to share Wi-Fi from Mac to iPhone

What you need: You will need to have an Ethernet connection to your Mac, in other words, your Mac needs to be connected to the network with a wire, rather than using Wi-Fi.

  1. Open System Preferences and select Sharing. If you don’t see the below screen, click on the icon showing 12 dots.
  2. Click on Sharing.
  3. Now click on the box beside Internet Sharing.
  4. Beside ‘Share your connection from:’ choose Ethernet.
  5. Below that, beside ‘To computers using:’ choose Wi-Fi.
  6. Next click Wi-Fi Options, this will give you the option to choose a password so that strangers can’t jump on your Wi-Fi (it should be least eight characters). Next to Security choose WPA2 Personal and then enter your Password and verify it. (WPA2 is the 802.11i standard for encryption.)
  7. Now click on the box beside Internet Sharing.
  8. Confirm that you want to turn on Internet sharing by clicking Start.
  9. You have now created a Wi-Fi hotspot using your Mac. Note that where you would normally see that you had a Wi-Fi signal, now you see an icon with an arrow indicating that you are sharing your connection.
  10. Now on your iPhone or iPad go to Settings > Wi-Fi and select the network you just created.
  11. Enter the password you set and you are good to go.
  12. To add a second Mac to your Wi-Fi hotspot click on the Wi-Fi icon at the top of the screen and select the name of the Wi-Fi hotspot you wish to join.
  13. Now enter the password for that Wi-Fi network
  14. Happy surfing.
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But what if you don’t have an ethernet connection, perhaps your MacBook doesn’t have an ethernet port and you don’t fancy getting an adaptor, let alone plugging into a wired connection? Read on…

How to create a Mac Wi-Fi hotspot without ethernet 

Unfortunately your Mac cannot share an internet connection from Wi-Fi using Wi-Fi… unless you have an additional accessory.

While the Mac’s built-in networking card can either connect to Wi-Fi OR host its own network, users can buy a Wi-Fi network adapter that should allow one network interface to receive the Wi-Fi connection while the other re-broadcasts it. You could use a dongle such as this Anewish AC Dual Band wireless USB WiFi adaptor, which costs £9.99 from Amazon, here.

Once the Wi-Fi adapter has been plugged in and installed, follow the above instructions and select one of your two Wi-Fi adapters instead of the Ethernet connection used in step 3 above.

How to share internet from Mac to iPhone via Bluetooth

But what about if you don’t want to fork out for a Wi-Fi network adapter? There is another option, although it won’t be as fast as Wi-Fi and may not be compatible with as many devices. That’s because, instead of using Wi-Fi to share the internet connection with your other devices, it’ll be using Bluetooth; or, more specifically, Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network).

The initial connection to devices will take longer due to the Bluetooth pairing process, but is a free alternative when looking to share your internet connection from Wi-Fi and it should work with most smartphones and tablets.

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The setup is the same as if you were sharing via Wi-Fi (see the steps above), but make sure you select Bluetooth PAN in the “To computers using” box when confronted with the Configure an internet-sharing network in step 3.

  1. To join the Bluetooth network from your iPhone, follow these steps:
  2. First make sure that your Mac has Bluetooth turned on.
  3. On your iPhone go to Settings >Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
  4. Now go to Settings > Mobile Data (or Cellular Data) and tap on Personal Hotspot.
  5. Now you need to pair you iPhone with your computer. Open up the Bluetooth pane in System Preferences and scroll down until you see your iPhone, then click on Connect. 
  6. A code will appear on both of your devices, click on Pair on your iPhone to pair both devices. Tap Pair and enter the code shown on your computer. 
  7. Now you should see a blue Bluetooth icon in the top left of your iPhone screen indicating the devices are connected.
  8. On your Mac the usual symbol showing WiFi will show an arrow.
  9. On your iPhone go to Wi-Fi and find the Mac you want to link to.
  10. On your iPhone you will see the option to join the Personal Hotspot, tap on Join.
  11. Enter the password if you set one.

We also have an article that explains how to share the data connection from your iPhone to your Mac so you can get online. And if you are looking for ways to extend your Wi-Fi network, or avoid dropouts read: How to boost your WiFi connection on a Mac.

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