Sharing Your Internet Connection via Wi-Fi

One of the lesser known features of networking in OS X is the ability to share an ethernet connection via Wi-Fi. Essentially turning your Mac into a wireless access point, it can provide a great way to share an internet connection with other computers or a mobile device.

This how-to will walk you through the process from start to finish, and outline a few of the more advanced features available for configuring the wireless network.

Setting up Connection Sharing

The first thing to note is that you need to be connected to the internet via an ethernet cable. In this example we’ll be sharing a wired connection via Wi-Fi; the reverse is possible, but isn’t quite as useful. To get started, open System Preferences and click on ‘Sharing’.

Look for the entry entitled ‘Internet Sharing’ to the left, and click the title to access further settings:

Setting up Internet Sharing

Setting up Internet Sharing

The settings to the right are a great example of how user-friendly OS X is. The available options are very self explanatory, asking you which connection you would like to share and how you would like to share it. To share an ethernet connection wireless, select the options as shown above.

When completed, tick the box to the left of ‘Internet Sharing’ to enable the service. This will grey out the previous options, enable Internet Sharing, and alter the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar to illustrate that a connection is being shared.

Simple! You’ll now be able to connect to the new wireless network from another Mac, an iPhone, or any Wi-Fi enabled device.

Advanced Configuration

There are a number of advanced settings you can configure if you’d like a little more control over how your Wi-Fi network operates:

  • Network Name: Choose a name that you’d like to represent the connection
  • Channel: This allows you to avoid conflict with existing networks
  • Encryption: It’s a good idea to turn on some form of security, to prevent others connecting to the network you create
Advanced Settings

Advanced Settings

Conclusion

A few different uses for this functionality spring to mind, and it can be far handier than is immediately obvious. How about creating a stronger Wi-Fi network in your office for connecting mobile devices (where 3G may not be available)? Alternatively, have you ever considered establishing a small Wi-Fi network in a hotel room where only ethernet is available?

A whole range of scenarios exist for using your Mac as a handy wireless access point, and it can be a useful trick to have up your sleeve.


  • http://iocchelli.com Mark

    Thanks! This really helped me with taking my iPod Touch on the road. Where I live, there are very few wi-fi spots – not even paid ones. What I’ve done is buy a data plan for my laptop. With that, I use this product http://www.sierrawireless.com/Product/compass_597.aspx to give myself wireless for my laptop. Now, I can (and have!) share that connection with my iPod Touch.

    Way cool!

    • Tessa

      Hey there…where do you go after setting this up? I’ve set it up to be used with my ipod touch but am having trouble getting it from my ipod. I’ve typed in the name of the network “t.local” and it says it doesn’t exist…any ideas?

      Thanks!

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  • http://www.cuby.co.nr Cuby

    Wow that’s really cool. So this means that someone with an iPod Touch, but without a wireless router, could still use the WiFi on their iPod permanently through the computer, with the computer still maintaining a connection to the internet itself yes?

    Great article.
    Cheers

  • http://www.ejenks.com Erik Jenkins

    This is really handy to know. Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.colorlab.nl Vince

    This is actually pretty cool. I am thinking, easy coffeeshop sharing :)

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com/ Jim

    One thing to keep in mind with this feature is that if the host Mac goes to sleep, the Wifi connection is lost.

    • Corey

      To stop the host from sleeping, put the volume on mute and play an mp3 in loop. ;)

  • Dr.Theopolis

    I use this trick to give my Xbox 360 internet access. Super easy and cheap! No need to pay for M$oft’s expensive adapter… All it cost was an ethernet cable!

  • http://www.languagelearner.com Sean Martin

    You can also do this with a 3G connection. When we meet at cafes (or really anywhere) we plug the 3G modem into a Mac and we’ve got WiFi.

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  • Rollo

    Thanks for this, very very useful.

  • http://iocchelli.com Mark

    Here is something I wrote about my own inspiration from your article. I’m using my laptop’s wireless modem as a network for my iPod Touch! Way cool!

    http://iocchelli.com/funky-cold-medina-ipod-touch-wi-fi/2009/04/

  • http://www.wallpaperfree.co.uk bocha

    i’ve been wishing for something like this for a while – thx

  • http://micorazontusmanos.blogspot.com Jonathan Betancur

    Hi, quick question, this practice have some kind of side effect for the mac?, i mean overuse somepart of the machine or somenthing, or is totally safe to use for lon period of times? (My wireless router died).

  • massl

    But on every restart you have to put that settings one more time in your system preferences/sharing….

    right? :( oder is there an alternative way^^

  • http://www.effektmedia.at Thomas

    now i can use my ipod touch! Very useful. thanks

  • veeral

    hey i followed all the steps but my ipod still wont connect .. it locates the connection and then a error message pops up that unable to join network .. i am unable to figure out what i did wrong . please help me out . i broke my router and i seriosuly need wifi on my ipod

  • Kate

    >> One thing to keep in mind with this feature is that if the host Mac goes to sleep, the Wifi connection is lost.

    This appears to be true even if I set my hard disk to never sleep and just let the display go to sleep. This is driving me crazy in my house, as I use my iMac to provide wireless to my MacBook. I just downloaded a freeware “keep connection alive” program that is supposedly sending little packets back and forth to my ISP to keep the connection alive, but do you know if there’s any other way? Is there anything in Preferences that I can adjust?

  • Nick

    For those of you that are having problems with your mac going to sleep, try out this little app:
    http://caffeine.en.softonic.com/mac
    It’s sole purpose is to prevent your computer from going to sleep

  • jacky

    it did not work for me. iPhone connect to a shared wireless network on AirPort on my mac but says it has no internet connection.
    it just does not work as described.
    it is frustrating.

  • Sarah

    This didn’t work for me either – my touch can see the network and joins it, but nothing works. No idea why

  • james

    has anyone just lost their wifi network entirely cos mine has just gone from my network list please help!

  • adrian

    anybody that is having trouble getting their ipod touch to connect to there airport wifi use a 128 bit wep for the encyrption it worked for me when nothing else would

  • Paul Natsch

    I actually have an Airport Express and use it for wireless Internet access for all the devices in my house. This includes a 27 inch iMac, and iPod touch, and a PC laptop. I just got involved with something I’m testing on my 27 inch iMac that requires a wired Internet connection. I realize I could simply unplug my cable modem from the Airport Express, plug it into the ethernet port on my iMac, then switch the network settings to the ethernet port, but then the PC laptop and my iPod Touch wouldn’t have Internet access until I switched back. Switching back and forth constantly would be a pain obviously.

    So am I correct in assuming that the procedure described above would solve my problem? If it did would this make the Airport Express unnecessary now? Or could the Airport Express be used in conjunction with this procedure?

    So just for clarification I want to be able to use a wired Internet connection on my 27 inch iMac while simultaneously still have wireless Internet access in my home for the PC laptop and iPod Touch. Whether I can achieve this with or without the Airport Express is fine with me. Thanks in advance.

  • corey Strickler

    this works as long as you don’t put your mac to sleep with the power button. the connection stays active even after the mac sleeps on its own. with mine it does. also works for a wii access point.

  • Diogo Garcia

    Hi, i have some problems to connect my samsung mobile with android when i put WEP. The mobile can’t connect with WEP but when i put the internet sharing open (without password), the mobile can connect. Can someone help me?

    Tks

  • http://podfeet.com Allison Sheridan

    thanks! in a hotel in Europe and I keep forgetting how to do this! I keep creating the wrong kind of connection. Maybe it’s lack of sleep?

    Allison Sheridan
    NosillaCast Podcast at http://podfeet.com
    A technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias!
    Follow me at http://twitter.com/podfeet

  • jia

    hey i followed the instructions but i got a computer in a gray background symbol. what does it mean? What has gone wrong?

  • Mandar

    Yeah it worked !!! Amazing I was thinking of subscribing to another 3G connection you saved the efforts and of course expenses !!

  • byu

    i use os 10.6.2 and its not working
    please help T.T

  • http://www.sullysrants.com Sully

    Why didn’ t I think of this… Thanks for the tip!

  • Chester

    this works for me,

    BUT..

    I CANT open my GMAIL and my FRING, when i connect to wifi from mac.
    i can use other apps easily, surf web and everything, but cannot open the mail.

    can somebody help me??

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  • niraj

    i dont have internet sharing in sharing folder.. anybody can help me how to create internet sharing? where i should go?? service/ firewall or internet

  • Dani

    If I’m in a hotel and I have an ethernet connection to the internet, could I get a portable device to plug into the ethernet connection socket which will enable me to distribute the internet connection via wifi around the hotel room ?

    dani

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  • http://www.d2tstudio.com derry

    Not much of an article. But thanks anyway. I have done this to share a USB modem connection to iPhone, although the WIFI icon shows as connected, the iphone still cannot connect to the internet. Anyone know why this is?

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  • Irwan Ayoh

    Thanks….for sharing……

  • DrShovik

    My windows pc won’t connect to the wifi network I just created with my mac.
    It says it will only connect to more secured network.
    something more than WEP.
    anyone else facing this problem?

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  • WIFI Question

    hi, everything works fine except that it does not work! Everything looks ok, but Safari won’t open a page, it just says there is no connection to the internet. Other than that, I see all the icons etc.

    What can be wrong??? (OSX 10.7.5 & iPod Touch 4 iOS1.5)

  • H Christian

    This hasnt worked since 10.7.4, and apple is’nt giving any answer to how to fix it.

  • Nishanth

    superb very usefull………

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