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:
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.
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
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.