All the Ways to Share Your Mac’s Internet Connection
You might find yourself in a tricky situation where you need to share your internet connection between multiple devices. Ideally, you’d be using your iPhone’s cellular network as a personal hotspot and share it across your devices. However, things are a bit different when it comes to sharing Mac’s internet connection, as there’s no personal hotspot feature built-in.
Fortunately, there are a few different ways to share your Mac’s internet connection, allowing you to use a unified internet connection across all your devices. Today we’ll discuss some of these methods and show you how you can make the most of them.
Why Would You Need to Share an Internet Connection?
There may be situations in which you might have a stable Wi-Fi connection on one side of your room, but no signal coverage on the other side. Or maybe there’s only one Ethernet cable in the hotel room and you want to share your connection with other people or devices.
Maybe you paid for airport Wi-Fi, and want to share that connection with a friend? Or maybe you just want to give a desktop computer you’re working on a temporary connection to the web?
All of these situations are easy to navigate once you know how to share your Mac’s internet connection with other devices.
Using Internet Sharing on Your Mac
The easiest method to share your internet connection from your Mac to other devices is using Internet Sharing. However, there’s one drawback—if you want to share your internet connection over Wi-Fi, your Mac needs to be connected to the internet via Ethernet, and not Wi-Fi.
This is due to a limitation of the Mac’s internet network device, which can either receive a Wi-Fi signal or send one out, but not both. Thus, you need to be receiving an internet connection through an Ethernet cable to use internet sharing.
To use internet sharing on your Mac:
- Open System Preferences on your Mac. Then click on Sharing.
- Click on Internet Sharing from the left pane. In the Share your connection from: section, select Ethernet.
- Select Wi-Fi from the To computers using. You can also choose Thunderbolt Bridge if you want to share the internet using Thunderbolt with other Macs.
- Click Wi-Fi options, and set up a Wi-Fi name, security protocol, and password. WPA2 is the best way to protect a Wi-Fi network, so if you’re in a public place it’s probably a good idea to use it. If the network isn’t long-term, though, you might not want to bother.
- Select OK, enable Internet Sharing from the left pane and click on Start.
This will allow you to share your Ethernet connection over Wi-Fi to another device. You can also choose to share your internet using different connections, such as from Wi-Fi to Ethernet, using a Thunderbolt Bridge, an iPhone USB, and so on.
This may be very helpful in different situations. For example, if you want to share a Wi-Fi connection to a desktop PC that only has an Ethernet port and no Wi-Fi card.
How to Share Internet From a Mac to an iPhone Using Bluetooth
Let’s face it—Ethernet connections are a thing of the past. You can rarely find an Ethernet connection now, and you need a specific adaptor to use it with newer Macs.
An alternative would be to share the internet from Wi-Fi on Mac using Bluetooth. This method can be a bit lackluster, though—it’s extremely slow and only works sometimes. But it should suffice if there are no other options available.
This involves creating a Mac Wi-Fi hotspot without Ethernet. You can do this by following the steps below:
- Make sure that Bluetooth is turned on for both your Mac and iPhone.
- On your iPhone, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Select your Mac from Other Devices (at the bottom of the page) to pair both devices together. You might be asked to input a code when connecting devices.
- On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Sharing.
- In the from field, select Wi-Fi. In the to field, select Bluetooth PAN.
- Click Start, and you should be able to access the internet on your iPhone.
Note: Not all Apple devices support Bluetooth pairing between each other. I was personally unable to get my 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1 2020) and iPhone 12 Pro to connect to each other, but other users have reported successful connections. So this may or may not work for you.
How to Share Wi-Fi to a Wi-Fi Hotspot on Mac
In a Wi-Fi-dominated world, Ethernet and Bluetooth sharing isn’t ideal. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, a limitation of the Mac’s network device is that it can only receive or share a Wi-Fi network at once—it can’t do both simultaneously.
Thus, you won’t be able to create a Wi-Fi hotspot as you could using an iPhone. So you’ll have to suffice with the internet sharing methods described above.
However, you could try buying a special Wi-Fi network adaptor, which would allow one network interface to receive signals and the other to broadcast them. It’s a bit of a longer workaround but should work if you really need one.
How to Share a Wi-Fi Password From your Mac to Another Device
A likely reason for wanting to share an internet connection from your Mac to another device may be that you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network on your Mac but forgot the password—hence you aren’t able to connect to it on your other devices.
If both of the devices you’re using are Apple devices, you can use iCloud’s Sharing feature to conveniently share the Wi-Fi password between devices. This will allow you to connect to the internet on other devices, and even allow your friends to connect, too. The process works for sharing a Wi-Fi password from your Mac to an iPhone or vice versa.
Follow the steps below to share the password between devices:
- Make sure your Mac is connected to Wi-Fi and has Bluetooth enabled. Similarly, ensure that the other Apple device has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on.
- If both the devices are yours, log in to the same Apple ID on both devices. If you’re sharing the Wi-Fi password with someone else, make sure that you have their Apple ID email in your Contacts.
- On the second device (which you want to connect to Wi-Fi), go to Settings > Wi-Fi (on an iPhone or iPad) or System Preferences > Network (on a Mac) and select the Wi-Fi network you want to connect to.
- When you’re prompted to enter the password, a notification should automatically show up on your other device, the one that’s already connected, allowing you to share the password. Doing this will connect the second device to the Wi-Fi network automatically.
If the other device isn’t an Apple device, this method won’t work. However, you can try accessing the Wi-Fi password on your Mac using Keychain Access.
Keychain Access is Apple’s password-management system, which stores a variety of passwords for emails, websites, Wi-Fi networks, encrypted disk images, and more. You can use this to find the password for a specific Wi-Fi network that you’ve connected to before.
To use Keychain Access on your Mac:
- Open Keychain Access on your Mac. This can be found in the Applications > Utilities folder, or can be opened using Spotlight.
- From the list of passwords, locate or search for the specific Wi-Fi network name. This should show up in the list, with its password hidden.
- Double-click on the network name to open up a separate window. Then click on the Show Password option, log in to keychain using your keychain password and click Allow. The password will be revealed in the Password field.
Internet Sharing Basics Covered
These methods give you the basics for sharing your Mac’s internet connection. They may not be the most convenient options imaginable, but it’s good to know about them for the occasional situation where they’re useful.
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