How to Create a WiFi Hotspot Using a Mac’s Internet Connection

There are many reasons you might need to use your Mac as a WiFi hotspot. Perhaps your internet connection only allows a certain number of hookups. This is common in a hotel room when you’re only allowed to connect one device per guest staying in the room.

You might also be having trouble with your home WiFi password. Sometimes, your connection password might not work, and rather than waiting on hold with your internet company to get it fixed, you can use your Mac to allow guest access to your home WiFi.

Connection problems are among the top reasons that individuals and businesses choose to switch their internet service. With this useful hack, you can make the internet work for you rather than the other way around. Without further ado, here are the steps needed to use your Mac as a WiFi hotspot.

Step 1: Check Compatibility Specs
Macs are among the most popular computers in the world because they last for years. It’s not uncommon to find a Mac that’s 10 years older or more, still working like new. But these often bear older operating systems. For that reason, not all Mac hacks will be compatible with all Macs out there.

This internet sharing tip only works if your computer is running OS X Lion (10.7) or later. You’ll need to install this operating system if possible. Keep in mind that early model Macs aren’t compatible with this update.

Step 2: Enable Sharing
Begin by clicking on the Apple icon located in the top left corner of your Mac’s top menu bar. Select System Preferences from the drop-down list. System Preferences may also be accessed from your applications doc, located at the bottom of your screen.

This will open a myriad of options organized in four neat rows. Click Sharing, a file folder located in the third row. This will open another box with several options. Check the box next to Internet Sharing in the left sidebar and click the box next to WiFi in the right sidebar.

At this point, a dialogue box will pop up, sharing a little more information about what will happen if you enable sharing.

Step 3: Secure Your Connection
Security concerns are minimal if you’re simply sharing WiFi with your other devices, but if you’re sharing it with others, you want to be careful. Giving them access to the WiFi on your Mac makes it easy for experienced hackers to gain access to your personal information and computer files.

When sharing the WiFi, click the WiFi Options button at the bottom of the window. This will allow you to name your hotspot and set up a WPA2 Personal password. That way, anyone passing by can’t access your hotspot without your password.

We’ll complete the setup process in a moment, but as an added security measure, remember to turn off your hotspot when you’re done using it. This reduces your chances of someone connecting when you don’t want them to.

Step 4: Click Start
Once you’re sure you want to continue, click Start. This will make your Mac’s hotspot discoverable on other devices so that they can connect. From there, you can connect any device using the hotspot channel and password you just created.

Limitations of Sharing WiFi
Keep in mind that your Mac can only perform one WiFi action at once. This means that it can either host a WiFi network or it can be connected to one. It cannot do both at the same time. It’s a useful trick if you need to have both your phone and your laptop connected when you’re only allowed one connected device, but it means you can only use one at a time.

You can circumnavigate this problem with a USB WiFi adapter, which allows you to configure a separate hotspot. You could also configure a Bluetooth PAN, which allows you to connect any device to your Mac using Bluetooth. The process is a bit trickier, and WiFi speeds will be significantly slower; however, you can use both devices at once, and your battery won’t drain as quickly.

This is a simple trick that can be very helpful when you’re facing limited WiFi. With time, we’ll likely see improvements to the Mac’s WiFi interface that rival that of Windows’ network connection abilities.


  • Thanks to those who noted the 10.6 vs. 10.7 typo – it has been fixed!

  • Always try moving your router as high as possible, for example on top of a wardrobe, 3 to 4 meters high. You will be surprised how much the signal improves.

  • In Step 1, you said “OS X Lion (10.6)”. Er, Lion is OS 10.7. Suggest you fix that.

    By the way, internet sharing to AirPort (WiFi) does look feasible thru a Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) Mac which is primarily connected to the Internet via Ethernet (e.g., cablemodem). However, when I tried it, AirPort encryption appears to be limited to the not-so-secure WEP, not WPA/WPA2.

  • Note that Mac OS X 10.6 is SnowLeopard, not Lion. Just fyi.