MacBook Pro Keeps Disconnecting from Wi-Fi: 7 Possible Causes & Fixes

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Few things are as frustrating as intermittent computer problems, especially when it comes to network connectivity on your MacBook Pro. One minute your Wi-Fi is working just fine; the next, you’ve lost your Internet connection. Again.

As a former Mac administrator, I’ve been helping people resolve these types of issues for over a decade.

Stick around, and we’ll look at seven possible causes of intermittent Wi-Fi connectivity and what you can do to resolve them.

Keep reading before your Wi-Fi disconnects again!

1. Your Operating System Is Out-of-Date

Having an outdated operating system on its own does not necessarily cause Wi-Fi problems.

Nevertheless, macOS is not free from bugs. Apple frequently identifies issues with its software and releases regular updates to patch them, including problems related to your Wi-Fi adapter.

The Fix

Go to System Preferences (System Settings on macOS Ventura and above) and click on Software Update. Install any available updates. If your MacBook Pro is a major version (or more) behind, prepare for the installation to take upwards of an hour.

I recommend backing up any critical data before running a major update just in case something goes wrong.

Downloading software updates can be tricky if your Wi-Fi connection is spotty.

If your connectivity isn’t stable enough to download updates, consider investing in an Ethernet adapter and plug directly into your router. You can get a decent USB-C to Ethernet adapter for around $15.

Before purchasing any hardware, go through this entire guide to see if another step resolves your issues.

2. Malware

Although rare on macOS, your MacBook could be infected with a virus or malware. If this is the case, all kinds of weird problems, including Wi-Fi issues, are possible.

Have you clicked on any questionable links lately? Notice any bizarre behavior on your Mac? Your computer could have a virus.

The Fix

Download a good antivirus program like Bitdefender or Avast, and then have the software scan for and remove any malware. Also, check out our guide on removing a virus from your MacBook Pro.

Again, downloading anything at all may not be possible if your Wi-Fi connection is unusable. Instead, download the software from another computer and save it on a removable storage device you can plug into your Mac.

3. Corrupt Operating System

macOS is stable thanks to its Unix core, but system files and drivers can become damaged. A corrupt operating system (OS) causes many problems on your Mac.

The Fix

Reboot your Mac into recovery mode and perform a repair installation of your OS. The methodology depends on your processor.

For Macs with Intel processors, reboot your MacBook Pro and hold down the command and R keys until you see the Apple logo on the screen. Select your language from the menu that pops up.

For Macs with Apple Silicon, shut down your MacBook Pro. Then press and hold the power button until the computer presents you with startup options. Click on Options and Continue.

Once in Recovery mode, choose the Reinstall macOS option and click Continue. A reinstall using this method does not erase data, but I still recommend backing up anything critical first, if possible.

Alas, this option also requires an Internet connection. So if you cannot connect your MacBook Pro to Wi-Fi even in recovery mode, your only repair options are to use a bootable install drive or connect your MacBook to Ethernet using an adapter.

4. Your Mac Is Too Far from the Wi-Fi Access Point

If your Wi-Fi signal is too weak, it is not uncommon for your connection to drop and reconnect frequently. The Wi-Fi icon in the top right corner of the screen indicates your signal strength.

The Fix

Move your MacBook Pro closer to the Wi-Fi access point.

5. Wi-Fi Authentication Problem

A problem could exist with the network to which you’re trying to connect and the password stored on your Mac.

One possibility is that the authentication key is corrupt. Another is that your Mac has stored the wrong password for the Wi-Fi network’s name (commonly called the SSID).

The Fix

Remove the network from your Mac’s list and reconnect to the SSID. Don’t try this, however, unless you know the password for the Wi-Fi network.

To do so, open System Preferences (System Settings on macOS Ventura and above) and choose Network. Select your Wi-Fi adapter from the left column and then click on the Advanced… button in the bottom right corner.

Select your Wi-Fi network from the list. Click on the minus button, and then click OK.

Click Apply in the Network window to save your changes.

6. Your Network Is the Problem

Your Wi-Fi problem may lie outside of your MacBook. Although wireless connectivity is usually reliable, the technology is quite complex. Any number of things can go wrong, including a bad router, modem, or access point.

The Fix

If you don’t own the network, there’s not much you can do except confirm the problem is on the network and not with your Mac.

To do so, test out other devices like an iPad, iPhone, or another laptop if you have one with you. If you use a mobile device, make sure to disable cell data when testing so that you don’t get a false result.

If all of these other devices can access the Internet just fine, then the problem probably is with your MacBook Pro. If not, then the network is likely having issues. Report the problem to the Information Technology department.

To further confirm, you can also take your MacBook to another location with Wi-Fi, like a coffee shop or public library, and see if your Wi-Fi works. If it does, then the problem is with the original network.

If your own network is the culprit, there are a few quick things you try before calling your Internet provider.

First, similar to above, confirm that other devices are having trouble accessing the Internet.

If so, reset any network hardware you have in your home, including routers and cable modems. Some devices have power buttons you can depress, but for many, you need to unplug the power and plug them back in.

These devices can take five to ten minutes–sometimes longer–to come back up, so be patient. If problems persist, call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to help troubleshoot the issue.

7. You Have a Hardware Problem

If nothing else works, and other devices can get onto the same Wi-Fi network without any trouble, your MacBook Pro could have a hardware problem.

MacBook Pros can be pretty hardy, but sometimes all it takes is a minor drop or spill to damage the hardware. And even if you’ve done neither of these, hardware malfunctions can still occur.

The Fix

Try running Wireless Diagnostics on your MacBook Pro.

While holding down the option key, click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and click on Open Wireless Diagnostics… 

Click Continue to run the test.

If problems occur, the test will notify you. If not, click on the Monitor my Wi-Fi connection radio button and then click Continue.

Doing so will build a log of Wi-Fi activity. The next time you experience problems, contact Apple support. Apple can guide you through sending them the log file for analysis.

If all else fails, schedule an appointment at your local Apple store and bring in the MacBook Pro for diagnosis and repair.

Conclusion

Wi-Fi problems can be aggravating, but with a bit of persistence and determination, you can resolve the problem and get back to using your MacBook without interruption.

Have you had any Wi-Fi problems with your MacBook Pro? What did you do to resolve them?

About Andrew Gilmore
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Based in Norman, Oklahoma, Andrew is an ex-certified Apple technician with over fifteen years of experience in the IT world specializing in macOS and iOS. When he's not writing, he enjoys video games, reading, and really bad movies.

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