Are you experiencing those Wi-Fi problems with your Mac? For example, your MacBook Pro won’t connect to wifi, connected but no Internet or the network speed is super slow, etc.
Our smartphones may be equipped with the latest wireless data capabilities, but our MacBooks definitely aren’t. We rely on WiFi to do our daily work, and when it inevitably experiences an error of some sort, all you want to do is throw your hands in the air.
After all, WiFi frequently seems to be on the more technical end of things, shrouded in mysterious terms like “DNS”, “modem”, and “IP address”. It can be a bit intimidating to try and fix without worrying that you’re either doing nothing or making the problem worse.
But no one likes mindlessly refreshing a webpage and hoping the WiFi fixes itself in the meantime, so in this guide, we’ll show you a few ways you can take matters into your own hands to find a solution.
Do You Know?
You can troubleshoot network connections in the office or at home with WiFi Explorer. It’s an awesome app that shows you what’s going on with your network and helps you fix it when needed. The app offers a range of extensive details about all your Mac networks in the vicinity, including their band, signal quality, range, security status etc.
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is what determines your maximum internet speed, but your usage at home is what ultimately determines how well your connection functions. Whatever your provider advertises is always going to be more than the rates you actually get, but you can always make adjustments on your end to get things running faster.
Bandwidth is not the same as Internet speed. The Internet speed is how fast data can travel on your network, whereas your bandwidth determines the volume of information that can travel at that speed. A larger amount of bandwidth means you can request more data at once, which will make your connection seem faster, but it’s not worth paying for if you don’t use your Mac for much beyond Facebook and email.
It’s important to connect to secure networks even if it means using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy. While it’s tempting to use the free coffee shop WiFi, the lack of protective password puts your computer at risk because malicious users can use the shared network and attempt to break in. If you must use one of these networks, a proxy or VPN can protect your computer by isolating it from the other connections.
Issue 1: Physical router interference
Cause: A router sends electronic waves, but these can be impeded by thick walls or other large blockages such as a row of metal filing cabinets.
How to Fix: If your router is currently buried behind a file cabinet, in a closet, or otherwise awkwardly placed you should move it to a more open and central location. If your router is already in a fairly clear area, consider where you’re sitting. Can you minimize the amount of distance between you and the router, or otherwise move closer?
Alternatively, consider purchasing an extended if you can’t seem to move the router to a location without too much interference.
Issue 2: Neighborly router interference
Cause: As we said earlier, a router sends electronic waves. These waves occur at certain frequencies and can be interfered with by other electronic devices such as microwaves or your neighbor’s router.
How to Fix: Most routers come pre-calibrated to certain frequencies or contain software that helps them pick the best channel. You can manually change the channel though by following a few steps.
- Step 1: Find out your router’s IP address. This is usually printed on the router, but you can also check in System Preferences > Network > Advanced > TCP/IP > Router;
- Step 2: Copy the IP address into the address bar of your browser and hit enter. You’ll be directed to your router’s settings;
- Step 3: Select the channel you want. Make sure to choose a channel 5 to 7 away from the original, since many frequencies overlap;
- Step 4: Use Wireless Diagnostics to monitor which frequencies make the biggest difference in your wireless signal.
You can get open wireless diagnostics by navigating to Spotlight and then beginning to type “wireless diagnostics”. It should be the first option.
Open the app and click “Continue” to start diagnosing.
Issue 3: MacBook Pro or router failure
Cause: When there doesn’t seem to any conceivable reason your WiFi shouldn’t work, it’s not your fault. Sometimes the MacBook Pro, the router, or both experience an unexpected error that’s invisible to the eye and impossible to figure out exactly what went wrong.
How to Fix: Your best bet at solving this type of problem comes in two parts: your computer, and your router. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Turn off the wifi on your computer from the menu bar along the top;
Step 2: Turn off your router by physically disconnecting it (or pressing the power button if it has one) so that all the light turn off;
Step 3: Restart your MacBook from the Apple menu in the top left of the menu bar;
Step 4: Once your Mac has restarted, turn the router back on. You’ll need to wait 2-5 minutes for all of the lights to come on and for the signal to begin sending again
Step 5: Turn your Mac’s WiFi back on, and allow it to connect to the network.
While this method isn’t guaranteed to work every time, it often solves mysterious wireless issues and with a little luck, your problem is minor and will be resolved with a bit of restarting.
Problems Once Connected
Issue 4: WiFi connection is spotty
Cause: If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: your router transmits waves, and when these are weak at your location, you’re going to have connection issues. In this case, you may have been able to connect to the network but now service is patchy at best. The cause is simple — you’re too far away for the frequency you’re trying to use.
How to Fix: There are two different ways you can fix this issue. First, move closer to the router if you can. This is the easiest way to attempt to solve the problem and maybe all you need to do.
The second way is to use a different frequency band than you normally would. By defaults, your router uses the 2.4GHz band, which is weaker than the 5GHz many router models have available. If your router supports 5GHz, you should switch to this instead- it usually appears as a different network in your WiFi list, with a “5GHz” or “5G” as part of the name.
If you have a large home, an extender might be a more practical solution. It will amplify the signal from your router so that it can reach the areas of your house that usually suffer from poor coverage.
Issue 5: WiFi connection is very slow
Cause: If things have suddenly slowed down, it’s highly likely you can point to another person to take the blame — someone else is eating up your bandwidth! Make sure to check your own computer first though, especially if you’re running multiple programs in the background.
How to Fix: The easiest way to figure out the culprit is by running a quick scan using Advanced Network Care, it’ll show you the connection speed issues found with your current network and fix it if needed. An alternative is a Wifi Explorer as we already mentioned above.
However, you can also fix that manually. Bandwidth refers to the volume of data that can be transmitted over your WiFi connection. Certain apps can require larger bandwidth and thus restrict the data available to everyone else.
If this occurs in your home, the first step is to check your own applications. The most common offenders are multiplayer video games, video-intensive apps, or files that are uploading and downloading. If your Mac isn’t running anything strenuous, then ask the others in the household if they are.
While you can’t get more bandwidth without paying for it, you can ask anyone on the network to limit which applications they use at one time. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll need to wait a few minutes while a download finishes or until the other person is done working.
WiFi issues on Mac are among the most frustrating issues that can occur on your computer. They’re confusing, bothersome, and significantly slow your productivity. We hope the methods listed above help you resolve any issues you face.
Do you use a different method to troubleshoot your wireless network? Tell us about it in the comments below!