How to Fix Common Wi-Fi Issues on MacBook Pro

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.

Troubleshoot your MacBook Pro network issues with WiFi Explorer now!

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.

Connection Problems

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 β€” 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.

For example:

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 β€” 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.

Click here to learn more or get Advanced Network Care.

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.

Final Words

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!

32 thoughts on “How to Fix Common Wi-Fi Issues on MacBook Pro”

  1. This might fix “user error” problems with wifi, but it doesn’t address the fact that apple has consistently put the weakest wifi adaptors in their macbook line of any computer currently on the market.

    Why is it that my iPad and iPhone can connect to wifi units two blocks away when my macbook rolls on and times out connecting to routers in the same room as me?

    I never thought I’d say this as a previous apple fanboy… but I’m switching to SOMETHING else next computer/phone/tablet I buy.

    Reply
  2. I made a discovery on my internet connectivity problems. I have a new Spacegray Macbook Pro – I thought my bad internet connectivity was a problem with our office router or where I was sitting, but I was puzzled that I saw full bar strength. If I unplugged and moved away from my desk, no problems, router signal seemed super strong… I narrowed my problem down to whenever I was connected to my Thunderbolt monitor. I did speed tests unplugged and plugged into an ASUS monitor and I pulled over 40 Mbps, but whenever I plugged into the Thunderbolt… .4 Mbps or lower. I am still not sure if the problem is the monitor or the Apple adapter.

    Reply
  3. My iPhone is stably connected to UnitedWifi.com, from which I am typing this. On my MacBook Pro, I only occasionally see United_Wi-Fi in the list of preferred networks. This is not the first time I see the MacBook Pro not connecting to WiFi while I iPhone or iPad has no problem. Four weeks ago, I experienced the same at York University, Canada. Their IT department suggested that some security software probably stood in the way. Following their advice I disabled McAfee, but the problem persisted. If security-related software is the cause of the problem, what else should I do? Do I have to install something like Malwatebytes? Is it still possible to diagnose the problem of not seeing the network that must be there as I know from my iPhone?

    Reply
  4. This does not address why my pc laptop is running fast, streaming video and audio, etc., while my macbook air is hardly able to load a website it is getting the internet so slowly. Is it the internal hardware on the mac that is the problem? I have turned off my pc (and other devices) to eliminate the competition for bandwidth and it makes no difference.
    This seems to be a problem with the mac not with the router or router signal strength.
    This macbook cost easily twice what my pc did, making this a frustrating issue. It is a small detail, but a very important one.
    Also, I have this problem both at home and at the office.

    Reply
  5. I informed apple of this issue and the reason behind it back in 2016, its nothing to do with faulty routers or software its down to how apple products connect to wifi and the fix is to not have the same SSID for 2.4ghz and 5ghz as it confuses the software on apple devices

    Reply
  6. Sometimes my macbook shows that I’m on the wifi network, but web pages will not fill in, as though I’m off line. This is intermittent. Other devices are having no trouble, so it’s not the router, and it is happening at home and other locations. Any answers?

    Thank you!

    Reply
      • Having the same issue. MBP 2016 connects to wifi though at a certain point it won’t load the pages / loses internet connection (although the wifi signal stays up). I have to shut down wifi and restart again to re-establish the connection.

        Other devices work fine (like my mbp 2012) … I also tried different browsers.

        Would really appreciate it if someone could help me out

        Reply
    • I have this same problem.. The wifi says it is working fine.. I did a speed test..s ays it is fast.. and yet.. the computer doesn’t load webpages..and eventually will not let me do anything without restarting..and doing a fresh start.. this is so frustrating.. I think it is similar to your issue.. Did you get any responses or figure it out??

      Reply
  7. I have this same problem with my mid 2015 MacBook Pro. The problem is so bad that I cannot use it for conferences and it is costing me money. To be honest, this is a design defect that Apple has not addressed. I have three other iOS devices and the MacBook Pro is the only only having this problem. I am now considering an Windows oriented laptop as the MacBook Pro is unusable. By the way I have tried every recommendation without success.

    Reply
  8. Here’s a new one. I picked up a new MacBook Pro a month ago with a 3-way USB-C adaptor. I tried using an HMDI cable through the HDMI connection on the 3-way adaptor to my new monitor. The screen would only turn on if I unplugged and replugged in the screen and it also flickered. Solution was to get a direct video cable from the MacBook to the monitor. Works perfectly now. I had the power cable and the backup hard-drive plugged into the 3-way adaptor. Suddenly, I had all kinds of intermittent problems with the WiFi whilst the desktop Mac on the same desk was fine. Plugged the power cable directly into the MacBook and now it seems to work fine. Lessons: video cable works better than HDMI (I’m sure there’s a technical reason); be careful using 3-way adaptors – direct is best.

    Reply
  9. While at work our network seems to operate fine on my phone and on my MacBook air for the first initial moments while connected. Soon pages are not pulling up at all and the wifi seems to be searching for a connection. I have to restart the MacBook and it will work again for a short time. Any ideas?

    Reply
  10. Our house has about 4 wireless transmitters spread about to give good coverage, my problem is this over priced silver box wishes to connect to the furthest / slowest transmitter in the house instead of the one a metre away. πŸ™

    Reply
  11. My Mac Book Pro is 2013. I connect with my iPad, iPhone and other wifi devices easily and quickly. My MacBookPro however rarely connects when opened. It requires the shut down method and restarting to connect. Then if I walk away long enough for the window to shut, I loose connectivity again. VERY frustrating. My son has a 2018 Mac Book Pro and does not experience this problem. Is this a fixable problem for my 2013 or is Apple just trying to get me to upgrade?

    Reply
  12. December 2019 and I’m having the exact same issue as described. Is there anybody out there who can provide a solution for this. I paid more than 2.000$ for a now almost unusable Macbook pro from 2017.

    Reply
  13. I’ve owned Mac’s since 1994 and have run shops over the years with many Mac’s, recently I purchased a 2019 MBP model to replace ageing 2010 MBP in our household. This is the worst model I’ve ever owned with terrible internet connectivity. My household’s other two Macs (MBP 2010, MBP 2017) and three iphones (4S, 6S and XS) have no issues connecting and holding onto a wifi signal. Worst purchase ever – and don’t get me started on the joke that is the tiny, over priced SSD drive that is soldered onto the mother board.

    Reply
  14. I have tried all the normal bullshit stuff to connect my macbook pro when I have problems. I have a newer machine with the thunderbolt usb ports which I hate because now I need an arm full of adaptors.

    After hundreds of hours, piles of websites all the simple “turn it off and on again” answers. Here is the problem. Black and white. Plain and simple.

    If my portable SSD hard drive is plugged in to one of the USB ports, my mac drops the internet. If I unplug it, it miraculously joins the internet. If it happens to connect while my external hard drive is plugged in, there is almost zero bandwidth but unplug it and it works perfectly. Now some rocket scientist can tell me exactly why the f__ck that happens ‘cos I am about ready to throw my mac out the window after being a mac user for 20 years

    Reply
  15. All the other devices at my house are connected to the wifi and we working fine. Even my macbook air. Its just this new macbook pro that does not work. I dont know what to do, i tried everything.

    Reply
  16. Hello my mom is having the same problem with her mac where it is connected to the wifi but it can’t go online. Her phone and ipad are connected to the wifi and she is able to go online. What should I do I have tried everything other people have recommended but it does not work. Is there any other solution?

    Reply
  17. Most of the Common MacBook Problems require three common steps to resolve, and they are listed below:

    Reset SMC in MacBook Pro.
    Reset PRAM/NVRAM in MacBook Pro.
    Restart MacBook Pro in Safe Mode.

    Reply
  18. Your response indicating that someone should switch from 2.4Ghz to 5Ghz is incorrect. Now, if someone is getting good speeds but wants faster speeds? Then sure, 5Ghz is the way to go. But your article is offering advice to people with spotty and/or slow connections to their own wifi. In which case they should stick with 2.4Ghz. 2.4Ghz is a wider band and has more range through obstacles such as walls, file cabinets, etc. than does 5Ghz. 5Ghz being a more narrow band offers higher throughput but less range through obstacles. Just thought I would point that out.

    -Trevor St.

    Reply
  19. External display issue is ridiculous. But I noticed that changing wifi channel on the router helps. In my case, channel 10 worked best.

    Reply

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