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  1. Computer Skills
  2. OS X
Computers

Quick Tip: Use Your Mac as a Wi-Fi Hotspot and More

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

There are Wi-Fi hotspots and networks floating around everywhere these days from your local coffee shops to far-away airports. But what if you find yourself without a wireless connection when five friends need to get online? Let's find out how to create a Wi-Fi hotspot from your wired connection with your Mac! We will also be covering how to set up computer-to-computer networks for sharing files, screens, and more. No routers required, we promise.


Sharing a Wi-Fi Hotspot

All you need to create a Wi-Fi hotspot for your other Wi-Fi-enabled computers, phones, and tablets is a wired ethernet connection. You can check that you have this enabled by opening up System Preferences and going to the Network section.

System Preferences Ethernet Connected
Be sure you're connected to the Internet via a wired connection. (You wouldn't need to follow this tip if you already have a Wi-Fi connection!)

Next, head to Sharing in System Preferences. Take a look at the "Internet Sharing" sub-menu and be sure you have the "Wi-Fi" option checked, as shown below. You may have to unlock the preferences by clicking on the lock icon at the bottom-left of the window.

System Preferences Internet Sharing
Be sure to have "Wi-Fi" checked on! You can use other options as well, but we will be focusing on Wi-Fi sharing.

Click on "Wi-Fi Options" at the bottom-right of the screen and then you will find a popup that allows you to set the name, channel, and password of your ad-hoc network.

Wi-Fi Option Menu
You can type in your settings for your ad-hoc connection here. Check the "Security" drop-down to add a password.

Now to start the network, check the "Internet Sharing" box. A new menu will popup asking you if you are sure you want to start it. You may get a popup asking if you would like to turn on your Wi-Fi. Click "Turn Wi-Fi On" if you currently have your Wi-Fi connection off. Click "Start" afterwards and now you have successfully started your own ad-hoc network! You can now have other Wi-Fi enabled computers connect to your Mac.

Start Wi-Fi Confirmation
Click "Start" to open up your ad-hoc network.

Enjoy sharing your Internet connection with others around you! You can turn off the network by just unchecking the "Internet Sharing" box in the same Sharing section.


Computer-to-Computer Networks

So now you can set up an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network to share your Internet connection, but you can also quickly setup a wireless connection between computers without any network connection at all. You can do this if you want to share files, share screens, and more (you cannot connect to the Internet this way, however! Check above to do that.)

First of all, click on your Wi-Fi menubar icon and get to the option to "Create Network...". Click it and you will get a popup asking for some information.

Wi-Fi Menubar Icon
Click "Create Network..."

Fill in the Network name, choose a channel, and set a password if you would like some security. Note that the password must be a certain length if you choose to add one (it states how many characters in the prompt).

Computer-to-Computer Network Prompt
Enter your custom network's name, channel, and password.

Click okay, and now your network is set up! Go onto your other Mac or other device and you can now connect to the Wi-Fi-based network just as you would any other Wi-Fi connection. Any computer on the network will be connected even without an Internet connection. One thing you could do now is to look at files on other computers in the Finder sidebar and transfer them easily and wirelessly (however, you may want to consider OS X's AirDrop feature on OS X 10.7+ for that).


In Conclusion

Hopefully, you won't end up in a situation in which there are no Wi-Fi hotspots for everybody to share, but in case you do, it can be incredibly simple to setup a sharing system on your Mac. Personally, this system works great when I'm traveling and only have a single cable to connect a dozen different gadgets. Everybody gets to connect to the Internet from just one cord!

What do you use ad-hoc networks for? Tell us in the comments.

And if you want to do more with your Mac, check out the selection of useful Mac apps on Envato Market. You can find solutions to a wide range of problems, from a combining text files to designing Mac apps more easily.

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