Can’t get online because your Mac won’t connect to Wi-Fi? Here’s how to fix networking issues on your Mac when Wi-Fi isn’t working or you can’t join the Wi-Fi network
Welcome to 101 Alternatives, which offers fixes for situations where Wi-Fi isn’t working, your Mac refuses to connect to the internet, you MacBook won’t connect to WiFi but other devices will, or your wireless signal strength is poor.
There are three main reasons why Wi-Fi stops working: there’s a problem with your router, your broadband provider’s network is down, or there’s an issue with your own Wi-Fi network. Less commonly, there may be an issue with the macOS software you’re running. We cover all these scenarios in this article.
We have various steps to work through below, we’ve started with the ones that will hopefully fix your Wi-Fi problem quickly, but you might like to try a few of the latter tips if you have no luck.
Check Apple’s software
In the past when Mac users have updated their computers to a new version of macOS they have sometimes encountered Wi-Fi problems. This was a big issue with the original version of El Capitan (macOS 10.11): following the update, many users found their Macs could no longer connect to their wireless network.
Apple issued an update to the software, but this wasn’t an easy fix for MacBook Air owners who could only connect to the web via Wi-Fi. When we had this problem we had to update our Mac to the new version of macOS while sharing the connection from our mobile phone.
You may well have to do the same if it’s a software update you need, in which case do be careful about going over your data allowance!
Check Apple’s Wi-Fi recommendations
When your Mac attempts to connect to a Wi-Fi network, macOS checks for issues. If any are detected, you’ll see recommendations in the Wi-Fi status menu, which you can access by clicking on the Wi-Fi logo at the top right of your screen. If you see no recommendations here then Apple has found nothing to flag up (yet).
Reboot your router
To establish whether the problem lies with your router, you should turn it off and on again. To powercycle your router you need to disconnect it from power for about 30 seconds, then plug it in and turn it back on.
As with the router, it’s also a good idea to turn your Mac off and on again.
If there’s still an issue after you’ve rebooted, try turning the Wi-Fi off and then waiting a few seconds before turning it back on again to force it to scan for available networks again.
Try disconnecting Bluetooth. This is a fix that has worked for some people. Click the Bluetooth icon at the top right (the runic B next to the Wi-Fi icon) and select Turn Bluetooth Off.
Keep your router cool
If things still don’t work, check your router isn’t overheating. Don’t cover it up or hide it away where there isn’t adequate ventilation, because if it gets too hot it won’t work as well.
Another thing to check is your router’s location. You will get a better signal if it’s not on or near any large metal surfaces – so don’t sit it on a filing cabinet, for example, and don’t put it right next to a radiator.
Move your laptop closer to your router and see if you get a signal from there. If it turns out the signal is fine when you’re right next to the router, it’s likely that something in your house or office is causing interference.
Use Apple’s Wireless Diagnostics
You can also get an idea of whether other devices are causing your signal to drop by using macOS’s built-in Wireless Diagnostics utility.
Check your security settings
One piece of advice is not to hide your network – it might sound like this makes things more secure, but it doesn’t actually protect it and can cause reliability issues.
Instead, if you want your network to be secure, use WPA2 Personal security.
Run Apple Diagnostics
If you still haven’t solved your Wi-Fi worries you could use Apple Diagnostics to check for Wi-Fi or network issues.
To do so follow these steps:
- Disconnect all external devices (except the keyboard and screen).
- Shut down the Mac, then turn it on while pressing and holding D.
- When you see the screen asking you to choose your language do so, then watch as the progress bar indicates that your Mac is being assessed. This takes 2-3 minutes.
- If problems are identified, Apple Diagnostics will suggest solutions
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