All latest MacBook laptop models come only with wireless ports without any Ethernet option. This means wireless or Wi-Fi is the only way of connecting your MacBook to Internet. Despite regular macOS updates from Apple, users face different types of Wi-Fi connection issues in Mac. The issues can vary from one time connection issue to frequently dropping. If you are struggling with Wi-Fi connection on your Mac, here are some solutions you could probably try.
How to Fix Wi-Fi Connection Issues in Mac?
- Check Wi-Fi is Connected
- Automatically Connecting to Wi-Fi Network
- Set Network Order
- Restart Mac and Router
- Check for Router Signal and Interference
- Check Router Settings
- Use Unique SSID or Network Name
- Renewing TCP/IP Address
- Check DNS and Proxy
- Wireless Diagnostics Tool
- Update Mac
- Adjust MTU Packet Size
Let us discuss each fix in details in the following sections.
Note: When you click on the Wi-Fi icon on the top status bar, it will always show “Wi-Fi: Looking for Networks…” and “Wi-Fi: On” alternatively. Remember this is a common way Mac works unlike looking for network in Windows PC. While on Windows this indicates a drop in connection, it does not impact the connection on Mac.
1. Check Wi-Fi is Connected
First ensure that you Mac has Internet connection through Wi-Fi. You should see a network icon on the top menu bar. If the icon is showing empty without waves (network signal) then click on the Wi-Fi icon and click “Turn Wi-Fi On”.
Your Mac will try to connect to the saved Wi-Fi network. If this is the first time you are connecting to Internet then ensure to setup a network and then click on the Wi-Fi icon to choose the network name. Enter the security password and connect the network.
2. Automatically Connecting to Wi-Fi Network
Mac will automatically connect to the saved Wi-Fi network. If you are not automatically connecting to the Wi-Fi network then you can do that in two ways. Click on the Wi-Fi network icon and then select the network name. Check the box “Remember this network”.
If you have already connected to the network without choosing “Remember this network” then you can’t do this again from the icon. Click on the Apple icon and go to “System Preferences… > Network”. Choose the connected Wi-Fi network name and enable the checkbox “Automatically join this network”.
If you are not seeing the Wi-Fi icon the menu bar, enable “Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar” option to show the Wi-Fi icon.
Related: Learn how to fix Wi-Fi connection issues in Windows.
3. Set Network Order
If you use multiple networks then the order of the network may cause Wi-Fi connection issue. When you are in “System Preferences > Network” section, click on lock icon saying “Click the lock to make changes”. Enter the admin password of your Mac to enable editing of network settings. Now click on the setting icon and choose “Set Service Order” option.
Drag your preferred network to top position and click on “OK” button to go back to network settings.
Click on “Apply” button to save your changes. From now onwards, Mac will try to connect to the first preferred network.
4. Restart Mac and Router
Well, restarting the device is one of the easiest ways of fixing many computer related problems. You need to restart both the router and your Mac.
- Turn off the Wi-Fi connection on your Mac from the menu bar.
- Restart your Mac.
- Restart your router by physically by unplugging the power cable. Remember jut pressing the power button on the router for restarting may not be enough.
- After your Mac has fully restarted, plug in the router and turn it back on. Wait until the router is fully operational.
- Turn on Wi-Fi connection on your Mac and check whether it works by opening a website in Safari.
5. Check for Router Signal and Interference
You router sends data in electromagnetic waves, which can be dampened by thick walls or heavy metal filing cabinet. The solution is to check the direct path between your Wi-Fi router and the Mac. Your router can be placed behind a closet or in another closed room. Make sure that it’s moved to a more open location nearer to your Mac to ensure better coverage. If possible, you should also minimize the distance between the router and all your devices.
Today, many devices are transmitting airwaves. When these signals have identical frequency, they may interfere with one another. Signals can be weakened or distorted as they get mixed during transmission. Check for the possibility of interference by ensuring that routers and other signal-transmitting devices don’t have similar frequencies. Possibly you switch off Bluetooth and other wireless devices to check the Wi-Fi connection on your Mac.
6. Check Router Settings
Apple recommends certain setting for Wi-Fi router and access points. For example, you can check which version of the network adapter supports which channel and bandwidth. If there are changes required, you can change the settings on your router’s webpage. Go to “System Preferences > Network > Advanced> TCP/IP”. Here you can find the IP address of your router.
Open Safari and enter the router’s IP address in the address bar. A router configuration page will open. Login with you admin password of router and choose a preferred channel and bandwidth as required. Below are some of the important settings you can set when troubleshooting Wi-Fi connection issues on Mac.
- Set the network to use 5 GHz band instead of the default 2.4 GHz band. This enables more bandwidth for your connection as well as less interference with other 2.4 GHz devices.
- If your router supports channel then set this to automatic.
- Disable using hidden networks.
- Configure to use unique network name or SSID.
- Configure the country code of your router correctly if supported. This may conflict with other devices on the network. You can also enable “Location Services” on your Mac so that the location is identified correctly.
Remember, some routers may only support 2.4 GHz bandwidth. In this case you can’t set 5 GHz or need to purchase the supported router.
Related: Learn how to change Wi-Fi password in Windows and Mac.
7. Use Unique SSID or Network Name
Ensure to use a unique name for your Wi-Fi network. The unique network name is called as SSID or service set identifier. When there are multiple SSIDs with the same name, then your Mac can’t determine the correct network to join automatically. If you notice there are other SSIDs with the same name like yours in the network list then go to the Wi-Fi section of network preferences. Here you can view all the preferred networks and click on the – button to delete the selected Wi-Fi network name.
Again click on the + icon to add a new Wi-Fi profile as you configured in the router.
Now restart you Mac and router and check the Wi-Fi connection is working fine.
8. Renewing TCP/IP Address
As explained in section 6, when you are in TCP/IP section of the network preferences section, ensure that there is an IP address for IPv4. If you don’t see any IP address or suspect the IP is not correct then click on the “Renew DCHP Lease” button to renew the IP address. When the website only have IPv6 servers then you should enable the IPv6 option as automatically. Otherwise the sites may not work with the IPv6 option is switched off or set as manually.
9. Check DNS and Proxy
By default Mac uses the DNS servers assigned by your ISP. Sometimes this may cause slow or intermittent Wi-Fi connection problems. The solution here is to replace the ISP DNS with public DNS like Google public DNS. Go to the “DNS” tab in network preferences section and modify the default DNS with Google public DNS servers. Save your changes and check Internet connection works now.
Similar to DNS, proxy settings can also cause issue in Wi-Fi connection. Go to the “Proxies” tab and disable all proxy options. Also uninstall or disable VPN connection and check the Internet is working without issues.
10. Wireless Diagnostics Tool
You can use the wireless diagnostics tool to analyze the Wi-Fi connection issues on your Mac. Press “command + Space” buttons to open spotlight search box. Enter “wireless diagnostic” and go to the “Wireless Diagnostics” tool. Click on “Continue” button to start the analysis of the wireless network.
On the next screens, you can provide more details like the location of your router and model details. The tool will display the suggestion like below indicating the problems and help to fix the problem.
Mac stores the diagnostics report under “/var/tmp” folder in .gz compressed format. You can open the Go to Finder and then navigate to “Go > Go to Folder”. Enter “/var/tmp” and click on “Go” button to view the temporary folder content.
The diagnostic file will have a name like “WirelessDiagnostics_C02R4SCXFVH3_2018-03-21_22.02.08.tar.gz”. Double click on it to unarchive and view the content of all the reports.
11. Update Mac to Latest OS
Apple releases software update to fix bugs like Wi-Fi dropping issues in Mac. So, ensure to update your OS to the latest macOS. Click on the Apple icon on top left corner of your Mac and go to “About this Mac” section. Click on the “Software Update…” button under “Overview” tab.
This will take you to Mac App Store showing the available updates under “Updates” section. Check whether any software updates available and update immediately to bring your Mac to the latest software. After updating, check whether you can able to connect to Internet with Wi-Fi connection.
If the problem happens right after an upgrade, try to downgrade to your original version. You can do this smoothly when you use Time Machine to take a backup before upgrading.
12. Adjust Maximum Transmission Unit Packet Size
MTU or maximum transmission unit is the maximum allowed data packet size during a network transmission. On Macs, the default value of MTU is set to the maximum limit of 1500. This helps to send the largest possible packet data but cause slow in the connection. When you see slow Wi-Fi connection on your Mac, try reducing the MTU. Click on the Apple icon and go to “System Preferences > Network” section. Enable editing by clicking on the lock icon and unlock using admin password.
Then go to “Advanced” settings and then to “Hardware” tab. Choose “manually” for configure option and “Custom” for MTU. Enter the MTU value as 1300 and click OK button. Again click “Apply button to save your changes.
Verify the Internet speed is improved; otherwise you can reset the MTU back to the maximum value of 1500.
These above mentioned suggestions should fix Wi-Fi connection issues in Mac. If you still can’t solve the problem, try connecting with other Wi-Fi networks. If you also can’t establish a good connection, the problem is likely with your device. Then it is a good idea to contact the official Apple support for fixing your Wi-Fi connection.