Though Mac computers are frequently known for being reliable, many users do tend to have a few problems with Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the problem since there are a host of different reasons for the connectivity drop. This means you’ll need to take on troubleshooting steps to figure out the specific issue with your Mac computer. Some of the problems that will be addressed within this article:
- Slow network speed
- Sporadic lapses in Internet connection
- Airport and other routers not broadcasting
Even if your specific issue is not listed, note that some of the workarounds and fixes that are documented within this article can also help with other issues that have not specifically been addressed.
When you have a poor wireless signal or seem to have an erratic connection in your home, your best bet for resolving the issue may be toggling your firmware version. This refers to the act of switching the version of the software of your router as provided by the manufacturer; while it is usually recommended to opt for the latest version of any given software, you might find more stability in an older version.
For an Apple Base station, you generally just need to get the desired firmware and install it on your AirPort Express. Apple keeps an archive of older firmware versions and can easily be installed without a problem.
Checking which version of AirPort Base firmware you have requires launching the admin utility and picking the Base station in the pane. From there, the firmware version will display itself on the right-hand side of the screen.
When you have a firmware version you want to install, just download the package and launch the updater. From there, follow the instructions that are displayed on-screen and picking the Base.
While this may help with your connection stability, keep in mind that this could compromise the security of your system, depending on how far back you go for the firmware version.
Resetting the Router
This is a useful solution when you are experiencing frequent dropouts or not getting a connection at all in the first place. Sometimes, it still helps to go with the basics: resetting your router. Generally, you just need to unplug your router and reconnect it should help recover your connection should there be a dropout of sorts.
Similar to the above, performing a hard reset of your router should help fix the issue of no Internet access and frequently dropping connection. This is a simple solution that works for many issues, in fact, especially when the problem includes not seeing the AirPort Base Station in the admin utility on your Mac computer.
To perform a hard reset, unplug the router from the network connection as well as from the power source. From there, you’ll need to follow the instructions according to the specific Base Station you have.
Switching channels is a useful solution when experiencing a weak reception, sporadic connectivity or no connectivity at all. Sometimes, a number of different factors can weaken the reception of your connection, and swapping channels can help bypass this.
To switch channels, enter the utilities section of your applications folder to open the admin utility. From there, pick the afflicted station followed by “Configure.” If you are prompted for a password, then enter it now and continue on by clicking “AirPort.” This will give you the option to change your channel.
Disable IP Address Distribution
When you cannot seem to connect to the router or the device cannot be recognized, you might be suffering a side effect from the IP address distribution via the AirPort Extreme Base Station conflicting with a DSL or cable modem. This is as simple as disabling the feature.
Allow Changes to Existing Base
Similarly, if your Mac still will not recognize the router, you might have an issue with necessary changes not being made to enable connectivity. To enable this workaround, simply open the setup assistant for AIrPort and enable the ability to make changes to the existing Base Station. If you have set either a WPA or WEP password, you will need to enter it at this point to save the settings.
Disable Remote Configuration
When you have no problem connecting but seem to have issues with the speed of the connection, you might want to disable the remote configuration on AirPort Base Stations that had the 4.2 package installed; this update added a potential bottleneck in speed along with the rest of its features.
To engage in this workaround, open the admin utility and pick the appropriate Base Station. Select the options tab and pick the WAN Ethernet Port option, disabling remote configuration and saving the settings.
Re-establish Preferred Network
When you have difficulty connecting to a router or recognizing a router, you can often fix the problem by removing all preferred networks and re-establishing them once more. To do this, open the Network pane within the system preferences. Pick “AirPort,” followed by “Configure.” Select “Preferred Networks” in the “By default, join:” menu and delete the ones that you typically connect to.
After this, you may launch the Keychain Access application and pick the Kind filter. Look for entries labeled “AirPort network password” and delete them as you come across them. Finally, either reboot or log out and in once more to fully register the changes.
Repeat the steps but add the typically used networks to the list, and then log out and in again to make the changes take effect.
Re-establish Wireless Network
If your system does not seem to automatically reconnect to a network after it wakes up from sleep, you may wish to re-establish the network altogether. This may require deleting existing encrypted network configurations for AirPort to take advantage of the ability to automatically reconnect to a network connection after restarting or waking up the computer from sleep.
Move SystemConfiguration Folder
If you are experiencing weak reception, it is actually possible to remedy the problem simply by moving this folder. The reason for this is due to permission problems that can potentially affect the folder, which happens to contain the com.apple.airport.preferences.plist file that is important to connectivity. Keep in mind that this workaround may have the side effect of other functionality lapses and can also cause you to need to re-establish your network configuration settings.
Check for Interference
Sometimes the solutions are the simplest ones; when you suffer from a slow connection or a weak reception, it could be as simple as interference. Wireless mobile phones and household microwaves are all capable of causing the connection to lapse in speed or functionality.
These are a few workarounds and troubleshooting methods that should help you restore the Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity back to your malfunctioning Mac computer. As a reminder, any specific issue that was not addressed may still be solved by these workarounds; feel free to go through the list of workarounds and attempt them for your specific problem as it may still work for you.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.